For Australian literary criticism it is the best of times. It is also the worst of times. On the one hand, we are seeing the diverse and largely positive benefits of a generation's engagement with theory. Critics and writers, informed and inspired by a wide range of critical debates and perspectives, are producing intelligent and searching work which is realigning the frame of Australian literature and criticism. On the other hand, to misquote another famous nineteenth-century text, a spectre is haunting Australian criticism - the spectre of economic rationalism. And it just may be that the forces of criticism - including new historicism, neo-Leavisism, formalism, postcolonialism, nationalism, Aboriginal perspectives, feminism, post-structuralism, queer theory and, dare I say it, traditional scholarship - have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre.