;-) 这里是中国社会科学院研究生院·少数民族文学系:口头传统研究教学园地。从神州博客搬家过来。感谢刘宗迪老师给了我们的园地一个好名称:“放牛班的课堂”……我们的LOGO为日本画家/作家东山魁夷的画作。欢迎您的到来~~

[弗莱明]文学研究怎么了?

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[光明译丛]

文学研究怎么了?

布鲁斯·弗莱明 著 吴万伟 译

光明网-光明观察 刊发时间:2008-12-30 11:49:24


  过去半个世纪文学教授的一大贡献是创建了文学研究学科,经过从新批评到结构主义、解构主义、福柯主义和多元文化主义的大跨步将其专业化和规范化。我们已经让自己进入了修道院:我们告诉学生,要理解文学就得到我们这里来。但专业化是个得不偿失的胜利:我们赢得了一场战斗的胜利却输掉了整个战争。我们把启示变成了劳作,把自己关在不通风的房间里,还把窗子盖得严严实实。

  好消息是我们创建了一个学科——文学研究;坏消息是我们成为几乎完全脱离世界其他地方的王国的统治者。在此过程中,我们失去了许多学生,其中很多是男生,甚至包括一些教授。但我们仍然在讲授文学,就好像给我们未来的自己讲授,根本不管他们毕业后能否找到工作。学生中的大部分甚至不想当教授。他们喜欢从书中得到一些什么以便用在课堂外的生活中。我们有什么权利忘掉这些要求呢?

  学生通过阅读从书中得到一些东西。毕竟,喜欢读书是最开始让我们进入这个行当的原因。我们现在用文学研究学科扼杀了这个经验,在这种关系网络中,个别文学著作几乎成为偶然性的东西,但真正改变人生的是具体的著作啊。

  比如,我工作的美国海军学院的学生大部分是男生,思想很传统。作为基础课的一部分,有时候我让他们阅读福楼拜(Gustave Flaubert)的《包法利夫人》,他们情绪激动地像杀猪般嚎叫。(那里的终身教授在海军学院给新生讲授)他们上课的第一天,在阅读完爱玛对她丈夫查尔斯的幻灭后,大为光火。

  学生们直言不讳地说“老师,她是个婊子。”(女生对爱玛比男生更苛刻)后来的课更糟糕了。许多学生承认他们害怕结婚,害怕留在家里的妻子背叛他们。为此,他们说“在你被派驻他处前,得先让她怀孕。”爱玛是他们最大的梦魇。爱玛应该忠实于查尔斯,他爱她。他是顾家的好男人,她还要怎么样?

  最初,学生们很难看到他们和爱玛之间的任何相似之处。他们认为自己是自由的个体,是主动挑选来到这里上大学的。他们成长时期接受的观念基本上是如果你有足够的动机,就可以为自己做点什么。所以无法想象陷入爱玛那样的处境。

  我说,你的理解太关注字面含义了。你们中大部分不是女性,无论如何,你们没有受到缺乏教育、社会阶级等级压迫、脱离乡村世界的渴望等限制。然后我提醒他们受到的限制,在军队严格等级体系的最低阶梯的占据者,那些长官或高年级学生的随意性决定就能影响他们的生活。如果有谁能理解可怜的、受限制的爱玛,那就应该是他们啊。他们说是啊。

  我开始向他们逼近,我问爱玛有梦想,难道你们忘记了把你们送到安纳波利斯(Annapolis)来的梦想吗?

  现在他们沉默了。他们确实记起那些梦想:充满激情的、受好莱坞刺激的战场上英雄主义梦想、战胜美国邪恶的敌人、利剑刺进他们强壮的右臂、义务、荣誉、国家等。我问,现在那些梦想呢?毕竟,爱玛对完美、充实的婚姻的梦想不是和军中男儿的梦想类似吗?或许它们从来不会实现,但如爱玛那样,让这些梦想彻底死去比让它们活着更好吗?

  他们告诉我安纳波利斯是他们的梦想死亡的地方,死在每天把皮鞋擦得明晃晃,正步走让长官们检阅的无聊中。社会的评价性意见在这里像在可怜的爱玛身上一样强烈:在安纳波利斯只有一种方式:那些有不同思想的人必须屈服。

  我认为保持清醒不发疯的方法是拥有可以实现的梦想,而不是不切实际的梦想。到了我们转向阅读到其他作品时,他们仍然认为爱玛是婊子,(虽然可能有人反对,她确实是),但至少他们勉强承认对爱玛的了解更多了。这反过来又意味着他们避免了降临在几乎所有学生身上的玩世不恭,他们认识到不管是安纳波利斯还是军队都和好莱坞刻画的东西不一样。他们或许不再刚从海军学院毕业就和认识没几天的女孩儿结婚,而这在从前是非常普遍的。通过阅读爱玛遭受的折磨,他们或许避免过这样的生活。这可能就是文学,在大学里讲授的文学的合理使用。

