You are on page 1of 11

!"#$"#%$&'($)'*+',#(-$.#/$0112,"*3$+,$+3/$4/"*3'#5$,6$7'+/2"+82/ 08+3,29(:-$;/+/2$<2,,=( >,82*/-$?,@@/5/$A#5@'(3B$C,@D$EFB$G,D$H$9.*+DB$HIJE:B$11D$KLMKI ;8N@'(3/%$NO-$G"+',#"@$?,8#*'@$,6$4/"*3/2($,6$A#5@'(3 >+"N@/$PQ7-$http://www.jstor.

org/stable/375195 0**/((/%-$HRSLTSRLLI$LF-LF
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 to build trusted digital archives for scholarship. We work with the scholarly community to preserve their work and the materials they rely upon, and to build a common research platform that promotes the discovery and use of these resources. For more information about JSTOR, please contact

National Council of Teachers of English is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to College English.


Man and His Fictions: OneApproachtothe Teaching ofLiterature

good first ground of contest in defining the general perspective and methodological commitment of the program. And a basic split in fact developed between those who favored some version of a "great books" approach, initiating students first into the great Western epic, tragic, comic and narrative traditions, Homer to Beckett, and those who, partly from unsatisfactory experiences with traditional "Humanities" courses, were restlessly looking for something else. The latter group felt that current high school "Advanced Placement" curricula had often, in their imitations of great books courses, taken the edge off such an approach, making it difficult to recapture the shock of recognition in the standard texts taught within the main traditions. We also thought we detected a more basic flaw, both pedagogic and philosophical, in the approach through the canonic texts of the great tradition. In defining literature as an established tradition-as the Arnoldian canon of the best that has been thought and known -one risked making of literature something both distant and inert, a corpus too often like a cadaver. One accepted as givens, in reading, analysis and evaluation, what ought in fact to be seen as questions and problems. The academic teaching and study of literature had in Peter Brooks teaches in the French Department general, we felt, too often taken for and in the Literature Major at Yale. He is au- granted-presupposed-what in fact thor of The Novel of Worldliness and is curneeded to be questioned, examined, and a Guggenheim Fellow. rently

a new program called "The Literature Major." The chastity of the title is possibly significant: not "comparative literature," which implies certain more or less well-defined methodologies and procedures; not "Western literature," or any place-centered definition; the title tends rather to point to the fact and process of literature-a word which, Roland Barthes has noted, retains a surprising modernity because of our renewed attention to the codes and structures of the written, to the "literality" of literature. At the risk of appearing parochial in discussing a program no doubt long since anticipated in other universities, it may be worthwhile to give some account of the genesis and formulation of the Yale literature major since its existence and its concerns do implicate many of the issues posed by the teaching of literature today. When a group of faculty, united in the belief that Yale could put to better profit its resources in the several literature departments, first met (in the spring of 1969) to consider the possibility of a new program, attention quickly centered on what an introductory course to such a program might look like. The hypothetical introductory course seemed a


Manand His Fictions:One Approachto the Teachingof Literature 41

eventually-to the extent needed and in the measure possible-proved: the place and importance of literature in man's life and history, and collaterally, the importance (and possibility) of studying literature. What seemed to us most necessary was a return to the obvious, which is so often repressed: the place of literature among other human activities and functions, its connections with human concerns, the problematics of its study. We needed a course that, far from accepting literature and its critical interpretation as given and established, would problematize and put them into question, and find a way to ask the basic, radical questions: why do we have and need literature? What is literature? The questions were not perhaps to be asked directly-literature tends to resist such direct interrogations-but to be approached repeatedly in a multiplicity of indirect sub-questions. Our concern to problematize the study of literature and to repair its severed connections to human concerns and activities was not, I think, born of a superficial obsession with "relevance." "Relevance" (as a war cry of the recent past) suggests a kind of playacting, a pretense of concern; and on the level of curriculum it has usually given "thematic" or "problem" courses ("Literature of . . . ," "Literature and . . .") which proposed no rethinking of the way into literature. We sensed rather that the study of literature had itself become increasingly problematical, difficult, and our role as pedagogues increasingly uncomfortable. The causes of the discomfort were in large outline apparent to any teacher of literature. If the old "positivistic" academic approaches, which tended to teach literature as the history of an institution, and to conceive literary pedagogy as the imparting of information about literature, had long been moribund, the revolutionary successor to such approaches, the New Criticism, was also ailing. Partly because it had accomplished its revolution so successfully, and propagated its analytical methods and concerns in college curricula and high school textbooks, the New Criticism had achieved something of the fixity of orthodoxy. In academic practice, especially in classroom detail, the New Critical doctrine has lost much of the sense of a basic interrogation of the literary word that was implicit (often indeed explicit) in the essays of Eliot, Ransom, Blackmur, Wimsatt. It has given, at least in its degraded forms, an autotelic study which sees the analysis of literature as self-contained and selfjustifying. The later trepidation of the spheres wrought by Northrop Frye has tended, in the hands of his disciples, to make literature a kind of charnel house for the classification of organs and disjecta membra. Finally, the coming of approaches to literature derived from structuralist methodology in the "sciences of man"-from linguistics, anthropology, semiology-with the premise that we need a science of literature, has called into question the comfortable stance of student and critic within literature. For me, some of these issues were given strong articulation in a question asked by Jean Cohen (author of La Structure du langage poetique) at a colloquium on the teaching of literature in 1969.1 In essence, Cohen argued that only "science" could be taught; that logic, grammar, rhetoric, poetics could no doubt be taught, but that "literature," possessing
1The proceedings of this colloquium have been published as L'Enseignementde la litterature, ed. Serge Doubrovsky et Tzvetan Todorov (Paris: Plon, 1971). See pp. 590-91.



