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The Use and Abuse of Literatureby Marjorie Garber
Synopses & Reviews
As crucial as The Closing of the American Mind, Cultural Literacy, and Illiberal Education were to their times, The Use and Abuse of Literature for Life is to ours.
In this deep and engaging meditation on the useful-ness and uselessness of reading in the digital age, Har-vard English professor Marjorie Garber (One of the most powerful women in the academic world.--The New York Times) aims to reclaim literature from the periphery of our personal, educational, and pro-fessional lives and restore it to the center, as a radical way of thinking.
But what is literature anyway, how has it been understood over time, and what is its relevance for us today? Who gets to decide what the word means? Why has literature been on the defensive since Plato? Does it have any use at all, other than serving as bour-geois or aristocratic accoutrements attesting to one's worldly sophistication and refinement of spirit? What are the boundaries that separate it from its commer-cial instance and from other more mundane kinds of writing? Is it, as most of us assume, good to read, much less study--and what would that mean?
Marjorie Garber has written a tour de force about our culture in crisis that is extraordinary for its brio, panache, and erudition (and understanding of popu-lar culture) lightly carried.
From the Hardcover edition.
A Harvard English professor's intimate meditation on the pros and cons of reading in the digital age seeks to restore a traditional definition of literature, explaining how historical debates and modern interpretations reflect key cultural dynamics.
About the Author
Marjorie Garber is the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of English and of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University, and chair of the Program in Dramatic Arts. She has served as director of the Humanities Center at Harvard, chair of the department of Visual and Environmental Studies, and director of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts. A member of the Board of Directors of the American Council of Learned Societies and a trustee of the English Institute, she is the former president of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes, and a continuing member of its board. She is the author of sixteen books and has edited seven collections of essays on topics from Shakespeare to literary and cultural theory to the arts and intellectual life, including Shakespeare After All, which was acclaimed as one of Newsweek’s ten best nonfiction books of 2004 and received the 2005 Christian Gauss Award from the Phi Beta Kappa Society.
Table of Contents
Use and abuse — The pleasures of the canon — What isn't literature — What's love got to do with it? — So you want to read a poem — Why literature is always contemporary — On truth and lie in a literary sense — Mixed metaphors — The impossibility of closure.
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