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Does Literary Studies Have a Future? cover
  • ISBN: 9780299166540
  • ISBN10: 0299166546

Does Literary Studies Have a Future?

by Eugene Goodheart

  • List Price: $14.95
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Univ of Wisconsin Pr
  • Publish date: 10/01/1999
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Description
Eugene Goodheart's book is as direct as its title: Does Literary Studies Have a Future? As we approach the end of a millennium, the battle for the fate of literary scholarship has taken on near apocalyptic overtones, with more than a few predictions of the imminent end of literary studies as we know it. In such an environment, Goodheart's thoughtful and provocative book is sure to cause a stir. Taking aim at culture warriors on the left and the right, Goodheart provides a succinct and timely assessment of the current state and the future of literary studies in the United States. He argues that the battles that have been fought over tradition, the canon, aesthetics, and objectivity not only distort the issues at stake, but guarantee that nothing fruitful can emerge from the battles. For Goodheart, the opposition between tradition (the cause of the right) and innovation (the cause of the left) is essentially false: tradition is an interactive history between the given and innovation, not an inert set of values or a stable canon of approved texts.

Does Literary Studies Have a Future? challenges the view that literary classics must be relevant to our immediate concerns: rather than providing easy recognition of what we already know, the classic startles the unfamiliar in us. Goodheart addresses the question of objectivity in humanistic study -- the vexed relations between aesthetics and ideology. He also dissects the academy's current love affair with popular culture. None of the other writings on the culture wars has so successfully reconciled the traditions of aesthetic and moral criticism and the new ideological and sociological ways of reading criticism. As an epitaph to the culturewars, Does Literary Studies Have a Future? reads like the last word.

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