Lecture by Patricia Chaput, February 25, 2000

Tacit Assumptions:  Walls that Separate the Imagined Communities of Languages and Literary Studies

by Patricia Chaput,Professor of the Practice of Slavic Languages, Director of the Slavic Program, Department of Slavic Language and Literatures, Harvard University

The gap that separates language teaching from literature in the status hierarchy of our field is evident to anyone who studies or works in a language and literature department.  What we too often fail to notice, however, is the extent to which this dichotomy is a construction about the roles of language and literary studies in American higher education.  The walls are not often questioned, but we should be questioning them.  We should stop to consider what disservices we may be doing to students and our subject matter by accepting an ideological divide that misrepresents the relationship between language and literature and simultaneously limits and weakens the educational value of what we do.  I will address this issue from two perspectives:  the ideological and political divide between language and literature, and the practical and substantive areas of intersection and overlap that exist but are too often ignored.

Friday, February 25, 2000