Death of a discipline /

Main Author: Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: New York : Columbia University Press, c2003.
Series: Wellek Library lecture series at the University of California, Irvine.
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Review by Choice Review

Never graceful, Spivak's prose darts helter-skelter as if composed by free association and reminds one of Orphic or Sibylline utterances. Spivak's aim in the three lectures included here (revised for print) is to revolutionize the discipline of comparative literature by enlarging it to include Southern Hemisphere cultures and thus save it from "death" by Euro-US domination. Spivak (Columbia) fears that control of "the global education market" by text producers using English may throttle comparative literature's multicultural ideal. Of course, the discipline has always been beset by turf wars between professors of various foreign languages and "area studies," each seeking a market share of students. Enlarging the mix may not decrease contention. Spivak's disarming openness to all cultures and her advocacy of "depoliticization of the politics of hostility toward a politics of friendship to come" fail to counterbalance her doctrinaire feminism and Marxism. Indeed, her assault on "phallocentric rationality" that undergirds "global capitalism" suggests excessive reliance on feminine intuition and Marxist collectivism. But a serious question remains beyond Spivak's concern for comparative literature: Can Southern Hemisphere perspectives modify the dire effects of an American-managed worldwide consumer society on a depleted planet? ^BSumming Up: Optional. Research and faculty collection only. D. H. Stewart emeritus, Texas A&M University

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.