Anecdotal Theory
And I am inclined to say that our theorizing (and I intentionally use the verb
rather than the noun) is often in narrative forms, in the stories we create, in
riddles and proverbs, in the play with language, since dynamic rather than fixed
ideas seem more to our liking.
Dynamic ideas are definitely more to my liking. Through the decade
of the nineties, my own theorizing sought a form of writing that
could honor this preference. In order to inscribe my perhaps id-
iosyncratic attempts within a larger e√ort—something someone
might call ‘‘our theorizing’’—I begin with this sentence from Bar-
bara Christian’s mid-eighties essay ‘‘The Race for Theory.’’∞
Written in the heyday of ‘‘theory’’ in the U.S. literary academy
(that moment in the mid-eighties when deconstructive, poststruc-
turalist discourse seemed predominant), Christian’s essay spoke
forcefully to and of its moment, quickly becoming notorious (and
oft reprinted) as an attack on ‘‘theory.’’ What is less frequently noted
is that Christian rejects not theory per se but a certain kind of the-
ory—that the essay also advocates an alternative way of theorizing.
Christian champions the claims of literature against a theory
which is to her mind grotesquely unliterary: ‘‘And as a student of
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