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When students only have read a few poems, in exclusively academic contexts, they often approach poetry with what the li...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

My Tribe

My tribe likes things hybridized, mixed, liminal, radical, impure. Contradictory, paradoxical, heterodox, ironic, figurative, tropological, queer. We like exiles and diasporas, translations, transculturations, all things transatlantic, transgender, transnational. Everything starting with inter-, trans- or post- . Everything modern, postmodern, and "cultural." Confluences and complex negotiations. All things ambiguous, ambivalent, indeterminant. Everything anachronistic or out of place, intersticial, interdisciplinary, performative, diverse, different, other, eccentric, or subversive, peripheral or marginal, or problematic. (Though sometimes we call what we don't like problematic too.) We like slippages and aporias, transgressions, and borders. Have I left anything out?

Nothing unitary, monolithic, canonical, hegemonic, orthodox, simplistic, conventional, or typical can be interesting, only exceptions to the rule. Since everything we study is exceptional, we live in a weird world-in-reverse. Every non-canonical work has been repressed by the hegemonic system of which, obviously, we play no part, except when we are "complicit" in spite of ourselves. Yet every canonical work subverts the conditions of its own understanding if we read it "against the grain," as we inevitably do.

Of course, the biggest enemy is the academy itself, which represses our original ways of thinking, even though all the other academics seemingly share our exact taste for all things hybrid and liminal.

This is the tribe of academic literary critics. If you want to join I suggest you adopt this mentality. Please keep your sense of humor about it, though.

[moving to the front since I've added a few more buzz words to the post.]

1 comment:

Leslie said...

"seemingly"

...because on can just say the h-word and seem cool, wise, and politically correct while remaining wishy-washy, superficial, marginally informed and never having to take a stand on anything.