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Patrick McEvoy-H alston

English 46llF01
ProfessorStephenRoss
09 December 2002

Perpetuation
andExclusionin TheNortonAntholosyof TheoryandCriticism

In "What is an Author" (1969)Michel Foucaultmakesa very seriouschargeagainstthe

literary criticism of his time. He arguesthat literarycritics,who imaginethey partakein

revolutionarychangessuchasthe "killing" of the author,actually"arrestthe possibilityof

change"("What is an Author"r rcZ+1.The notionof the integratedandimportantauthor,for

instance,he believesis actually"preserved"by thesecritics,andhis/trerwriting still givena
o'primordialstatus"(1625). Inspiredby Foucault'schallengethat "the privilegesof the author"

(1625)canbe maintainedevenin workswhich we would mostlikely think would undermine

them,I haveexploredTheNortonAnthologyof TheoryandCriticismto seeif 1) a reasonable

argumentcanbe madethat this text "preseryes"the greatauthor/critic;and2) if the editorsof

Norton,in their selectionof who wasandwho wasnot included,canbe fairly accusedof using

their privilegedstatusaseditorsaffiliatedwith an influentialandreputablepublisherto

determinethe sortof criticismthatis legitimate,if not "true." Specifically,the papersof

Foucault'sI referredto for directionandinspirationaretheffore-mentioned
articlein Norton,

"What is an Author," andthe collectionof essaysandinterviewsin Knowledge/Power.My

conclusionis that,especiallybecauseof the way theNorton structuredits text, studentswho

"believe" in uniqueandimportantindividualsmay not find thatthe text disturbsthis conceptiono

andthat,unfortunately,the text doescharacterizecertaincritics--namely,thosewho are

"antitheory,"andthosewhos[ who arenot affiliatedwith a university--sothat they seem"less-

important," afld even disreputableand disturbed.

One of the reasonsthat Foucault believes that the authol "suryives," despite attemptsto

' This particularpaper,
unlessspecifiedotherwise,will be the sourceof all Foucaultquotationsin this essay.
' Foucaultcharacterizes
as"authors"thosewho "produce[. . .] a text, a booh or a work" (1631),so I conceiveof
the literarycritics in Norton as authors. Foucaultagreesin "What is an Author?" thathenarrowlycircumscribedin
this paperwho he considersto be an author;he makesclearthatcritics,too, areauthors(1631-32).
"kill" it, is becausethe conceptof the authoris useful. He writes that "[its] presenceis

functionalin that it servesasa meansof classification"(1627). The Norton text, thoughit is

stuctured in the sameway Norton hasalwaysshucturcdits anthologiesto literature-that is,

chronologicallyby author-doesnot list convenienceor tadition asoneof the reasonsthey

maintainedtheir habitualway of shucturingtheir anthologieswith this anthology. In fact thereis

very little discussionin the introductionof Norton asto why they stuctured their text the way

that they did; but they do proposean AlternativeTableof Contentswhich'tecasts the

chronologicalorder,providing lists of figuresin four categoriescommonlyusedin studying

theory'' (Norton xxxiv). This altemativeway of orderingthe text, it tums out, is besetwith

potentialdifficulties, including that an altemativeordoing might have'trnavoidably de-

emphasize[d]historical conflicts, evolutio& anddifferences"(Nodqn xxxiv). Without overtly

statingit, the editorsarecertainlyzuggestingthat their text's stucture is not only not I c' | ,, nj',r,'
i"tl;d{ I
conservative]inthat it doesnot dilute conflicts anddifferencesit is dowmight vanguard. 1

But structuringa text with a listing of authors(figures)certainlydoesnot leaveus

(1626). In fact,
ponderingwhat to do with "the emptyspaceleft by the author'sdisappearance"

Norton seemsto be goingthe otherdirectionby creatingmoreauthorialpresences,
including

previously"'forgotten' figures"(Norfggxxxiii). Foucaultbelievesthatthe longstanding

"valoiz[ation]" (1628)of the author,the notionthat a text is "acceptableonly if it carriedan

author'sname"(1629),is so entrenched
thatwe needto turn a dramaticnew direction(or revive

a long lost one)to challengeit. SamuelBeckett,accordingto Foucault,"suppliesthis t. . .]

direction: 'Whatmatterwho's speaking,someone
said,whatmatterwho's speaking[?]"'(1623).

