Saturday, June 27, 2020

Finance Remains Most Popular Industry For Michigan Ross Grads

Finance Remains Popular At Michigan Ross by: Pearly Tan on October 24, 2018 | 0 Comments Comments 387 Views October 24, 2018The University of Michigans Ross School of Business recently switched to a direct admit programUndergraduates from the University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, are continuing to be drawn to the financial services industry more so than any other, with over 40% securing jobs in finance last year.The Ross School has just released its 2018 employment data, and right after finance, the second and third most popular industries are consulting and technology, where 18% and 14% of undergraduates went. â€Å"Students remain interested in the finance services industry because it provides a great foundation for many career paths, and our school has a strong reputation as a finance school and preparing students for those roles,† Heather Byrne, managing director of the Career Development Officer at Ross School of Business, says. â€Å"Weâ€℠¢ve seen a small uptick in interest in consulting for the same reason, that students get exposure to many industries and what’s happening in the world of business as they work in teams with different people and learn to analyze problems.†FINANCE REMAINS MOST POPULAR INDUSTRY AT ROSSWhile Ross graduates in tech and finance tied when it came to the $10,000 sign-on bonus, only 67% of students entering tech said they received sign-on bonuses, but over 73% of students entering finance said they received one. Students in both industries reported a range of salaries with the upper limit being $120,000, but the median base salary for undergraduates entering finance was $85,000 while the same for students entering tech was $67,500. â€Å"While there’s been an increase of automation, it hasn’t affected the marketplace for talent yet. Banking is still a lot about relationships and only humans can form relationships. Students at Ross do really well because theyâ€⠄¢ve developed great analytical skills, and are great at working on teams† Byrne says. â€Å"Overall, higher salaries are earned by students in financial services and tech but they are outliers and it still depends on the role they take on.†In the employment data shared by the school, over 44% of undergraduates reported having done internships in the financial services industry. Consulting came in second, but with just almost 12% of students taking up internships in the industry, then came technology, where 7.4% of students went. â€Å"More students today are interested in tech in general because it’s relatable to their everyday life and how they grew up,† Byrne says. â€Å"In tech, they also get to work in teams to make something happen. Because they are typically working on a product, they get a sense of ownership and contribution much earlier in their careers than in other roles.†98% OF JOB SEEKERS HAD OFFERS WITHIN THREE MONTHS OF GRADUATIONOver all, 98% of undergraduates seeking employment received job offers within three months of graduation, and those accepting positions earned a median base salary of $72,000 a year. Of all the job functions ranging from accounting, consulting, and IT, to Human Resources, Strategic Planning, and Marketing/Sales, Finance was the most popular, with 45% of students securing related jobs. A large 21.4% of students went into investment banking, which had the second highest average base salary of $84,452. Though just 2% of undergraduates from the Ross School of Business went into IT-related jobs, students who found work in IT reported the highest average base salary of $85,833. The real estate and retail industries tied at the bottom of the scale with just 2.2 percent of students finding jobs there. However, students in real estate reported both a higher median base salary of $65,000 and a signing bonus of $7,500, than students in retail, where the base salary was $57,000, and the signing bonu s just $3,000.MAJORITY OF GRADUATES GOING TO THE NORTHEASTAlong with the continued strength of students interests and opportunities in finance, the school has found that a majority of students would be working in the Northeast and Midwest regions. Specifically, over 40% of students are working in the Tri-State Area of New York,   New Jersey, and Connecticut, and 24% of students working in the Chicago Metro area. While only 6.7% of students said they would be working in the San Francisco Bay Area, it is worth noting that students who reported having jobs there have the highest average base salary of $78,542. Though over five times more Ross students found jobs in the Tri-State Area, the average base salary was lower at $75,955. â€Å"When it comes to wages, we work to position our students for success in the long run, and salaries are just part of that positioning. Depending on the student, it may or may not be the most important thing as everyone has their own values,† Byrn e says. â€Å"What’s important is that they negotiate their position at the beginning of their careers so they will be learning and be challenged so they can show great work, and that will help them secure their next job.†DONT MISS: BUSINESS SCHOOLS WITH THE BEST UNDERGRADUATE FINANCE PROGRAMS or BUSINESS SCHOOLS WITH THE BEST ROI Page 1 of 11

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

An Ancient History Essay Topic to Consider

An Ancient History Essay Topic to ConsiderThe Ancient History Essay topic is an excellent choice for students with high reading skills and excellent oral comprehension skills. The essay is specifically designed to help you in your academic endeavours. Once you have spent some time analyzing the society of the ancients, you will have the confidence to write an essay.Some of the ancient history essay topics that you might choose to write are an account of the ancient civilizations and their struggles to achieve their goals. This will have to be a lot of fascinating information to research. Furthermore, you will have to include as much detail as possible, some of which may take you some time. However, you have the ability to decide to take on this task, because you are extremely knowledgeable about the subject matter.On the other hand, other ancient history essay topics include The Chinese and the Romans, or The Ancient Greeks and the Ancient Romans. There are some points which you must remember while writing such a subject. In fact, you will want to give a lot of attention to your research, so that you will be able to write a more comprehensive article.The Ancient History Essay topic is a simple topic to write because you have to focus on a single topic, as well as limit your research to a brief period of time. The Ancient History Essay topic can even be as much or as little as you desire. However, it is a good idea to allow yourself enough time to write the essay. Too much of the time spent will only hinder you. On the other hand, too little time will waste your time.However, the Ancient History Essay topics are only a small part of the Ancient History Essay. The topic is actually quite extensive, with various subjects within each period of time. Therefore, it is necessary to learn the subject that is most appropriate for your knowledge. In addition, as the topic gets further from the usual written history, it is also important to know about the other periods an d the fact of how the history would have changed had the various people involved not changed their paths.The Ancient History Essay topics are always comprised of a lot of very interesting facts and information, but there are also elements that are very important, such as political background. These factors will have to be included as well. They are, in fact, the backbone of any good research report. Thus, the Ancient History Essay can be as comprehensive or as simple as you like.You will be able to learn about a lot of information when you study the Ancient History Essay topics. The Ancient History Essay topics are not hard to write. In fact, if you spend the time to really understand the subjects, you will be able to write a very impressive article.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Comparing Digital And Textbooks And Their Effects On...

