Now that the "political correctness" controversy has cooled, a time for sober reflection on the field of English has arrived. In this insightful overview of English, and of literary studies, Fleishman employs both historical perspective and pragmatic sense about choices for the future. His approach is to apply recent strategies of contextual understanding to English itself. What can a class analysis tell us about the influence on the profession of the changing American socioeconomic system? What are the likely intellectual and professional outcomes of the curricular embrace of minority literatures, neglected authors, and popular culture? Beyond stimulating self-evaluation by English educators, this study prepares readers outside the field to selectively encourage new curricular and methodological opportunities.