Seattle University: Imagination and Its Discontents – a talk by Dr. Glen Arbery

isi.org ~ PNW Faculty Seminar

Linking here because was impressed by his essay cited below, also because I added a link to his book, which has the introduction on line in a pdf file.

Across town Seattle University played host on Tuesday night to Dr. Glen Arbery of the Dallas Institute for Humanities and Culture. Arbery, who is author of the recent ISI Books’ title Why Literature Matters, delivered a talk to a crowd of over 75 students and faculty entitled “Measure and Freedom: Imagination and its discontents.”

In the forty-five minute lecture, Arbery lamented the abysmal state of literary knowledge on standardized testing. After reading a sample passage from a recent Texas state standardized test, Arbey showed how what counts as literature today does not take stock of what is real, but instead tries to provoke the same response from its entire audience, regardless of their differences. Literature, in other words, has become tantamount to propaganda. Drawing on work by John Crowe Ransom and Allan Tate, Arbery showed how great literature comes into being by taking measure of reality, what he called “reality’s extra-textual roughness.” Similarly he said that freedom, like literature, flows not from liberation but from limitations: “a boundary is not where something stops, but where a thing begins to realize itself, where it comes into being.”

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