The apocalyptic accounts of literary studies’ imminent doom so popular today expose the assumptions that many practitioners make about the field’s essential identity and value. This essentialism cements literary studies as devoted entirely to the methodology known as “close reading” and thus denies the historical specificity of that methodology. This essay first outlines criticism that has established literary studies’ historical construction, especially as it has occurred over the past century. It then takes a critical look at views of the literary studies landscape that see the imminent demise of the field in apocalyptic or otherwise dire and frightening terms. Finally, it advances a new vision of the literary scholar as one who is engaged in an actively devoted apostasy to “literary studies.” This new attitude would leave behind a singular devotion to a particular academic discipline and instead would look towards our present social situation as what shapes our work, as it has shaped the work we have done thus far.
|Keywords:||Literary Studies, Close Reading, Social Construction|
Graduate Student, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA
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