oa Alternation - The Literary phenomenon and the maintenance of human meaning

Volume 6, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1023-1757



The present study is a companion piece to a previously published study entitled 'Executioners of Mystery', which appeared in Scrutiny 2 (1998). In that essay, I posit that in order to qualify for participation in disciplinarity, the domain of literary studies would need to satisfy three requirements - (1) an object of study (that is, demonstrable, necessary and sufficient properties common to all objects designated 'literary', (2) some foundational, axiomatic principles and (3) a set of procedures which promote rule-governance for intellectual activity. The evidence supports the observation that all three claims for disciplinarity at the site of literary studies are exceedingly weak. In spite of this, the site of literary studies flourishes, tempting one to suppose that it performs significant functions within cultural meaning and value. In the present study, in an attempt to answer the question, 'What operations are performed?', I am obliged to ask wider and logically prior questions within the human symbolic, which in turn requires a move into the attendant discipline of symbolic anthropology. Finally, I attempt to apply these anthropological observations to the literary phenomenon and its secondary productions.

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