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Showing posts from March, 2012

Can we still use imagination to study literature?

I have come to the conclusion that nothing does more to discourage the use of the imagination than being an English academic.  It really is all rather depressing.  My life seems to be dedicated to finding new ways of either quantifying or negating the disciplinary distinctiveness of the study of literature in the face of fixed prejudices about its value.   Interestingly enough, some of the most hysterical voices calling for the elimination of the arts and humanities in Universities are those who have themselves made themselves a nicely lucrative living from them: Philosopher Alain de Botton arguing on the BBC’s Daily Politics show that the humanities (including Philosophy) should not be taught in Universities because they are not “utilitarian” enough, or the deliciously loony poet V.S. Naipaul arguing that Universities should only interest themselves in "measurable truth".
In writing about the general uselessness of the Humanities for the Wall Street Journal, de Botton comm…