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Letter from ACLA President Haun Saussy

Letter from ACLA President Haun Saussy birthright diminished. if the academy operated entirely by business norms, suny’s washout would be good news for yale, Harvard, Princeton and the like, whose commodity would now be enhanced by an increase in its rarity, but, fortunately, in academia competition exists to enhance the striving of all, not to eliminate the less favored. Comparative literature occupies a particularly risky position. if the humanities are at risk generally, so much more so are foreign languages and literatures, which reside, as their name indicates, outside the experience of much of the public. A field that makes its contribution to knowledge by bringing together many foreign literatures will therefore seem irredeemably exotic. the methods by which comparatists develop their arguments — analogies, contrasts, paradigms — are also hardly crowd pleasing. many of the readers who responded to the New York Times op-ed pieces on the crisis of the humanities blamed the crisis on an infatuation with wild (usually french) theories and called for a return to the timeless truths of an earlier humanism. there is not much room for comparative literature in such a program. the public benefit that comes from people in state-supported educational institutions knowing things that you don’t http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Comparative Literature Duke University Press

Letter from ACLA President Haun Saussy

Comparative Literature , Volume 63 (1) – Jan 1, 2011

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2011 by University of Oregon
ISSN
0010-4124
eISSN
1945-8517
DOI
10.1215/00104124-1125259
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

birthright diminished. if the academy operated entirely by business norms, suny’s washout would be good news for yale, Harvard, Princeton and the like, whose commodity would now be enhanced by an increase in its rarity, but, fortunately, in academia competition exists to enhance the striving of all, not to eliminate the less favored. Comparative literature occupies a particularly risky position. if the humanities are at risk generally, so much more so are foreign languages and literatures, which reside, as their name indicates, outside the experience of much of the public. A field that makes its contribution to knowledge by bringing together many foreign literatures will therefore seem irredeemably exotic. the methods by which comparatists develop their arguments — analogies, contrasts, paradigms — are also hardly crowd pleasing. many of the readers who responded to the New York Times op-ed pieces on the crisis of the humanities blamed the crisis on an infatuation with wild (usually french) theories and called for a return to the timeless truths of an earlier humanism. there is not much room for comparative literature in such a program. the public benefit that comes from people in state-supported educational institutions knowing things that you don’t

Journal

Comparative LiteratureDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2011

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