Recalcitrance, Faulkner, and the Professors is a wonderfully fetching book of criticism that presents fairly, coherently, and forcefully the major critical viewpoints operating in literature studies today and puts them into an invigorating conflict. In the framework of a deliberately artificial plot, characters at an imaginary university present a variety of theoretical and critical points of view in a four-day round table discussion. Centering on Faulker's As I Lay Dying, the discussion has at stake the hand of Eve Birdsong, a student whose distress with the conflicts among her professors had inspired these proceedings. The cast also includes a young hero—assistant professor Charlie Mercer—professors representing a variety of contemporary critical positions, and several extraordinary students.
The discussion, presented in turn by speeches, exchanges in dialogue, and short papers, focuses on the concept of recalcitrance in fiction: the resistance that texts offer to the development of formal structures. Recalcitrance, Faulkner, and the Professors is, variously, a pedagogical text, a critical theory text, and a text about a single novel. But Wright's volume breaks the rules of categorization: it refuses to sit neatly in any genre.