Comparison of Digital and Print textbooks and their effects on helping university students study efficiently Joyce J. Lam University of California, Irvine Author Note Joyce Josephine Lam University of California, Irvine jjlam@uci.edu SS3A HW ID: 104 Abstract This paper explores the pros and cons of using digital formats verses print formats of textbooks, particularly e-textbooks and traditional textbooks, and seeks to ask how effective these textbook formats are for university students and their studies. The purpose of this paper is to examine these different textbook formats is to see which has the potential and ability to help students in the best capacity possible. There are clear reasons on how digital textbooks and†¦show more content†¦Because we live in a modern age of much technological advancements, many students in universities are looking to see if it is still worth buying physical textbooks or to utilize digital formats like e-textbooks as a means of efficiency or even as a way to cut costs of paying for expensive textbooks. To understand which format is more effective, we need to study the different formats and see what are the strengths and weaknesses found in the two different formats. This paper will examine resea rch done by multiple researchers and use their research to help find the format that best helps students to study and retain material learned from their textbook Defining E-textbooks and Traditional Textbooks E-textbooks are often defined as texts that are able to be accessed on electronic devices. Most research has defined them as texts that are digital and accessed via electronic screens (Rockinson-Szapkiw, Courdoff, Carter, Bennett, 2012), in which there two formats that exist. The first format is the page fidelity e-textbook and second is the reflowable digital e-textbook. The page fidelity e-textbook is a simple scanned picture of the print version of a book, which can usually come in the form of a PDF (Rockinson-Szapkiw, Courdoff, Carter, Bennett, 2012). The page fidelity e-textbook has no

Friday, May 15, 2020

Utilitarianism Utilitarianism And Utilitarianism

According to utilitarianism, all the actions that an individual chooses to perform at any particular time must be geared toward achieving happiness. Utilitarianism also focuses on doing what is morally right always such that all the decisions that the individual decides to take are acceptable in the community. It also states that one should always consider fulfilling what is valuable to their life and those that would lead to happiness. An individual should then combine these thoughts with actions to produce acceptable and happy outcomes. According to Jeremy Bentham, he believed that utilitarianism would be maximized when people decided to do what is morally right. He combines the theory into what is valuable and the actions, for those things that are valuable, all revolve around happiness. The theory of Right Action then maximizes the utilitarianism theory as he suggests. Question 2 Bernard Williams explains that utilitarianism differs in each and every person’s everyday understanding of their morality in at least three ways. These three ways make economics and other individuals to doubt if utilitarianism is true, the whole truth, with matters concerning morality. For everyone who follows the utilitarianism theory, it is true to say that everything done does not matter if the consequences of the action done are not recognized, remote, or mediated from another agent. However, the situation is rather confusing since one cannot be in a position to judge if utilitarianism isShow MoreRelatedUtilitarianism : Utilitarianism And Rule Utilitarianism871 Words   |  4 PagesUtilitarianism, which is also called consequentialism, is a theory in normative ethics. It is one of the best known and most influential moral theories. The main idea of utilitarianism is to determine whether actions are morally good or bad, right or wrong depends on their consequences rather t han intentions. (Moreland 1) In order to understand utilitarianism, it is important to learn about Jeremy Bentham, who is the influential philosopher represented utilitarianism the best. The utilitarianismRead MoreUtilitarianism, Utilitarianism And Rule Utilitarianism980 Words   |  4 Pagesother one is utilitarianism. The former follow the idea that the consequences of you action hold no importance in what we ought to do. But rather, some actions are morally wrong or good by itself. The latter follows an opposite view in which the consequences of an action are what it makes an action moral. Specially, if that action produce the greatest happiness over unhappiness. In this essay I will focus on two Utilitarianism ramifications, act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism. They both agreeRead MoreThe Concept Of Utilitarianism And Utilitarianism1216 Words   |  5 Pagesfor pure cynical satisfaction. Combining the subjects of torture and utilitarianism can cause a large moral dilemm a. I believe that torture can be justified by the utilitarian principle, and the example given is acceptable. Yet, I believe that the concept of utilitarianism is idealistic but not realistic. Often related to utilitarianism is the term, hedonism. Utilitarianism is considered to be a type of hedonism. Utilitarianism is all about creating the greatest amount of happiness for the majorityRead MoreUtilitarianism And Its Criticisms Of Utilitarianism1437 Words   |  6 PagesUtilitarianism And Its Critiques Utilitarianism is a well known consequentialist ethical theory popularized in the 19th century by a philosopher named John Stuart Mill. Mill was one of the greatest proponents of utilitarianism but many philosophers since have revealed significant flaws with his theory, one being a more contemporary philosopher named Bernard Williams. Williams has many objections with utilitarianism, which i will divulge momentarily and determine whether these objections are justifiedRead MoreUtilitarianism And The Theory Of Utilitarianism1373 Words   |  6 Pagesmain criticisms of utilitarianism are opposites of each other in terms of belief. The first group to oppose the happiness theory draws their conclusions from the typical sense of the word utility, where it typically stands for the opposition of pleasure. The other group to oppose this theory holds the opposite view and thinks that utilitarianism bases everything on pleasure. Neither of these are accurate representations of what utilitari anism is. The author defines utilitarianism as â€Å"something toRead MoreAct Utilitarianism And Rule Utilitarianism978 Words   |  4 Pagesamount of pleasure to a situation: act and rule utilitarianism. I will define both act and rule utilitarianism, give a situation where both can be applied, and respond to an objection of utilitarianism. I will also be discussing why I believe act utilitarianism helps more people than rule utilitarianism, in turn, becoming ‘superior’ to rule utilitarianism. 2. To begin, I will be defining both act and rule utilitarianism. In act utilitarianism, you determine the morality of an act by measuringRead MoreUtilitarianism Vs. Mill Utilitarianism1004 Words   |  5 Pagesanism: Bentham VS. Mill Utilitarianism is a normative ethical theory that holds the morally right course of action in any given situation is the course of which yields the greatest balance of benefits over harms. More specifically, utilitarianism’s core idea is that the effects of an action determine whether actions are morally right or wrong. Created with the philosophies of Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806–1873), Utilitarianism began in England in the 19th Century. BenthamRead MoreUtilitarianism : Utilitarianism And Philosophical Ideas1427 Words   |  6 PagesMill begins his book on Utilitarianism by laying out some basic ethical and philosophical ideas. From what I have read in his book I believe that Utilitarianism can be defined as the idea that humans should make decisions based on the ability to promote the most happiness to them. Another way to say it would be that Utilitarianism states that a good decision is what brings the most happiness to the most people. Mill based his utilitarian theory on the decisions that people make. He says the decisionsRead MoreUtilitarianism Vs. Utilitarianism Theory909 Words   |  4 Pages In the history of philosophy Utilitarianism has been viewed as one of the best of the moral theories. It has become one the most powerful, influential, and most persuasive approach to normative ethics. The utilitarianism theory also has had a major impacts on approaches to economic, political, and social policy. The utilitarianism theory had originally had been created by Jeremy Bentham. His version of was that aggregate pleasure after deducting suffering of all involved in any action. HoweverRead MoreMill s Utilitarianism : Utilitarianism1251 Words   |  6 PagesMill’s Utilitarianism For centuries philosophers have attempted to explain morals, creating ideas that break this ethical system down into basic components. English philosopher, John Stuart Mill, was a large contributor to the idea of utilitarianism. Although Mill’s utilitarianism provides a strong argument for explaining morality, it is not a bulletproof theory. J.S. Mill’s Principle of utility, also known as the greatest happiness principle, is an ethical philosophy that looks at the development

