A Note on the Winter 2017 Issue
Every issue of Raritan finds a coherence that can’t be chalked up completely to editorial deliberation. There is always a bit of mystery--call it chance--to the way a table of contents takes shape. Our current issue illustrates this quality in its attention to a few of the great American teachers and critics of the twentieth century. First up, Jacqueline Rose’s moving tribute to Edward Said and his conflicted response to Freud. Then, David Bartholomae traces a previously unnoticed connection between the teacher of literature (and Raritan founder) Richard Poirier and the teacher of composition William E. Coles Jr. Finally, after digging through the archives and conducting interviews with alumni, Gregory Jones-Katz shows us how deconstruction found a surprising home in undergraduate classes at Yale in the 1970s and 1980s, through the efforts of teachers such as Geoffrey Hartman, Paul de Man, and J. Hillis Miller. All of these teacher-critics shared an interest in the workings of language--in particular, to the way language does not always do what you want it to, to the way writing and reading are actions, to the way it is a constant struggle to say what you mean.
Some of the other writing in the current issue enacts the virtues of this struggle: James Longenbach walks us through lines of poetry from Eliot to Lawrence to Voigt in an analysis of the temptations of the Donneian lyric voice; James Buzard reads key passages from Adam Bede, Middlemarch, and Daniel Deronda to show how “style is ethics” in Eliot’s writing; David Mikics responds to the challenges posed by Ross Posnock’s new book, Renunciation.
What makes a memorable teacher? What makes a great German Shepherd Dog? What makes an arresting poetic voice? We invite you to explore these and other matters in the current issue of Raritan.