Death of a Discipline
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Death of a Discipline (Wellek Library Lectures in Critical Theory)

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  101 ratings  ·  10 reviews
For almost three decades, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak has been ignoring the standardized "rules" of the academy and trespassing across disciplinary boundaries. Today she remains one of the foremost figures in the study of world literature and its cultural consequences. In this new book she declares the death of comparative literature as we know it and sounds an urgent call...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published May 1st 2005 by Columbia University Press (first published 2003)
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A few points covered in a pile of jargon.
I must admit that I didn't understand much of what Spivak is saying until it finally came to me: she isn't saying much at all. Her stream-of-consciousness-style isn't doing her any favours, the real important points disappear in a pile of opaque explainations whose content is close to nothingness. The most important point she makes, and this why I like parts of this book, is that literature needs to be seen from a planetary perspective. Forget about the old imperalist world literature, forget ab...more
Spivak argues that a new comparative literature, her 'Area Studies,' would insist on the radical incommensurability of different cultures' received ideas and concepts and stare directly into the observer-expectancy effect. In the age of a 'planetary' culture that has long been defined more by the continuous movement of global economic history than by the old fantasy of discrete nation-states and national literatures, Spivak argues that the most appropriate tack for comparative literature would b...more
This is a manifesto of sorts suggesting a way forward for the humanities. Spivak argues these disciplines are becoming increasingly removed from the subjects/text they purport to study. She suggests a revolutionary hybridization, which really felt to me more like pointing the way backwards rather than forwards. As a political statement I found it somewhat lacking, but the problems that Spivak identifies are real enough. If academic disciplines are to remain relevant they must engage with reality...more
I love Spivak. But she's impossible (for me) to understand the first time through. I only read her last chapter in this book, "Planetarity," but it has been very helpful for my work this semester. Here's how I approach reading Spivak: read it once, underlining what seems important but not backtracking if I don't understand. Then I go through it again and take notes in a word document. And then it all comes together.

Really Spivak is making the most interesting ethical arguments out there right n...more
I knew what to expect going in, but I still had hope for some passages that would provide some insight or stick with me. Sadly, there were very few of these. So I can't honestly say that I liked this book even though I get that Spivak is not really writing for me (even though I have a comp lit degree) and even though the overarching concepts (esp. engagement with area studies) are interesting.
Cogent clarion call for reconceptualizing comparative literature as field/discipline. Had the feeling this edition not well-edited. Does chapter 2 intentionally trail off mid-thought, mid-paragraph, mid-sentence?
A must for the complitters and theoryheads, lays out some of the major problems with literary study in the West as it relates to incorporating literatures from non-Western countries.
Oct 19, 2009 Amy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: dipping
Read a couple chapters that blew my mind--then school started and the library recalled it. Must to reorder. Her reading of Waiting for The Barbarians was inspired.
i'm not going to pretend that i understood this text but what i could glean from it was fascinating.
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Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is an Indian philosopher who is known for her English translation of Jacque Derrida's seminal work "Of Grammatology", and her own philosophical writings on the postcolonial condition that introduced the term "subaltern" into the philosophical lexicon.
More about Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak...
A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present In Other Worlds: Essays in Cultural Politics Can the subaltern speak? : Postkolonialität und subalterne Artikulation The Spivak Reader: Selected Works The Post-Colonial Critic: Interviews, Strategies, Dialogues

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“The social science fear the radical impulse in literary studies, and over the decades, we in the humanities have trivialized the social sciences into their rational expectation straitjackets, not recognizing that, whatever the state of the social sciences in our own institution, strong tendencies toward acknowledging the silent but central role of the humanities in the area studies paradigm are now around.” 7 likes
“When we seem to have won or lost in terms of certainties, we must, as literature teachers in the classroom, remember such warnings -- let literature teach us that there are no certainties, that the process is open, and that it may be altogether salutary that it is so.” 7 likes
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