Yes, I am being defensive

The Chronicle blogs feature includes a link to this interesting post at Novel Readings.

What's more interesting at The Chronicle is the lovely lone comment on the page:

Lit crit should finally die the death it so much deserves. Lit departments have floundered for decades because they have forgotten the text. Instead, they have pandered to the politically correct idiots who can neither read with sense nor write with style. May they ALL be flushed down the toilet where they belong.

— WEM Sep 8, 12:59 PM

Wow. I guess I should realize that I'm a politically correct idiot who doesn't read the texts. Glad someone could tell me that I'm not working with literature in the 200 page dissertation that I'm defending next month.

But seriously, this attitude bothers me. Yes, there are critics who prioritize theory over close reading. That's not really a problem -- if you refuse theory, you're taking a theoretical stance. You're sometimes just not acknowledging it. The idea that literature departments (generally, English departments) are floudering confounds me completely. We tend to be one of the largest departments on college campuses in terms of faculty, at least in the humanities. And we attract a lot of undergrads and grad students. (Too many of the latter, but that's another story for another day).

Actually, the more I think about what this person says -- with that charming rhetorical flourish of flushing me down the toilet -- the angrier I get. I am refraining from what I really want to say, which would certainly demonstrate my inability to write with style (it involves the the word fuck in various parts of speech). I'm going to go back to reading.

Because I have poetry to teach next week.

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