The current debate about the nature of English studies has questioned the status of English as a discipline. Josephine Guy and Ian Small set this so-called 'crisis in English' within the larger context of disciplinary knowledge. They examine the teaching of English and literary studies in the United States and Britain, and argue that the explicit attempt by some radical critics on both sides of the Atlantic to politicise the discipline has profound consequences for the nature of English studies. They describe the current state of disciplinary knowledge, together with its social and philosophical preconditions; they analyse recent proposals for reform; and they discuss the ways in which these proposed reforms would affect the three main practices of the discipline - literary criticism, literary history and text-editing. In the process they demystify issues and arguments which have often in the past been obscured by jargon and polemic.
"Josephine Guy and Ian Small are extremely skilled in the arts of analysis and argumentation. Their book is a densely argued inquiry into what happens when people within English studies come to the conclusion that all literature is political, and that all judgments about literature are political as well." John L. Kijinski, English Literature in Transition