Cultural studies killing literature

Here is an interesting review of a book which links up to the question of culture. Apparently, the book claims that academics in cultural studies have brought a kind of “democracy” to the study of culture, which is good in some ways, since no one is likely to get excluded, but bad in some ways, since no one is likely to get excluded. I probably am a snob with the good fortune of belonging to the culture currently in reign (wait… what ‘culture’? what ‘reign’?) but it seems to me this is true. Educated audiences — people who should know better — are so concerned now, nearly paranoid, over the injustice of not paying attention to other cultural voices that they’ve fallen into the mode of thinking that any attempt at cultural insight is something that needs to be given its due. So if you want to study Tolstoy or the history of Barbies or Wagner or the viewpoint of the ‘Other’ as evidenced in sitcoms or Woolf or the political hegemonies reflected by the placement of cans on grocery shelves, hell, go for it, it is all equal, and saying otherwise is a form of tyranny.

Well, bullshit, I say. And bullshit again. Thinking well is hard to do, and that’s why we should value it when it happens and discourage people from deluding themselves into thinking they’ve done it when they haven’t, lest the prize get lost in muddy waters. I can see I’m starting to lose myself in broader issues, so I’ll leave off here, and go into the corner and fume.

About Huenemann

Curious about the ways humans use their minds and hearts to distract themselves from the meaninglessness of life.
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3 Responses to Cultural studies killing literature

  1. Mike says:

    The beauty of the contemporary situation is that we’ve got plenty of time to think. The tragedy is that thinking is not what we’re doing with that time.


  2. ganselmi says:

    I once took a course from a post-structuralist lit. theorist where we spent 3 hour-long sessions listening to the man expound on his conviction that the entire Western canon is no more inherently valuable than the nutrition information on the back of a cereal box.


  3. Huenemann says:

    That is both sad and funny. I really do think academics should be free to pursue all sorts of ideas in their classes — but one does wonder sometimes whether that freedom gets abused!


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