In an age of disseminated fear and globalized anxiety about the accelerated rhythms of modern life, should literary studies and criticism strive for the altogether “new”? I am interested in whether the intensive search for the “new” or “next” in contemporary culture is of any importance for literary studies. I argue that too much intellectual risk is involved in persistently calling for the new in the appraisal of a literary, or other, text. The scientific and “civilized” quest for a new theory to replace theories that are supposedly outdated may end up degenerating into a positivistic, market-oriented venture into the world of excessive global consumption. The original or new in literature will probably derive from a less “civilized” and rather unconscious effort—a sudden flash of imagination or creativity, for instance. Such an “uncivil” stance regarding interpretation can be fruitfully linked with a form of literary ecology.


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