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Who Killed Shakespeare: What's Happened to English Since the Radical Sixties Hardcover – July 23, 2001
Intrusion: A Novel
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From Library Journal
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Patrick Brantlinger's "Who Killed Shakespeare? casts a cold and eminently rational eye on the English department wars of the last two decades. He gives us the first persuasive account at once of disciplinary debates and cultural conflicts that made English the major focus of disagreements over the status of theory and the aims of undergraduate education. People on both sides of these issues will find the book invaluable.."
-Cary Nelson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
"In "Who Killed Shakespeare? Pat Brantlinger maps the confusing terrain of much recent fashionable discourse concerning literary theory, postcolonialism, posthistory, and other similar topics with extraordinary authority and lucidity. In the process, he clarifies and resituates a number of current modes of academic investigation from cultural studies to informatics, and indicates that, beyond the border disputes between one or another theoretical approach, lies a larger threat not only to the academic world, but to the world at large. "Who Killed "Shakespeare? provides a sane, unflinching assessment of what academic studies are achieving today, and what they are not.."
-John Reed, Wayne State University
""Who Killed Shakespeare? is a wonderfully wise and witty book. Pat Brantlinger discusses how parochial attacks from the right and the left on the curriculum of English Departments miss theirtarget, and suggests how large social changes have affected the nature and purpose of higher education. His critique of the 'corporatization' of American universities should be read by anyone interested in the future of education, which means all of us who form the reading public.."
-Martha Vicinus, University of Michigan
"Like Graff's "Teaching the Conflicts, Guillory's "Cultural Capital, or Readings' "The University in Ruins, this is a candid and informed account of the humanities in market society. The chapter on the contradictions of English departments and English professors is stunning, the critiques of neopragmatism and new historicism are fearless, informatics are defined and their pay-off to universities laid bare, crash/theory and end-of-history optimists and pessimists are surveilled and swept before him. This is an angrier Brantlinger than we've seen, and an angrier criticism than we've seen for some time. Good.."
-Regenia Gagnier, author of "The Insatiability of Human Wants
Top Customer Reviews
The title essay examines the supposed collapse of the core curriculum and the traditional canon (itself a misnomer). As the subtitle of the book suggests, this essay looks at the charges against departments and counters with a defense of their changing course offerings...which manage to sit comfortably next to the still-popular Bard. Although the reasons why Shakespeare remains so popular with undergrads deserves its own essay.
Other essays show the utopian-dystopian-heterotopian descriptions of English departments, rhetoric vs.Read more ›
The most lucid part of his book is the introduction in which he lists and describes the contents of each chapter. For example in chapter five, "How the New Historicism Grew Old (and Gained Its Tale)," Brantlinger "examines the quick rise to fame and almost instantaneous fall into the academic oblivion of the new historicism." This is clear enough so it is unfortunate that he chose to fill the rest of his book with a hard to follow series of digressions of how one theory of literary criticism melded, bent, warped, evolved, or otherwise morphed into another. I have a reasonably solid grasp of contemporary theory but the more that I read the more that I felt that I had picked up a literary phone book that contained entries in no apparent order but all were contending for my attention. My complaint is that there was no clear direction for all these competing theories to go. What emerges by book's end is that the miscreant responsible for killing Shakespeare is likely to remain free and on the run for as long as books like this one obfuscate more than elucidate.