Book Reviews 131

One might ask how consistently Reed's concept of dialogism coincides with Bakhtin's. As the above chapter outline suggests, dialogism for Reed is often nearly synonymous with intertextuality (or intratextuality within a single book). This conception is exploited adroitly in the discussion of Genesis, in which Reed shows how the three types of divine-human encounter presented in Chapters 1-11 are answered in 1250 (18-30). But the notion of dialogism implied is more static than Bakhtin's. In his essay "Discourse in the Novel," on which Reed relies heavily, Bakhtin describes internal dialogism (in contrast to the dialogic structure of conversation) as "a property of any discourse" whereby the meaning of a word is modifed by the orientation of all utterance toward its recipient [The Dialogic Imagination, trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist (Austin: U of Texas P, 1981), 279-82]. This rhetorical understanding of dialogism, more dynamic than the intratextuality of Genesis, is penetratingly deployed in Reed's reading of job. Here, the dialogue is not between events or characters but between speakers, or, as Reed puts it, between discourses, yielding a depthful, satisfying interpretation (one which addresses several longstanding problems, such as why God restores job's wealth in the book's epilogue).

In an Afterword, Reed perceptively situates the literary study of the Bible between historical criticism and theology in approaching the Bible neither as a miscellany of documents in a larger corpus of ancient texts, as the historian does, nor as a closed canon of Scripture, as the theologian does, but as an anthology, with its own internal coherence (168-69). By displaying how the diversity of the Bible can be synthesized through dialogic relations among its parts, Reed furnishes a method by which both Biblical and literary scholars can greatly profit.

 

Cultural Capital: The Problem of Literary Canon Formation by John Guillory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993,408 pp., $36.00 (cloth).

 

Reviewed by Phillip A. Snyder, Department of English, Brigham Young University

The "theory wars" raging on college campuses across the country have directed much attention, academic and public, to the question of curriculum, or canon, reconstruction. The politically correct language movement has received more publicity, perhaps, but various calls for canon revision, such as those implicit in the Afrocentrism movement, have challenged more thoroughly the tradition of "great literature" on which our English, humanities, and other departments have been founded and perpetuated. E. D. Hirsch's notion of "cultural literacy" as the prerequisite for participation in the "great conversation" of Western civilization has been assaulted by those who seek more "representation" from other traditions in an "opening" of the canon to include texts by people of color, women, and other previously marginalized groups. John Guillory's Cultural Capital critiques this canon debate by examining the ideological assumptions underlying it, deconstructs the inclusion/ exclusion binary of "representative text" that has characterized both the traditionalist and nontraditionalist positions in the debate, and refocuses our attention on the social sites outside academia where "cultural capital" is produced and distributed according to class. Guillory's study depends on the "post-Marxist" theory of Pierre Bourdieu. particularly and builds on careful and extensive research which supports virtually every point he makes. Cultural Capital may not be the

 

 

 

132 Weber Studies (11.1 Winter 1994)

I -OF"" I

definitive study of canon formation, but it represents a significant benchmark,

literally the latest, if not last, word on the issue, and constitutes required reading for

anyone in the profession of literary studies.

In his preface, Guillory writes that the "debate about the canon has been

misconceived from the start" and proposes a reconception of the debate as follows:

Where the debate speaks of the literary canon, its inclusions and exclusions, I will speak

of the school, and the institutional forms of syllabus and curriculum ... how works are

preserved, reproduced, and disseminated over successive generations and centuries.

Similarly, where the debate speaks about the canon as representing or failing to represent

particular social groups, I will speak of the school's historical function of distributing, or

regulating access to, the forms of cultural capital. By insisting on the interrelation between

representation and distribution, I hope to move beyond. . . a confusion between

representation in the political sense . . . and representation in the rather different sense

of the relation between an image and what the image represents. (vii-viii)

Following Bourdieu, Guillory argues that, unlike race and gender, the category of

class has been underemphasized in the canon debate when it should be one of the

primary points of discussion, because class involves the "constitution and distribu

tion of cultural capital" (ix), linguistic and symbolic, within the specific context of the

educational system and the larger social context, both of which have "distribut[ed]

cultural capital unequally" (ix) Guillory sees the real canon crisis as an issue of

declining market value, where the old notion of canon "literacy" as a means of

bourgeoisie upward mobility has become obsolete for the current "professional

managerial class" which privileges technological literacy.

Guillory divides Cultural Capital into three main sections: "Critique" which

discusses the current canon debate; "Case Studies" which includes three chapters,

the first on how the inclusion of Gray and Wordsworth in the vernacular canon

shows the connection between the "articulation of the school's institutional agendas

with social struggles in the society at large" (x) the second on how the rise of New

Criticism and "close reading" resulted in the canonization of the moderns and the

revaluing of the metaphysical poets, and the third on the constitution of theory as

the new canon; and "Aesthetics" which "reconstruct[s] the historical relation be

tween aesthetics and political economy to demonstrate the origin of the value

concept in the struggle to distinguish the work of art from the commodity (xiii).

Guillory successfully recasts the canon debate in terms of "cultural capital," moving

toward what he calls a "sociology of judgement," and he makes many incisive and

insightful points along the way, such as the following, among many others far too

numerous to mention here: that contemporary postmodern theory argues against

the possibility of authentic textual representation of individual authors or the

groups to which they belong through literary works; that the university's canon

revision cannot reorder society; that the general canonical exclusion of women

resulted from a denial of access to literacy as a means of distribution of cultural

capital and not from a deficient quality in women's writing; that the "ideals of

Western civilization" inherent in the canon have always been an imaginary con

struct and a fallacious totality of value resulting mostly from institutional influences

rather than individual or community ones. In short, after Cultural Capital we can no

longer engage the canon debate in the same naive and even simplistic manner;

Guillory reveals it to be socially larger and more deeply historical and value-laden

than we had thought.