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Professing Literature: An Institutional History Paperback – 1 Feb 1989

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4.7 out of 5 stars 3 reviews from

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.7 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great history of English/literary studies as a subject matter 5 Oct. 2014
By De Morris - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A great history of English/literary studies as a subject matter. This and Wellek & Warren's Theory of Literature are what I'd consider much overlooked must-reads for anyone entering literary studies (undergrad or grad level). Read them before you take Theory and between them they'll give you a background (Graff) and a foundation (W & W) for trying to make sense all the random, mind-numbing craziness that transfixed English departments during the 70s, 80s, and 90s, which came to be shoveled under the double misnomer Critical Theory. Add in M.H. Abrams' article "The Transformation of English Studies: 1930-1995" (MIT Press, 1997), and between the three it may just be enough to prevent you from dropping your Theory class halfway through and switching majors.
1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful for PhD Student 5 Nov. 2006
By D. Kirk - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was a set text on a PhD course and it was interesting and useful, particularly for anyone who is looking to enter higher ed as a lectureer/professor.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear, concise, comprehensive 12 Jun. 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
This detailed history of the rise of English departments in the U. S. is lucid, cogently argued, and replete with quotes from primary sources. By detailing the arguments over how (and, in the very beginning, whether) English should be taught, from the pre-English department days of the early nineteenth century into the 1960s, Graff takes the reader decade by decade through the controversies of the period, showing how theory is often mitigated by practice and how we have uncritically adopted "the habit of thinking of institutions as if they were unmediated projections of the values, methods, and ideologies of major individuals and movements." Graff would argue that though ideological debates help shape the institution, the process of institutionalization also reshapes ideologies.
For the reader interested in current developments in literary theory, this should prove an invaluable sourcebook.
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