This selection of essays is an attempt to open up some of the as yet unsurveyed territory of English Studies and to introduce a new, more positive tone and greater range of voices to discussions of the future of the subject. Studies of the ideology of 'English' and explorations of new theory characteristic of work in Higher Education in recent years have, for all their integrity and value, tended to run free of the specific practices of English teaching and of the implications they might have for these. Indeed in some ways, rather than offering a new discourse and a common beginning which would take account of radical changes in policy, in curricula and pedagogy as well as in critical practice, they have reinforced a separation between sectors, perspectives, and opportunities. Too often teachers have been assumed to be the agents of a hegemony constructed by government edict, examination boards, and an inherited great tradition by those whose radicalism is in the thinnest sense 'theoretical', and confined to the very conventional form of the academic lecture, or written book or article. The answer to this is neither grander theory nor philistinism, neither more books nor a guilty (or guilt-free) battering away at the chalk face, but simply a more open and more informed exchange between teachers and institutions and forms of work, between theory and teaching practice, between what might be called the

deconstruction and the progressive reconstruction that is going on throughout English education.