Recently in CHAL Category

Robert Ferguson (Columbia University) wrote to me in an e-mail that the format for tonight's MLA roundtable "American Literary Historiography, Then and Now," which I am chairing, was not promising, given that we had seven people slotted to speak and then field questions -- and only 1 hour and 15 minutes to do it in. in addition to maintaining a strict time limit on each speaker's position statement (5 minutes, plus 1 minute to sum up), I'm going to forego making a statement myself, limiting myself to introducing my fellow participants -- Morris Dickstein (CUNY Grad Center); Robert A. Ferguson (Columbia University); Gerald Graff (University of Illinois, Chicago); Walter Benn Michaels, (University of Illinois, Chicago); Shira Wolosky (Hebrew University of Jerusalem); and Rafia Zafar (Washington University) -- and letting the audience know that I asked each participant to speak about one or more of the following questions: 1) What did you feel was the most pressing problem for the literary historian when you wrote your contribution to the Cambridge History of American Literature; 2) What do you feel will be the most pressing problem for the next set of literary historians who tackle your period or field? 3) What do you think the Cambridge History of American Literature as a whole has accomplished?

Were I myself to answer those three questions, I'd probably say something like this:

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