WILLIAM HUNTTING HOWELL It is a peculiarly split view of human existence in which symbolizations of meaning operate in a closed universe of their own, divorced from the ``real'' facts of historical causation.1 To foreground the stakes of my comment, I want to propose two modifications of Tip O'Neill's maxim, ``All politics is local.'' First: All politics is literary. Whatever else it may be, ideology is in part the product of the artful deployment of language; words are necessary, if not always sufficient, structural elements of personal interest, social cohesion, and institutional power. Second: All literature is politics. There is no artful deployment of language that is not beholden to some sort of ideological configuration. To say ``literature and political writing''--even in the service of troubling or interrogating the boundaries between the two, as this special issue of the JER does--is to posit difference and conjunction where there is no a priori separation. The work of thinking through the consequences of this continuity exceeds disciplinary specificity: a ``close analysis of texts'' is not only the ``trademark gesture of the literary scholar,'' as Sandra Gustafson puts it in her introduction to this issue, but also a necessary condition of
Journal of the Early Republic – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Apr 28, 2010
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