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Nicholas Dames on literary studies 🔗 📚

What happened to literary studies?

If professionalization was the flaw in the construction of the bridge, making it unstable, it turns out there’s a meteor heading for the bridge anyway: the steady diminution of literature’s role in a culture where electronic, networked media is dominant. […]

By lowering the barrier to entry, the Internet encouraged an early 21st-century efflorescence of occasional criticism and spontaneous theorizing that fostered vibrant subcultural readerships.

I believe that the coming decades will be shaped by a restoration of the humanities to non-professional, non-credentialed, non-university contexts. The Internet will continue to provide new forms not just for criticism but for pursuing literary education outside formal degrees.

This will be a good thing, though, sadly, it will be accompanied by the closure of many liberal arts colleges.