Tuesday, October 07, 2008

One more thing - departments

The fact that English and American lit is separated off from other literatures is already an anti-cosmopolitan feature of American lit - as if it's fundamentally a different entity.

And NO you can't take lit from other countries. Mostly classes in other departments are taught in foreign languages. And more importantly, there aren't departments of all foreign cultures.

For example, there are I think 4 Scandinavian Studies depts in the entire country: U of MN, U of WI, Berkley and U of Washington. The U of M dept isn't even a Scand dept anymore, but a subset of the German Linguistics program or something like that.


Blogger Amish Trivedi said...

And, no offense intended here, separating everything else into a "Comparative Literature" department is poppycock as well. Shouldn't everything be a Comparative Literature class? I think there ought to be a general Literary Studies that teaches everything from everywhere. The insularity of American literature begins with the English Department, no doubt. I took a Comp Lit class towards the end at UGA and I really enjoyed it, but then I felt odd that I hadn't read some of the things in that class before (Kundera, Kafka, Jelinek). Even in translation, why can't all things be together? Why can't we teach...er...Tarr and Notes from the Underground in the same class?

I think all this stems from our physical insularity from the rest of the world- well, until the last century or so. We as Americans don't think we have to learn languages or cultures because, as far as we can travel (minus planes) we pretty much don't have to worry about it in this country. We're fundamentally unprepared to move into the 21st century of globalism, regardless of whether or not our corporations, etc. are the ones that pushed for it in the first place. The American people are more in the Washington mindset still of avoiding "foreign entanglements," and, well, it simply cannot last.


11:23 AM  
Blogger Max said...

Johannes -

Point taken. But I still don't understand what this should have to do with how the Nobel committee views American authors. Certainly there are plenty of American authors who fit Engdahl's (stupid, in my opinion) litmus test of what makes a good Nobel laureate. He's merely slagging the literary culture in America and then acting as though this slagged literary culture actually represents all of our artists, which is completely fucking untrue. You can admit that much, right?

3:33 PM  
Blogger Max said...

Also, again, I'll say that the academy is taxonomic. This shouldn't be news to anybody. I honestly think it would be a waste of time to even try to change it. The academy is beyond salvation, in my opinion.

5:46 PM  
Blogger Ryan Downey said...

comp lit at uga...woot woot!

9:45 PM  

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