When Symptoms Become Causes

Anthony Kubiak
University of California, Irvine

Kubiak, Anthony. "When symptoms become causes". Early Modern Literary Studies 10.3 (January, 2005) 20.1-3 <URL: http://purl.oclc.org/emls/10-3/kubisymp.html>.

  1. In my teaching, I advise my students to read the book that was written, not the one, that in their scholarly ressentiment, they would have wanted to write. Rebecca Nesvet has apparently never had the benefit of such counsel, for she apparently is unable to read the book that Bryan Reynolds wrote. Instead, she reads the book she wishes he wrote.[1]

  2. Nesvet wants Reynolds to be an old-school historian (with a more than subtle British approach), but it is clear from Becoming Criminal that Reynolds is not this, although his historical insights are keen. Rather, Reynolds is a philosopher of history and of what it means: transversal poetics is a combined sensibility, theory, and methodology that Reynolds employs to guide one's comprehension of history; his historical analyses are examples of transversal readings that emphasize conscientiously the fluid, dialectical, and interconnected structures of histories both diachronically and synchronically.

  3. Nesvet may not like it, but she ought to at least understand the project, just as she ought to be apprised of the by now thirty year debate about the "factualness" of history read against its narrative framings: from Williams, Collingwood, and White, through Foucault, de Certeau, Greenblatt, Dollimore,
    and Sinfield. No matter what one thinks of these writers, one ought to, at the very least, situate Reynolds' own historical thought within the tradition of debate that Nesvet is either ignorant of or chooses to simply ignore. Either way, Nesvet's review is a symptom of unfortunate education.


[1] Rebecca Nesvet, "Review of Bryan Reynolds, Becoming Criminal: Transversal Performance and Cultural Dissidence in Early Modern England". Early Modern Literary Studies 10.2 (September, 2004) 10.1-5 <URL: http://purl.oclc.org/emls/10-2/revnesb.html>.



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