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Editor's Foreword: Comparatism in Polysystemic Perspective

Editor's Foreword: Comparatism in Polysystemic Perspective EDITOR'S FOREWORD: COMPARATISM IN POLYSYSTEMIC PERSPECTIVE Comparative literature, Charles Bernheimer has reminded us recently, "is anxiogenic" ("Introduction" 1). A befitting definition, coming as it does from the leading author of the 1993 ACLA Report which had raised our level of awareness and anxiety with its vision of "Comparative Literature at the Turn ofthe Century." Bernheimer's subsequent review of the controversy this report has stirred is more sympathetic to our worries. To begin with, he admits that we have aU embraced an impossible discipUne in which we are expected to know more than our "peers in the national Uterature departments-more knowledge of languages, more reading of literatures, more expertise in theory-but it is not clear that [we] wiU benefit professionaUy from aU this extra work" (Introduction 1). We are being urged to branch out into increasingly complex theoretical and multicultural territories, but our interdisciplinarity is not appreciated in the fragmented intellectual and poUtical climate of most literature departments. How are we to respond to these anxiogenic pressures? With the polarized reactions of "old-style fencing" vs. "renovative permissiveness" that the Bernheimer debate has triggered according to Mary Louise Pratt (60)? Such polarization of opinion would only confirm our "pervasive anxiety http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Comparatist University of North Carolina Press

Editor's Foreword: Comparatism in Polysystemic Perspective

The Comparatist , Volume 20 (1) – Oct 3, 1996

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © Southern Comparative Literature Association.
ISSN
1559-0887
Publisher site
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Abstract

EDITOR'S FOREWORD: COMPARATISM IN POLYSYSTEMIC PERSPECTIVE Comparative literature, Charles Bernheimer has reminded us recently, "is anxiogenic" ("Introduction" 1). A befitting definition, coming as it does from the leading author of the 1993 ACLA Report which had raised our level of awareness and anxiety with its vision of "Comparative Literature at the Turn ofthe Century." Bernheimer's subsequent review of the controversy this report has stirred is more sympathetic to our worries. To begin with, he admits that we have aU embraced an impossible discipUne in which we are expected to know more than our "peers in the national Uterature departments-more knowledge of languages, more reading of literatures, more expertise in theory-but it is not clear that [we] wiU benefit professionaUy from aU this extra work" (Introduction 1). We are being urged to branch out into increasingly complex theoretical and multicultural territories, but our interdisciplinarity is not appreciated in the fragmented intellectual and poUtical climate of most literature departments. How are we to respond to these anxiogenic pressures? With the polarized reactions of "old-style fencing" vs. "renovative permissiveness" that the Bernheimer debate has triggered according to Mary Louise Pratt (60)? Such polarization of opinion would only confirm our "pervasive anxiety

Journal

The ComparatistUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Oct 3, 1996

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