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Old 07-20-2009   #1
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A Degree in Weird Fiction

Oliver Tearle was on University Challenge tonight on TV and announced that he was reading for a degree in Weird Fiction.

Looking on Google, I found this:

"Oliver Tearle is currently completing a doctoral thesis on hallucination in weird fiction at Loughborough University."

Hallucination in Weird Fiction? I wonder if there is any Weird Fiction without hallucination!



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Old 07-20-2009   #2
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Re: A Degree in Weird Fiction

Personally, I don't think that there should be university courses on weird fiction. In fact, I don't think that universities should have courses on literature at all. My feeling is that the academic approach is bad for literature. Fiction, I believe, is there to be enjoyed, not studied.

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Old 07-21-2009   #3
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Re: A Degree in Weird Fiction

I think fiction can be simply enjoyed and/or enjoyed being studied. I do agree with you, however, about study of fiction if that study includes Biography about the author etc. Study should be about the text itself, imo.

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Old 07-21-2009   #4
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Re: A Degree in Weird Fiction

Quote Originally Posted by Odalisque View Post
Personally, I don't think that there should be university courses on weird fiction. In fact, I don't think that universities should have courses on literature at all. My feeling is that the academic approach is bad for literature. Fiction, I believe, is there to be enjoyed, not studied.
I may be biased since I study comparative literature, and try to write as much as possible about weird fiction, but why is it so that literature is so far removed from other areas in the world which are studied?

Especially when the rest of the humanities are being studied: visual arts, the performing arts, music are being studied, philosophy and religion are being studied. What is that make literature exempt from being studied?

How and why is the academic approach bad for literature?

Has the quality of literature diminished since an academic approach was being introduced (have the quality of literature perpetually gotten worse since Aristotle's Poetics was written?)?

Are some academic approaches worse for the literature than other academic approaches?

How much academic approach does it take to make a piece of literature bad?

Will an academic approach always exclude the enjoyment of literature?

How much of an academic has one got to be before one cannot enjoy literature any longer?

I have heard many people voice the same opinion as yourself, and I'm always interested in knowing why a person would think literature shouldn't be taught at the universities.

Edit: Upon rereading this post, I thought that that many questions may have sounded aggressive. If so, I apologize. They were not intended that way. I'm just interested in this question, since I hear your opinion voiced quite often, most often without offering an explanation as to why literature is so vastly different from anything else in the universe.
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Old 07-21-2009   #5
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Re: A Degree in Weird Fiction

Quote Originally Posted by Nemonymous View Post
I think fiction can be simply enjoyed and/or enjoyed being studied. I do agree with you, however, about study of fiction if that study includes Biography about the author etc. Study should be about the text itself, imo.
Why can't a study be about the text itself AND include relevant biography about the author? I know there is a lot of shoddy studies where biography in a way substitutes the text, where biography isn't used for enlightening the text, but where the text is used to enlighten thebiography.

But why is it that biography is always and forever wrong to include in any study of a text?

For studying say, Ligotti's fiction, the biographical fact that he has written a philosophical treatise called The Conspiracy Against the Human Race may be very relevant, and said treatise - which in a way is a biography of sorts of Ligotti's thinking - may be used to enlighten certain points in Ligotti's fiction.

The biographical fact of what Ligotti has read may also be used to enlighten certain aspects of Ligotti's fiction.

Texts are always interrelated, they never come falling from the sky. To pretend that texts come falling from the sky is a valid way of reading a text, and sometimes a very rewarding way, but it is never the only way of reading a text, and never the only correct way of reading a text.
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Old 07-21-2009   #6
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Re: A Degree in Weird Fiction

Quote Originally Posted by MadsPLP View Post
Quote Originally Posted by Odalisque View Post
Personally, I don't think that there should be university courses on weird fiction. In fact, I don't think that universities should have courses on literature at all. My feeling is that the academic approach is bad for literature. Fiction, I believe, is there to be enjoyed, not studied.
I may be biased since I study comparative literature, and try to write as much as possible about weird fiction, but why is it so that literature is so far removed from other areas in the world which are studied?

Especially when the rest of the humanities are being studied: visual arts, the performing arts, music are being studied, philosophy and religion are being studied. What is that make literature exempt from being studied?
I can see the advantages of studying the visual arts, performing arts and music. Practicing these arts requires skills which need to be taught. Up to a point, the same applies to literature, but this is not (I believe) what the academic study of literature seeks to do.

I don't think that the visual arts, performing arts and music should be studied academically in ways divorced from acquiring the skills necessary for their practice.

Quote Originally Posted by MadsPLP View Post
How and why is the academic approach bad for literature?

Has the quality of literature diminished since an academic approach was being introduced (have the quality of literature perpetually gotten worse since Aristotle's Poetics was written?)?
I think that the quality of literature, or at least academicly-influenced literature, has declined in the twentieth century. Aristotle notwithstanding, the academic study of literature (in the sense of university English departments) is a comparatively recent development. Doing a degree in English was not, I believe, an option at mid-Victorian Oxford or Cambridge.

Quote Originally Posted by MadsPLP View Post
Are some academic approaches worse for the literature than other academic approaches?
I believe that all academic approaches are essentially stultifying. The academy is the enemy of the muse.

That's as much as I have time to answer just now.

It may please you to know that I think that a lot more than half of university departments should not exist at all. English departments are far from the only ones I see as either useless or positively harmful.

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Old 07-21-2009   #7
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Re: A Degree in Weird Fiction

Quote Originally Posted by MadsPLP View Post
Why can't a study be about the text itself AND include relevant biography about the author?
Well, it can be, of course.
But it is extraneous and perhaps misleading to do so.
See Wimsatt's 'Intentional Fallacy'.
For me, the discrete text should be everything. If there is anything else important to the text, the author would have put it into the text - self-evidently.

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Old 07-21-2009   #8
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Re: A Degree in Weird Fiction

Quote Originally Posted by Odalisque View Post
I believe that all academic approaches are essentially stultifying.
My stylistic review of an earlier draft of 'Odalisque' HERE, I'd say, was a study rather than a simple reading.

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Old 07-21-2009   #9
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Re: A Degree in Weird Fiction

Quote Originally Posted by Nemonymous View Post
Quote Originally Posted by Odalisque View Post
I believe that all academic approaches are essentially stultifying.
My stylistic review of an earlier draft of 'Odalisque' HERE, I'd say, was a study rather than a simple reading.
But would you call it academic? A study is not necessarily academic.

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Old 07-21-2009   #10
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Re: A Degree in Weird Fiction

Quote Originally Posted by Odalisque View Post
But would you call it academic? A study is not necessarily academic.
I think there is a grey area here...

But as I did English at University in the Sixties I guess it might be more academic than not ????

Nah, it's not academic at all. So, you have a good point.

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