Stephen Burt in The New Yorker: ‘This pedestrian term is actually the key to my historical period.
A disputatious panel at last year’s professional conference revealed the surprising state of the field (it’s as bad as you think).
My historical period, properly understood, includes yours.
What looked like a moment of failure, confusion, or ugliness in this well-known work is better seen as directions for reading the whole.
A problem you thought you could solve defines your field; you can’t imagine the field without the problem.
The only people able to understand this work properly cannot communicate that understanding to you.
Those two apparently incompatible versions of a thing are better regarded as parts of the same, larger thing.
Quantitative methods have an unexpected use.
Analytical tools developed for, and strongly associated with, a well-defined set of things in fact apply to a much larger set of things.
A public event simultaneous with, but apparently unrelated to, a famous art work in fact shaped that work’s composition or reception.
This famous thing closely resembles, and therefore responds to, that slightly earlier, less famous thing.
If you teach that old thing in this new way, your students will like it.
If you teach that old thing in this new way, your students will like you.
Before a given date, a now obscure, once omnipresent theory meant that all of culture was somehow different.
After a given date, a new technology meant that all of culture was somehow different.
The name we’ve been using for this stuff is anachronistic. Here’s a better name.
Truth-claims from our discipline cannot be properly judged without expertise that almost no one in our discipline has.
Our discipline should study its own disciplinary formation; that study proves that our discipline shouldn’t exist.
An old, prestigious thing still deserves its prestige, but for a heretofore undiscovered reason.
This feature of modern life began slightly earlier than you thought, and my single text proves it.
Please adopt my buzzword.
This author, normally seen as opposed to certain bad things, in fact supported them without realizing it.
This author, normally seen as naïve or untrained, is in fact very self-aware, and hence more like us.
That obscure, élite thing once had a popular audience.
This short text, seen rightly, reveals the contradictions of a whole culture.
A supposedly fanatical, militant movement that readers have been taught to fear makes perfect sense to those who support it.
The true meaning of a famous work can be recovered only through juxtaposition with this long obscure historical moment or artifact.
I found a very small thing in an archive, but I can relate it to a big thing.
To see what this thing meant to its first readers, you must attend meticulously to the physical contexts in which the thing first appeared.
This is why we can’t have nice things….’