This is an adaptation of a talk first presented to the Council for College and University English (CCUE) conference on English for the Millennium, Sept. 1996. CCUE is the British professional body that represents the discipline and departments of English in England, Scotland, and Wales. The talk was meant to provide a transatlantic perspective on the future of the discipline. Originally it was published in CCUE News (June 1997) and later adapted to presentations throughout the U.K. The excerpts here focus on issues of multiculturalism, interdisciplinarity, and cultural studies.
WHEN I DRAW ON MY EXPERIENCE in the United States it is not because I am unaware that the centrality of English literary history is less controversial in England than in its former colony, but because the areas that I see as fundamental to the future of English — a diverse Anglophone population and the demands of the marketplace — are fundamental to both. Twenty years ago, American and British academics were different worlds. The formal democratization of the university and official ideologies of neoliberalism, or market orientation, have brought them closer together. My argument is that the future of English depends less on theories or ideas than on human geographies, institutional conditions, and our embeddedness in market society.
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