In recent years, both in the United States and the United Kingdom, there has been a good deal of talk about the state of Humanities, with the dominant view that crisis, if not here already, will soon be upon us. In both places there has been a concerted effort to address this perceived crisis. The manner in which it is being addressed is telling: it is felt that the humanities now needs to justify itself and its continuing importance within the university. Here, I will attempt to engage with debates concerning how the discipline of English might justify itself, both within the university context and to the wider social context the university serves. Yet before doing this it is necessary to consider the current debates and their nature, and what kind of 'crisis' might be in process.