Said, Edward W. “Globalizing Literary Study.” PMLA 116 1 (2001): 64-68. Print.

  • Said begins by acknowledging two intellectual frameworks/themes that need reworked for the contemporary English department:  1) literature exists in national frameworks (see Jay’s article for more); and 2) literary objects are stable and exist in a consistently identifiable form (64).
  • S. also recognizes that author and work as autonomous, unified entities have been complicated by theories of globalization, agency, and authorship/originality in recent times (64).  Many of these changes are the result of the social-discursive turn when considering texts and textuality.
  • S.’s articulation of the change in training for students/graduates in literary study from the time he studied to the present:

  • Like Jay, Said uses Wallerstein and Appadurai to make his points.  He also references Miyoshi’s work.
  • Some basics that S. wants to argue:
    • Globalization is based on a generally ‘happy’ capitalist model that is actually impoverishing more and more people everyday.  Unfortunately, “delinking” from this model of development is almost impossible as viable alternatives to global late capitalism seem few and far between.
    • The development of postcolonial, ethnic, and other identitarian fields of study in the humanities signals the end of the authoritative, Eurocentric models of scholarship that characterized the modern period.
    • US hegemony greatly affects the university establishment often leading US academics to claim that they can redraw the boundaries and recognize particular histories, languages, voices, and experiences.  We should approach this fact with skepticism and a desire for change.
    • Eurocentric dominance has long posited a split between the value-free science researcher and the detached, materially unaware humanist on the other.  This results in science wars and culture wars occurring in different spheres . . . and also results in the division of what counts as “true” and what counts as “good.”
    • Identitarian politics and research are important; however, they have served to cut off and isolate particular cultural rhetorics from the larger flow of global, collective human history.  To combat this detachment, S. recommends that the intellectual – not the professional – take a new position in the academy by connecting their work to the ongoing “processes of enlightenment and liberation in the world” (68).

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