Nick Gillespie: The English Patient

I was noblogging, but that’s noreason to have missed Nick Gillespie’s thoughtful coverage of the MLA. From the fourth and final part of his article (go read parts one, two and three first), here’s a sample of what he has to say:

“Perhaps more important — and this is something that Fiedler recognized in his excellent 1982 meditation on the changing nature of cultural consumption, production, and elite gate-keeping, What Was Literature? — much of the work traditionally done by academics has seeped into the culture at large. In an age of cultural proliferation, where more of us can make and take whatever we want, whenever we want, Literature with a capital “l” — doesn’t command the same position it did even 30, much less 50, years ago (think of the difference in contemporaneous cultural standing, say, between Ernest Hemingway and Don DeLillo). The world we live in is not simply awash in an increasing amount of print, video, music, art, and other forms of creative expression; it’s awash in an increasing number of critics of the same. Such a world is increasingly dispersed and decentralized and it is extremely hard for any single locus of power to exercise much control over what we consume or how we interpret what we consume. That used to be a role that academic literary studies could, if not quite dominate, lead. But no more. Ironically, a world filled with more culture may inevitably be one where the ostensible guardians of culture are less important than before.”





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