Undead Texts are books once assigned on every reading list, cited in countless books and articles, endlessly discussed and debated. Although the authors of these works wore their learning lightly, the Undead Texts were intellectually ambitious and formidably erudite, drawing on a range of references that defied boundaries among disciplines, genres, epochs, and languages. Those qualities made them vulnerable to specialist rebuttals; almost every claim they made has been queried, criticized, or refuted by subsequent scholarship. No accredited academic still believes them. Yet these texts refuse to die. They have never been out of print, continue to be translated into multiple languages, and still appear on many undergraduate syllabi—sometimes assigned by the very scholars who made their reputations by challenging these works. In the current age of disciplinary definitions of scholarship, these scholarly but anti-disciplinary books have much to teach the very disciplines that scorn them.

You do not currently have access to this content.