Pluralism as the Problematic of Contemporary Literary Theory
Publication Year: 2016
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Seductive Reasoning takes a provocative look at contemporary Anglo-American literary theory, calling into question the critical consensus on pluralism's nature and its status in literary studies. Drawing on the insights of Marxist and feminist critical theory and on the works of Althusser, Derrida, and Foucault, Rooney reads the pluralist’s invitation to join in a "dialogue" as a seductive gesture. Critics who respond find that they must seek to persuade all of their potential readers. Rooney examines pluralism as a form of logic in the work of E. D. Hirsch, as a form of ethics for Wayne Booth, as a rhetoric of persuasion in the books of Stanley Fish. For Paul de Man, Rooney argues, pluralism was a rhetoric of tropes just as it was, for Fredric Jameson, a form of politics.
Published by: Cornell University Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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
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...
1. Reading Pluralism Symptomatically
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...
2. Persuasion and the Production of Knowledge
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...
3. The Limits of Pluralism Are Not Plural
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),...
4. "Not to Worry": The Therapeutic Rhetoric of Stanley Fish
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...
5. Not Taking Sides: Reading the Rhetoric of Persuasion
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...
6. This Politics Which Is Not One
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...
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,...
Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2016
OCLC Number: 579736808
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