Rethinking Literary History:
A Dialogue on Theory

Oxford University Press, 2002
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Rethinking Literary History: A Dialogue on Theory

(with Mario J. Valdés)

A few decades ago, when the influence of poststructuralist theory became dominant in literary theory, traditional literary history was pushed to the margins by critiques of its teleological assumptions and uncritical acceptance of Eurocentric ideologies. This happened, of course, at the same moment as groups previously disenfranchised by gender, race, sexuality or other “difference” began articulating their own specific literary historical narratives. The inevitable conflict is what led to this collaborative volume which participates not only in a continuing dialogue with the illustrious shades of the past, encountered and engaged while writing literary history, but also in a continuing dialogue among colleagues in the present working together to revisit these areas of both contention and excitement.

Each of the five authors tackles a major issue in the contemporary theorizing of literary history in the light of new methodological paradigms and new ideological challenges. Linda Hutcheon writes on “Rethinking the National Model” in the wake of “identity politics” in a postcolonial, diasporic age of globalization. Stephen Greenblatt takes on “Racial Memory and Literary History”, while Mario J. Valdés rethinks “the History of Literary History” itself. Marshall Brown explores the “Scale of Literary History” and Walter D. Mignolo offers a reconsideration of the “Colonial Model”. The personal response of Homi Bhabha concludes this wide-ranging dialogue, as the various authors reflect upon, argue with, and indeed do rethink each other's formulations.

Table of Contents

Chapter One:
Rethinking the National Model – Linda Hutcheon

Chapter Two:
Racial Memory and Literary History – Stephen Greenblatt

Chapter Three:
Rethinking the History of Literary History – Mario J. Valdés

Chapter Four:
Rethinking the Scale of Literary History – Marshall Brown

Chapter Five:
Rethinking the Colonial Model – Walter D. Mignolo

Afterword: A Personal Response – Homi Bhabha