  文学研究和阅读的分裂发生在二十世纪初期到中期,这是因为文学教授羡慕科学的结果。谈论读书似乎不够了,现在我们不再阅读文学而是在研究文本。我们在创建一门有自己的术语和研究方法、有自己的圈子和知识体系的学科。我们现在分析的东西既不是对自然的反映,也不是作者灵感的闪烁。不过是在封闭的房间里通过电脑键盘的排列组合炮制出来的机械操作而已。

  科学有自己的客观世界,这就是它的一切。文本世界是文学研究的客观性所在。因此,正如顽皮的德里达宣称的,我们能坚持说在文本之外没有客观世界。(但是这么几十年来他在美国文学殿堂里引起多么严肃地回响啊)我们也能通过把从图书馆书架上挑选出来给学生讲的著作列为经典而得到一些好处。经典不过是我们“建构”起来的玩意儿。当然,任何阅读书目都是有限的。但是当经典形成了以后,我们把自己喜欢的作家忘掉了。门被关闭得太快了。如果我们的孩子们在门内而不是门外,“建构”的事实就是琐碎的。我们高呼要讲授我喜欢的作家,不是这个作家。讲哪个作家不讲哪个作家对于没有专业素养的学生没有多大关系,但对于我们教授来说是重要的,我们是负责人。

  我们不是在讲文学,而是在讲文学的专业研究。我们在做自己的专门研究。当今学术界的文学研究与外部活生生的世界没有任何关系。你在学位阶梯上爬得越高,上的大学越好,文学研究与读者世界的关系就越少。现在学术界对于文学的研究基本上与文学如何帮助学生认识爱情、生活、死亡、失误、胜利、琐碎、精神的崇高等内容没有任何关系,它们是让我们成为人,让我们生活充实的东西。它是学术性的、关于课程设置的、招聘教授决策的、著作之间相互关系的、作者是如何通过著作压迫什么人的等。文学批评家杰拉尔德?格拉夫(Gerald Graff)告诉我们的名言是“讲解冲突”,我们和我们的争吵就是一切。毕竟,这就是我们创建学科的方式嘛。

  你认为我们不会像美国忙于用士兵和枪炮更迭他国政府那样专注在书面作品的力量上,有些士兵是我们的学生。那看起来是真正的权力。当然,这是文学教授在讲故事,至少对于我们的文学教授来说,这种歪曲现实的做法是非常有到道理的。

  现在,我们讲文学就好像是在向刚刚上岸的水兵介绍杂货店里的商品。我们是专业店主,在介绍蔬菜区、牛奶区、鲜肉区的商品,说明它们异同、基质和颜色的变化、苹果泥里没有牛奶、或者没有番木瓜很遗憾等。我们是在讲解这个商店的情况,而不是告诉人家里面有什么。我们假设这些顾客对摆出来的商品一窍不通,如果他们知道点什么,也是我们告诉他们的。这也是我们的工作,本来在谈论世界,如今沦落在杂货店。但我们是决策者,要决定是否把世界包括进来,或者如果要包括进来的话,包括多少。我们只想积累销售额。我们这些店员对商店的关注都错过了最重要的内容:人们种植粮食是要吃的。类似地,书是用来读的,读才是书的目的,而不是把它变成一门学问。

  在研究生院,教授们的研究更加专门化,因为我们可以自豪地说为文学的知识王国贡献了自己绵薄之力。但我们注意到学生很少分享我们对开辟的研究领域的热情。这造成了广泛讨论的本科生课程和研究生课程的鸿沟。大学通过把本科生的课程留给年轻的、不怎么专业化的教授来上,以填补这个鸿沟。但是那些给年轻人上课的年轻老师常常不明白更大的议题,也就是对本科生有点用途的东西。(而且,他们自己也是在像修道院一样的课堂上学了些充满花哨术语的课程,倾向于把学来的东西再贩卖给学生。)

  这些都对学生造成伤害。阅读文学能改变他们的生活,也能改变我们的生活。问题是,我们不怎么明白这个过程究竟是怎么发生的,也不愿意去弄明白。当然我们不能预测它已经超过某个点。这就是为什么文学阅读不能成为一门学问的原因。我作为纯种美国白人男性,能够在黑人角色或者女性角色身上看到自己的影子,能够理解死去的俄国人或者活着的阿尔巴尼亚人的观点,理解一个不知名的作家的一个抽象概念。但那等于是说X读者(黑人、同性恋者、阿尔巴尼亚人)不需要阅读X作者(人物?)以便从作品中得到一些东西。不需要我们检查身份认同形容词清单才能觉定我们是否能理解文学。事实上,我们需要跳进书本里去。或许我们会沉下去,或许我们能浮上来,谁也无法提前告诉结果。这就是书的魅力。

