A Professor of English at the University of Louisville (Kentucky, USA), Matthew Biberman is the author of Masculinity, Anti-Semitism and Early Modern English Literature (Ashgate, 2004) as well as the memoir Big Sid s Vincati (Penguin, 2009). He also co-edited the collection, Shakespeare After 9/11 (Mellen, 2011).
The Future Literary in America: Predictive Notes on the Post-Academic Aesthetic
A decade ago, the prominent American literary critic Alan Liu observed that "Literature as traditionally understood no longer survives." He then wondered if it was possible to imagine the emergence of a "future literary" force, something that could enable literature to become once again expressions that would be more than a "minor creativity like a screensaver." In my my talk, I will offer a response to Liu's provocation.
First I will review how the current concept of literature has come to be managed and maintained in American culture within the disciplinary structure of English Departments in American Universities. Second I will argue that critics such as Liu find it difficult to identify emergent forms of literature now because such forms no longer reside (or aim to reside) within the bio-system of the American university. Instead, I maintain that today what we are seeing in contemporary American culture as expressions of literature are increasingly what I call "post-Academic text based art." In the remainder of my talk I will explore and elaborate this concept.