How can we tap the extraordinary potential of “theory” in graduate feminist training, while at the same time circumventing some of its hazardous consequences? Having earned her degrees before the rise of theory, the author witnessed not only the intellectual excitement it generated in feminist conversations but also its rise to a prominence that qualified its productivity both in the classroom and in doctoral dissertations. By reintegrating literature and literary history in discussions of theoretical insights, students can stretch, undermine, qualify, or extend them. Literary and aesthetic specificities help young scholars move toward original, publishable insights by extending or contradicting, supplementing or supplanting the abstract generalizations posed by the theorists they study.

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