none of the characteristics of a scientifically organized body of knowledge, was a false subject. I replied that this was probably so, but that we could teach the reading of literature: we could guide an apprenticeship in the form of attention required for the study of literature. This answer, of a New Critical coloration, is one I still partly adhere to, but it seems to me too limited, inadequate to the problem posed: for what, in fact, are we apprenticing students in attention to? "Literature," as Rene Wellek has pointed out, once meant "learning," "knowledge of literature."2 It has evidently lost that meaning, and now refers, frighteningly, to "the body of the written." Can we teach in such a way as to make literature a form of learning, without reducing it either to information (which it isn't), or to the contemplation of perfection (which is futile), or else displacing the object of our study to the sciences which speak of it? Is there a pedagogy which will lead us into the dynamics and the project of literature? These questions are not intended to be rhetorical, for their answers are by no means self-evident. Any teaching of literature today should consider them as part of its problematics, built into its enterprise. In an introductory literature course for undergraduates, it is probably the subjacent question that must form the basis of the problematics: the question, what is literature? This question cannot, I suggested, be faced headon at all times. It may rather be posed in a variety of lateral manners. There can be a constant approach to it through the analysis of texts, the ways in which they are put together, what they respond to
2"The Name and Nature of ComparativeLiterature,"in Discriminations (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1970), p. 4.

and suggest, particularly how they define themselves in relation to other texts, both written and potential. In most general terms, what seems needed is an approach that will permit grasping the text in its project and function, that will interrogate literature in its own interrogation of the world; that will confront the text in its confrontations of what is not itself. A first step toward this confrontation and this interrogation seemed to be to place "literature" within a wider range of human fictions. If literature is not to be studied as, on the one hand, purely the field of a scientific taxonomy, or on the other hand as the Arnoldian study of perfection, its human enterprise and function can best be located in relation to closely analogous human activities: dreaming, day-dreaming, games, advertising, role-playing, model-building-all those activities which involve a play of the hand and the mind in the creation of images which are not immediately utilizable within reality, which represent some kind of reformative or recreative play in relation to it. The word "fictions" recommends itself not only because it suggests a wider range of activities and products than "literature," but also because its etymology in fingere suggests both the "feigned" and the "fabricated": the "made-up" in two senses.3 It has the merit of directing attention simultaneously to the object and to the process: to, if you will, the poet as daydreamer and the structures of the dream work. The attention of the course (which still retains its first working title: Litera3The word "fictions"was, I think, forced on our attention by Borges' Ficciones, and also by Frank Kermode'suse of the term in The Sense of an Ending (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1968).

