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What Killed American Lit.

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Death of American Lit

‎"The Cambridge History of the American Novel" is perhaps best read as a sign of what has happened to English studies in recent decades. Along with American Studies programs, which are often their subsidiaries, English departments have tended to become intellectual nursing homes where old ideas go to die. If one is still looking for that living relic, the fully subscribed Marxist, one is today less likely to find him in an Economics or History Department than in an English Department, where he will still be taken seriously.

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In the final chapter of "The Cambridge History of the American Novel," titled "A History of the Future of Narrative," the novelist Robert Coover argues that, though the technologies of reading and writing may be changing and will continue to change, the love of stories—reading them and writing them—will always be with us. Let's hope he is right. Just don't expect that love to be encouraged and cultivated, at least in the near future, in American universities.

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Thanks, Paul! What a well-written article about a poorly-written book.

"Attention to the performativity of straight sex characterizes . . . 'The Great Gatsby' (1925), where Nick Carraway's homoerotic obsession with the theatrical Gatsby offers a more authentic passion precisely through flamboyant display." Betcha didn't know that Nick Carraway was hot for Jay Gatsby? We sleep tonight; contemporary literary scholarship stands guard.
Epstein does an excellent job of puncturing the self-inflated, pompous posturers that edited the collection.

While people declare the death of the novel, American or otherwise, JK Rowling, Terry Goodkind, Katy Reichs, and a host of others I'm sure those here know better than I are still producing easily readable, exciting works of fiction. The Stamp of Approval of academia is not required for them to get published and read. In fact, this is another argument for the increasing irrelevance of University education, especially in the humanities, where these toadstools tend to grow with abandon.

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Thanks, Paul! What a well-written article about a poorly-written book.
"Attention to the performativity of straight sex characterizes . . . 'The Great Gatsby' (1925), where Nick Carraway's homoerotic obsession with the theatrical Gatsby offers a more authentic passion precisely through flamboyant display." Betcha didn't know that Nick Carraway was hot for Jay Gatsby? We sleep tonight; contemporary literary scholarship stands guard.
Epstein does an excellent job of puncturing the self-inflated, pompous posturers that edited the collection.

While people declare the death of the novel, American or otherwise, JK Rowling, Terry Goodkind, Katy Reichs, and a host of others I'm sure those here know better than I are still producing easily readable, exciting works of fiction. The Stamp of Approval of academia is not required for them to get published and read. In fact, this is another argument for the increasing irrelevance of University education, especially in the humanities, where these toadstools tend to grow with abandon.

I'd also add American novelist, George R.R. Martin, who endlessly maligned by the academic establishment has nonetheless produced one of the greatest myth/fantasy series of novels in the English language -- the Song of Ice and Fire -- easily rivaling the works of Tolkein.

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