The Confessions of the Critics shatters a certain silence. Autobiographical criticism has until now skated relatively free from the challenges that usually assail a new literary critical method. It has had this immunity from critique largely because feminists and third-world liberation fighters--such as Alice Walker, Adrienne Rich and Jane Gallop--ushered it to the North American academic stage. Other women and men, including Rigoberta Menchu, Nawal al-Sadawi, Mahasweta Devi and Malcolm X, wrote in the tradition and genre of testimonio . These and other unimpeachably militant backgrounds gave confessional criticism a certain cache among the largely liberal community of literary scholars. We have hesitated to express misgivings about a form that seemed intrinsically tied to the most vital, powerful strivings. Telling stories about one's own past is probably our culture's richest way of characterizing the effects of social injustice and developing what it takes to resist various kinds of victimage, writes contributor Charles Altieri. Confessions of the Critics provides a revealing look into the thoughts and experiences of some of the most influential and important critics of the 20th century. The writers included avoid pretention and gross self-misrepresentation, giving way to raw, sometimes embarrassing, always wholly believable emotion. Describing cumulative literary shocks and episodes of self-recognition, contributors offer insights to their ruling passions and works. Powerful sensations, emotions, recognitions and revelations make up the heart of Confessions of the Critics. It is a book that none will put aside or easily forget. Contributors: Charles Altieri, William Andrews, Michael F. Berube, Timothy Brennan, Gillian Brown, Cathy Davidson, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Diane Freedman, Marjorie Garber, Gerald Graff, Stephen J. Greenblatt, Michael Hill, Marianne Hirsch, Alice Yeager Kaplan, Amitava Kumar, Candace Lang, Louis Menand, Judith Lowder Newton, Linda Orr, Vincent Pecora, David Simpson, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Madelon Sprengnether, Jane Tompkins, Marianna Torgovnick, H. Aram Veeser, Jeffrey Williams, Elizabeth Young-Bruehl.

part I|94 pages

Is It Okay to Read Subjectively?

chapter 1|14 pages

Autobiographical Literary Criticism as the New Belletrism

Personal Experience
ByDiane P. Freedman

chapter 2|12 pages

Mourning Shakespeare

My Own Private Hamlet
ByMadelon Sprengnether

chapter 3|11 pages

Interrupted Reading

Personal Criticism in the Present Time
ByRachel M. Brownstein

chapter 4|15 pages


ByCandace Lang

chapter 5|13 pages

What Is at Stake in Confessional Criticism

ByCharles Altieri

chapter 6|8 pages

Confession versus Criticism, or What's the Critic Got to Do With It?

ByElizabeth Fox-Genovese

chapter 7|6 pages

Through the Academic Looking Glass

ByVincent P. Pecora

chapter 8|13 pages

Speaking Personally

The Culture of Autobiographical Crititism
ByDavid Simpson

part II|90 pages

How Can a Critic Create a Self?

chapter 9|6 pages


ByGerald Graff

chapter 10|7 pages

Critical Personifications

ByGillian Brown

chapter 11|11 pages

Overcoming “Auction Block”

Stories Masquerading as Objects
ByMarjorie Garber

chapter 12|20 pages

Pictures of a Displaced Girlhood

ByMarianne Hirsch

chapter 13|7 pages

The MLA President's Column

ByAmitava Kumar

chapter 14|8 pages

Me and Not Me

The Narrator of Critical and Historical Fiction1
ByLinda Orr

chapter 15|21 pages

Writing in Concert

An Interview with Cathy Davidson, Alice Kaplan, Jane Tompkins, and Marianna Torgovnick
ByJeffrey Williams

chapter 16|8 pages

White-Boy Authenticity

ByTimothy Andres Brennan

part III|97 pages

Just Do It!

chapter 17|18 pages

Life as We Know It

ByMichael Bérubé

chapter 18|16 pages


ByGayatri Chakravorty Spivak

chapter 19|14 pages

Laos Is Open

ByStephen Greenblatt

chapter 20|6 pages

Damaged Goods

ByBruce Robbins

chapter 21|15 pages

Junctions on the Color Line1

ByWilliam L. Andrews

chapter 22|12 pages

“Why Am I Always the Bad Guy?”

A Reverie on the Virtues of Confession
ByJudith Lowder Newton

chapter 23|14 pages

Let's Get Lost

ByJane Tompkins