  与文学的互动从来不是理论体系的基础,它太满无目标了。我们所能做的是描述从写满了白纸黑字的书上抬头反思阅读的感受,突然明白自己的生活,认识自己没有见识过的东西,以及把分散在各处的铁屑变成了清晰的模式。在某种程度上,现在发生了变化。这或许能让我们的行为发生改变,或许不会。

  现在课堂上的文学研究提供了关于文学作品的视角,而不是日本画家葛饰北斋(Hokusai)著名的春天系列“富士山百景”的景色。在每个视角里,如果山存在的时候,往往很小,而且在角落里。是从(最著名的印刷厂)超越波峰的角度看到的,波浪泡沫似乎让手指在边缘,或通过木桶制造者形成的铁环看到的。

  明信片上没有山在正前面和正中心的照片。它们突出山的角度,这种方式非常相似文学教授以不安的目光看着教授岗位。当然,明信片照片有自己的意义,但是在真正的意义上,它是更加中立的而不是扭曲的对待。它没有逼迫我们接受这个途径:它服从于描述的物体。我们更多认识到画家北斋描述的富士山的艺术而不是我们在明信片照片中的样子。这意味着,我们都被迫看到被呈现出来的山的样子,而不是用自己的眼光去看。这就是为什么说文学研究在本质上是破坏性的。

  在前现代的课堂里,在现代主义被文学批评使用的新批评出现前,没有人否认个人能够对教授提供的明信片照片提出他个人的“富士山视角”。那些视角是个人的,不管提出的观点能否被人接受。在专业化课堂中的教授的权威以及让学生服从的压力因此比从前强烈多了,人们开始思考重要的是“富士山景色”而不是“被看到的富士山”。如果你想要得到好成绩,就得采取老师的观点,仅此而已。几代学生已经学会屈服于文学研究教授的威力,他们讨厌上课的每一分钟。

  大学的文学讲解确实是有意义的。许多人在没有指导的情况下根本看不懂严肃的文学作品。在有人讲解某些东西后,或者在读更多东西后,确实能了解更复杂的内容。许多人不明白首先要阅读什么,讲授文学是必要的,但是我们这些教授要记住:重要的是书,不是我们。简单地说,我们需要超越文学研究。我们不是科学家,而是教练。我们不是在传授知识,至少不是在讲授学问的意义上。但我们确实需要看到学生的反应、提问、发展和成长。如果你热爱生活,那就足以让人满意了。

  译自:“WHAT AILS LITERARY STUDIES”By BRUCE FLEMING

  作者简介:

    布鲁斯·弗莱明(Bruce Fleming)美国海军学院英语教授。新著《文学研究应该是什么,现在是什么?》(美利坚大学出版社2008年).


WHAT AILS LITERARY STUDIES
Leaving Literature Behind
The professionalization of the field is turning students off

By BRUCE FLEMING

The major victory of professors of literature in the last half-century — the Great March from the New Criticism through structuralism, deconstruction, Foucauldianism, and multiculturalism — has been the invention and codification of a professionalized study of literature. We've made ourselves into a priestly caste: To understand literature, we tell students, you have to come to us. Yet professionalization is a pyrrhic victory: We've won the battle but lost the war. We've turned revelation into drudgery, shut ourselves in airless rooms, and covered over the windows.

The good news is that we've created a discipline: literary studies. The bad news is that we've made ourselves rulers of a realm that has separated itself almost completely from the rest of the world. In the process, we've lost many of the students — I'd say, many of them men — and even some of the professors. And yet still we teach literature as if to future versions of ourselves — not that there will be many jobs for them. The vast majority of students don't even want to be professors: They'd like to get something from a book they can use in their lives outside the classroom. What right have we to forget them?

Students get something out of a book by reading it. Love of reading was, after all, what got most of us into this business to begin with. We are killing that experience with the discipline of literary studies, with its network of relations in which an individual work almost becomes incidental. But it's the individual work that changes lives.

My students at the U.S. Naval Academy, for example, mostly male and conservative, scream bloody murder if, as I sometimes do, I ask them to read Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary as part of our introductory course. (Tenured full professors teach freshmen here at Navy.) They come to class the first day — they've read up through Emma's disenchantment with her boring husband, Charles — incensed.

