The Transformation of the English Novel, 1890–1930 is part of a larger critical project that I began with The Humanistic Heritage: Critical Theories of the English Novel from James to Hillis Miller (1986), in which I defined the theory and method of Anglo-American novel criticism. In my next book, Reading Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ (1987), I used the principles of what I call humanistic formalism to create a dialogue between traditional and more recent theory and, most importantly, between theory and Joyce’s great epic novel. My purpose is to reinvigorate the humanistic study of fiction by creating a dialogue between traditional and recent theory as well as between theory and texts. I have been called a progressive traditionalist and a pluralist, both of which terms I welcome. For me theory is important only when it enables us to think conceptually about how works behave and cohere and what they mean and signify.
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