Manand His Fictions:One Approachto the Teachingof Literature 43

ture X: Man and His Fictions) is directed, then, both to man's fictions and to the role and function of fiction-making.4 I think it is the constant awareness of the latter term-of the activity of "writing the world"-that has enabled us to be honestly problematical in our approach. The analysis of specific texts has usually been doubled by juxtapositions and superimpositions of textsoften using texts from "high" literature and popular or subliterature, or from literature and other kinds of fictions not usually considered to fall within its frame. This juxtaposition and superimposition of products from different fictional categories and strata has aimed at making analysis more troubling and more dialectical, oriented toward the project of writing, the character and effect of the play it engages. A form of "intentionality" has in this way been re-established in analysis: not a return to the "intentional fallacy" exposed by Wimsatt, but a recognition that texts indirectly name their intentions in relation to what they are not. A text can be conceived both as confronting the body of the previously written-its transformative relationship to the tradition-and as confronting the space of the unwritten: as an encounter with the possibilities of language in a world of phenomena, the confrontation of mind and things. This encounter has in fact become a central issue and object of study in Literature X, and I will return to it in a moment. It is perhaps logically the first question that the course poses, but we have found it useful to precede it by an introductory section which endeavors to raise the level of awareness about the role of fictionmaking through fictions which are themselves about fictionmaking: to ask questions about the necessity and extent of fictionmaking, its relation to lying on the one hand and to "scientific" or "historical" truth on the other. If we seem by now to have established an almost canonical starting point with

The ThousandNights and a Night, fol-

lowed by Borges' Ficciones, it is because these texts lay out in exemplary fashion the full range of the fictionmaker's stance and function. Sharazad invents fictions ultimately to save herself, and to right the balance of a disordered reality; and the multiple narrators and narratives which fall between the first and the last nights evoke almost all the possibilities of story telling, from vicious lying to erotic arousal to the imparting of that "wisdom" which Walter Benjamin sees as the function of the storyteller.5 Borges' typical pose as the commentator upon pre-existing, imagined fictions, his imputation of imaginary planets through the conjunction of an encyclopedia and a mirror, forces a complex critical stance toward fictionmaking, an elaborate self-consciousness about "fic4The course is currently (1973-74) in its fourth year, and enrolls about 150 students: its tionality," a sense of the potentially format generally alternates small discussion vicious results when men mistake their group meetings with lectures and panel disfictions for myths, and begin to believe cussions. A textbook anthology has been put together in them, to let the "inhuman" discipline

by three instructors of the course: Alvin B. Kernan, Peter Brooks, Michael Holquist, ed., Man and His Fictions (Harcourt Brace Jovano5See Walter Benjamin, "Leskov the Storyvich, 1973). We are painfully aware, however, that any suggestion of a "canon" of Literature teller," in Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, X texts and categories is contradictory to the trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Harcourt, whole enterprise. 1968).



of Tlon become no longer the discipline of chess players but of angels. These questions can then be pursued in more localized versions in such texts as Peter Weiss' Marat/Sade; Mailer's Armies of the Night; in The Winter's Tale; in On Trial: the report of the Andrei Sinyavsky-Yuli Daniel trial by the Soviet State; in Freud's early investigations of the tales told by hysterics, and the countertales elaborated by the analyst, in his Studies on Hysteria. An important function of the introductory section is to question the innocence of storytelling: to articulate issues raised by the critics of fictionmakingfrom Plato through Rousseau to the modern totalitarian state-who see certain fictions or the fictionmaking faculty itself as a seductive and dangerous form of lying and flight from reality. The necessity of such an introduction is a factor of the state of literary pedagogy and criticism: the reduction, which one senses in one's students as well as in the pages of PMLA, of literature to the status of an anodyne, an activity as harmless as it is autotelic. Isolated within the classroom as it is isolated, by criticism, in a secular chapel, literature's place within school and university has often been purchased at the price of its emasculation, the muting of its radical interrogations in favor of a self-contained and self-justifying analysis. It is in fact very difficult to convince students of the "impurity" of literature, and the fact that men may be called to account for the dreams they have dreamed. Even with explorations into propaganda and pornography, we have found the barrier of liberal tolerance difficult indeed to breach. Our introductory section, then, starts deep within the world of fictions, posing questions about the nature, value, dan-

