There's something of a theoretical retrospective going on in literaryThe whole review deserves careful reading, exploring as it does what is at stake in acts of critical self-repudiation (in many senses of that phrase: Spearing's project is directed against the "I" of medieval literature). Liz also has a Molotov cocktail of an essay [I mean that as a compliment] on the gender of historicism that, when published, is going to start some important conversations. Her work is becoming truly provocative.
studies these days. Hard-core social constructionists are trumpeting
essential differences (Eve Sedgwick), and dyed-in-the-wool Marxists
are urging more close reading and attention to aesthetics (Terry
Eagleton). The boomer generation of literary critics is seeing new
horizons in refuting its once signature moves, generously returning us
to a simpler way of reading. Medievalists, for their part, are not
immune to this trend. Since the principal subject of this review is A.
C. Spearing's Textual Subjectivity and its principal focus is
Chaucer, we could call this trend in medievalist scholarship "the New
Retraction." Its global form may be no easier to take than the local
one I will describe here, and neither is it any less suspect than
Chaucer's own repudiation of much of his writing at the end of the
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
The New Retractionism?
From Elizabeth Scala's review of A. C. Spearing, Textual Subjectivity: The Encoding of Subjectivity in Medieval Narratives and Lyrics (TMR 08.04.07):