The Unprestige of Prestige
People working on popular culture can complain that their field is still not taken seriously enough. They still feel that canonical literature holds sway. Working in a more canonical field from a more or less high modernist perspective, I feel that there is a certain unprestige of prestige, In other words, a suspicion cast over the canon itself. My field is extremely canonical, since it includes Antonio Machado, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Federico García Lorca. Yet many Ivy league and other prestigious universities don't feel the need to have a specialist in this area. A colleague at Duke tells me he doesn't teach poetry much, because of the demand for prose fiction courses. Almost all Spanish majors there are double majors, with Spanish being the second major and oriented toward the study of language. I think I would be even more famous in my field than I am if I had the same number of publications in the same journals and presses, but devoted myself instead to film or novel. I am not complaining, because I think I'm well enough known to suit myself, and I understand complaints coming from the opposite direction might be equally justified.