That is, Foucaultsuggeststhat we readworkswithout identiffing themasan author's,leaving

ourselveswith only works (not even"their" works). This strategycouldnot be moredifferent

from Norton's. The Norton text triesto includemorefiguresin their anthologyof criticisdrthan
3

Wl"d-/
do othertexts,andgivesthemeach,by the way announceeachauthor'ssectionandwith the
t?
detailstheyprovideof their lives,if not canonicalstatus,perhapsthe "gravity [. . .] of
'fundamental'
[ratherthan]mediate[secondclass]authors"(1635).

Foucaultarguesthat if we arecuedto exploreatext asthatof an author{#iU reaOthe

work with a morerespectfulattitudethanwe might haveotherwise;it will not be "accordedthe

momentaryattentiongivento ordinary,fleetingwords" (1621). Eachauthor's,sectionin Norton
[r\i .i i* t
is introduced by the author's name, date of birth, ffid, if deceased,the date ofperf death.

Beginninga sectionwith the author'snameandbirth/deathdatesis a way to cuethe readerto

imaginethe worksthat follow it ascombiningto constitutethe largerentity,the author. The

author'snameanddatesarea muchlargerfont sizethanthatusedto inscribetheir worksin the
/
'/
text. This is a familiar printing strategy,but it is alsoonewhich encourages
the readerto think

of the authorasmoreimportantthananyof his/herworks. Followingthe author'snameand

beginwith a biographyof the author. Providedin chronologicalorder,we
dates,the headnotes

of the author'sbirthplace,parents,schooling,and
learnfirst aboutthe distinctivecharacteristics

thena descriptionof the changing,evolvinginterestsof the author'scareerasa writer/critic. The

too, areprovidedin chronologicalorder. Becausebiographical
essaysthat follow the headnotes,

datais providedto situateeverywork providedin the text within the contextof the author'slife,

againit is difficult to resistassemblingthe individualworks,the parts,into a single,unified

whole.

conceptsthatkeepsalive
Foucaultarguesthat integnty,unity, is oneof the cornerstone

the notion of the author. "Evolutior," a key word for the editorsof Nortonf li", r{to
"it**t
twice complimenttheir structuringof their work, is a word that Foucaultflagsasonewhich

serves,by stitchingtogethersingular(isolated?)worksinto an author'sco{pus,[o p"tp"tuatethe

notionof the author. "Any unevenness
[, Foucaultwrites,]of productionfby thosewho believe
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causedby evolution"(1630). Evolution,
in the notionof an author,will be] ascribedto changes

for Foucault,is reminiscentof personalitydevelopment.It bringsto mind biography,the

developmentof a uniquepersona,of an author,andNorton'sheadnotes
andauthorgroupings

work to encourage
viewing workslooking for evolutionor developmentovertime within a

singleauthor,notjust betweenhistoricalperiods.

The division or fragmentationof an individualauthorandhisftrerworksinto different

categories,occupylngseparate"islands"of pageswithin the text, is a potentialway of structuring
L ''. , i "
'fudt"xt
that the editorsof Nortonconceiveof asladenwith difficulties. It is "[o]ne of the

risks" Gjorton xxxiv) that suggested
itself whenthey considered
what form their alternative

structureshouldtake. Their concern--iftrue, avery legitimateone--isthat it would leadto

repeatingarticles;but it might alsohavehelpedchallengethe ideaof an authoror an individual

asintegrated,asa whole. But I amnot surethatthe editorsof Nortonwant the ideaof the

integratedpersonchallenged.At times,by the way they charactenzefragmentation,
it seerns

theypreferunity over fragmentation.For instance,the editorscharacterize
Foucault'seffortsto
/\
(1621).In casewemistakethis
avoid"appeal[ing]to'tnrth'or'selves"l)|.. .] asfragmentary"

for a compliment,we notethat the editorsvalorizetheir own headnotes
by emphasizingthatthey

"pictur[e] the historyof theorynot asa stringof isolatedpearlsbut asa mosaicin which each

work fits into largerframesof ongoingdiscussions Norton xxxiv). Maybeso,
andarguments'o

but hadthey wantedto challengethe reader'sconceptionof an author,they might haveneededto

preferthat their theoriesandtheir figureslack the aestheticintegrationa mosaiccomposition
v
provides.

