Notes from Virginia
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
  The Valve

A snippet commenting on the new tenor of the culture wars as expressed on the radical academic blogsphere, The Valve:

Perhaps the high point of this blog event, thus far, has been the essay posted by Morris Dickstein, who explains the current academic culture with a surplus of big-picture clarity and judiciousness: "Today the theory era is effectively ending and the public intellectual tradition is reasserting itself, along with a renewed attention in the aesthetic that many theorists dismissed as no more than an ideological formation. But thanks to tenure and the intellectual investments we make as graduate students, theory will have a long afterlife. It will also continue to inflect how many important issues are discussed, including the role of language in literature, the degree to which literary works reference the world outside the text, the role of social construction including class, race, and gender in forming our conventions of representation (as writers) and interpretation (as critics). Critical movements leave behind a residue of common sense after the dust of their polemics has settled and the most extreme positions have been abandoned."

True? What is the "public intellectual tradition" referred to here? Certainly we are operating in a time of anti-intellectualism in some ways unparralleled. Has theory--the tool of revolution against the canon--become canonical? How does that unwrite the tradition itself? I dunno but I wouldn't want to assume that I can do the kinds of things I do with texts without it ....

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