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By Michael Hays

A major, masterfully performed contribution to the controversy surrounding the “New Historicism.”

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Matthiessen, The American Renaissance (New York: 1941). 9. : 1983), 175. 10. Arac offered this direct formulation in conversation; see also his Critical Genealogies (New York: 1987), 32, 169f. 11. For some discussion of the dangers of "pluralism" to criticism in the United States, see Bercovitch, Ideology, 438f. 12. : 1987). 13. See Gilles Deleuze, Foucault, trans. : 1988). 14. See Michel Foucault, "The Political Technology of Individuals," Technologies of the Self, ed. Luther H. Martin et al. : 1988), 145-62.

Yet the problems he imagines are not the final problems. Were we to mistake them for the most basic problems, we would lead ourselves to two unsatisfactory results: a persistent concern with the epiphenomenal that would always be preliminary to an "American" criticism; or, more dangerously, to institutionalizing a politically and aesthetically reductive model of critical practice. We would replicate the already established discipline by not querying its precise genealogical, discursive relations—even in its "oppositional" moments—to the state, to the dominant forms of rationality, and to the institutions of "American" culture.

This equilibrium can only be something purely external and mechanical, but it can become internalised if it is proposed by a new form of society, with appropriate and original methods. . It is in their [American industrialists'] interests to have a stable, skilled labour force, a permanently well-adjusted complex, because the human complex (the collective worker) of an enterprise is also a machine which cannot, without considerable loss, be taken to pieces too often and renewed with single new parts.

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