Foucault,in "Two Lectures,"may be conceivedasan advocatefor fragmentation.He

objectsstronglyto attemptsto unitediscourse.He proposesthe creationof a "disorderedand

fragmentaS' (85) genealogyto help opposetheoreticalunity. Still, it would be misleadingto
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arguethat Foucaultwould have"struggle[d]"("Two Lectures"85) againsteverydecisionNorton

madein structuringtheir anthology.The text asis retainsa strongsenseof history,ffid we know

that Foucaultwas ableto createa critical spacebetweenhimselfandcontemporarycultural

contextswith the help of textsthatpre-datethe creationof the "author-function."However,it is

worth notingthat at leastoneanthologyof literary criticism,Contextsfor Criticism,3which

structuresits text by schoolsof thought,providesus with no biographicalinformation

whatsoever.We seethe nameof the writersof worksat the top of eachpage,but haveno idea

wherethey wereborn, schooled,how they lived, etc.. We may not thenlook to seehow an essay

"fits" into the writer's life (wasan essaywritten duringhisftrerAmericanor Parisianperiod?).

We areleft essentiallywith a work, not a collectionof worksorderedchronologically,side-by-

side. We know the work is deemedimportant,otherwiseit would not havebeenincluded,but

thereareinsufficientcuesto promptus to imaginethatthe author'slived life, the author

himAerself,is alsoimportantfor us to attendto.

This otheranthologyseemsto comecloserthandoesNorton'sto suggesting,
"'What

matterwho's speaking?"'(1639J,And thoughit certainlywouldnot be anythingnearasradical

or self-defeating(book #liit"s structuringan anthologywithoutmentioningthe "creators"of

the works,it is possiblethat if the editorsof theNortonanthologyhad structuredtheir text

accordingto their alternativemodel(which subordinates
the importanceof individualsto some

extentby fitting theminto categories), thatthey had a lessingrained
it might havesuggested

conceptionof the individual asintegrated,andasboth centralin importance,andthe proper

iust beingintroducedto critical theory'mightnot thenattachto
centreof discourse.Readers,
li'"e:.(.
criticsthe samestatustheymightalreadybeaccustomed
of abornihgtoothersortsof authors.

Though I have been arguing that the editors of Norton perpetuatethe notion of an author

3Foucault
might also,of course,dislikestructuringa text into unifiedcategories
of any kind.
6

in their anthology,I will not arguethatthis wastheir intention,nor, evenif they do showsignsof

thatthey would preferto avoiddealinga death-blowto
favouringintegrationover fragmentation,

the notionof an author.The oppositeis likely the case.FollowingFoucault'ssuggestion
that

eventhosewho aim to eliminatethe "author-function"canendup sustainingit, I havetried to

showthusfar only thatthey may be an exampleof thosewho are"guilty'' of this unintended

perpetuationof the notion of the author. However,I do not believethat the editorsareinnocent

of the sortof powergamesthat Foucaultbelievesis inherentin theperpetuationof the high

statusascribedto authors.In partbecausethey characterizetheir
text as"the mostwide ranging
'|\
C';
collectionof its kind" (xxxiii), andbecause
andcomprehensive of theirpowerfulreputationasa , i
I,i(

publishingfirm, thoseleft out of Norton facebeingstigmatizedasof "lesserimport." The

editorsmustbe well awareof this, yet they still excludeall worksassociated
with "antitheorists"

from the text, andonly mentionthem,apparently,to discreditthern. t' ' 'i

In Foucault'sessay,"The Eye of Power,"he asks,"Do you think it would be muchbetter

to haveprisonersoperatingthe Panopticapparatus
andsittingin the centraltower,insteadof the

guards?"(164-65).Foucault'schallenge
thatsolong aspowerfulinstitutionsexist,andso long

asthey arestaffed,that the staffwill usetheir powerto perpetuate
their own powerby

others,is worth keepingin mind whenwe considerthosecritics thatthe editorsof
suppressing

Nortonhavedecidedto keepfrom the studentsview--theanti-theorists.Thereis an articletitled