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

A Brief Recount of the Yom-Kippur War Essay - 1311 Words

The October War of 1973 also known as the Yom-Kippur War was one of the wars we often overlook when we dive into the historical events that took place in history. The growing tensions between Israel and Egypt led to the surprise attack by Egypt on Israel. It was particularly interesting due to the fact that both sides claim to have won the War. The Yom-Kippur War received its name based on the fact that it occurred on the holiest day of prayer and fasting in the Jewish holiday 1. The October War of 1973 was a result of the Arabs frustration towards Israel for not relinquishing the territories it had acquired during the Six Day War of 1967. In other words, Israel’s victory in the six-day war resulted in the Arabs retaliation in the†¦show more content†¦This alliance they formed would later help them in gaining back those territories. Egypt started this war under President Anwar Sadat and launched an attack across the Suez Canal on the Israeli’s along with thei r new found ally Syria 6. By attacking on the Israeli’s holiest day, it gave the Arabs the element of surprise as they were able to attack while Israel’s defenses were down. The combined forces of Egypt and Syria proved to be overwhelming as Israel was attacked on two fronts. Israel’s defenses were particularly weak as they only had 150 tanks to combat Syria’s 1400 tanks on the Golan Heights and across the Suez region they had just 500 soldiers to combat Egypt’s 80,000 7. Israel failed miserably in trying to combat the Egyptians on the Suez Canal and the Syrians at the Golan Heights8. Egypt and Syria’s strategy to divide the military power of Israel proved temporarily successful since they were able to force Israel to retreat from the territories that were under occupation. Although the Egyptians were able to force Commander Avraham Adan to fall back, their own military was contained in the east bank of the Suez Canal8. Meanwhile on the other front, the Syrian army was able to reoccupy Qunaytirah, a territory within the Golan Heights, an area that was under Israeli occupation as a result of the Six-Day War 9. The difference in military strength was massive; The men of Jerusalem Brigade, regarded dismissively as

