Thursday, July 31, 2008

This so-called "iced cream"

In the recent Chronicle article "Literary Geospaces," Jennifer Howard leads with the following:
In one of the most recent public eulogies for literary studies, a Nation essay that ran online in March decried the "trendism" on display in the Modern Language Association's job listings.

"The major trend now is trendiness itself, trendism, the desperate search for anything sexy," wrote William Deresiewicz, an associate professor of English at Yale University who has since left the profession. "Contemporary lit, global lit, ethnic American lit; creative writing, film, ecocriticism — whatever. There are postings here for positions in science fiction, in fantasy literature, in children's literature, even in something called 'digital humanities.'"

Hmm. These crazy trends, these sexy digital humanities.

* * * * *

Burns: I feel like such a free spirit, and I'm really enjoying this so-called...iced cream.


Maria said...


skg046 said...

Ha! Welcome to 1995, M. Deresiewicz.

Now a born-digital generation has entered graduate school.

I really wish people would quit it with the myth of the digital native. No such thing (she intoned from her fin-de-GenX perch). I wonder, now that it's far enough in the past, whether sociologists have stats on % blind users of early radios, Victrolas, etc., versus % people who assembled crystal sets, hacked their Victrolas....

skg046 said...

I mean "blind user" in the metaphorical sense. Poor choice of words--sorry. I should be asleep.

Natalia said...

I particularly love the way Deresiewicz seeks to trivialize these fields by calling them "trendy" and "sexy," as if they were the fad of the moment, destined to disappear as quickly as they (supposedly) emerged.

Because yeah, once somebody has pointed out that not all Anglophone literature is written in England or the United States, you can totally go back. India? Canada? Nigeria? Huh? Must be some fad.

And I hear trendy folks are now giving books to children! Sex, drugs, rock and roll, and now this "children's literature." Get offa my lawn.

I do feel kind of bad for mocking Deresiewicz; it's pretty low-hanging fruit. And yet -- so sweet and so cold.

As for the "born-digital generation," 'tis a myth.