Norton AnthologyNorton Anthology of Theory & Criticism, Third Edition (2018)

Edited by: Vincent B. Leitch, William E. Cain, Laurie A. Finke, John McGowan, T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting, and Jeffrey J. Williams.

The Third Edition of the Norton Anthology of Theory & Criticism offers 191 pieces by 157 authors—from classical antiquity to today. A 30-page “Introduction to Theory and Criticism” provides a brisk and informative overview of major schools, movements, and thinkers.

Selections from 1900 to the present (130 in total) were chosen to best reflect current thinking about the most influential theoretical texts and thinkers of that period. Most of the anthology’s 48 new pieces by 28 new authors come from this crucial period. Pieces such as Alondra Nelson’s “AfroFuturism: Past-Future Visions” and Ian Bogost’s “The Rhetoric of Video Games” represent recent currents in contemporary theory, and new selections by Derrida, Foucault, Fanon, Morrison, and others emphasize themes and topics that are important in today’s classroom.


How to Be an Intellectual: Essays on Criticism, Culture, and the University (2014)

How to Be an Intellectual profiles a number of critics, drawing on a unique series of interviews that give an inside look at their work and careers. The book often looks at critical thought from surprising angles, examining, for instance, the history of modern American criticism in terms of its keywords as they morphed from sound to rigorous to smart. It also puts in plain language the political travesty of higher education policies that produce student debt, which, as I demonstrate, all too readily follow the model of colonial indenture, not just as a metaphor but in actual point of fact.

How to Be an Intellectual tells a story of intellectual life since the culture wars. Shedding academic obscurity and calling for a better critical writing, it reflects on what makes the critic and intellectual―the accidents of careers, the trends in thought, the institutions that shape us, and politics. It also includes personal views of living and working with books.

9780231161152The Critical Pulse: Thirty Six-Credos by Contemporary Critics (2012)

Edited by: Jeffrey J. Williams and Heather Steffen

This anthology asks thirty-six leading literary and cultural critics to elaborate on the nature of their profession. With the humanities feeling the pinch of financial and political pressures, and its disciplines resting on the increasingly uncertain conceptual ground, there couldn’t be a better time for critics to reassert their widespread relevance and purpose. These credos boldly defend the function of criticism in contemporary society and showcase its vitality in the era after theory.

Contributors: Andrew Ross, Amitava Kumar, Lisa Lowe, Vincent B. Leitch, Craig Womack, Jeffrey J. Williams, Marc Bousquet, Katie Hogan, Michelle A. Massé, John Conley, Heather Steffen, Paul Lauter, Cary Nelson, David B. Downing, Barbara Foley, Michael Bérubé, Victor Cohen, Gerald Graff, William Germano, Ann Pellegrini, Bruce Robbins, Kenneth Warren, Diana Fuss, Lauren Berlant, Toril Moi, Morris Dickstein, Rita Felski, David R. Shumway, Mark Bauerlein, Devoney Looser, Stephen Burt, Mark Greif, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Mark McGurl, Frances Negrón-Muntaner, Judith Jack Halberstam

9780521120852Theory and the Novel: Narrative Reflexivity in the British Tradition (2009)

Narrative features such as frames, digressions, or authorial intrusions have traditionally been viewed as distractions from or anomalies in the narrative proper. In Theory and the Novel I expose these elements as more than simple disruptions, analyzing them as registers of narrative reflexivity, that is, moments that represent and advertise the functioning of narrative itself. I argue that narrative encodes and advertises its own functioning and modal form. I take a range of novels from the English canon – Tristram Shandy, Joseph Andrews, The Turn of the Screw, Wuthering Heights, Lord Jim and Heart of Darkness are amongst the novels examined – and show how narrative technique is never beyond or outside plot. I pose a series of theoretical questions such as about reflexivity, imitation and fictionality, to offer a striking and original contribution to readings of the English novel, as well as to discussions of theory in general.


Critics at Work: Interviews 1999-2003 (2004)

Edited 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.

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.

416RDX0D2SL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_The Institution of Literature (2001)

Edited by: Jeffrey J. Williams

In response to the classic question “What is literature?” we usually look to the novels, poems, and plays on our shelves. The Institution of Literature turns this question around, looking instead at the institutions that house literary study. It examines how our institutional practices, protocols, and structures mediate and produce what we call “literature.” It shines light on usually hidden but formative dimensions of literary study: from the institutional economy governing theory to the star system of professional reputation; from the corporatization of cultural studies to the reconfiguration of our roles as resource managers rather than literary scholars; and from the position of graduate students to the hierarchical structure of our professional organizations.

Gathering contributions from critics such as Michael Bérubé, Terry Caesar, Lennard Davis, Vincent B. Leitch, Devoney Looser, David R. Shumway, James J. Sosnoski, and Evan Watkins, The Institution of Literature forges an original and timely line of research, both criticizing current professional forms of literary study and proposing possibilities for change.

41PiAjDoTiL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_PC Wars: Politics and Theory in the Academy (1994)

Edited by: Jeffrey J. Williams

The debate around political correctness has been loud, public, and fractious. The skirmishes have been featured everywhere, from Time to The MacNeil / Lehrer News Hour, while the subjects of the attack-the teachers-have been largely pushed off to the sidelines. Out of the uneven terrain comes PC Wars, the first book dedicated to a serious analysis of the PC phenomenon.