Conditional Goods and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies: How Literature (as a Whole) Could Matter Again


We literary scholars have a notorious flair for the dramatic, and I suspect that for many, the first impulse when confronted with the question “does literature matter?” is to say something like “of course it matters, and anyone who doesn’t see that is a heartless brute,” or—a more probable response these days—”of course it doesn’t matter, and anyone who doesn’t see that is blinded by the shimmering allure of cultural capital.” But things, in reality, are never that simple.

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