[ilds] baboonism

william godshalk godshawl at email.uc.edu
Sat Jul 7 14:42:13 PDT 2007


Michael,

A literary theory is about literature, not about Turks and Arabs.

Bill

At 05:37 PM 7/7/2007, you wrote:
>Which particular colonialism are you post?  Ottoman?  Arab?  or
>something else?
>
>:Michael
>
>
>
>
>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
> >>
> >>
> >> ***************************************
> >> W. L.
> >> Godshalk
> >>         *
> >> Department of
> >> English         *
> >> University of
> >> Cincinnati
> >> Stellar disorder  *
> >> Cincinnati OH 45221-0069      *
> >> 513-281-5927
> >> ***************************************
> >>
> >>
> >
> >
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> >
> >
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***************************************
W. L. Godshalk		*
Department of English         *
University of Cincinnati            Stellar disorder  *
Cincinnati OH 45221-0069      *
513-281-5927
***************************************




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