The Dartmouth Observer

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Tuesday, September 10, 2002
More on Butler, Bhabha, the Literary Profession, etc.

1) D.G. Myers takes apart Judith Butler and reveals some disturbing facts about the literary profession today. I am especially disturbed by the following quote:

In the last two years, at least five young scholars have submitted entries, asking that their names not be released if they should win. In an unsigned June 1997 letter, one entrant confessed that he was "loathe to upset senior scholars in my field," since alienating them could do "significant damage" to his career.

"I share this information not merely "to expose" the folly of current writing—there’s enough bad writing going around that adding one more sentence won’t really change much—but to let you know the terror under which many graduate students and junior faculty live. In the current crisis of hiring freezes and intense pressure for tenure, the need to publish is perhaps greater than any time before. Yet to publish in most journals means flinging the jargon, toeing the party line (which is somewhere to the left of gibberish), and quoting the usual suspects (Benjamin, Foucault, Derrida, Said, Jameson, Butler, etc.). I’m often appalled at my own writing, but since jargon, rather than substance, gains a publication, I succumb to verbiage."

Myers's webpage has some great articles on the canon and the teaching of literary theory.

2) My second article is on postcolonialist guru Homi Bhabha. I am impressed by the author's ability to criticize both Bhabha and neoconservative polemicist Roger Kimball at the same time.