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From the margins: studying (a ‘minor’ national) literature in the age of techno-bureaucratic domination


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Čale, Morana. (2012). From the margins: studying (a ‘minor’ national) literature in the age of techno-bureaucratic domination. Umjetnost riječi : časopis za znanost o književnosti, 56(3-4). pp. 183-202. ISSN 0503-1853

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The question of how to study the texts of a ‘peripheral’ and thus multiply ‘belated’ literature such as Croatian is examined in relation to the growing marginalization of literary studies, insofar as their crisis is homologous to the decline of the symbolic authority, autonomy and sovereignty undergone by the institutions to which literary studies are subordinated, i.e., respectively, the humanities in general, the university, and the nation-state. In fact, each of the mentioned institutional levels framing literary studies is gradually being shaped by and assimilated to the dominant structures typical of the globalized economic liberalism, in such a way as to make up a hierarchy in which the least marketable institution is regarded as indebted and parasitic to its superior others. As the humanities, overpowered by the social sciences, tend to promote sociology and economy in their epistemological metadisciplines, while obliterating the legacy of Kant’s Third Critique, a sort of methodological ‘realism’ is being imposed on literary research. This epistemological framework, inconsistent with the very character of literature as a domain of ‘as if’, threatens to suppress literary scholarship and to replace it by cultural studies, currently the most influential academic field of the humanities, which informs also the prominent endeavours at fostering the projects of European or world literature. On the other hand, literary studies in Croatia are facing also the opposite request, made by the state bureaucracy in charge of research financing, to enhance symbolically the idea of national identity, which risks entailing an autarchic historization of literature and an alternative local canonization of literary works. Keeping in mind that there cannot be a sharp opposition between bordering entities, and thus neither between a thoroughly autonomous realm of the aesthetic and that of (political) economy, both being bound up in the parergonal structure of ‘economimesis’ (Derrida), a contention is put forward according to which a marginal literature could not benefit from any of the cited heteronomous critical approaches. Instead, a performative interpretation of singular literary texts, able to measure up to the standards of the Western canon, is pleaded for.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Italian Studies
Departments: Department of Italian Language and Literature
Additional Information: Diskusija.
Date Deposited: 21 Feb 2018 18:42
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2018 18:42

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