This essay accepts the claim made by Terry Eagleton, among others, that contemporary literary theory has too often inadvertently constituted a “flight” from the “rich variousness” of human realities. It further assumes that the sometimes “barren conceptual enquiry” of literary theory has contributed, along with many other forces, to the decline of the humanities as a field of study that attracts, challenges, and sustains students. One response, the essay argues, is to read literature from times of war and conflict in less theoretical, though no less scholarly, ways, seeking in its characters and settings, structure and imagery, insights into ways to make peace. This is a different focus than the more traditional one in Peace Studies, of reading such literature to illustrate the horrors of violence and war, and one that offers a bridge between the “seemingly endless range” of literary theories and that vital “engagement with the living situations of men and women” that the humanities have traditionally provided.
|Keywords:||Peacemaking, Literature, Iliad, Mrs. Dalloway, Beloved|
Professor, Department of English, Assumption College, Worcester, MA, USA
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