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Exaggerated Ambitions

Stefan Collini: The Case for Studying Literature, 1 December 2022

Professing Criticism: Essays on the Organisation of Literary Study 
by John Guillory.
Chicago, 391 pp., £24, November 2022, 978 0 226 82130 6
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... Middlemarch, this ‘line of work is very deep indeed’.Few are better suited to this work than John Guillory, the deep man’s deep man. His Cultural Capital: The Problem of Literary Canon Formation, published in 1993, is one of the most admired and influential studies in the humanities in recent decades. The hallmark of his work has been to engage ...

Nutty Professors

Hal Foster: ‘Lingua Franca’, 8 May 2003

Quick Studies: The Best of ‘Lingua Franca’ 
edited by Alexander Star.
Farrar, Straus, 514 pp., $18, September 2002, 0 374 52863 2
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... or literature in society’. And a decade ago, when controversy over the curriculum was at a peak, John Guillory added that debates about literary and artistic canons merely disguised the simple fact that they weren’t very important to anyone’s self-fashioning. By the late 1990s the humanities appeared marginal even to the universities, driven as they ...

White Lies

James Campbell: Nella Larsen, 5 October 2006

In Search of Nella Larsen: A Biography of the Colour Line 
by George Hutchinson.
Harvard, 611 pp., £25.95, June 2006, 0 674 02180 0
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... Writing in the New Yorker in April 1986, Calvin Trillin told the story of Susie Guillory, a native of Louisiana who, when applying for a passport, discovered that she was African American. According to the state’s ‘one-drop rule’, Americans with even a 1 in 32 part of Negro blood – or a nameless, faceless great-great-great-grandfather – were classified as ‘Col’, or coloured, on birth certificates ...

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