The Use and Abuse of Literature by Marjorie Garber

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Synopsis

As defining as Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism, Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind, and Dinesh D’Souza’s Illiberal Education were to the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, respectively, Marjorie Garber’s The Use and Abuse of Literature is to our times.
 
Even as the decline of the reading of literature, as argued by the National Endowment for the Arts, proceeds in our culture, Garber (“One of the most powerful women in the academic world”—The New York Times) gives us a deep and engaging meditation on the usefulness and uselessness of literature in the digital age. What is literature, anyway? How has it been understood over time, and what is its relevance for us today? Who are its gatekeepers? Is its canonicity fixed? Why has literature been on the defensive since Plato? Does it have any use at all, or does it merely serve as an aristocratic or bourgeois accoutrement attesting to worldly sophistication and refinement of spirit?  Is it, as most of us assume, good to read literature, much less study it—and what does either mean?
 
The Use and Abuse of Literature is a tour de force about our culture in crisis that is extraordinary for its brio, panache, and erudition (and appreciation of popular culture) lightly carried. Garber’s winning aim is to reclaim literature from the margins of our personal, educational, and professional lives and restore it to the center, as a fierce, radical way of thinking.




From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Marjorie Garber

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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.
 
Published March 29, 2011 by Vintage. 338 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Use and Abuse of Literature

Publishers Weekly

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Harvard English professor Garber (Patronizing the Arts) leads an expedition through the archives of literature, rejecting expansion of the term's meaning to include all printed material or just about

Jan 31 2011 | Read Full Review of The Use and Abuse of Literature

The New York Times

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“At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the National Endowment for the Arts reported a disturbing drop in the number of Americans who read ‘literary’ works.”

Apr 15 2011 | Read Full Review of The Use and Abuse of Literature

The New York Times

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As once disparaged genres attain the status of classics, a Harvard professor asks what makes something “literary.”

Apr 15 2011 | Read Full Review of The Use and Abuse of Literature

The Star

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A Harvard prof takes a spirited run at bookish polemics

May 21 2011 | Read Full Review of The Use and Abuse of Literature

Dallas News

Of the canon, Garber concludes, “To say a work is literature means that it is regarded, studied, read, and analyzed in a literary way.” (Clearly, some definitions are circular.).

May 27 2011 | Read Full Review of The Use and Abuse of Literature

Patheos

This review of some random iPhone game called Air Supply over at Kill Screen is worth reading even if you don’t care about the game, because of how thoughtfully it calls into question how we often think about games these days.

Apr 01 2011 | Read Full Review of The Use and Abuse of Literature

Bookmarks Magazine

By jonSun, 03/27/2011 - 17:36.

Mar 27 2011 | Read Full Review of The Use and Abuse of Literature

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