"AgainstTheoqy''in the text, but this articleis not likely oneof thosewritten by authorswhom

the editorialstaff considerantitheorists.An antitheoristis not somuchinterestedin dialogue

with literary critics: giventhe chancethey would oust"imported"critical theoryfrom North

Americanuniversities.Their writing is far lesscivil thanis StevenKnappandWalterBenn

Michaels'article. Writers suchasAlan Bloom, ChristopherLasch,ffid CamillePagliaargue

that Englishdepartments
havecaughta foreigncontagionthatis infestingHum
{*'U*artments
I

acrossthe continent.Consideringthe animosityantitheoristshaveto critical theory,we might

understandwhy the editorsof Nortondo not includeanyof theseauthors(despite,or becauseof

their hugecommercialsuccessasauthors)in their anthology,andwhy in the introductionof their

text they do not treatthemkindly.

Anti-theoristsareat leastonecollectionof thinkerswho arenot specifiedby their

personalnamesin Norton. The editors'decisionto not indicatethe particularindividualsthey

believeconstitutethe antitheoristsmay comeacrossastactful,but, consideringhow the editors

of Norton characterizethert,it is a decisionthat addsto our senseof themasundistinguished,

andignorant--asa mob of ill-informedreactionaries.Perhapsthe most
indistinguishable,

damninglabel to be taggedwith in literary circlesis 'lrncritical." And accordingto the editors,

"the antitheorypositionturnsout to rely on unexamined--and of literature
debatable--theories

andcriticism" (1). Mind you, beingcalledignorantwouldbe damningtoo, andthe editors

[. . .] thatthereis no positionfreeof theory,not eventhe
informsus that "theorydemonstrates

onecalled'commonsense'(l). Thanksto NortonI imaginethis lot asa bunchof reactionary,

probablylistento RushLimbaugh.
moronic,knuckle-heads--they

But howeveraccuratewejudgethis caricature,we might acknowledgethat the editorsof

the Norton text aremostcertainlydescribingthesewriters--again,writerswhoseworks arenot

includedin the text--in suchaway to makethemseema disreputablelot. And taggingthemso

thatthey seeman "out" groupis exactlythe sortof discursivepower-playFoucaultsaysthat

elitesuseto keepopposinggroupsin line. Sowhile it is true that in their placeantitheorists

would most certainlyrespondin kind, Foucault'squestionof whetherit matterswhetherthe
'oguards"or the "prisoners"arein chargeif theyboth would usepowerfor hegemonicpurposes,

is surelyworth pondering.

Giventhe mannerin which the editorsdescribethe antitheorists,it is possiblethat they
r
wereexcludedbecausethey weredeemedunworthy,or unliterary,but the editorsmight have

alsoassumedtheseauthorsarealreadyvery (all too) visible: their works,asmentioned,areoften

andcanbefound atanybookstore.But if Foucaultis correct,theseauthors,though
best-sellers

visible outsideof academia,will needto havetheir presencelegitimatedby academiato have

power,andwith this power,to haveany significantinfluenceoverwhat sort of discourseis

deemedo'true,"or legitimate. While manyof the antitheoristsareor wereacademics,
because

publishers,becausetheir booksdo no
their works aremostoftenpublishedby non-academic

in paymentof occurred
begin,asdoesthe Norton text, by thankinghundredsof acadernics

"obligations"and"debts"(xxxvii), theseacademics
arevery similarto the solitaryauthorfigrnes

that Foucaultsaysusedto be a powerful"figurehead[s]"("Truth andPowet'' 127). But,

accordingto Foucault,eversincethe SecondWorld War, "the universityandthe academics

[have]t. . . l emerge[d]as t. . .l privilegedpointsof intersection"("Truth andPowet'' 127). The

is that the o'figurein which the functionsandprestige[. . .] are
resultof this emergence

is no longerthat of the 'writer of genius',but that of the 'absolutesavant'[the
concentrated

academic]"("Truth andPower" 127).

