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Whither lit?

By Harriet Staff

ABC News reports on a scholarly book, which is news in and of itself. The book, The Use and Abuse of Literature, by Marjorie Garber, argues that literature, as a course of study, is being displaced by an emphasis on science and technology. While this tendency is probably familiar to most Harriet readers, there haven’t been too many voices defending the study of literature in major media outlets, and so it’s worth mentioning Garber’s diagnosis:

Rather than studying the humanities to understand humanity, today’s college students, and even their professors, are more likely to look to the insights of neuroscience to grasp the complexities of the human mind.

For Garber, of course, literature does matter. “Language does change our world,” she writes. “It does make possible what we think and how we think it.” Echoing an argument made by the eminent literary critic Harold Bloom, Garber claims for literature a sort of stem cell-like power to generate fresh and new imaginative experiences in those who read it.


Posted in Poetry News on Tuesday, March 29th, 2011 by Harriet Staff.