gers of fantasy and fabulation, and their transformative role in relation to "reality." The second section, somewhat clumsily entitled "Consciousness and Things," reverts to what is logically a prior question, to something close to the root impulse for fictionmaking, the starting place of fictions, their generation ih relation to the phenomenal world. It starts from the confrontation of mind and the world "out there," with the postulate that man makes up in order to make sense of, in order to get a grasp on something that is other than himself and remains alien and incomprehensible without man's mental processing of it. Evidently, one could debate what this primary "otherness" is: in a Freudian model, it would be the content of one's own unconscious; in a Marxian model, the means and modes of production. We have worked from a simple and evident model, a somewhat phenomenological one, suggesting that the root situation is that man is consciousness in a world of nonconsciousness, that he is defined by his essential difference from the world he inhabits. He constantly uses this "difference" to process the world, in an attempt to understand his place in it, its meaning to him and his meaning to it. The art work is compelled into being from the fact that we are not what we live amidst; that, as Wallace Stevens puts it, "we live in a place/That is not our own and, much more, not ourselves." The decision to write about phenomena -the putting-into-language of things-is a first step in asserting the leverage of the human on the non-human, making the world assimilable to consciousness. Description of the world provides a first location of man in the world; and his ability to describe the world suggests the importance of that "free play" in the mechanism of the universe which is

Manand His Fictions:One Approachto the Teachingof Literature 45

man's fictionmaking. The choice of texts here-RobbeGrillet, Wordsworth, Jean-Luc Godard, George Herbert, Donne, Skelton, Genesis, Cinderella-is designed to suggest the range of possible interpretations of this encounter: from the refusal of the human imprint on the phenomenal world proclaimed by Robbe-Grillet (and subtly reestablished in his novelistic practice) to the insistence that the world, properly contemplated and worked upon by the visionary eye, reveals its deep concord with mind, its ethical support of human emotion and value. If the absurd circumference of the sphere thus established is Ruskin's "pathetic fallacy" -examples of which can be culled from advertising and children's literature as well as late-Romantic poetry-the logical center is no doubt simply man's effort to name the world, and finds its mythic point of origin in Adam's namegiving in Genesis. The consequences of these juxtapositions may lead to some interesting speculative considerations about the root version of fictionmaking. It is easy enough to detect that the Wordsworthian relationship to things involves the construction of a metaphor referring to the perception of deep analogies between the order of things and the order of mind, a "transaction between contexts" (as I. A. Richards defines metaphor) which permits mind to discourse of the world. Pursuing this line of argument, naming itself can be viewed as the construction of metaphor, in that it implies a transaction between the realm of phenomenal existence and that of linguistic significance, a transference or carrying across (meta-pherein) of things into the sphere of linguistic signs for things which is the precondition of any discourse of things. Language itself, as Rouisseauso perversely and brilliantly argued, is originally metaphor in that it implies this displacement. We can perhaps arrive at a useful definition of man as homo signiferens, as the bearer of sign-systems which are sense-making systems. At the root of his principal sensemaking sign-system is the construction of this metaphor. This renews our attention to the further metaphors constructed in all his fictions, his effort to make the world a text which he can then proceed to decipher. With the establishment of this context, the students' own subsequent efforts at decipherment should, and I think do, take on a new urgency and value, since the project of the literary word has a restored importance. It is then possible to move on to a consideration of how fictions are put together, how on the basis of the original metaphor further organizing (rhetorical and grammatical) structures are formed. The most obvious-and hence the first to confront-may be the question of sequence, of beginnings, middles, and ends: the construction of "plots." At present, three successive sections are devoted to plot: Part I, "The Detective Story"; Part II, "Forms and Functions"; Part III, "Antiplot." The usefulness of an approach through the detective story is a product of that form's "purity": in no other genre is plot more rigid and dominant, in no other genre does the process of plotting so rigorously embody the text's meanings. All the details of persons and phenomena in the detective story are fully intentional, pointing toward one end, which is also an origin: the crime. In what has come to be a classic Literature X juxtaposition, we set a Sherlock Holmes story next to Sophocles' Oedipus, in an effort to suggest the pervasiveness of the pattern of disorder, inquest, detection, and identification in



the construction of literary plots. When one extrapolates to such permutations as Conrad's Heart of Darkness, James' The Aspern Papers or Freud's analysis of "Dora," the pattern of detection of an ever more elusive "crime" which determines the organization of reality, and the identity of both criminal and detective, comes to appear as a kind of bedrock of fictionmaking, a clear instance of its raison d'e"tre. One can then move on to, or back to, the "microstructures" of plot-best embodied, perhaps, in such forms as jokes and riddles-and to analysis of the diverse forms and functions of plot in a medieval quest romance, in a picaresque novel, in such a highly-plotted nineteenth-century novel as Dickens' Great Expectations. These all raise questions about the relation of a plot to a life, about what generates beginnings, expands or compresses middles, satisfies our "sense of an ending." "Antiplot" then faces the post-modern traditionSartre, Barth, Beckett, Nabokov, and so many others-which denounces "conventional" plotting as a falsification of contingency, and proposes new and subtle grammars to order fictions. If this part of the course has been concerned essentially with the Aristotelian mythos, the following section tries to raise some preliminary questions about the still more problematical realm of ethos: the literary creation of character, self, role, the relation of self to other, of face to mask. Here, such materials as creation myths, Superman comics, Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan of the Apes, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, have proved useful, along with more traditional texts on the emergence of the hero and his relation to the definitions of the heroic code. A final section then attempts to face a question which has been

