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An American Bakhtin: Jonathan Arac, or, the Vocation of the Critic in the Age of the Novel

An American Bakhtin: Jonathan Arac, or, the Vocation of the Critic in the Age of the Novel reformations In his Preface to Impure Worlds: The Institution of Literature in the Age of the Novel (2011), Jonathan Arac reflects upon his more than forty year career as a literary scholar, critic, and historian, tying his own multifaceted project to the inspiring figures of Walter Benjamin and Edward Said, "two exiles, the Jew and the Arab," whose critical thinking had fueled Arac's scholarship. Arac refers especially to his personal experience, first as a university student, then as a professor, but in naming these two thinkers--two radically different, yet somehow mutually resonating cultural critics--Arac also registers the degree to which mixed, hybrid, or indeed "impure" strains of critical inquiry contribute to his own distinctive work. As Arac puts it, the phrase impure worlds "names a zone of inquiry and resource that has shaped my thought for a long time" (Arac 2011, vii). Indeed, one might go so far as to say that "purity," in literature, culture, and society, is inimical to criticism, inasmuch as literature, a social institution, necessarily reflects and gives form to the heterogeneous elements that make up social experience in a distinct time and place. Benjamin's kaleidoscopic analysis of the Paris arcades and Said's contrapuntal, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png symploke University of Nebraska Press

An American Bakhtin: Jonathan Arac, or, the Vocation of the Critic in the Age of the Novel

symploke , Volume 23 (1) – Dec 31, 2015

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Publisher
University of Nebraska Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 symploke.
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1534-0627
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Abstract

reformations In his Preface to Impure Worlds: The Institution of Literature in the Age of the Novel (2011), Jonathan Arac reflects upon his more than forty year career as a literary scholar, critic, and historian, tying his own multifaceted project to the inspiring figures of Walter Benjamin and Edward Said, "two exiles, the Jew and the Arab," whose critical thinking had fueled Arac's scholarship. Arac refers especially to his personal experience, first as a university student, then as a professor, but in naming these two thinkers--two radically different, yet somehow mutually resonating cultural critics--Arac also registers the degree to which mixed, hybrid, or indeed "impure" strains of critical inquiry contribute to his own distinctive work. As Arac puts it, the phrase impure worlds "names a zone of inquiry and resource that has shaped my thought for a long time" (Arac 2011, vii). Indeed, one might go so far as to say that "purity," in literature, culture, and society, is inimical to criticism, inasmuch as literature, a social institution, necessarily reflects and gives form to the heterogeneous elements that make up social experience in a distinct time and place. Benjamin's kaleidoscopic analysis of the Paris arcades and Said's contrapuntal,

Journal

symplokeUniversity of Nebraska Press

Published: Dec 31, 2015

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