Readers' reactions

November 13, 1998

Last week in The THES... Valentine Cunningham warned that the study of English risked being swallowed up by its upstart offspring, cultural studies

Christine Geraghty. Head of department Media and communications Goldsmiths College

English studies may indeed not have a future if it encourages as distorted and polemical an account as Valentine Cunningham's of cultural studies. Our students would not recognise the bizarre curriculum he conjures up for them. Cunningham does not explain why the passionate way our students study contemporary culture should be held up for such mockery.

Simon Newton

Cunningham should reflect on the language he uses for the defence of English. He writes: "Literature provides the texts, the textures of memory, the imaginaire; it complexifies self and thought, registers otherness, teaches about self and other and how we got here." This is more of a language barrier than a diet of wall-to-wall TV could ever provide.

Kevin Mills. Westminster College

"What porridge had John Keats?" Robert Browning once asked. Cunningham asks the same question in a contemporary setting. Browning lamented the fact that it is "popular" (but inferior) poets who reaped the financial rewards of Keats's innovation. Similarly, cultural studies has asset-stripped literary criticism. The future of English studies is a subject of serious study as an economic question, as surely as was Keats's diet.

Elaine Traherne. University of Leicester

Valentine Cunningham's views on the future of English are as hardhitting as a marshmallow. Not every English department is threatened either by subordination to cultural studies or by a desire to follow blindly the latest theoretical approaches. Some of us even teach texts from the Anglo-Saxon period.

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