The Magazine

The Word Is Out

The textbook that teaches life is a text.

Feb 25, 2008, Vol. 13, No. 23 • By JAMES SEATON
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This sort of appeal is very hard to resist. The attraction of an all-encompassing theory that allows one not only to make sense of what is otherwise a complex world but also to feel intellectually superior to bourgeois believers in common sense, is very strong--perhaps, especially, for would-be revolutionaries who end up in English departments. College freshmen, on the other hand, can probably be trusted to tell the difference between texts and things, despite advertising and despite their professors' assignment of The World Is a Text as required reading.

James Seaton is professor of English at Michigan State.