Chapter 2 Theory Policing Reading or the Critic as Cop: Revisiting Said’s The World, the Text, and the Critic

In: Policing Literary Theory
Reingard Nethersole
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There is the “world,” the “text” and the “critic,” intercourse between them, I claim, is regulated by the theory police. It is the task of the police to order, manage and control the polis (from whence the Polizeiwissenschaften took their name that, according to undergird modern governmentality). How and to what extent does Literary Theory operate in the “Republic of Letters” in analogy to Foucault’s state? What (was) is the state of literary scholarship after it transformed itself from a supposedly ‘scientific praxis’ as Literaturwissenschaft, the queen of the Human Sciences, into ‘theory’ of a phantom object of which no one knows what it is other than a repository of experience and model for living? What motivated Wellek and Warren in to establish a ‘theory police’ and to provide it with the operational tools of “an organon of methods”? What animated Said, with assistance from Foucault forty years later to repulse the formalist and humanistic “refinement” that “has invaded literary critics’ work in an uncontrolled manner”? Where do scholars and readers of imaginative literature find themselves after the “theory effect” (Bourdieu) that affected the academy? What ought to happen in the diminished state (Republic) of Literature after the dissidents () had their say?

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