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Professing Literature: An Institutional History
Publication Year: 1989
ASIN: 0226306046
ISBN: 0226306046

University of Chicago Press (February 15, 1989)

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About the Book

This detailed history of the rise of English departments in the U. S. is lucid, cogently argued, and replete with quotes from primary sources. By detailing the arguments over how (and, in the very beginning, whether) English should be taught, from the pre-English department days of the early nineteenth century into the 1960s, Graff takes the reader decade by decade through the controversies of the period, showing how theory is often mitigated by practice and how we have uncritically adopted “the habit of thinking of institutions as if they were unmediated projections of the values, methods, and ideologies of major individuals and movements.” Graff would argue that though ideological debates help shape the institution, the process of institutionalization also reshapes ideologies.
For the reader interested in current developments in literary theory, this should prove an invaluable sourcebook.

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