Chapter 5 The Charisma of Theory

In: Policing Literary Theory
Marko Juvan
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Against the background of the policing power of the university discourse, the paper discusses the prototypes and general roles of charismatic theorists from the 1960s to the present in the contexts of transformations of the university from its Humboldtian type based in the importance of national culture to its late-capitalist subjection to the neoliberal mercantilization and globalization of knowledge. Focused on a case study of Slovenian literary theorist Dušan Pirjevec (1921–77) and the conditions of the communist policing of the university, the charisma of theory is explained as the theorist’s fascinating personal presence (working through the transference with the theorist as a “subject supposed to know”) that imbues his/her texts with a quasi-metaphysical quality transgressing both the boundaries of any disciplinary knowledge and the “bureaucratized” position of average university teachers. In Pirjevec’s case, the charisma of theory is patterned on the figure of critical intellectuals, whereas, in the neoliberal present, it is produced or reinforced within the global star system driven mostly by American universities and transnational scholarly publishing.

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