Talk about a Crisis! A Sociological Analysis of the ‘Crisis Discourse’ in Literary Studies

By Soh-young Chung.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Talk about a crisis has been pervasive in public reflections relating to the shift from literary studies to cultural studies. I examine a group of book-length ‘utterances’ that comprise the crisis talk. It is not intended, however, to assume a metadiscursive position that would propose an alternative explanation for this crisis. Rather, I take the crisis talk itself as the object of investigation and lay out a sociological analysis deploying Paul Dowling’s Social Activity Method, an approach that is also consistent with Foucault’s construction of ‘discursive formation’. The analysis is concerned with the ways in which the participants in the crisis talk articulate their discursive positions within literary studies, which is to say, how those utterances are authorised in relation to what is recognised as ‘literary studies’. This presents an opportunity to re-think the significance of the emergence of the crisis talk and the disciplinarity of literary studies; might it be said that talk about a crisis is part of what makes literary studies recognisable as such?

Keywords: Literary Studies, Crisis of Literary Studies, Cultural Studies, Disciplinarity, Sociology of Knowledge, Social Activity Method, Discursive Formation

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp.175-186. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 669.596KB).

Dr. Soh-young Chung

Visiting Researcher, Instituts d’Extrême-Orient, Collège de France, Paris, Paris, France

Dr. Soh-young Chung has a PhD in English literature and recently received her second Ph.D from the Institute of Education, University of London with a thesis on a sociological analysis of literary studies. Her field of interest includes the sociology of knowledge, socio-cultural theories and practices, cultural studies, higher education and qualitative research methodology. She is currently a visiting researcher at Instituts d’Extrême-Orient, Collège de France, Paris.

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