The Books of My Numberless Dreams

Uh huh

Posted on: April 18, 2007

Cultural studies is not necessarily about literature in the traditional sense or even about “art”…the intellectual promise of cultural studies lies in its attempts to “cut across diverse social and political interests and address many of the struggles within the current scene.”

Do I even want to read any further?

Intellectual works are not limited by their own “borders” as single texts, historical problems…Henry Giroux and others write in their Dalhousie Review manifesto that cultural studies practitioners are “resisting intellectuals” who see what they do as “an emancipatory project” because it erodes the traditional disciplinary divisions in most institutions of higher education (478-80).

Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature, pg. 277

Yeah, I’m skipping to the structuralist stuff in the next chapter.


Structuralists emphasize that description of any phenomenon or artifact without placement in the broader systems that generate it is misleading if not impossible. Accordingly, they have developed analytical, systematic approaches to literary texts that avoid traditional categories like plot, character, setting, theme, tone, and the like. Even more significantly, however, structuralists tend to deny the text any inherent privilege, meaning or authority; to them the text is only a system that poses the question of how such a construct of language can contain meaning for us….The structuralists have encouraged us to reread, rethink, and restudy all literary works and to equate them with all other cultural and social phenomena — for example, language, landscaping, architecture, kinship, marriage customs, fashion, menus, furniture.

Oh, come on now. It’s the last chapter–there’s nothing else to skip to! From the interesting, inspiring dialogic of Mikhail Bakhtin to encouraging me to equate my books to restaurant menus and furniture? (What the hell? The book, people. It’s the book.) I don’t think that “prestigious…French rationalists” are going to save this one, but what the hell, only so many pages.


3 Responses to "Uh huh"

Imani: I did research in the mid 1990s about teaching 20th Century Latin American literature in English translation and you wouldn’t believe the kind of obstacles I had to jump through. It seems that the more the arts want to do to promote culturalism, the most business and science get in the way (always with the alter motive to “make a profit”) and they ruin most efforts. At any rate, I am not sure if this is really related but I just wanted to share my frustration with a friend 🙂

Go back to Bahktin! Even now, when I’ve washed my hands off critical theories I still find Bahktian infinitely readable.

Bahktin is more fun. Always has been.

JCR that seems to be a problem for the Arts in general. It’s always more difficult for the different arts department to get anything done at the university here because it doesn’t bring in as much money as science.

Dark Orpheus I’ve already put one of his books on hold at the library. His only book (translated into English)–there are more books in stock on Bakhtin rather than by him.

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