The American Dream - 1908 Words

Dan Rather, a journalist and news anchor for the CBS Evening News states that â€Å"[a] college degree is the key to realizing the American dream, well worth the financial sacrifice because it is supposed to open the door to a world of opportunity.† There are many different paths to the American Dream. Two paths that people can use to reach the American dream are to go straight to a university after high school or transferring to a university after two years at a community college. The main differences in going to a university and transferring to a university from a community college to reach the American dream are campus life, cost, and graduation/transfer rates. At a university the campus life is very lively and engaging. Students attending†¦show more content†¦Even though there are many different extracurricular activities not many people get involved. There are many different reasons as to why people at a community college do not go the extra mile to get involved. Pannoni shares that one reason students do not get involved because â€Å"many students work and don t have much time to be involved in anything other than getting a degree or taking classes†¦ [and] many students who weren t on campus when events were happening didn t want to make a special trip just to attend.† (Pannoni 5). The main reason students did not want to make a trip to campus to attend an event is because a lot of students who attend a community college commute. The difference in experience reflects on the cost of universities and colleges. The costs vary drastically between universities and community colleges. It is no secret that universities’ cost is way more expensive than community colleges. In California, there are three different types of post-secondary schools. The three types of schools are public universities (CSUs and UCs) , private universities, and community colleges. Each type of school has a different price. The first type of public univ ersities in California is the California State University system. At California State University, LongShow MoreRelatedImmigrants And The American Dream1362 Words   |  6 PagesImmigrants and the American Dream In the article â€Å"The American Dream†, by James Truslow Adams in The Sundance Reader book, he stated that the American dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and highRead MoreThe American Dream By Kimberly Amadeo1637 Words   |  7 PagesNowadays, a large number of people migrate to the United States to work and achieve the American Dream. According to the Article â€Å"What is the American Dream?† by Kimberly Amadeo, â€Å"The American Dream was first publicly defined in 1931 by James Truslow Adams in Epic of America. Adam’s often-repeated quote is, ‘The American Dream is that dream of land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyon e, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.’† There are many peopleRead MoreAnalysis Of The Movie The American Dream 754 Words   |  4 Pages Nyreel Powell Ms. Jones American Literature 1 June 2015 The American dream in A Raisin in the Sun Have you ever had a dream and it didn’t come how you wanted it to be? Have you ever had accomplishments that you wanted to achieve but people were getting in the way of them? The four main characters in this book all have good dreams but there are people in the way of getting to those dreams or their dream is too high to accomplish. A Raisin in the Sun a play written by Lorraine Hansberry, andRead MoreSister Carrie and the American Dream1618 Words   |  7 PagesThe American Dream is surely based on the concept of â€Å"Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness† but it is above all, a matter of ambition. James Truslow Adams, an American writer and historian, in 1931 states: life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement†, which not only points towards a better standard of living for Americans but also denounces a degree of greed in the US society. Ambition not only â€Å"killed the catâ₠¬  butRead MoreGrapes Of Wrath And The American Dream1644 Words   |  7 PagesThe idea of the American Dream is ever changing depending on the person and the time of life that person is in. Although the main ideas of the American Dream remain the same to be educated, economically sound, healthy, to have a family, and equal rights. Many great films and works of literature were created to show case all the different ideas people have for their American Dream. The film â€Å"Grapes of Wrath† directed by John Ford and the poem â€Å"I Will Fight No More Forever† by Chief Joseph, both depictRead More Destruction of the American Dream Essay2145 Words   |  9 PagesDestruction of the American Dream I’ve talked about it in the past, the destruction of the American Dream. Always, there have been papers, writings, and thoughts that quantify a particular section of its ultimate demise, be it due to money, education, or sexuality. Maybe the destruction cannot be viewed as a singular event or cause. Perhaps instead it must be examined as a whole process, the decay and ultimate elimination of a dream. Self destruction, if you will†¦ Mr. Self Destruct Read MoreSuccess As One Of The American Dream1137 Words   |  5 PagesApril 2015 Success as One of The American Dream When we hear the word â€Å"success†, we often think of wealth and money. To some people, the embodiment of being success is earning a lot of money. In fact, the concept of success is primarily based on how much money a person earns. However, each person views the definition of success differently. One way to define success is something that has more to do with flash than it does with substance. John Wooden, an American basketball player and coach viewRead MoreJim Cullen And The American Dream2081 Words   |  9 Pages The American Dream, as defined by Cullen, is starting your goal off with a little and ending with more; it s like a business, you invest in it in order to gain more money. Usually, people will define the American Dream as being able to achieve your goal because everyone is offered opportunities. Cullen does acknowledge that people are born with different opportunities, so he talks about the good life. The good life describes different factors that determine your opportunities. Throughout the otherRead MoreFactors Influencing The American Dream1834 Words   |  8 Pagesindividual to succumb or to not succumb to the seductions of crime. These three factors are brilliantly portrayed in the television show, Breaking Bad and the novel, The Stick Up Kids. The American Dream is what many American citizens strive for. However, not all of those citizens are able to achieve the American Dream through a legal pathway. The reason an indivudal may not being able to do so is because of his or her background factors. It is important to note that background factors are a fractionRead MoreShark Tank And The American Dream1755 Words   |  8 PagesShark Tank and The American Dream The TV show Shark tank embodies everything the American dream represents. The show obtains successful Entrepreneurs ready to invest their own money into other Americans wanting to be just like them, reaching the American dream and become a successful entrepreneur. The show presents entrepreneurs working towards the goal of creating a business to not only gain wealth but also change the way we live today. The show is to keep the American dream alive and well while