In my opinion,this particularcharacterization
of academiaasa hegemonicinstitutionis

onewhich manyacademicswould find offensive. Left-leaningacademics,
especially,would

preferto imaginethemselvesasstill strugglingagainstmuchlarger,far moreinfluentialforces

(capitalist,imperialist,andotherwise).WhereaselsewhereFoucaultdrawsa corurection
between

the proletanatandthe academic,herethereis an explicit characterization
of academicsasthe

"comfortableelite" (NormanCantor,The AmericanCentury325). In fact,in the interviewjn f . r

whichthis quoteis takenYe("Truth andPowtr"),Foucaultbeginsby arguingthat

"intellectuals have actually been drawn closer to the proletariat and the masses"(1 667). And

worth our notice is that while this excerpt is included in the version of "Truth and Power" that
madeit into Norton,Foucault'sargumentof how the academichassupplantedthe solitary

intellectualwasleft out. The resultof this exclusionis thatNortonlikely leavesthe reader

thinking that the solitaryauthorfigure,the onedescribedin "What is an Author?,"is still the

hegemonicfigure worth critical scrutiny,whenFoucaultclearlycameto think that the powers

the academicnow possesses
arefar moreworthy of our critical attention.

Thoughthe editorsinsiststhat "snippetsarethe exception"(xxxv), that they would

excludethe more gratinganalysisin Foucault'sinterviewshouldnot surpriseus. Because

Norton decided"that without the agreement
of at leasthalf the editors""no figure or selection

couldmakeit into the anthology''(xxxv), they adopteda selectionpolicy that would inevitably

leadto the creationof a conservativeanthology.That is, papersandfiguresthattoo strongly

opposethe powerinvestedin academia, hold, would
or of the viewpointsthe editorsthemselves

not likely havea chanceof 'omak[ing]if' Nortqg xxxv) into the prestigiousanthology.The

resultof their selectionprocessis thatif oneactuallyenjoyscritics suchasChristopherLasch,

Alan Bloom, CamillePaglia,etc.,andevenif someof the editorsactuallywantedtheir more

in the anthology,onewill not "be pleasantly
combativeantitheoreticalstancerepresented

surprised"Ng$eg xxxv) to actuallyfind themin it. Too manyeditorsprobablysecretlyprefer

that the fore-mentionedantagonistic,irascibleauthorswereneverborn.

Thoughthe Norton anthologyexcludesfrom discussionsomeof the morevirulent attacks

uponpost-WorldWar Two academia,
the editorsdo in their introductionacknowledgethat "[t]he

encloseof post-WorldWar II theoryin the universityandits increasedprofessionalization
have

critics,literaryjournalists,andwritershavebeenlargely
meantthat contemporarynonacademic

excludedfrom the theorycanon"(xxxvi). Theywrite thatthey "hope" that this is a "trend [that

isl slowly beingreversed"(xxxvi). Yet sincethey follow this statement
by telling us that the

"editorsof this anthologywereselectedbecauseof their scholarlyexpertise"(xxxvi), we should
10

not dependon Nortonto rectify their omissionanytime soon. If someof the editorswere

includedbecausethey werelackingin "scholarlyexpertise,"or werenot affiliatedwith

universities,i.e.,becausetheywerenot experts,we would havemorereasonto think that they

versionsincludea truly morediverseselectionof figuresandpapers.
would in subsequent

I would very muchlike to believethatthe editorsof the Nortontext want to inculcatean

unrestricted"readinessto takecritical standsandto engagein resistance,"aswell "as an interest

in blind spots"(xxxviii) in studentsapproachingcritical theory. That is, I do not want to believe

that the editorswould preferthat studentsattendcritically to only thoseareassanctioned
by

academics.But asthey excludedfrom their text themoreirasciblecriticismof the post-World

War Two "rise" of critical theory(especiallyin Englishdepartments),
andasthey stigmatize

thosein textual"blind spots,"i.e., antitheorists,I amnot convincedof this. Thoughthey are

clearlyconsciousof the implicationsof exclusionandinclusionin their anthology(seexxxvi),

theystill seemto useexclusionasa meansto keeppotentially"'dangerouspeople't. . .]

isolated"(Foucault,"On PopularJustice"15). Theyshouldhaveincludedsomeof their works in

the anthology,ratheror alongwith the article"AgainstTheoqy''(an articledeemed"acceptable"

in
betweenits authorsandacademics
enoughthat therewas a back-and-forthengagement

academicjournals). An alternativemight havebeen,sinceI believethat they do perpetuatethe

importanceof a nurme,andof an author,to at leastnamethe antitheoristsin their introduction,

andgive a listing of their worksin their SelectedBibliography.
11

Works Cited

Cantor,Norman. The AmericanCentur.v:Varietiesof Culturein ModernTimes. New York:

HarperCollins,1997.