"Sir," they say flatly, "she's a slut." (The women tend to be harder on Emma than the men are.) Subsequent class periods get even uglier. Many of the men admit that they're fearful of marrying and then having their stay-at-home wives cheat on them. For that reason, they say, "you've got to get her pregnant before you deploy." Emma is their worst nightmare. Emma should have been faithful to Charles! He loved her! He was a good provider! What more does she want?

Initially the students have trouble seeing any resemblance between themselves and Emma: In their view, they're free individuals and have chosen to come here to college. The dogma of their upbringing in most cases holds that individuals can make something of themselves if they are motivated enough. They can't imagine being stuck in Emma's position.

You're being too literal, I say. Most of you aren't female, and in any case, you aren't constrained by lack of education, social class, or the expectations of a provincial world. Then I remind them of the constraints that do bind them, as occupants of the lowest rung of a rigidly hierarchical system where the sometimes arbitrary fiats of officers or even upperclassmen rule their lives. If anybody can understand poor, confined Emma, it should be them. Hmm, they say.

Besides, I ask — I'm moving in on them now — Emma has dreams. Don't you remember the dreams that brought you to Annapolis?

Now they are silent. They do remember those dreams: inflated, Hollywood-fueled dreams of heroism on the battlefield, of overcoming Evil Enemies of America, and of swinging swords in their strong right arms, dreams of duty, honor, country. Where are those dreams now? I ask. They're, after all, the military-male version of Emma's dreams of perfect fulfillment in marriage. Perhaps they were never viable? Is it better to let them die completely than to try and keep them alive, as Emma does?

Annapolis, they tell me, is the place dreams come to die in the daily grind of shining shoes and passing inspections. And the verdict of society is as strong here as on poor Emma: There's only one way to do things here at Annapolis — those who think differently have to give in.

The way to stay sane, I suggest, is to have achievable dreams, not unrealistic ones. By the time we move on to other works, they still think Emma is "a slut" (which, arguably, she is) but at least — they admit grudgingly — they understand her a bit better. And that means, in turn, they may avoid the cynicism that invariably overtakes our students when they realize that neither Annapolis nor the military is anything like what's sold by Hollywood. And they may be less eager to marry someone they don't know the day after they graduate from the Academy, something which used to be more widespread. By watching Emma's torture they may — just may — avoid living it out themselves. That is the kind of use to which literature, and its teaching in college, can legitimately be put.

Literary studies split off from reading in the early-to-mid-20th century as the result of science envy on the part of literature professors. Talking about books somehow didn't seem substantial enough. Instead of reading literature, now we study "texts." We've developed a discipline, with its jargon and its methodology, its insiders and its body of knowledge. What we analyze nowadays is seen neither as the mirror of nature nor the lamp of authorial inspiration. It just is — apparently produced in an airless room by machines working through permutations of keys on the computer.

Science has its objective world, the entirety of what is. The world of texts is the objectivity of literary studies. Thus we can insist that there's no objective world outside texts — as the impish Derrida claimed. (But how un-impishly he was echoed in the halls of American academe for so many decades!) And we can also get some mileage out of insisting that canons, the choice of what texts we take down from the library shelves to teach students, are merely "constructed." Of course they are — every reading list is limited. What we really mean is that our own pet author was forgotten when the canon was formed. The door shut too soon. If our boy or girl were inside the door rather than out, the fact of "construction" would be trivial. Teach my author! we cry. Not that one! What if who's taught, or isn't, doesn't end up mattering to the students, who don't share professorial concerns? To us it matters, and we're the ones in charge.

We're not teaching literature, we're teaching the professional study of literature: What we do is its own subject. Nowadays the academic study of literature has almost nothing to do with the living, breathing world outside. The further along you go in the degree ladder, and the more rarified a college you attend, the less literary studies relates to the world of the reader. The academic study of literature nowadays isn't, by and large, about how literature can help students come to terms with love, and life, and death, and mistakes, and victories, and pettiness, and nobility of spirit, and the million other things that make us human and fill our lives. It's, well, academic, about syllabi and hiring decisions, how works relate to each other, and how the author is oppressing whomever through the work. The literary critic Gerald Graff famously told us to "teach the conflicts": We and our squabbles are what it's all about. That's how we made a discipline, after all.

You wouldn't think we'd so focus on the power of written works with the United States engaged in regime change using guns and soldiers — some of them my students. That, it would seem, would be real power. But of course, it's a literature professor telling the story; this skewing of reality makes perfect sense. At least to other literature professors.