What Is Literature free essay sample

What is literature? Youd think this would be a central question for literary theory, but in fact it has not seemed to matter very much. Why should this be? There appear to be two main reasons. First, since theory itself intermingles ideas from philosophy, linguistics, history, political theory, and psychoanalysis, why should theorists worry about whether the texts theyre reading are literary or not? For students and teachers of literature today there is a whole range of critical projects, topics to read and write about-such as images of women in the early twentieth centurywhere you can deal with both literary and non-literary works. You can study Virginia Woolfs novels or Freuds case histories or both, and the distinction doesnt seem methodologically crucial. Its not that all texts are somehow equal: some texts are taken to be richer, more powerful, more exemplary, more contestatory, more central, for one reason or another. But both literary and non-literary works can be studied together and in similar ways. Literariness outside literature Second, the distinction has not seemed central because works of theory have discovered what is most simply called the literariness of non-literary phenomena. Qualities often thought to be literary turn out to be crucial to nonliterary discourses and practices as well. For instance, discussions of -17- OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS the nature of historical understanding have taken as a model what is involved in understanding a story. Characteristically, historians do not produce explanations that are like the predictive explanations of science: they cannot show that when X and Y occur, Z will necessarily happen. What they do, rather, is to show how one thing led to another, how the First World Warcame to break out, not why it had to happen. The model for historical explanation is thus the logic of stories: the way a story shows how something came to happen, connecting the initial situation, the development, and the outcome in a way that makes sense. The model for historical intelligibility, in short, is literary narrative. We who hear and read stories are good at telling whether a plot makes sense, hangs together, or whether the story remains unfinished. If the same models of what makes sense and what counts as a story characterize both literary and historical narratives, then distinguishing between them need not seem an urgent theoretical matter. Similarly, theorists have come to insist on the importance in non-literary textswhether Freuds accounts of his psychoanalytic cases or works of philosophical argumentof rhetorical devices such as metaphor, which have been thought crucial to literature but have often been considered purely ornamental in other sorts of discourses. In showing how rhetorical figures shape thought in other discourses as well, theorists demonstrate a powerful literariness at work in supposedly non-literary texts, thus complicating the distinction between the literary and the non-literary. But the fact that I describe this situation by speaking of the discovery of the literariness of non-literary phenomena indicates that the notion of literature continues to play a role and needs to be addressed. What sort of question? We find ourselves back at the key question, What is literature? , which will not go away. But what sort of question is it? If a 5-year-old is asking, its easy. Literature, you answer, is stories, poems, and plays. But if the -18- questioner is a literary theorist, its harder to know how to take the query. It might be a question about the general nature of this object, literature, which both of you already know well. What sort of object or activity is it? What does it do? What purposes does it serve? Thus understood, What is literature? asks not for a definition but for an analysis, even an argument about why one might concern oneself with literature at all. But What is literature? might also be a question about distinguishing characteristics of the works known as literature: what distinguishes them from non-literary works? What differentiates literature from other human activities or pastimes? Now people might ask this question because they were wondering how to decide which books are literature and which are not, but it is more likely that they already have an idea what counts as literature and want to know something else: are there any essential, distinguishing features that literary works share? This is a difficult question. Theorists have wrestled with it, but without notable success. The reasons are not far to seek: works of literature come in all shapes and sizes and most of them seem to have more in common with works that arent usually called literature than they do with some other works recognized as literature. Charlotte Bronte Jane Eyre, for instance, more closely resembles an autobiography than it does a sonnet, and a poem by Robert BurnsMy love is like a red, red rose-resembles a folk-song more than it does Shakespeare Hamlet. Are there qualities shared by poems, plays, and novels that distinguish them from, say, songs, transcriptions of conversations, and autobiographies? Historical variations Even a bit of historical perspective makes this question more complex. For twenty-five centuries people have written works that we call literature today, but the modern sense of literature is scarcely two centuries old. Prior to 1800literature and analogous terms in other European languages meant writings or book knowledge, Even today, a scientist who says -19- the literature on evolution is immense means not that many poems and novels treat the topic but that much has been written about it. And works that today are studied as literature in English or Latin classes in schools and universities were once treated not as a special kind of writing but as fine examples of the use of language and rhetoric. They were instances of a larger category of exemplary practices of writing and thinking, which included speeches, serm ons, history, and philosophy. Students were not asked to interpret them, as we now interpret literary works, seeking to explain what they are really about. On the contrary, students memorized them, studied their grammar, identified their rhetorical figures and their structures or procedures of argument. A work such as Virgil Aeneid, which today is studied as literature, was treated very differently in schools prior to 1850. The modern Western sense of literature as imaginative writing can be traced to the German Romantic theorists of the late eighteenth century and, if we want a particular source, to a book published in 1800 by a French Baroness, Madame de Stael On Literature Considered in its Relations with Social Institutions. But even if we restrict ourselves to the last two centuries, the category of literature becomes slippery: would works which today count as literaturesay poems that seem snippets of ordinary conversation, without rhyme or discernible metrehave qualified as literature for Madame de Stael? And once we begin to think about nonEuropean cultures, the question of what counts as literature becomes increasingly difficult. It is tempting to give it up and conclude that literature is whatever a given society treats as literaturea set of texts that cultural arbiters recognize as belonging to literature. Such a conclusion is completely unsatisfying, of course. It simply displaces instead of resolving the question: rather than ask what is literature? we need to ask what makes us (or some other society) treat something as literature? There are, though, other categories that work in this way, referring not to specific properties but only to changing criteria of social groups. Take the question What is a weed? Is there an essence of -20- weednessa special something, a je ne sais quoi, that weeds share and that distinguishes them from non-weeds? Anyone who has been