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.
About Marjorie GarberSee more books from this Author
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 aboutJan 31 2011 | Read Full Review of The Use and Abuse of Literature
“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
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
A Harvard prof takes a spirited run at bookish polemicsMay 21 2011 | Read Full Review of The Use and Abuse of Literature
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
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
By jonSun, 03/27/2011 - 17:36.Mar 27 2011 | Read Full Review of The Use and Abuse of Literature
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