The postmodern conviction that meaning is indeterminate and
self is an illusion, though fascinating and defensible in theory,
leaves a number of scholarly and pedagogical questions unsatisfied.
Authoring-the phenomenological act or felt sense of creating a
text-is "a remarkably black box," say Haswell and Haswell, yet it
should be one of the central preoccupations of scholars in English
studies. Not only can the study of authoring accommodate the
"social turn" since postmodernism, they argue, but it accommodates
as well conceptions of, and the lived experience of, personal
potentiality and singularity.
Without abandoning the value of postmodern perspectives,
Haswell and Haswell use their own perspective of authorial
potentiality and singularity to reconsider staple English-studies
concerns such as gender, evaluation, voice, character, literacy,
feminism, self, interpretation, assessment, signature, and taste.
The essay is unique as well in the way that its authors embrace
often competing realms of English studies, drawing examples and
arguments equally from literary and compositionist research.
In the process, the Haswells have created a Big Idea book, and
a critique of the field. Their point is clear: the singular
person/mysterious black box/author merits deeper consideration than
we have given it, and the book's crafted and woven explorations
provide the intellectual tools to move beyond both political
divisions and theoretical impasses.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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