Contemporary graduate students—particularly in literature—are indeed being trained in “theory.” But they’re likely learning it in a class taught by a part-time or non-tenure-track faculty member, unless they are at one of the elite institutions which house the leading lights of theory—the profession’s “stars.” The work of the previous generation of activists (many of them also theorists) has served as a wedge to open the humanities—and, particularly, the literary profession—to previously underserved groups, benefiting those who work in feminist studies, ethnic studies, and post-colonial studies a great deal, while shaking the previously solid foundations of the traditional world of mostly white, mostly male humanities scholars.

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