Literature Against Criticism: University English and Contemporary Fiction in Conflict - cover image


Martin Paul Eve

Published On





  • English

Print Length

248 pages (viii + 240)


Paperback156 x 13 x 234 mm(6.14" x 0.53" x 9.21")
Hardback156 x 16 x 234 mm(6.14" x 0.63" x 9.21")


Paperback786g (27.73oz)
Hardback1167g (41.16oz)



OCLC Number





  • DS
  • DSK
  • FA


  • LIT000000
  • LIT024060
  • FIC019000
  • LIT004020


  • Contemporary fiction
  • Academia
  • University English
  • metafiction
  • Jennifer Egan
  • Ishmael Reed
  • Tom McCarthy
  • Sarah Waters
  • Percival Everett
  • Roberto Bolaño

Literature Against Criticism

University English and Contemporary Fiction in Conflict

Winner of the 2019 Philip Leverhulme Prize. We are delighted that Literature Against Criticism formed a substantial part of Martin Eve's submission portfolio for the award.
This is a book about the power game currently being played out between two symbiotic cultural institutions: the university and the novel. As the number of hyper-knowledgeable literary fans grows, students and researchers in English departments waiver between dismissing and harnessing voices outside the academy. Meanwhile, the role that the university plays in contemporary literary fiction is becoming increasingly complex and metafictional, moving far beyond the ‘campus novel’ of the mid-twentieth century.

Martin Paul Eve’s engaging and far-reaching study explores the novel's contribution to the ongoing displacement of cultural authority away from university English. Spanning the works of Jennifer Egan, Ishmael Reed, Tom McCarthy, Sarah Waters, Percival Everett, Roberto Bolaño and many others, Literature Against Criticism forces us to re-think our previous notions about the relationship between those who write literary fiction and those who critique it.


Martin Paul Eve is one of the most brilliant scholars of his generation. His ground-breaking Literature Against Criticism combines new and insightful readings of contemporary novelists (from Jennifer Egan to Tom McCarthy and from Sarah Waters to Percival Everett) who are in animated competition with university English. There are very few authors who can combine ethical, political and aesthetic readings of the contemporary novel with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the modern university. This is the first of a new kind of criticism that lets imaginative literature, rather than the academic scholar, have the last word.

Bryan Cheyette

Chair in Modern Literature, University of Reading


The upheavals in UK higher education of the last two decades have recently generated a number of important critical works [...]. Martin Paul Eve’s Literature Against Criticism: University English and Contemporary Fiction in Conflict is a very different project to these. Rather than inveighing against the neoliberal paradigm or championing the merits of the academy (although these are implicit), Eve is concerned with how the erosion of academic authority—and specifically literary studies’ authority—is reflected, expressed, or fuelled by contemporary literary fiction. [...] Eve’s assessment [...] is nothing short of brilliant.

Rachele Dini

"Martin Paul Eve, Literature Against Criticism". European Journal of American Studies (1991-9336), vol. Reviews 2017-4, 2018.

Full Review


  • Martin Paul Eve

2. What, Where?

(pp. 43–54)
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4. Political Critique

(pp. 87–112)
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5. Sincerity and Truth

(pp. 115–134)
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6. Labour and Theory

(pp. 135–156)
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7. Genre and Class

(pp. 157–184)
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9. Conclusion

(pp. 205–208)
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Martin Paul Eve

Chair of Literature, Technology and Publishing at Birkbeck, University of London