Petrey on Berman

Literary versus cultural studies?

To impose a choice between literary studies and cultural studies strikes me as horribly misguided, something like imposing a choice between breathing and eating.

Yet that choice is being imposed with more and more insistence, its suicidal consequences accepted with less and less concern. At times, those preaching an either/or approach have done so in defense of literature, and I refuse the idea that literature is Emerson’s “jealous mistress” who tolerates nothing else in her domain. To study either high culture or popular culture as if the other were unworthy of concern impoverishes both, which means the literary studies/cultural studies binary is pernicious no matter which side defends it.


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