Olsen/Pettersson (Eds.): Why Literary Studies?

Olsen/Pettersson (Eds.): Why Literary Studies?

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Six scholars at the intersection of literary studies and philosophy offer personal, carefully argued views of the rationale and possibilities of the academic study of literature.

Among their topics are the significance of literary studies for life, the disciplinary credentials of the subject, and the role of knowledge within it. The volume contains arguments for the centrality to literary studies of the reader’s experience and of a deeper understanding of the imagination, and for broader, more syncretic approaches in literary interpretation.

Contributors: Erik Bjerck Hagen, Paisley Livingston, Stein Haugom Olsen, Anders Pettersson, Bo Pettersson, Torsten Pettersson.

About the editors:

Stein Haugom Olsen is Dean of the Faculty of Business, Languages, and Social Sciences at Østfold University College, Norway. He has held chairs in English and philosophy at the universities of Oslo and Bergen and at Lingnan University, Hong Kong.

Anders Pettersson is Professor of Swedish and Comparative Literature at Umeå University, Sweden, and Secretary-General of the International Federation for Modern Languages and Literatures (FILLM).


Contributors 7

Acknowledgments 10

I.Introduction 11
Stein Haugom Olsen and Anders Pettersson

II.Literary Studies and Human Priorities 29
Anders Pettersson

Introduction 29
Literature 29
Motivation, Representation, Reality 36
Literary Criticism 41
Literary History and Literary Theory 45
Postmodern Literary Studies 47
Truth-Seeking in Literary Studies 50
The Human Relevance of Knowledge about Literature – and a Final Remark 55

III. The Discipline of Literary Studies 60
Stein Haugom Olsen

Introduction 60
The Study of Literature 63
The Demands of Literary Studies 65
The External Approach 68
Methodizing Taste 72
Criticism and Literary Studies 77
The Function of the Critic at the Present Time 82
The Discipline of Literary Studies 88

IV. Beyond Literary Knowledge 94
Paisley Livingston

Introduction 94
Aesthetic Value and Literary Value 97
Context and Quality 102
Final Note 109

V. The Heteronomy of Literary Value 110
Erik Bjerck Hagen

The Experience of Literature 110
Literary Value 114
Literature and the Self 117
The Question of Style 121
Learning from Literature: The Great Gatsby 125

VI. An Invitation to Imagine: On the Significance of Imagination in Literature and Literary Studies 133
Bo Pettersson

Introduction 133
The Raisons D’être of Literature and Literary Studies:
Functionalist and Aestheticist Views 134
Overcoming Dichotomies, Laying Foundations 138
Studying Imagination in Literature 141
Implications for Literary Studies and beyond 152

VII. The Case for Synergetic Criticism – the Example of Othello 156
Torsten Pettersson

Introduction 156
The Ontology of the Literary Work 158
The Case for Synergy 161
The Historical Position of Synergetic Criticism 166
Othello: Radical Cognitive Complementation 169
Othello: Cognitive Jamming 180
Prospects for Synergetic Criticism 189

Bibliography 193

Index 214

ISBN 978-82-7099-664-3, 219 pp., paperback
Format: 13,5x22,5 cm, weight 0,4 kg, year of publication: 2011, language: English

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