[ilds] baboonism

Michael Haag michaelhaag at btinternet.com
Sat Jul 7 14:37:25 PDT 2007

Which particular colonialism are you post?  Ottoman?  Arab?  or 
something else?


On Saturday, July 7, 2007, at 06:43  pm, Pamela Francis wrote:

> Yes, Virginia, literary texts ARE still read in universities...and I 
> feel a real return of the close reading, at least in some areas.  And 
> one still has to have an "area" or "period" in which the academic is 
> well-read; I, for instance, am a "modernist"--however, I read 
> modernist texts using what Bill has called the "necessary category" of 
> postcolonial theory.  This means i use that category to help get at 
> the text, but it still requires careful close reading of the primary 
> text.  Some academics, however, make "theory" their "area" and their 
> "period".  I don't know about other universities, but the English dept 
> (graduate level) at Rice is very primary-text oriented, but even 
> undergraduates are expected to be familiar with the variety of 
> theoretical categories--or lenses--to aid their reading of the text.  
> I find it very constructive--close reading alone, without any sort of 
> structure, too often winds up being "what this novel means to me"--in 
> short, it does nothing.  Some people, of course, don't want their 
> reading to "do anything" and that's fine.  But in order to compete 
> with other departments, such as the sciences or business, which 
> produce a "product", we have to be able to say we're doing something.  
> This is a big bone of contention in English departments 
> everywhere--Stanley Fish, for instance, thinks we're just kidding 
> ourselves and should just admit that the study of literature has no 
> use-value, and sit around on our elitist butts and read books just for 
> the fun of it.  Which, of course, he is doing, at a six-figure salary 
> that could pay for two or three positions for instructors who actually 
> teach classes.  Others of us want students to know that literature 
> does mean something--that it came out of a particular context and 
> makes certain points, undermines certain metanarratives, subverts this 
> cultural assumption, bolsters that ideology.  But that New Criticism 
> slouching toward the MLA never really went away; it's just been 
> exploited by categories with sexier names.
>> From: william godshalk <godshawl at email.uc.edu>
>> Reply-To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>> To: Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>, ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>> Subject: Re: [ilds] baboonism
>> Date: Sat, 07 Jul 2007 12:02:47 -0400
>> Bruce asks some questions:
>> I'm curious -- are primary
>> texts still taught in the universities these days?  Or are they on
>> the supplemental, not-required reading list?  Not a silly
>> question.  Read the big academic journals these days and you note
>> that primary texts are simply used to support whims and theories. 
>> Presumably, writing those kinds of articles will advance your academic
>> career.  You never have to touch ground.  Didn't Swift write
>> about such airheads living in the sky?
>> Yes, some of us teach literary texts, e.g. Shakespeare, Milton,
>> Woolf. I leave philosophy (i.e. theory) to the philosophers who have
>> their bastion down the hall from English.
>> Yes, in your description of the pretentious world of the MLA, I think 
>> you
>> may be correct -- for the moment. Theory seems to be more prominent 
>> than
>> literature, postcolonial theory more prominent than, say, Haggard's
>> She or John Masters's wonderful Indian novels.
>> But the text will return -- the return of the repressed! The New 
>> Critics
>> took us back to the text. Some where a New New Criticism is slouching
>> toward MLA Headquarters.
>> Gulliver's Travels, Part 3.
>> Bill
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>> W. L.
>> Godshalk  
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