In a critique of the full range of theoretical discourses that have come into favour in literary studies since the 1960s, this work shows that these forms of criticism present themselves as unquestionable - ways of thinking that are too self-evident to need arguing or evidence. They do not subject their own claims to the kind of suspicious scrutiny that they devote to all other thought. Assimilating the methods of almost all of the major recent modes of criticism - Marxism, feminism, deconstruction, New Historicism, Foucauldianism - this work brings them acutely to bear on this central argument - that these methods systematically fail to live up to their own methodological scruples. The problem it identifies is one of logical consistency, but also of moral and psychological implications, and it can be found operating across the whole spectrum of literary theory.
TONY HILFER is a professor of English at the University of Texas, Austin. His recent books include American Fiction Since 1940 (Longman, 1992) and The Crime Novel: A Deviant Genre (University of Texas Press, 1990).
Preface 1. Authorizing Theory 2. Marxist Utopianism 3. Visible Saints: The Politics of Standpoint Epistemology 4. Discourse Radicalism 5. A Ruthless Criticism of Everything Existing Bibliography