Secular Vocations: Intellectuals, Professionalism, Culture (Haymarket Series)

Robbins, Bruce

Published by Verso, 1993
ISBN 10: 0860914305 / ISBN 13: 9780860914303
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Synopsis: During the 1980s, university-based intellectuals came under heavy fire from both radicals and conservatives. They were accused by the former of betraying their public duty as general critics of society, and by the latter of promulgating radical ideologies and corrupting the young. In this work, the author counters both left and right, arguing that the professionalization of literary study was inevitable and fortuitous. Robbins undertakes close studies of such figures as Edward Said, Fredric Jameson and Raymond Williams, while considering the major trends in contemporary cultural studies and giving significant attention to relevant developments in such disciplines as ethnology and sociology. Secular Vocations ranges over materials from Britain, France and the US, knitting them together in a synthesis that places, in bold relief, many of the major controversies in contemporary intellectual life. It concludes with a plea for what Robbins calls “comparative cosmopolitanism” to displace the more militantly particularist projects that have come to dominate the human sciences.
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From Publishers Weekly: Robbins, professor of English at Rutgers, here offers an original defense of academic cultural criticism as practiced today. Whereas most commentators have lamented the professionalization and increasing specialization of cultural work, Robbins contends that such "fall narratives" oversimplify, and that university-based intellectuals can contribute valuable critical insight and political awareness to a likewise professionalized public. Seeking to expose the inconsistencies of theory's critics, Robbins deconstructs their appeals to abstract notions of culture, critical distance, universality and the public. Alongside of this negative work, Robbins presents positive accounts of the careers of significant literary intellectuals, whose writings he mines for "allegories of vocation" that provide possible models for socially engaged academics. He focuses here on the late British Marxist Raymond Williams and on Edward Said, author of Orientalism . Robbins writes at a high pitch of theoretical sophistication, but cogently; his arguments will provide a valuable counterweight in the ongoing battles over the value of contemporary criticism.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Title: Secular Vocations: Intellectuals, ...
Publisher: Verso
Publication Date: 1993
Book Condition: Good

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