Critics at Work

Interviews 1993-2003

317 pages

20 illustrations

March, 2004

ISBN: 9780814793893



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Jeffrey J. Williams is Professor of English at the University of Missouri, Columbia. His books include Theory and the Novel: Narrative Reflexivity in the British Tradition and, as editor, PC Wars: Politics and Theory in the Academy and The Institution of Literature. He is also the editor of the literary and critical journal The Minnesota Review.

All books by Jeffrey J. Williams

Featuring interviews with nineteen leading U.S. literary and cultural critics, Critics at Work offers a unique picture of recent developments in literary studies, critical theory, American studies, gay and lesbian studies, philosophy, and other fields. It provides informative, timely, and often provocative commentary on a broad range of topics, from the state of theory today and the prospects for cultural studies to the role of public intellectuals and the place of political activism. These conversations also elicit illuminating and sometimes surprising insights into the personal and professional lives of its contributors.

Individually, each interview gives a significant overview of a critic's work. Taken together, they provide an assessment of literary and cultural studies from the establishment of theory and its diffusion, in recent years, into various cultural and identity studies. In addition to the interviews themselves, the volume includes useful short introductions to each critic's work and biography.

Interviewees: K. Anthony Appiah, Lauren Berlant, Cathy Davidson, Morris Dickstein, Stanley Fish, Barbara Foley, Nancy Fraser, Gerald Graff, Alice Kaplan, E. Ann Kaplan, Robin D.G. Kelley, Paul Lauter, Louis Menand, Richard Ohmann, Andrew Ross, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Jane Tompkins, Marianna Torgovnick, and Alan Wald.


  • "These engaged conversations are extremely well-informed, interesting, readable, and revealing. Critics at Work is a beautifully composed work and both fun and rewarding to read."

    —Vincent B. Leitch, editor of The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism