Preface: Reality Check [chapter]

2020 Syllabus  
When one of us was in gradu ate school, two young assistant professors of En glish were writing an ambitious and very long book together. That was The Madwoman in the Attic, a nowclassic work of feminist literary criticism (the title is an allusion to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, in which a still-living wife is the male protagonist's incon ve nient secret). 1 The authors, Susan Gubar and Sandra Gilbert, quickly became major figures in their field, and their book and ideas endure. What was
more » ... ially impressive-astonishing, really-was that although they drafted portions of the book separately, their conversations about and through those drafts resulted in a text that was theirs. Their book is a collaboration and a conversation, or rather, the resulting trace of collaborations and conversations. The hand of either might be in any part of it. De cades later, the book you're reading now was written by two people, working together in such a way that, going back through their text, they are not always sure who has written what. This much is clear: One of us proposed the book as an idea and inveigled the other into the scheme. That may sound like nothing much, but it's uncommon in the humanities and social sciences. Scientific fields regularly produce academic papers with multiple authors. Sometimes a scholarly report no more than a few data-heavy pages in length is crowned by a parade of authors, in which the position of one's name beneath the title signals something about the importance of one's contribution. Humanists don't tend to write this way.
doi:10.1515/9780691209876-002 fatcat:rfyayn6tt5a7rk4bd5f7h3nohy