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Recovering Philology: A Review

Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities

James Turner

Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014.

A New Republic of Letters:
Memory and Scholarship in the Age of Digital Reproduction

Jerome McGann

Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2014.

In the not-too-distant past, whenever January came around, the New York Times could be counted on to publish a deliciously scathing account of the intellectual zaniness that unfail- ingly broke out at—some even would say domi- nated—the annual conference of the Modern Language Association. Tongue firmly in cheek, the reporter typically would list that year’s most outlandish-sounding presentation titles, “The Sodomitical Tourist” or “Victorian Underwear and Representations of the Female Body,” then describe the incoherence and inhumanity of it all––the conference, the profession, the witless scholars arguing about nothing. To add to the fun, contemporary literature professors and their sycophantic graduate students were limned as a posturing and pathetic lot who had long ago lost any sense of the unity and purpose of the humanities. (Read the full Review.)

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