enlisted to help weed a garden knows how hard it is to tell a weed from a nonweed and may wonder whether there is a secret. What would it be? How do you recognize a weed? Well, the secret is that there isnt a secret. Weeds are simply plants that gardeners dont want to have growing in their gardens. If you were curious about weeds, seeking the nature of weedness, it would be a waste of time to try to investigate their botanical nature, to seek distinctive formal or physical qualities that make plants weeds. You would have to carry out instead historical, sociological, perhaps psychological enquiries about the sorts of plants that are judged undesirable by different groups in different places. Perhaps literature is like weed. But this answer doesnt eliminate the question. It changes it to what is involved in treating things as literature in our culture? Treating texts as literature Suppose you come across the following sentence: We dance round in a ring and suppose, But the Secret sits in the middle and knows. What is this, and how do you know? Well, it matters a good deal where you come across it. If this sentence is printed on a slip in a Chinese fortune cookie, you may well take it as an unusually enigmatical fortune, but when it is offered (as it is here) as an example, you cast around for possibilities among uses of language familiar to you. is it a riddle, asking us to guess the secret? Might it be an advertisement for something called Secret? Ads often rhymeWinston tastes good, like a cigarette should and they have grown increasingly -21- enigmatic in their attempts to jostle a jaded public. But this sentence seems detached from any readily imaginable practical context, including that of selling a product. This, and the fact that it rhymes and, after the first two words, follows a regular rhythm of alternating stressed and unstressed syllables (round in a ring and suppose) creates the possibility that this might be poetry, an instance of literature. There is a puzzle here, though: the fact that this sentence has no obvious practical import is what mainly creates the possibility that it might be literature, but could we not achieve that effect by lifting other sentences out of the contexts that make it clear what they do? Suppose we take a sentence out of an instruction booklet, a recipe, an advertisement, a newspaper, and set it down on a page in isolation: Stir vigorously and allow to sit five minutes. Is this literature? Have I made it literature by extracting it from the practical context of a recipe? Perhaps, but it is scarcely clear that I have. Something seems lacking; the sentence seems not to have the resources for you to work with. To make it literature you need, perhaps, to imagine a title whose relation to the line would pose a problem and exercise the imagination: for instance, The Secret, or The Quality of Mercy. Something like that would help, but a sentence fragment such as A sugar plum on a pillow in the morning seems to have a better chance of becoming literature because its failure to be anything except an image invites a certain kind of attention, calls for reflection. So do sentences where the relation between their form and their content provides potential food for thought. Thus the opening sentence of a book of philosophy, W. O. Quine From a Logical Point of View, might conceivably be a poem: A curious thing about the ontological problem is its simplicity. -22- Set down in this way on a page, surrounded by intimidating margins of silence, this sentence can attract a certain kind of attention that we might call literary: an interest in the words, their relations to one another, and their implications, and particularly an interest in how what is said relates to the way it is said. That is, set down in this way, this sentence seems able to live up to a certain modern idea of a poem and to respond to a kind of attention that today is associated with literature. If someone were to say this sentence to you, you would ask, what do you mean? but if you take the sentence as a poem, the question isnt quite the same: not what does the speaker or author mean but what does the poem mean? How does this language work? What does this sentence do? Isolated in the first line, the words A curious thing may raise the question of what is a thing and what is it for a thing to be curious. What is a thing? is one of the problems of ontology, the science of being or study of what exists. But thing in the phrase a curious thing is not a physical object but something like a relation or aspect which doesnt seem to exist in the same way that a stone or a house does. The sentence preaches simplicity but seems not to practise what it preaches, illustrating, in the ambiguities of thing, something of the forbidding complexities of ontology. But perhaps the very simplicity of the poemthe fact that it stops after simplicity, as if no more need be saidgives some credibility to the implausible assertion of simplicity. At any rate, isolated in this way, the sentence can give rise to the sort of activity of interpretation associated with literaturethe sort of activity I have been carrying out here. What can such thought-experiments tell us about literature? They suggest, first of all, that when language is removed from other contexts, detached from other purposes, it can be interpreted as literature (though it must possess some qualities that make it responsive to such interpretation). If literature is language decontextualized, cut off from other functions and purposes, it is also itself a context, which promotes or elicits special kinds of attention. For instance, readers attend to potential complexities and look for implicit meanings, without assuming, say, that -23- the utterance is telling them to do something. To describe literature would be to analyse a set of assumptions and interpretive operations readers may bring to bear on such texts. Conventions of literature One relevant convention or disposition that has emerged from the analysis of stories (ranging from personal anecdotes to entire novels) goes by the forbidding name of the hyper-protected cooperative principle but is actually rather simple. Communication depends on the basic convention that participants are cooperating with one another and that, therefore, what one person says to the other is likely to be relevant. If I ask you whether George is a good tudent and you reply, he is usually punctual, I make sense of your reply by assuming that you are cooperating and saying something relevant to my question. Instead of complaining, You didnt answer my question, I may conclude that you did answer implicitly and indicated that theres little positive to be said about George as a student. I assume, that is, that you are cooperating unl ess there is compelling evidence to the contrary. Now literary narratives can be seen as members of a larger class of stories, narrative display texts, utterances whose relevance to listeners lies not in information they convey but in their tellability. Whether you are telling an anecdote to a friend or writing a novel for posterity, you are doing something different from, say, testifying in court: you are trying to produce a story that will seem worth it to your listeners: that will have some sort of point or significance, will amuse or give pleasure. What sets off literary works from other narrative display texts is that they have undergone a process of selection: they have been published, reviewed, and reprinted, so that readers approach them with the assurance that others have found them well constructed and worth it. So for literary works, the cooperative principle is hyper-protected. We can put up with many obscurities and apparent irrelevancies, without assuming that this makes no sense. Readers assume that in literature complications of language ultimately have a communicative purpose and, instead of imagining that the speaker or writer