implicit throughout the course, and has inevitably been articulated on more than one occasion, the question of fiction and myth. It is no doubt the most difficult question to face from within the context (if fictionality, and the course has not been able to treat it with total success. If the syllabus has tended to suggest a contrast between fictional thinking, in which the exemplary fictionmaker will retain a sense of the precariousness and provisionality of his fabrications, and mythic thinking, implying belief in the explanatory and ritualistic value of certain sacred stories, it is probably impossible to think oneself back into the essentially religious framework in which myth did have this function. The problem has also been blurred by much modern literature and criticism that would persuade us of its renewed contact with myth. On the other hand, fragments of degraded myths lie all around us in the contemporary landscape-myths in the sense of what Roland Barthes calls "Mythologies": implicit, unacknowledged ideologies latent in our advertising, sport, design, and indeed our whole panoply of signs. These would seem to demand de-mythification, return to their status as fiction. The course may tend to come out on this unresolvable and essential tension, placing literature between play and belief, reasserting both the fragility and the power of the reformation of reality in language. I have dwelt at some length on this course because, first element in the building of a program, it seems in itself to represent one realized version of a prolegomenon to literary studies recast. It also, as the meeting place of seven teachers from different literature departments, has proved the ground for animating debate, and creation of a diversified but shared enterprise in curricular plan-

Manand His Fictions:One Approachto the Teachingof Literature 47

courses in the social sciences that seem particularly pertinent to the analytical study of literature. There is also a language requirement which stipulates that the student be able to pursue the study of one foreign literature in the original language at an advanced level-a rigorous requirement which translated into practice means that the student in the Literature Major must, in addition to the breadth of approach associated with Literature X, the theoretical thinking generated by Literature Y, and the attention to textual analysis found in most of the English Department's courses, be able to deal with a foreign literature at the level of majors in that literature. Finally, all the students in the Major will again be brought together during their senior year in a Colloquium which centers on the theoretical and practical problems of interpretation. The topic of the Colloquium will presumably vary from year to year-as will its teachers; for 1973-74, its inaugural year, the subject will be Fictions of Confession, working with texts, from Augustine onwards, that reinterpret the project and language of self-expression. The Major is administered by a governing board whose members represent all the different departments of language and literature. Building a major becomes, inevitably, a mild form of empire building. The first problem to arise with our first group of some seventy majors has been one of placement in the existing depart6The teachers (each of whom is in charge of mental courses that most interest them a discussion group, all of whom share lectures and would be of most value to them. and panels on a rotating basis) have been drawn These are often the junior seminars of from Classics, Comparative Literature, English, French, German, Slavics, Spanish.The diversity existing departmental major programsof linguistic competencies in the group has been have limited a useful counterbalanceto the inevitable inade- especially English-which quacies of teaching texts in translation: there enrollment, and give priority to the dehas always been one member of the staff with partmental majors. We hence face the knowledge of the text in the original language, necessity of creating our own junior able to measure the displacements brought by seminars. One can look forward to a translation. ning.6 To Literature X was soon added Literature Y: Theory of Criticism, which presents an ambitious and rigorous conspectus of the most powerful modern critical theories, and particularly the problems raised by hermeneutics. Hence students who have been led in Literature X into a speculative approach to fictionmaking in Literature Y are given the elements of a more methodical critical thinking about the ontology of art and the nature of the critical languages exercised upon it. With Literatures X and Y in place, constituting a common introductory experience in the study of literature, we were ready to go ahead and construct a major. In its current form, after the two introductory courses (which students normally have completed by the end of their sophomore year) the major draws on existing departmental courses, particularly those of a somewhat broader and less nationally-specified nature than the average, some of which have come into existence in response to the Literature Major. The guidelines of the major are designed to encourage the student to shape his own program, with its own emphases, which will include some attention to the major traditions and genres of Western literature while also providing close study of a few writers, or a literary form, or one period. The guidelines require one or two courses in non-Western literature, and one or two



