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Meetings of the Mind

Meetings of the Mind

David Damrosch
Vic d’Ohr Addams
Marsha Doddvic
Dov Midrash
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Meetings of the Mind
    Book Description:

    Comic in tone and serious in intent, this book gives a vivid portrait of academic life in the nineties. With campus populations and critical perspectives changing rapidly, academic debate needs to look beyond the old ideal of common purposes and communal agreement. How can we learn from people we won't end up agreeing with?

    This question is explored by four very different scholars, who meet and argue at a series of comparative literature conferences: David Damrosch, liberal humanist and organizer of the group; Vic Addams, an independent scholar of aesthetic leanings (and author ofThe Utility of Futility); Marsha Doddvic, a feminist film theorist; and the Israeli semiotician Dov Midrash. Throughout the 1990s, in four cities, they meet and debate the problems of disciplinary definition and survival, the relation of literary theory to society, the politics of cultural studies, and the virtues and vices of autobiographical criticism.

    As their partly antagonistic, increasingly serious, surprisingly fond, and always funny relationship develops, Damrosch seeks common ground with his friends despite the fundamental differences among them. Can a self-parodying deconstructionist and a Proust aficionado appreciate and improve each other's work? Can a wealthy, windsurfing medievalist and a champion of Chicana lesbian memoir find friendship?

    Hilarious exchanges and comic moments, as well as cameo appearances by well-known theorists, will entertain all literary-minded readers. Academic insiders will also be reminded of the foibles and quirks of their own disciplines and departments. At the same time, this exploration of the uses and abuses of literary and cultural criticism offers a running commentary on identity politics and poses serious questions about the state and future of the academy.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2382-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-2)
  3. 1 TOKYO: How Do Disciplines Die?
    (pp. 3-41)

    I arrived at Narita airport, late in August of 1991, not knowing what to expect. Several hundred comparatists from around the world were assembling for the triennial meeting of the International Comparative Literature Association; this would be the group’s first meeting in Asia. My uncertainty had partly to do with the conference’s theme, if it had one; “The Force of Vision” was a pretty vague topic, though I’d certainly seen vaguer. My chief concern was with my fellow panelists. I knew none of them well, their work only a little better. As I waited for the airport train into the...

  4. 2 BLOOMINGTON: Traveling Theory Comes Home
    (pp. 42-87)

    My introduction to Indiana was not auspicious. A long, dreary limousine ride from Indianapolis down to Bloomington, through long, dreary vistas of flat fields, empty crossroads, and more flat fields, still brown in mid-March after a cold winter; sitting wedged in among several auctioneers en route to their own convention: all overweight, great kidders all, retelling stories from past conventions that might possibly have been funny if you’d actually been there but had certainly gained nothing in the retelling. David Lodge, I felt sure, had never been to a conference like this. We’d had a few Lodge moments in Tokyo,...

  5. 3 CHICAGO: The Politics of Cultural Studies
    (pp. 88-133)

    There were only three problems with my idea for our next panel, I later told myself: the timing, the topic, and the temperaments involved. Given the good feeling at the end of our meeting in Bloomington, I probably could have gotten somewhere with the topic and the temperaments if only we’d been able to reconvene fairly soon. With the lead-time for most conference proposals at six months or more, I was pressing my luck under the best of circumstances. As it turned out, the increasing instability of my friends’ lives made it impossible to get together again even within two...

  6. 4 PUERTO VALLARTA: Critical Confessions
    (pp. 134-186)

    Until it turned into a nightmare, arranging to hold a convention in Mexico proved to be surprisingly easy. It helped considerably that the upcoming Comparative Literature Association meeting in March was in fact scheduled to take place in Indiana, for the second time in four years—not by any plan, but simply because our rather feckless organization would meet wherever someone happened to be willing to have us. Notre Dame was of course a very different locale from Indiana University, as the giant mosaic of Jesus blessing the football field could attest, but even so I’d heard a number of...

    (pp. 187-206)
  8. INDEX
    (pp. 207-217)