In Literary Criticism: A Concise Political History (2017), Joseph North defends close reading, arguing compellingly that its waning constitutes the depoliticization of literary study, a regrettable move from interventionist criticism to historicist scholarship. According to North, “race critique” was part of a “storm” of challenges to midcentury critical norms that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s and collectively represented a false sense of literary study’s “political” potential (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 56). Thus the many American critics “ignored or marginalized because of their subject position” (viii) remain curiously beyond the scope of a project restoring close reading’s radical politics; an old chasm between “race critique” and “literary criticism” persists. Into this chasm step two welcome books by Paula M. L. Moya and Lesley Larkin.

Moya’s The Social Imperative, also invested in close reading, strikes a balance between “believing that literary...

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