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Literature Lost: Social Agendas and the Corruption of the Humanities

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  61 ratings  ·  12 reviews
In the span of less than a generation, university humanities departments have experienced an almost unbelievable reversal of attitudes, now attacking and undermining what had previously been considered best and most worthy in the Western tradition. John M. Ellis here scrutinizes the new regime in humanistic studies. He offers a careful, intelligent analysis that exposes ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 10th 1999 by Yale University Press (first published July 21st 1997)
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Josiah Bancroft
Oct 14, 2009 rated it liked it
Ellis too often begs the question and veers into frenzy, but the central point of this treatise is worthy of consideration (and, too, moderation). To agree with Ellis you must first agree with a number of basic conservative principles: of the available options, capitalism is most well-suited to curb the corrupted nature of humanity; the strength, supremacy, and accomplishment of the West (though vague and inarticulate) is an unambiguous moral achievement; dissent is a product of perversity and ...more
Lark Benobi
May 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written, exceedingly well argued lament. In particular, Ellis laments the way we have lost faith in literature as a means to connect with the past, and with one another. He is not saying it's wrong to read a book from a feminist perspective or a Marxist perspective or a Post-colonial perspective, or whatever other perspective you may want to grab ahold of, when you read and experience great literature. But he IS saying that insisting on a narrowness of vision, or demanding that a ...more
Fred
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Hell with it - five stars - great book. Lays waste to theorists from F. Jameson to A. Dworkin and everyone in between. The people that one star this probably think Beloved is some great literature and that Twitter should be a grad course. There is nobody left in higher ed with this level of erudition and argumentative skill, but the humanities have been extinguished at any rate. The last place to find diverse thought or a deep base of texts is at a university; sadly everything Ellis forecasts ...more
Kevin Humes
May 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Incredibly prescient
Juan
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very compelling arguments put forward in this book from a couple of decades ago. I'd love to read an update of where he thinks we stand today if the author is still around.
Robert Holm
A late entry in the culture wars in the U.S. in the 1990s, this is a strong polemic against race-gender-class critics (i.e., feminists, Marxists and various other practitioners of radical "theory" in literary studies and the humanities). Ellis writes in an eminently lucid style that is easy to read, although his polemic is almost too forceful at times, verging on conservative flag-waving for the West, which is not going to make what he has to say any more palatable for those who most need to ...more
Tommy
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: criticism
If you're triggered by the notion that might might make right this is surely for you. A thoroughly quintessentially midwit take on neo-maxist post-modernism. Their failing is they're actually, to great surprise, insufficiently humanist nor substantively feminist and they DESTROYED the intellectual melting pot of American universities which we can only hope be restored to previous glory by mandatory hate-in sessions on tropical cannibals and desert genital mutilators (surely to attract screeches ...more
Greg
Jan 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes you have to step back and clear your head-that's what this book did for me. It explained very well how anti-Western thought periodically arises within western culture. In fact, a bad attitude or super critical hatred toward western civilization happens every few centuries, so regularly that it could be seen as a distiguishing feature of western culture itself. Also a good description of literary criticism theories and how they've taken over the intellectual discourse in universities ...more
Ak Hauck
May 31, 2011 rated it liked it
Enjoyable reading, if not completely frustrating. The exchange of critical thinking for mere indoctrination in our schools, higher education and otherwise, is not a cause for despair, however, it is a call to action. This book should awaken a sense of indignation for anyone interested in reforming culture through truth, beauty and goodness.
LP
Oct 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Mostly persuasive, this book is still relevant even though it was written over 15 years ago. The poor Humanities.... Sometimes my cheeks grow soaking wet when I think of what has been done to Romeo and Juliet.
Jonathan
None
David
Feb 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Worth reading to everyone who cares recognizes the need for intellectual honesty.
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