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322Philosophy and Literature and what came after, which gives meaning to the pre-1940 period, both its errors and its préfigurations. The Christian analogy is pertinent, since Hollier refers to Sartre's prison-camp drama Bariona, which conveys the radical difference brought about by the birth of one deemed a Messiah. What was born in 1940 was, of course, a political consciousness, which caused Sartre to deny the aesthetic credo by which he had lived and written and to embrace the real— includingthe proletariat, considered the onlyclass with ultimate historicalreality. Sartre himself identified this watershed, and used it subsequendy as a means ofcomprehending and, as he said, writing against himself. But Hollier suggests that this represents a misunderstanding of Sartre, since his idealism of the 1930s was by no means uncritical. While there are many astute observations in this eccentric meditation on Sartre, particularly concerning Nausea, they are embedded among irritating rhetorical devices and fuzzy lines of argumentation. The volume is not suitable for novice readers of Sartre; but for those already conversant with his writing, it affords an ingenious probing into his work and motivations, and a critical profile that makes of Sartre himself both text and pretext. Tulane UniversityCatharine Savage Brosman Theory in the Classroom, edited by Cary Nelson; xvi & 272 pp. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986, $19.95. It is axiomatic for the modern intellectual that no textual reading is free from theoretical or ideological production. Yet theory and theoretical explanations have not exacdy flooded the classroom. There are ofcourse pedagogical difficulties: recent theories are not easily summarized, students are not easily persuaded about the usefulness of dense prose, and given the complexities, teaching theory could even, as Cary Nelson observes, "seem a form of comic betrayal" (p. xiv). But the gap between teaching and research has threatened to become a professional embarrassment. "We were faced," says Cary Nelson, "with the possibility that teaching and professional writing would be two unrelated or even antagonistic activities, with an outmoded certainty reigning in the classroom and doubt and intellectual play reigning in our writing" (p. xiv). In this context, Theory in the Classroom is a truly seminal book. The essays in this volume are challenging and informative, providing brilliantly lucid formulations (in an area where lucidity is more usually a metaphor Reviews323 for outmoded certainty) of the questions and issues that are at stake. There are eight essays, together with an introduction and list of 79 problematizing questions by the editor, Cary Nelson. Two essays relate to feminism, one on "Teaching Feminist Theory" by Paula A. Treichler and one on feminism and psychoanalysis by Constance Penley; two essays attend to the politics ofmeaning, one on "Deconstruction and Pedagogy" by Vincent B. Leitch and one on "Radical Teaching, Radical Theory" by S. P. Mohanty; one essay, by William R. Schroeder, tackles the vexed issue of interpretation, suggesting a communal method for arriving atan authoritative and comprehensive reading; three essays extend the range of textual concerns into technical discourse (Susan Wells), the reciprocity of literature and psychoanalysis (Albert D. Hutter), and popular culture (Lawrence Grossberg). The obvious lacuna is Marxism, although the political concerns of Leitch and Mohanty compensate to some extent. Many ofthe essays would by themselves define valuable forums for discussion. Paula Treichler's essay in particular provides a comprehensive resource study for the differences and possibilities within feminist theory (she includes a 22page bibliography), and her discussion of the practical problems in teaching is the most detailed in the volume (Schroeder's is the most schematic). Generally, however, there are three challenges: about language, about knowledge, and about pedagogical authority. As the new theories collectively shift attention from product to production, from fixed meaning to textual mobility, they question any attachment to the self-evidence ofmeanings or to the innocent naturalness ofthematic summaries: "teaching our English 101 students to valorize 'order,' for instance, is not an innocent teaching of Troilus and Cressida; it is a specific form of acculturation" (p. 153). To observe the process of production is also tantamount to breaching the power ofknowledge, so that the mastery ofmeaning and knowledge, which has traditionally sustained the cultural identity ofscholars and teachers, becomes uncertain and suspect. The...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 322-324
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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