'Doing English' serves excellently as an introductory guide to the attitudes and debates which literary theory has placed on to the agenda of English Studies, at university and now sixth-form levels. It is easy-to-read, lively, stimulating and clear, revealing theory to be far more pertinent and less arcane than it often seems in raw form. The issues Eaglestone discusses are now central concerns of the discipline, for better or worse, so students will need to be acquainted with them, and Eaglestone presents them in an unusually friendly, accessible form. For some undergraduates this introduction will be too basic, but for most it will be very useful.
Yet there are limitations: Eaglestone is clearly an advocate of the new approaches he describes, which means that he does not present a balanced view of the debates, but presents simplified versions of 'traditionalist' arguments as naive and outmoded. Readers should be warned not to take his dismissals as the final word. The book would perhaps be better entitled 'Doing Literary Theory', to avoid giving the impression that English departments no longer engage with 'canonical texts' on respectful terms, only with a deconstuctive eye. Fortunately, at most universities this is not the case, whatever Eaglestone might wish. So don't worry if you prefer the literary classics to postmodern philosophy, you can still enjoy studying English. But if you are uncomfortable with new approaches and yet are willing to give them a chance, this book is for you.