Massenkultur an der Universität

Einer der Auswege aus dem literaturwissenschaftlichen Methodenchaos scheint vielen ein bewusster Pluralismus zu sein: Man nehme möglichst viele widersprüchliche Theorien, und verwende eklektizistisch, was gerade passend erscheint.

Robert Scholes folgt in seinem neuen Buch, „The Crafty Reader“ genau diesem Prinzip und wird Mark Bauerlein in Philosophy and Literature 2/2002 entsprechend kritisiert.

Vorher jedoch schildert Bauerlein ausführlich seine theoretischen Erlebnisse in den achtziger Jahren, womit wir beim Titel dieser Notiz wären:

Allied with the political attacks on theory, and esteemed even lower, were critiques of the humanities as a bastion of high culture. Polemics such as Andrew Ross’s „No Respect: Intellectuals and Popular Culture“ treated literature departments as conservative enclaves blind to the cultural realities of the public sphere. Humanities professors guarded a narrow white-male canon with spurious notions of taste and truth, they argued, while popular culture did the real work of social progress. In the „voices emerging from popular culture and voices articulating political thoughts and feelings of all sorts“ as one book puts it, lay the genuine force of critique and the academic ideology that excluded them on high culture grounds was but another reactionary strategy


To speak of academia as a repressive society in relation to mass culture was absurdly disproportionate. Mass culture was an elephantine monster, the humanities a shrinking refuge. Every year students entered our composition classes with less book learning and more MTV/ESPN savvy. To object to literature departements keeping sitcoms and romance ficton from the curriculum was to give in to the trend. Ross and others acted as if they were leading a lonely fight against the monolithic power of the Establishment, but in truth they were backed by a tidal wave of media and consumerism. We came to graduate school to escape the onslaught. The only reason they pushed mass culture on an hemmed-on university, we decided, was that they preferred watching television to reading books, but wanted to retain the prestige and comfort of academic life.

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