Wednesday, 27 December 2006

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Live-Blogging the MLA? also, Are Graduate Students Really That Ignorant? (X-posted from the Valve) Last year, I handled the duties myself. But it’s difficult to prepare a talk and network and keep you informed, but I’ll try my best. Updates, as soon as they’re available, can be found here. Included among them will be the finalized plans for the big meet-up this Thursday. Ideas are still circulating, but we should have it all hammered out early tomorrow. On another note, John doesn’t believe the following claims made by Jeffrey Williams and William Spanos in the forthcoming the minnesota review. I don’t either, but for different reasons. Here’s an excerpt from my talk: Later in [his interview with Toril Moi], he notes that his students “might have read [Judith] Butler, but have no idea who Paul de Man is.” In another interview, William Spanos observes that his “students haven’t the foggiest idea the history of literary criticism prior to the contemporary moment. Not simply the hegemony of New Criticism, but also the emergent struggle of the early postructuralists to revolutionize that earlier tradition. They don’t know who Cleanth Brooks is, they haven’t read Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans or Twain’s Pudd’enhead Wilson or Faulkner’s ‘The Bear.’" I find it difficult to believe that graduate students in English have never heard of Cleanth Brooks and Paul de Man—then again, I did my undergraduate work at LSU, in rooms down the hall from the office of The Southern Review, and am doing my graduate work at UCI, in a building shared with Andrzej Warminski. To not have heard of Brooks or de Man would’ve required a concerted effort, one whose intensity implies that I had, in fact, heard of them and simply wanted no more of it. Are there really graduate students who haven’t heard of Brooks or de Man, or are Williams and Spanos merely lamenting a decline in familiarity with The Well-Wrought Urn and Blindness and Insight? But isn’t that even a little hyperbolic? Or are my LSU/UCI-tinted glasses coloring my expectations?

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