This new collection of J. Hillis Miller’s essays centres on the question “why and to what end should we read, teach, and spend our time with literary and/or cultural studies?” At a time when electronic media seem to dominate the market completely, and jobs follow the money flows into electronic and technical fields, literary and cultural studies might appear as a decorative addenda but not really necessary for the process of growth and development, neither in business nor in the area of personal development. This question is not really new, it has many facets, requires differentiated answers which depend and mirror the political and cultural climate of a society.
J. Hillis Miller is UCI Distinguished Research Professor of Comparative Literature and English at the University of California at Irvine. He is the author of many books and articles on literature and literary theory. His recent titles include For Derrida (2009), The Conflagration of Community: Fiction Before and After Auschwitz (2011) and, with Tom Cohen and Claire Colebrook, Theory and the Disappearing Future (2011).