Spring 2020 catalog cover

The Penn Press list for spring 2020 includes hardcover releases, first-time paperbacks, and ebook editions intended for scholars, students, and serious general readers worldwide. Click here to explore our forthcoming books, grouped by subject area.

Reason and the Nature of Texts

James L. Battersby

216 pages | 6 x 9
Ebook 2016 | ISBN 9781512809367 | Buy from De Gruyter $79.95 | €69.95 | £70.50
This book is available under special arrangement from our European publishing partner De Gruyter.
An Anniversary Collection volume

"Battersby says things that need to be said, draws support from important philosophers of language, and is able to write wittily and engagingly without diluting his arguments."—Wendell V. Harris, Pennsylvania State University

"Battersby takes on the current orthodoxy vigorously, intelligently, and often splenetically. I agree with Battersby far more than I disagree; more importantly, where I disagree, I come away from the encounter with something gained from it."—Reed Dasenbrock, New Mexico State University

Many of today's most prominent critics and teachers of literature insist on the endless deferral of textual meaning and on the social construction of meaning and thought. Against these markers of current critical theory, James L. Battersby argues for the authorial construction of determinate textual meaning, insisting that to think about anything at all we must be able to refer to it, and that such references are, necessarily, the semantic consequences of an author's deliberate, intentional acts.

Propelling Battersby's argument is his use of principles and arguments drawn from current philosophical literature on language and mind. Battersby reveals the philosophical shortcomings and argumentative weaknesses of some of the most prominent and influential doctrines in critical theory today—especially, and principally, those that inform and define postmodernism in both its linguistic and historicist/materialist modes. As he argues for a fresh conception of our understanding of language, mind, and meaning, Battersby probes the critical positions of, among others, Stanley Fish, Mikhail Bakhtin, Paul de Man, and Jacques Derrida.

Making room for an alternative and, Battersby asserts, more intellectually appealing framework requires a skeptical dissection of the linguistic and historicist tenets that form the foundation of poststructuralism. The striking outcome of his effort is a book as lively, erudite, theoretically informed—and provocative—as his earlier Paradigms Regained.

James L. Battersby is Professor Emeritus of English, The Ohio State University, and the author of Paradigms Regained: Pluralism and the Practice of Criticism, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.

View your shopping cart | Browse Penn Press titles in Literature, Cultural Studies | Join our mailing list