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From text to literature : new analytic and pragmatic approaches

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Palgrave Macmillan


In the course of the nineteenth century the study of literature was professionalized. There was a concerted attempt to make the study of literature an academic pursuit, ‘a particular branch of learning or science’, to turn it into ‘literary studies’ or, as it was called in German, Literaturwissenschaft. 1 This attempt was ultimately successful in the sense that literary studies became a recognized and established discipline within the new Humboldtian kind of university. However, this success brought troubles of its own. Among other things, the arrival of the academic discipline of literary studies not only required a method of study but also a determinate field of study. In order to delimit such a field, a clear and well-defined concept of literature was needed. This meant that academic literary studies would have to transform, for its own specific purposes, such concepts as ‘literary work’ and ‘literary text’ as well as the concept of ‘literature’, from broad, vague, non-theoretical, everyday notions into something like well-designed theoretical tools. Though it has not always been recognized, this transformation has presented a major theoretical problem for literary studies, and it is arguable that to this day no satisfactory solution has been found.



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ISBN of the source publication: 9780230524170

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Recommended Citation

Olsen, S. H., & Pettersson, A. (2005). Introduction. In S. H. Olsen & A. Pettersson (Eds.), From text to literature: New analytic and pragmatic approaches (pp. 1-10). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. doi: 10.1057/9780230524170_1