is being uncooperative, as they might in other speech contexts, they struggle to interpret elements that flout principles of efficient communication in the interests of some further communicative goal. Literature is an institutional label that gives us reason to expect that the results of our reading efforts will be worth it. And many of the features of literature follow from the willingness of readers to pay attention, to explore uncertainties, and not immediately ask what do you mean by that? Literature, we might conclude, is a speech act or textual event that elicits certain kinds of attention. It contrasts with other sorts of speech acts, such as imparting information, asking questions, or making promises. Most of the time what leads readers to treat something as literature is that they find it in a context that identifies it as literature: in a book of poems or a section of a magazine, library, or bookstore. A puzzle But we have another puzzle here. Arent there special ways of organizing language that tell us something is literature? Or is the fact that we know something is literature what leads us to give it a kind of attention we dont give newspapers and, as a result, to find in it special kinds of organization and implicit meanings? The answer must surely be that both cases occur: sometimes the object has features that make it literary but sometimes it is the literary context that makes us treat it as literature. But highly organized language doesnt necessarily make something literature: nothing is more highly patterned than the telephone directory. And we cant make just any piece of language literature by calling it literature: I cant pick up my old chemistry textbook and read it as a novel. On the one hand, literature is not just a frame in which we put language: not every sentence will make it as literature if set down on a page as a poem. But, on the other hand, literature is not just a special kind of language, for many literary works dont flaunt their difference from other sorts of language; they function in special ways because of the special attention they receive. We have a complicated structure here. We are dealing with two different perspectives that overlap, intersect, but dont seem to yield a synthesis. We can think of literary works as language with particular properties or features, and we can think of literature as the product of conventions and a certain kind of attention. Neither perspective successfully incorporates the other, and one must shift back and forth between them. I take up five -26points theorists have made about the nature of literature: with each, you start from one perspective but must, in the end, make allowance for the other. The nature of literature 1. Literature as the foregrounding of language Literariness is often said to lie above all in the organization of language that makes literature distinguishable from language used for other purposes. Literature is language that foregrounds language itself: makes it strange, thrusts it at youLook! Im language! so you cant forget that you are dealing with language shaped in odd ways. In particular, poetry organizes the sound plane of language so as to make it something to reckon with. Here is the beginning of a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins called Inversnaid: This darksome burn, horseback brown, His rollrock highroad roaring down, In coop and in coomb the fleece of his foam Flutes and low to the lake falls home. The foregrounding of linguistic patterningthe rhythmical repetition of sounds in burn brown rollrock road roaringas well as the unusual verbal combinations such as rollrock make it clear that we are dealing with language organized to attract attention to the linguistic structures themselves. But it is also true that in many cases readers dont notice linguistic patterning unless something is identified as literature. You dont listen when reading standard prose. The rhythm of this sentence, you will find, is scarcely one that strikes the readers ear; but if a rhyme should suddenly appear, it makes the rhythm something that you hear. The rhyme, a conventional mark of literariness, makes you notice the rhythm that was there all along. When a text is framed as literature, we are disposed to -27- attend to sound patterning or other sorts of linguistic organization we generally ignore. . Literature as the integration of Language Literature is language in which the various elements and components of the text are brought into a complex relation. When I receive a letter requesting a contribution for some worthy cause, I am unlikely to find that the sound is echo to the sense, but in literature there are relationsof reinforcement or contrast and dissonancebetween the structures of different linguistic levels: between sound and meaning, between grammatical organization and thematic patterns. A rhyme, by bringing two words together (suppose/knows), brings their meanings into relation (is knowing the opposite of supposing? ). But it is clear that neither (1) nor (2) nor both together provides a definition of literature. Not all literature foregrounds language as (1) suggests (many novels do not), and language foregrounded is not necessarily literature. Tongue-twisters (Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers) are seldom thought to be literature, though they call attention to themselves as language and trip you up. In advertisements the linguistic devices are often foregrounded even more blatantly than in lyrics and different structural levels may be integrated more imperiously. One eminent theorist, Roman Jakobson, cites as his key example of the poetic function of language not a line from a lyric but a political slogan from the American presidential campaign of Dwight D. (Ike) Eisenhower: I like Ike. Here, through word play, the object liked ( Ike) and the liking subject (I) are both enveloped in the act (like): how could I not like Ike, when I and Ike are both contained in like? Through this ad, the necessity of liking Ike seems inscribed in the very structure of the language. So, its not that the relations between different levels of language are relevant only in literature but that in literature we are more likely to look for and exploit relations between form and meaning or theme and grammar and, attempting to understand the contribution each element makes to the effect of the whole, find integration, harmony, tension, or dissonance. Accounts of literariness focused on the foregrounding or on the integration of language dont provide tests by which, say, Martians could separate works of literature from other sorts of writing. Such accounts function, like most claims about the nature of literature, to direct attention to certain aspects of literature which they claim to be central. To study something as literature, this account tells us, is to look above all at the organization of its language, not to read it as the expression of its authors psyche or as the reflection of the society that produced it. 3. Literature as fiction One reason why readers attend to literature differently is that its utterances have a special relation to the worlda relation we call fictional. The literary work is a linguistic event which projects a fictional world that includes speaker, actors, events, and an implied audience (an audience that takes shape through the works decisions about what must be explained and what the audience is presumed to know). Literary works refer to imaginary rather than historical individuals ( Emma Bovary, Huckleberry Finn), but fictionality is not limited to characters and events. Deictics, as they are called, orientational features of language that relate to the situation of utterance, such as pronouns (I, you) or adverbials of place and time (here, there, now, then, yesterday, tomorrow), function in special ways in literature. Now in a poem (now gathering swallows twitter in the