Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

This book has been a long time in the making, and I owe debts of every order to the many people who helped make it possible. To begin at the beginning, Wesleyan University's English De­partment and its Center for the Humanities provided me with an environment both tolerant and stimulating and introduced me to the pleasures of theory. Karen Boklund first showed me the possibilities of a marxist semiotics; James Kavanagh pointed...

Abbreviations of Frequently Cited Texts

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pp. xiii-xvi

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Introduction

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pp. 1-16

The subject of this book is pluralist discourse in contemporary Anglo-American literary theory. My argument challenges both the common sense definition of pluralism as an affable form of methodological eclecticism and the consensus that literary plu­ralists are a relatively small and easily identifiable group of crit­ics, centered at the University of Chicago and positioned as the...

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1. Reading Pluralism Symptomatically

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pp. 17-63

The colloquial meaning of the term "pluralist" shadows all our theories of pluralism. Paradoxically, those very critical dis­ courses that set themselves the task of explicating the pluralist project in literary studies have most successfully eluded recogni­tion of this fact. The resulting elision has the quality of an elo­quent absence, a necessary silence, which enables pluralism to...

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2. Persuasion and the Production of Knowledge

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pp. 64-84

Within the problematic of general persuasion, difference is never theorized as a matter of irreducible dispersions or discon­tinuities; the "metaphors of life" Foucault alludes to are taken literally, and the category of the human (reader) quietly ob­scures the "murderous" difference of the other(s). So long as pluralist hegemony is assured, critics work confidently within...

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3. The Limits of Pluralism Are Not Plural

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pp. 85-114

Pluralists have been forced to define the limits of pluralism. As distasteful and intellectually compromising as this enterprise is, the menacing growth of those discourses Booth defines as what "pluralism is not-skepticism, relativism, solipsism, im­pressionism, subjectivism, Derridaesque glasisme" (B 407),...

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4. "Not to Worry": The Therapeutic Rhetoric of Stanley Fish

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pp. 115-156

Stanley Fish's Is There a Text in This Class ? takes as its subject the anxiety and resistance characteristic of Anglo-American plu­ralism as it confronts an intruder variously named deconstruc­tion, relativism, and post -structuralism. This anxiety is quintes­sentially expressed by the problem of the text; the phiralist's tenacious pursuit of a determinate text that "'always remains...

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5. Not Taking Sides: Reading the Rhetoric of Persuasion

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pp. 157-197

If, as I have been arguing, the problematic of general persua­sion dominates American literary studies as a whole, we can expect to discover it at work even in the discourses of theor­ists-like Paul de Man-who position themselves at a consider­ able distance from pluralism and self-described plural ists. In de...

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6. This Politics Which Is Not One

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pp. 198-240

The "baffling figure" who both grounds and troubles de Man's rhetoric of general persuasion reappears in a most unlikely place-in Fredric Jameson's Political Unconscious. As in de Man' s text, the scene is one of resistance, specifically of the...

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Epilogue

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pp. 241-252

The identifying mark of a symptomatic reading is that it works to disclose an unacknowledged problematic, a structure that is precisely not the essence of a thought. Insofar as a problematic is constituted in part by the absence of problems, concepts, and questions, this structure cannot be uncovered by an empirical,...

Index

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pp. 253-256