What is criticism supposed to do? Is polemic a legitimate face of criticism, or simply its excess? What does it mean to read critically or uncritically? As Jane Gallop writes in her introduction to "Polemic," "Should the critical attitude be devoid of all passions, not just the reverent but the aggressive as well?"
These new essays by leading scholars examine some famous and less well-known instances of polemical encounters: Louis Menand on the Andrew Sarris - Pauline Kael slugfest over popular movies; Jonathan Crewe on the entertainment value that printed polemics provided as far back as the 16th century; Michael Warner on Kant's views of critical reading; as well as other essays on Foucault, Habermas, and Boswell with (or vs.) Dr. Johnson. The essays are enhanced by an interview with Gayatri Spivak, specially conducted by Jane Gallop for this volume
Historically rigorous, theoretically astute, and sometimes wickedly funny, "Polemic" makes criticism a critical issue.