The Two Cultures of English (Book Review)

Teachers, students, and anyone else interested in the study of literature, rhetoric, and composition should find The Two Cultures of English a good read. Author Jason Maxwell is a Clinical Assistant Professor of English at the University of Buffalo. He tackles in The Two Cultures of English the general topic of how today’s universities ask English studies to not so much reflect a liberal arts tradition but instead look at a more vocational curriculum. Maxwell looks at the divide between literary studies and composition and feels that English studies today are entering a period of uncertainty and change.

In looking at ideas concerning what he calls the conceptual borders related to the future of English studies, Maxwell feels these borders of English studies are “certain to proliferate at a wild and unpredictable pace in the coming years” (p. 201). Maxwell asks in a big picture way how “English and its various fields will respond to a world of dwindling economic prospects and impending ecological collapse” (p. 201). After asking this question, he comes to his conclusion about the unpredictable future of English studies. He ably looks in The Two Cultures of English at the relationship of studying literature, rhetoric, and composition in North American universities in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries as he makes his predictions about the future of these studies.

The Two Cultures of English: Literature, Composition, and the Moment of Rhetoric

Jason Maxwell. 2019. Fordham University. 381 pages.

ISBN-13: 978-0823282456  ISBN-10: 0823282457  US$28 (softcover)

Reviewed by Jeanette Evans

Note to readers

A version of this review is scheduled to appear in Technical Communication, the scholarly journal of the STC.