[ilds] Durrell and the Academy

slighcl slighcl at wfu.edu
Wed Jul 18 11:28:34 PDT 2007

> On 7/18/2007 1:08 PM, Bruce Redwine wrote:
>> And Charles further tells us that for a scholar to specialize in Lawrence Durrell is definitely not a good career move.  Studying him is something a college professor does on the side, probably surreptitiously so his/her academic colleagues won't find out and raise their eyebrows.  

On 7/18/2007 1:55 PM, Bruce Redwine wrote:
> Neither.  I'm trying to identify the source of academic hostility towards Lawrence Durrell.  That hostility, in my view, has a lot of contempt, which I associate with literary snobbishness.
So let's push the discussion into more specificity.  This means getting 
beyond relying solely upon my testimony as an academic--an academic, 
mind you, who has been unswerving in my advocacy of reading Durrell in 
the libraries, on the streets, and in the classrooms.  What are the 
facts?  Other witnesses should speak now.

I have tried to speak to these concerns about the place of Durrell in 
the University with moderation and with frankness.  My view is that a 
number of good teachers and scholars working within the academy have 
dedicated themselves to opposing the neglect of Durrell.  Many of those 
people are my close friends.  I met almost all of them through the ILDS, 
and I would not be writing this note today if it had not been for their 
labors and their kindnesses.  They are beacons set out in a chain 
against a more general darkening.  This ILDS listserv, of course, is 
sponsored and facilitated by the academics who participate in the ILDS.  
Let it bring more light.

Despite this small, valiant effort, we still find--at least I see that 
we do--a continued neglect of Durrell in the Academy.  I have already 
rehearsed the conversations that I have overheard and the advisement 
that I have received over the years indicating a concerned suspicion 
about Durrell as a topic of serious study.  Although I do not think that 
we have precisely defined its origins, its causes, and its strongholds 
(major research institutions? top-tier academic journals and 
publishers?), I hope that this too-easy and unexamined hostility may be 
changing.  I think that I see the beginnings of this change.  We have at 
least three younger scholars working with wholehearted and sharp-minded 
dedication to that project.  As a Victorianist connected to several 
important institutions and resources, I am dedicated to supporting the 
work of these younger Durrellian scholars and the others who will, I 
hope, follow their lead in future days.  Yet I do not pretend that the 
sponsorship and fostering of Durrell studies will be easy.  It will take 
much constancy, effort, and dedication.

What are the facts?  What other reports might we hear from those working 
in the field?

Feeling "kindly unto all the earth."


Charles L. Sligh
Department of English
Wake Forest University
slighcl at wfu.edu

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