The morphology of what we like to call literature has remained fairly stable since at least the beginning of the twentieth century.
The morphology of what we like to call literature has remained fairly stable since at least the beginning of the twentieth century.Tags: Business Plans SoftwareThesis Statement About FaithEssays By Ralph Waldo EmersonFind DissertationsAp Psychology Intelligence EssayEssay About Good EducationPregnancy Essay
Everyone has their own diagnosis: for Siegel it is the professionalization of what should be a vocation; for Josipovici it is a failure of nerve and imagination in the face of market temptation. In order to be stable, communication must mutually benefit both the sender and the receiver, otherwise the incentive to communicate evaporates.
But for most all of them, the problem is that literature, despite all the ways it what it once did. Receivers typically assess the value of any communication through what is called trust calibration, where we evaluate the motives of the sender, and coherence checking, where we evaluate the ‘fit’ between the message and our background beliefs.
In Mullan’s account, the literary animal is so healthy simply because it lives in a communicative unexpected because everyone has been trained to anticipate its wiles.
Human beings are parochial, blinkered creatures, loathe to relinquish any number of injurious views no matter what their political stripe.
On the composition side, he notes the explosion in creative writing programs, and how almost all writers of literary fiction have some sort of university background.
On the reception side, he notes that “there are more graduates from literature, especially English literature, degrees than ever.” The situation is precisely opposite what Alvin Kernan predicted in some twenty years ago: far from killing literature (by adopting postmodern critiques of its rationale in a time profound social change), academia has transformed it into a cultural juggernaut.
If a cold-calling salesperson makes a pitch, we close the door because we don’t trust their motives.
If an otherwise trusted friend tells us something we think outlandish, we change the topic to avoid arguing at the dinner table.
The social value of literature has always turned on its ability to reveal and mitigate these shortcomings, to ‘shake things up,’ and so, bit by corrosive bit, effect cultural reform.
But doing this requires forming stable communicative relationships despite the absence of ‘fit’ between the sender’s and receiver’s default assumptions. This is why ‘finding the reader’ has always been the great problem faced by literary fiction, so much so that conditions of communication, it often has to wait for the rest of the world to catch up.