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This review is taken from PN Review 54, Volume 13 Number 4, March - April 1987.

RADICAL AGENDA Janet Batsleer, Tony Davies, Rebecca O'Rourke, Chris Weedon, Rewriting English (Methuen, New Accents) £7.95, £3.95 pb.

For some years now there has been much discussion and debate around 'the crisis in English studies'. This has involved the questioning of the liberal-humanist base of much Anglo-American literary criticism and theory, a challenge that has been very much a curricular, textual one - the nature of the texts studied, and the theoretical 'tools' which are brought to bear on them; in short, the shattering of any notion of one unified, homogeneous approach to literature. The 'New Accents' series has played a formative role within these struggles over meanings, over new knowledges. Inter-disciplinary in scope, and broadly popularizing in impulse, the books published in the series have often worked as collators and mediators. They have brought together and elucidated much of the new theory, and presented to a wider audience (particularly the under-graduate market) work not always immediately available or accessible elsewhere.

Located within the series as a whole, Rewriting English is immediately striking for a number of reasons. Principal among these is its continual foregrounding of the political: it is an intensely partisan piece of writing, which constantly takes theories and modes of analyses back to the social and political movements from which they developed, and within which they are implicated. It eschews any simplistic notion that all critical theory, outside the liberal-humanist model, must be radical or progressive purely by virtue of that very 'outside-ness'. The book thus shifts the site of 'the crisis' away from the textual alone, and on to the material, ...


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