A Field of Magpies: Disciplinary Emergence as Modus Vivendi in English Studies

Author:Tucker, Herbert, Department of EnglishUniversity of Virginia

Our summons to draw “Lessons from the Past: The Emergence of University English” evokes, inescapably, some prominent institutional dimensions. These deserve such careful attention at present that I must acknowledge them in starting and, although the following discussion will chiefly trace out other dimensions of the topic, must return to them in closing as well. To the extent that “University English” involves matters such as organizational authority and clout, departmental viability and adaptation, the task of an institutional analysis will be to refine and extend inquiries that peaked a quarter-century ago when a handful of talented literary scholar-critics, sniffing if not biting the hand that fed them, applied their talents to assessing the institutional structure that sustains professional study of English.1 Especially amid the company I’m to keep in these pages, I have just enough awareness of the variance obtaining among institutional arrangements across the years and around the globe to sense how shakily I grasp even the conditions outside the USA that are best known to me, those in the UK and Canada. An aspirant to general overview who knows as little as I do about a world of anglophone institutional histories – one that embraces, most saliently, the several distinct histories comprised by Australasia – had better study silence first.

-1st paragraph of text

All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
Source Citation:

Tucker, Herbert. "A Field of Magpies: Disciplinary Emergence as Modus Vivendi in English Studies." Modern Language Quarterly (2013).

University of Virginia
Published Date:

submitted in author-final form (before editorial review process) in 2013. publication anticipated 2014

This work has passed a peer-review process.