— thelitcritguy (@TheLitCritGuy) August 29, 2016
TheLitCritGuy is part of a community of scholars on Twitter– which is actually a very interesting and entertaining group for the modern academic. This tweet and the subsequent thread was posted on Monday, and summarized Edward W. Said’s 1984 essay “The Future of Criticism”.
Yeah, this week’s gonna get a bit technical.
I read Said’s essay. There’s a lot to agree with. Literary criticism has become more inter-disciplinary, though it’s a slow moving process as with anything in academia. There are things that could be better, but it could be much worse. There are two problems I saw in his analysis, however. One is something he could not have seen coming, that no one saw coming, and that is the advent of the World Wide Web and its impact on every facet of life. The other is a more personal issue, one that informs almost my entire critical process, and that’s the implication that there is literature that is worth being thought of critically, and literature that is not. The two dovetail, so I’ll talk about each in the context of the other, but what’s important to understand before I start is that there are no wrong answers. Every person that writes criticism does so for their own reasons, and picks their subject matter similarly. If you want to study every word that Lord Byron ever wrote, research his life to the last detail, find every person he ever slept with or was rumored to have slept with, and become the premier Lord Byron expert of your generation, go for it. Send the journals my way, I’ll read it. But as Said pointed out, there’s more types of criticism out there than essays about poetry.
Maybe even more than Said thought.