Walter Benn Michaels

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Walter Benn Michaels (born 1948) is an American literary theorist, known as the author of Our America: Nativism, Modernism and Pluralism (1995) and The Shape of the Signifier: 1967 to the End of History (2004).


Michaels earned his BA in 1970 and PhD in 1975 from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Afterwards, he taught at Johns Hopkins University (1974–1977, 1987–2001) and the University of California, Berkeley (1977–1987). Since 2001, he has taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago's Department of English, for which he has served as Head (2001–2007).

"Against Theory", an article co-written by Michaels and Steven Knapp, is included in the Norton Anthology of Literary Criticism. His study of American Naturalism, The Gold Standard and the Logic of Naturalism; American Literature at the Turn of the Century, was published in 1987.

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