Foucault,Michel. "On PopularJustice:A Discussionwith Maoists." Trans.JohnMepham.

Knowledge/Power:Selectedintenriewsandotherwritines 1972-1977.Ed. Colin

Gordon.New York: Pantheon
Books,1980. l-36.

"The Eyeof Power." Trans.Colin Gordon.Ed. Colin Gordon. 146-65.

"Truth andPower." Trans. Colin Gordon.Ed. Colin Gordon. 109-33.

"Two Lecfures." Trans. Kate Soper.Ed. Colin Gordon. 78-92.

"What is anAuthor?o'.Trans. DonaldF. BouchardandSherrySimon. TheNorton

Anthologyof TheoryandCriticism. Ed. VincentB. Leitch et al.. New York: W. W.

NortonandCompany,20A1. rc22-36.

Keesey,Donald,ed. Contextsfor Criticism.3rd ed. Mountainview:Mayfield Publishing

Company1998.

Leitch,VincentB. et al., eds. TheNortonAntholog.vof TheoryandCriticism. New York: W.

W. NortonandCompany,2001.

l,
t\
-i-
/\ ".
Mc-Evoy llalston, Patrick -
Writing: This paper is very well-written. The sentencesare logical and flow nicely, as do the
paragtaphsand, indeed, the overall organisation.You expressyour ideas clearly and cogently,
and there is an obvious progressionof your ideas throughout. About the only problem I see
consistently coming up in this paper is an inconsistencyin using the pronouns he or she to refer
to nouns like "an individual." At times you use "they'' or "their" instead of "he or she" in a way
which confusesthe number of the noun being referred to. Obviously, this is not a major problern
with the paper, but it is one you should work on eradicatingto make your writing as error-free as
possible. Nonetheless,the fact remains that you write very well, and this gives you a big
advantagein presenting your argument.

Argument: Your argument here is remarkably clear and coherent.You do a very nice job of
selecting one aspectof the anthology's organisationand pointing out how it seemsto violate the
very tenetsthe anthology would apparentlylike to uphold. I think you show nicely that the
anthology's organisation of contributors by personalname goeswell beyond the realm of the
author-function and re-inscribesthe problematic assumptionthat the author's life and careerneed
be the originary basis for understandinghis or her work. This is well done here. Likewise, I think
you do a good job of pointing out that the anthology lacks adequaterepresentationof non-theory
or anti-theory critics. There are, however, two problems with this aspectof your paper. The first
of these is that it is not clearly related to the discussionof the authors.That is, while I think you
are right in what you say about both aspectsof the anthology, I do not seewhy you chosethese
two aspectsin particular to discuss- sometreatment of other aspectsof the anthology which you
leave undiscussedhere might have helped remedy this. In effect, I don't dispute so much what
you have to say as why you choosethesetwo aspectsin particular to say it about - how are they
related and why do you think they need to be analysedtogether?The other problern is more of a
logical blindspot in your paper. You point out that only one anti-theory writer is included in the
anthology. This true, but I would question why they should include any anti-theory writers. The
anthology is an anthology of literary theory, and not of attitudes toward it. I realise that part of
your argument is that the anthologyhas as part of its agendathe legitimation of theory, but to be
frank that debateis long-since dead.Theory is here and the battle over its legitimacy is over.
Given that the anthology's declaredaim is not to validate the claims of theory nor to establish its
legitimacy or representvarious attitudestoward it, I would find it surprising if they had opted to
include anti-theory papers.This is not to mention that anti-theory papersdo take naiVe and often
ill-informed stanceson literary theory. To clarify what I mean, perhapswe should ask why the
Norton Anthologt of English Literature doesn't include any works by non-English writers or any
non-literary works.

A11that aside, though, this is a very good analysis of the ways in which the organisation and
structure of something like the anthology perform ideological and/or disciplinary work. You've
done a good job of excavating some of that hidden work here.