2 feb 2007

My field is a ghetto. There is a good deal of integration between those who study film, culture, and novel of contemporary Spain, between Cultural Studies and studies of the novel. Those who study poetry, however, usually just study poetry, and people who are (otherwise) quite well-read often confess their near total ignorance of poetry, as though that were just some minor insignificant corner of the literary world that could be safely ignored.

Of course, ultimately every academic field is a ghetto. It's just a matter of the size of the particular ghetto.

Anyway, what I often try to do is to publish places where my article will be seen by people who wouldn't normally read an article on "poetry." My favorite in this respect is the Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies published in the UK.

Why doesn't "culture" include "poetry"? This is a tricky question that has to do with the way disciplinary boundaries are drawn. My attitude toward all of this is that everyone should study what they want, but just don't leave me out of it.

When did the novel get to be so important? Obviously it's not because Spanish novels are more accomplished than Spanish books-of-poems. The opposite is the case. Cela gets the Nobel prize? That's just ridiculous. Marías is ok, but don't tell me his work has the historical weight of Gamoneda's. Is it as simple a matter of the fact that more people read novels? Or is it because novels talk about the "issues" people want to talk about, and therefore can integrated seamlessly into a certain vision of cultural studies?

If you want to look at the consumption of cultural products, then you'd have to say that dubbed Hollywood movies are an extremely significant part of contemporary Spanish culture. Or translations of books by Michael Crichton or Paul Auster (not to put them in the same category).

1 comentario:

Andrew Shields dijo...

"people who are (otherwise) quite well-read often confess their near total ignorance of poetry": this never ceases to amaze me. But I had never noticed that, as you point out, the people who want to do "cultural studies" are very often also people who seem to flaunt their ignorance of poetry.

No, ignorance is not the best word. Disdain, contempt: it's amazing that people who ostensibly study "culture" in general not only have rejected a genre that, historically, was the heart of many cultures, but also do so in such an extreme way without any fear of being ridiculed for it. It's almost like a badge of honor.

"Just don't leave me out of it": this is a more difficult position than "just leave me alone to do what I want."