Marjorie Garber

William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of English and of Visual and Environmental Studies
Harvard University

A Manifesto for Literary Studies

A Manifesto for Literary Studies
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A Manifesto for Literary Studies writes Marjorie Garber, “is an attempt to remind us of the specificity of what it means to ask literary questions, and the pleasure of thinking through and with literature. It is a manifesto in the sense that it invites strong declarations and big ideas, rather than impeccable small contributions to edifices long under construction.” Known for her timely challenges to the preconceptions and often unquestioned boundaries that circumscribe our culture, Garber’s beautifully crafted arguments situate “big public questions of intellectual importance” – such as those of human nature and historical correctioness – within the practice of literary historians and critics. This manifesto revives the ancient craft who ultimate focus is language in action. In this book, Garber passionately concludes that “the future importance of literary studies – and if we care about such things, its intellectural and cultural prestige both among the other disciplines and in the world – will come from taking risks, and not from playing it safe.”

Praise for

A Manifesto for Literary Studies

In this thoughtful polemic, Marjorie Garber boldly examines the current cultural status of literary studies. Have practicioners of literary studies forfeited the prestige of their discipline to historians? Have quintessentially literary questions about language and form been overwhelmed by an often nonliterary allegiance to the material world? How has it come about that discursive ownership of the concept of ‘human nature’ has passed from the humanities to the sciences? Exploring such issues in her contagiously readable, graceful style, Garber importantly reasserts the centrality of literary studies to discussions of meaning, value, and identity.

– Mary Beth Rose is Professor of English and Director of the Institute for the Humanities, University of Illinois at Chicago.