The University of Wisconsin Press

Literature & Criticism / Cultural Studies / European Studies / German Studies


Crossing Borders
Reception Theory, Poststructuralism, Deconstruction
Robert C. Holub

Crossing Borders explores one of the most controversial metacritical questions facing contemporary theory today: what happens to theory when it literally crosses borders from one culture to another?

Robert C. Holub critically investigates the histories of reception theory, poststructuralism, and deconstruction in postwar Germany and the United States. He looks at how imported theories assume a place in the political discourse of a country, and how indigenous intellectual traditions and prejudices affect, modify, or even distort foreign theories.

Holub addresses many timely questions: Why did reception theory, so prominent in Germany in the 1960s and 1970s, fail to have an impact on American academics until the 1980s? Why did postructuralism, and specifically the writings of Michel Foucault, fail to find a home in German academia while becoming an important theoretical voice in the United States? How did deconstruction, originally considered by American scholars as merely a sophisticated tool for analysis, get taken up by leftists who argued for an affinity between the critique of language and the critique of capitalism? And finally, how have American intellectuals responded to revelations of fascism in the pasts of Paul de Man and Martin Heidegger?

Crossing Borders effectively demonstrates the extent to which theoretical work needs to be understood in cultural, intellectual, and institutional contexts. Holub argues that the praxis of theories is determined not only by their content and style, but also by the environment in which they must function. The success of a transplanted theory, he contends, is due less to its inherent merits than to the hospitability of the environment on to which it is grafted.

Robert C. Holub
is chair of the German Department at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Reception Theory: A Critical Introduction and several other books.

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June 1992

LC: 91-040251 PN
256 pp.   6 x 9

Book icon Paper $17.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-13274-3
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