Nowadays we teach literature as if we were giving a tour of a grocery store to Martians who've just touched down on Earth. We professional storekeepers explain the vegetable section, the dairy section, the meat section, note similarities and differences among our wares, variations of texture and color, the fact that there's no milk where the applesauce is, and perhaps the fact (which we bemoan) that there are no papayas. We're teaching the store, not what's in it. We don't presuppose visitors know anything about where the things on display came from; if they do, it's because we told them — that can be our work too, speaking of the world before it ended up in the grocery store. But we're the ones who decide whether or not to include that world outside, and how much. We just want to rack up sales. All this fixation by the storekeepers on the store misses the point: People grow food in order to eat it. Similarly, books are meant to be read. Reading is the point of a book, not integrating it into a discipline.

In graduate school, professors learn to specialize, for which the justification is that we're contributing our bit to the realm of Knowledge about literature. Students, it's been noted, rarely share our passion for the tiny bit of the field we cultivate. That has led to the widely discussed gulf between graduate studies and undergraduate courses. Universities have bridged that gap by giving undergraduate classes to the younger, less professionalized professors. But those young people who teach the young often cannot make clear the larger issues, the things that can actually be of some use to undergraduates. (Plus, they're learning the jargonized speech of the priestly class, and they tend to try it out on their charges.)

All this is harming our students. Reading literature can change their lives — and ours. The thing is, we don't quite understand how this process works — nor will we ever understand. Certainly we can't predict it past a certain point. That's why reading literature can't be a discipline. I, a straight white American male, can see myself in a black character or a female one, understand a point made by a dead Russian or a living Albanian, meditate on an abstract point made by an anonymous author. But that equally means that an X reader (say, black, gay, Albanian) need not read an X author (or character?) to get something from a work. Reading literature doesn't require us to check our list of identifying adjectives to see if we'll understand. Instead, we just have to dive in. Maybe we'll sink, maybe we'll swim. Nobody can tell beforehand. That's the beauty of books.

Interaction with literature can never be the basis of a systematic undertaking: It's all too scattershot. All we can do is describe the sense of looking up from a page full of little black and white squiggles with the feeling that suddenly we understand our own lives, that names have been given to things that lacked them, and that the iron filings that hitherto were scattered about have configured into a clear pattern. Things are different now — somehow. Maybe that will cause us to act differently, maybe not.

Literary study in the classroom nowadays offers views of the work of literature rather like the views of Mt. Fuji in Hokusai's celebrated spring series on "100 Views of Mt. Fuji." In each view, the mountain, while present, is frequently tiny and in a corner, viewed (in the most famous print) beyond the crest of a wave whose foam seems to make fingers at the edges, or (in another) through a hoop that a barrel-maker is shaping.

Those are not the front-and-center shots on a postcard. They foreground the angle of the mountain, its treatment, much the way a literature professor does with a funky viewpoint that got him or her tenure. Of course the postcard shot has its own point, but in a real sense it's more neutral than the angled treatment. It doesn't push our noses in its approach: It defers to the object it is depicting. We're far more conscious of the treatment of Mt. Fuji in an artsy Hokusai print than we are in a postcard shot. And that means, we're all but compelled to see the mountain the way it's presented, rather than being able to work on our own presentation. That's why literary studies is intrinsically coercive.

The premodern classroom — up until, say, the New Criticism, that first critical application of modernism — never denied that each individual student might be making his or her individual "View of Mt. Fuji" from the postcard shot the professor was supposed to be presenting. But those views were individual, and no claims were made for them beyond that. The power of the professor in the professionalized classroom — and the pressure on students to conform. — is thus exponentially greater than it was before people started thinking that the point was the "View of Mt. Fuji" rather than Mt. Fuji viewed. If you want a good grade, you adopt that viewpoint. That's what's being taught, after all. Several generations of students have by now learned to give in to the power of the literary-studies professor — and hated every minute of it.

There is a point to college or university guidance of literature. Most people never read serious literature at all without a guide. Too, people get more sophisticated as they have things pointed out to them, or as they read more. And many people just don't know what they may read to begin with. So there's a reason for teaching. We professors just have to remember that the books are the point, not us. We need, in short, to get beyond literary studies. We're not scientists, we're coaches. We're not transmitting information, at least not in the sense of teaching a discipline. But we do get to see our students react, question, develop, and grow. If you like life, that's satisfaction enough.

Bruce Fleming is a professor of English at the U.S. Naval Academy. His most recent book is What Literary Studies Could Be, and What It Is (University Press of America, 2008).


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http://chronicle.com
Section: The Chronicle Review
Volume 55, Issue 17, Page B14

http://chronicle.com/free/v55/i17/17b01401.htm

 


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