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Literature on Trial

Literature on Trial: The Emergence of Critical Discourse in Germany, Poland & Russia, 1700-1800

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 288
  • Book Info
    Literature on Trial
    Book Description:

    Analysing works by Lessing, Goethe, and Karamzin, among others,Literature on Trialbrings a fresh theoretical perspective to the links between genre as a discursive strategy and socio-political life.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9636-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-47)

    The historiographic experiments of decades past have given us numerous ways of writing the history of discourses and disciplines. If historians remain on the lookout for new methodological directions, it is not, at least not principally, from a need for a definitive approach or variety for its own sake, or from any perception of oversights in contemporary scholarship. The main reason for this search, in my view, lies elsewhere, in one of the implications of methodological pluralization: that to ‘always historicize’ we need fresh modes of inquiry into the planes and dimensions particular to each discourse’s internal and external organization....

  5. Chapter One German Criticism
    (pp. 48-121)

    For much of the eighteenth century, Germany – a loose association of largely independent states in want of a national identity – had no modern, vernacular literary canon of its own. The literary corpus for most educated readers consisted of texts in Latin, French, and English, read in the original or in translation. Reliance on the influx of foreign ideas was widespread in other areas of intellectual culture as well. An institution like the Berlin Academy of Science was run in French, with French faculty members appointed by the king.³ There was also ‘no profession of letters worthy of the name in...

  6. Chapter Two Criticism in Poland
    (pp. 122-149)

    Like its German counterpart, eighteenth-century Polish literary-critical writing did not obey a regularized, ‘tightly typified’ system of genres.² This is not only because criticism was (and continues to be) a domain of discursive activity with relatively few ‘interrelated genres that interact with each other in specific settings’ and with considerable freedom of innovation and diversity (97, 88). Another reason for its low generic systematicity is to be found in its entropic and ‘oedipal’ generic lineage, viz., its vacillating descent from a long and near-ossified line of ancient, medieval, and Renaissance rhetoric and poetics, which jointly and separately formed systems subordinated...

  7. Chapter Three Criticism in Russia
    (pp. 150-185)

    To embark on its own Enlightenment, Russia needed to enlarge the discursive purview of Western Europe. Its ambition to ‘join the conversation’ – and cultural, political, and economic life in general – not merely by parroting foreign discourses, but through original contributions, necessitated the invention and refinement of Russian technical, professional, and literary languages. Unlike Germany and Poland in the eighteenth century, the Russian empire could not boast of a fully-fledged secular literary tradition, as Russian letters were still firmly rooted in Russian Orthodox theological writing. Nonetheless, the emergence of modern Russian literature roughly coincided with the emergence of Russia as a...

  8. Conclusion
    (pp. 186-192)

    In my introductory chapter, I proposed that the formal correlations between literature and criticism (insofar as both domains co-exist) develop within the greater epistemic matrix and ideological network. Over the last three centuries, both activities – the literary and the literary-critical – and the writing they left behind interacted not just within national boundaries but within a competitiveinternational literary space.¹ The purpose of Pascale Casanova’s 2004 publication on the politics of the literary republic – to ‘rediscover a lost transnational dimension’ of literature that ‘has been reduced to the political and linguistic boundaries of nations’ (xi) – also animated my comparative approach to...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 193-250)
  10. Selected Works Cited
    (pp. 251-264)
  11. Index
    (pp. 265-273)