In this book, literary critic and English teacher Bernard Bergonzi examines the state of contemporary English studies. He discusses the developments and changes seen in the United States and England since 1959, including the impact of the Thatcherite transformation of the academy on traditional practices, and the influence of the "rainbow coalition," comprising poststructuralism, psychoanalysis, Marxism, and feminism. Drawing on recent critical theory, intellectual history, and the sociology of knowledge, the book provides valuable insights into the field, and offers some positive suggestions about future developments.
`a readable anecdotal collection of Bergonzi's pieces on literary study in modern England'
American Literary Scholarship
`Exploding English is a substantial contribution to the debate on the troubled condition of English studies....Interested outsiders as well as academics, prospective as well as present students, and those with administrative responsibility for the future course of English studies could all benefit from reading this book.'
Roy Sellars, Theatre Research International
`...his new book offers a balanced and eminently readable account of an ailing British institution, spiced with a journalstic eye for extremes, an awareness of schism and revolt, and a whiff of apocalypticism.'
Patrick Parrinder, Notes and Queries June 1991
`he mainly instructs and delights the reader with "deliberate detachment", understated humour, and the finely judged wounds of a stylish swordsman ... the persuasiveness and wisdom Bergonzi generates must be experienced from the book, which concerns everyone.'
Herbert Lomas, Sunday Telegraph
`he provides in ten succinct, informative, and for the most part beautifully articulated chapters, a narrative history of the "institutionalising of literary study in higher education".'
`lively, witty, highly personal and full of a combative energy'
Times Educational Supplement
'wide-ranging account ... a lively and carefully argued book ... the kindliness and the quietly humorous down-to-earth-ness Bergonzi projects is itself a touchstone, by which to test the reality and worth of the apparitions which throng that world. I hope that the humane, patient and sensible attitudes, the intelligence and the wit of this book, will be reflected in the discussions it provokes.'
John Freeman, University of Wales College of Cardiff, Verbal Arts Association Magazine, December 1990
`Bernard Bergonzi provides a literate and articulate intellectual history of English Literature in the British Academy while making perceptive comments on literary studies in American universities.'
English Language Notes
'undoubtedly a highly readable account'
David Punter, University of Stirling, Modern Language Review, Vol. 87
'absorbing ... the book serves to make its readers aware of the imminence of intellectual bankruptcy in the study of literature in higher education, it will have served an honourable purpose'
English Studies, Volume 72, Number 6, December 1991