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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Concluding Paragraph

The perpetual crisis of confidence in the Humanities coincides (not so coincidentally perhaps) with the dominance of the “hermeneutics of suspicion” and of the “argument for argument”—the idea that what we do in the Humanities can be reduced to the abstract and formulaic proceduralism that can be exercised in any context whatsoever, with no regard to the value of our raw materials. The inevitable reaction against these two developments has brought renewed attention to the principle I have identified here as “receptivity.” This is not a narrowing of the field or a return to a reactionary definition of the canon. In fact, receptivity entails an openness to every possible expression of human creativity and thus has the power to envigorate both our teaching and our scholarship.

Andrew Shields has been giving me a hard time about signposting--and with good reason. I thank him for that. I've been trying to write much more seamlessly. Here is my concluding paragraph. I simply conclude. The only signposting is the part I've italicized here. We know it's a conclusion because it's at the end, marked off by a few lines of blank space, and because of the conclusive tone. I don't need to write "as I have demonstrated here." Or, "in the first section of this article I showed that..."

1 comment:

Vance Maverick said...

Thumbs up. (The signposting in Apocryphal wasn't fatal, but it was certainly emphatic.) Did you consider going all the way, and writing, "...brought renewed attention to the principle of receptivity?" I can imagine avoiding this if there were a standard, somewhat different, sense of the term, which you couldn't be sure your sense had successfully displaced (even temporarily, and even in your conclusion). But more seriously, this remaining signpost expresses a valid pride.