Friday, February 01, 2008

The problem with Lit Crit today


But I was very pleased when a friend recently sent me a book of literary criticism that he said I would like, and I did. This is rare: I am sick of university teachers treating literature as though it were a branch of something else—Social Studies, Gender Studies, Post-Colonial Studies, Political Studies. The book was by Brigid Lowe and is called "Victorian Fiction and the Insights of Sympathy ".

It is a brave book, with one big simple message: all too often literary scholars merely use books (they call them "texts") for the sake of their own agendas and careers. Here's the novel; here's the ideological agenda to which it is to be fitted; and here's the critical mallet to whack it into shape. For example, here is the opening of another recent book on Victorian Sympathy from Stanford University Press which goes something like this: "The Victorians were very interested in sympathy - which was all about consolidating the male sense of identity, and an early example of interpellation in action." So that's what it's all about

HT: Milt's File

See also:

Knowledge and Knowingness

Fraud with Footnotes

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