Read the first part of this series here.


In the next few posts I'd like to examine four textual encounters I've come across recently in my research. These are moments when one writer cites the words of another in a way that blurs the lines of authorship in some way.


The suspension of aesthetic judgment can be liberating. Not having to worry at every moment about "how good it is" is a foundational gesture in contemporary literary and cultural studies.  The raw material for many kinds of investigation would simply not be available if it first had to pass an acid test of judgment.


The internet was out on campus today, almost the entire day.  No email, not web surfing.  Many routine tasks could not be accomplished.  It's the next to the last week of a long semester.  In the lunch room the colleagues were in a feisty mood.


I've been working on a list of books that have influenced me in literary criticism. This is not a list of all books that have influenced me generally, just the ones in the genre of literary criticism and theory.


I've been thinking a great deal about the relation between music and poetry for an essay I want to write with the title "What Claudio Knew:  Teaching Receptivity."  Claudio is Claudio Rodríguez, by consensus the greatest Spanish poet of the second half of the twentieth century.


Almost all efforts to foster receptivity in general run into the problem of exclusionary thinking, of dichotomizing, of policing the boundary between what we should be receptive to and what we shouldn't.  For example, I want to say, "be open to everything," but then why does my blood boil when the Humanities lecture is announced and it's Mary Oliver?


My approach to the set of fields known as the Humanities is rather different from that of most people I know.  I hesitate to assert the universal validity of my approach because it is, basically, a desire for everyone else to become more like me.  


Here are some paragraphs I wrote for an introduction to a book I am working on.


Borges felt great admiration for Quevedo as a writer, but at a certain point he began to feel suspicion of writers whose genius is purely verbal.  Borges begins to elaborate the idea that the particular way in which something is phrased is somewhat arbitrary, and that the important thing is the archetype, the idea itself.


Jonathan Mayhew's picture
Jonathan Mayhew
Jonathan Mayhew received his PhD in Comparative Literature at Stanford University in 1988.  He was recently promoted to the rank of Professor of Spanish at the University of Kansas, where he has taught since 1996.  He is the author of many articles and four books, most recently Apocryphal Lorca:  Translation, Parody, Kitsch (U of Chicago P, 2009).