of standards and a waste of student's time; even, almost, as a degradation of the teaching of literature. To which we have replied that what we have proposed is a wider context for the study of literature, one that will not lead students away from literature but back to it, that will make them more informed and aware in their more closely analytical studies of texts. If this answer has not reassured all the intense. critics, it is no doubt because the enterThis competition can no doubt be prise of the Literature Major does, and counted as healthy if it leads toward should, implicitly contest a teaching greater cooperation and more supple in- which makes of the classroom a secular teraction among the various literature chapel for the celebration of the cult of departments-which is of course not a literature. To ask questions about the certain outcome. The resistances to the place and role of literature, about what Literature Major, though they have not it is and how it can be studied, is to some so far been presented in such a way as a nearly impermissible enterprise because to block its coming into being or im- a cult needs and wants no justification pede its functioning, are both serious and beyond its own rituals. More important, sincere. A statement in our original pro- however, is the concern, both intellecposal of the program to the faculty tual and "political," for the future of which brought an unexpectedly violent the departmental programs in the several reaction from some was the phrase, literatures. It is no secret that at least "men everywhere tell the same stories." most of the foreign literature fields face, An imprudent remark, no doubt, which nationwide, a slow but fully ominous was intended to stress the universality of decline in numbers of students-certainfictionmaking. The reaction to it ac- lV in numbers of majors, if not in numcused its authors of "arid scientism," bers of students who enroll in their suggesting that literary studies were be- courses. There may tend to be more and ing reduced to anthropology, to the more a reaction of resistance, the affirsearch for a totalizing system of struc- mation of the inviolability of the departtural analysis, with a consequent neglect mental authority and program, a tenof verbal structure and linguistic speci- dency to see undergraduate programs as ficity. Our emphasis on literature in ever more closely linked to the productranscendence of national and linguistic tion of candidates for graduate programs boundaries, and on fictions beyond the in the field. The other possible reaction is to look specific institution of literature, does pose at least an apparent threat to the toward a confluence of all the departtraditional curricular presentations of lit- ments currently concerned with the erature. The attention paid to popular teaching of literature, toward the conliterature, to film, to extra-literary texts, struction of new frameworks that would and the emphasis on the fictionmaking permit closer cooperation, elimination of function, have been seen as a lowering duplicated efforts, and, especially, traintime when the Literature Major will provide a considerable number of courses for its students, who might, conceivably, spend half their time in courses devised by the Literature Major, and half in existing departmental courses. The bind here is the shortage of manpower: especially with the shrinkage of junior faculty occasioned by several years of stringent budgets, competition for the services of faculty members has become

Man and His Fictions: One Approach to the Teaching of Literature 49 ing of students in a sense of literature as a whole-its structures, its means and modes, its project, and the range of possible approaches to it-without sacrifice of attention to the rhetorical and stylistic structures of individual works, and without sacrifice of training in foreign languages. If a Literature Department is probably as undesirable, politically, as the Tower of Babel, it may prove imperative to have some sort of a central literature brokerage house, or switching platform, to hold joint authority with the departments, to judge needs in hiring and curriculum from the viewpoint of the whole literary field. For it is the whole field of literary studies, with all the competencies necessary to it, that matters and that is at stake. With imagination, it should be possible to do greater justice to the universal fact of literature and its relation to other human sign-systems without sacrificing any of the competencies now housed in the departments. Without yielding to the terrorism of many of the "sciences of literature" currently offered us, those concerned with the survival of literary studies must bring renewed attention to the premises of its study. While the "Humanities" may still insist that they are the realm of value and judgment, it can be argued that they have, especially in the literary domain, become too exclusively concerned with belles lettres, and have given up too many of the estates of knowledge which they historically encompassed. To reaffirm their claim to attention, they must insist upon taking back from these estates-largely in the social scienceswhat they need to validate their claim to speak cogently of the importance of the world imagined. If the Humanities are to survive as a major component of undergraduate education, they need not necessarily become more "scientific," but they do need to be as interesting and as problematical as other fields. In terms of the study of literature, this does not mean that the critic should let himself be swallowed by the anthropologist or the linguist, but rather that he should eat of their banquet and then insist that he has the right to use their totems since literature includes all totems. As literature speaks of everything, so its student must be allowed, and enabled, to speak all languages about it, and to speak of everything through it. If man is in some basic sense the homo signiferens, the bearer of sense-making sign-systems, what field of study promises a closer approach to the human function than literature?