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« Very delayed gratification | Main | This Week's Acquisitions »

March 16, 2005


What Now?

"literary how texts work; historians study how texts exist."

A helpful distinction, or maybe tension; I try to straddle this divide in my own work, wanting to think of myself as both literary and historical, but I sometimes fear that, in doing so, I manage to be neither!

New Kid on the Hallway

This is interesting, because I tend to tell students that the difference between history/lit people is this: historians study texts to understand the people that produced them, lit scholars study people to understand the texts that they produced. But your statement of the distinction/tension is probably more helpful. I do find myself ignoring (some of) the ways that texts work, feeling unqualified to talk about it in great detail; and I also just read an article which was clearly a lit scholar talking all about how the text worked but with a fairly hazy understanding of the context in which it came to be. I will have to think about how this distinction can be helpful (I aspire to interdisciplinarity but am not sure I ever quite achieve it beyond simply poaching other disciplines' texts!).


What I find useful about this post is the reminder that, for all that literary scholars claim to be interdisciplinary, we are still disciplined creatures. I don't think that is so terrible, as long as we recognize both the limitations and the usefulness of our disciplinary tools.

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