skies) refers not to the instant when the poet first wrote down that word, or to the moment of first publication, but to a time in the poem, in the fictional world of its action. And the I that appears in a lyric poem, such as Wordsworths I wandered lonely as a cloud , is also fictional; it refers to the speaker of the poem, who may be quite different from the empirical individual, William Wordsworth, who wrote the poem. (There may well be strong connections between what happens to the speaker or narrator of the poem and what happened to Wordsworth at some moment in his life. But a poem written by an old man may have a young speaker and vice versa. And, notoriously, the narrators of novels, the characters who say I as they recount the story, may have experiences and make judgements that are quite different from those of their authors. ) In fiction, the relation of what speakers say to what authors think is always a matter of interpretation. So is the relationship between events recounted and situations in the world. Non-fictional discourse is usually embedded in a context that tells you how to take it: an instruction manual, a newspaper report, a letter from a charity. The context of fiction, though, explicitly leaves open the question of what the fiction is really about. Reference to the world is not so much a property of literary works as a function they are given by interpretation. If I tell a friend, Meet me for dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe at eight tomorrow, he or she will take this as a concrete invitation and identify spatial and temporal referents from the context of utterance (tomorrow means 14 January 2002, eight mean 8 p. . Eastern Standard Time). But when the poet Ben Jonson writes a poem Inviting a Friend to Supper, the fictionality of this work makes its relation to the world a matter of interpretation: the context of the message is a literary one and we have to decide whether to take the poem as primarily characterizing the attitudes of a fictional speaker, outlining a bygone way of life, or suggesting that friendship and simple pleasures are what is most important to human happiness. Interpreting Hamlet is, among other things, a matter of deciding whether it should be read as talking about, say, the problems of Danish princes, or the dilemmas of men of the Renaissance experiencing changes in the conception of the self, or relations between men and their mothers in general, or the question of how representations (including literary ones) affect the problem of making sense of our experience. The fact that there are references to Denmark throughout the play doesnt mean that you necessarily read it as talking about Denmark; that is an interpretive decision. We can relate Hamlet to the world in different ways at several different levels. The fictionality of literature separates language from other contexts in which it might be used and leaves the works relation to the world open to interpretation. 4. Literature as aesthetic object The features of literature discussed so farthe supplementary levels of -30- linguistic organization, the separation from practical contexts of utterance, the fictional relation to the worldmay be brought together under the general heading of the aesthetic function of language. Aesthetics is historically the name for the theory of art and has involved debates about whether beauty is an objective property of works of art or a subjective response of viewers, and about the relation of the beautiful to the true and the good. For Immanuel Kant, the primary theorist of modern Western aesthetics, the aesthetic is the name of the attempt to bridge the gap between the material and the spiritual world, between a world of forces and magnitudes and a world of concepts. Aesthetic objects, such as paintings or works of literature, with their combination of sensuous form (colours, sounds) and spiritual content (ideas), illustrate the possibility of bringing together the material and the spiritual. A literary work is an aesthetic object because, with other communicative functions initially bracketed or suspended, it engages readers to consider the interrelation between form and content. Aesthetic objects, for Kant and other theorists, have a purposiveness without purpose. There is a purposiveness to their construction: they are made so that their parts will work together towards some end. But the end is the work of art itself, pleasure in the work or pleasure occasioned by the work, not some external purpose. Practically, this means that to consider a text as literature is to ask about the contribution of its parts to the effect of the whole but not to take the work as primarily destined to accomplishing some purpose, such as informing or persuading us. When I say that stories are utterances whose relevance is their tellability, I am noting that there is a purposiveness to stories (qualities that can make them good stories) but that this cannot easily be attached to some external purpose, and thus am registering the aesthetic, affective quality of stories, even non-literary ones. A good story is tellable, strikes readers or listeners as worth it. It may amuse or instruct or incite, can have a range of effects, but you cant define good stories in general as those that do any one of these things. -31- 5. Literature as intertextual or self-reflexive construct Recent theorists have argued that works are made out of other works: made possible by prior works which they take up, repeat, challenge, transform. This notion sometimes goes by the fancy name of intertextuality. A work exists between and among other texts, through its relations to them. To read something as literature is to consider it as a linguistic event that has meaning in relation to other discourses: for example, as a poem that plays on possibilities created by previous poems or as a novel that puts on stage and criticizes the political rhetoric of its day. Shakespeares sonnet My mistress eyes are nothing like the sun takes up the metaphors used in the tradition of love poetry and denies them (But no such roses see I in her cheeks)denies them as a way of praising a woman who, when she walks, treads on the ground. The poem has meaning in relation to the tradition that makes it possible. Now since to read a poem as literature is to relate it to other poems, to compare and contrast the way it makes sense with the ways others do, it is possible to read poems as at some level about poetry itself. They bear on the operations of poetic imagination and poetic interpretation. Here we encounter another notion that has been important in recent theory: that of the self-reflexivity of literature. Novels are at some level about novels, about the problems and possibilities of representing and giving shape or meaning to experience. So Madame Bovary can be read as an exploration of relations between Emma Bovarys real life and the way which both the romantic novels she reads and Flauberts own novel make sense of experience. One can always ask of a novel (or a poem) how what it implicitly says about making sense relates to the way it itself goes about making sense. Literature is a practice in which authors attempt to advance or renew literature and thus is always implicitly a reflection on literature itself. But once again, we find that this is something we could say about other forms: bumper stickers, like poems, may depend for their meaning on prior -32- bumper stickers: Nuke a Whale for Jesus! makes no sense without No Nukes, Save the Whales, and Jesus Saves, and one could certainly say hat Nuke a Whale for Jesus is really about bumper stickers. The intertextuality and selfreflexivity of literature is not, finally, a defining feature but a foregrounding of aspects of language use and questions about representation that may also be observed elsewhere. Properties versus consequences In each of these five cases we encounter the structure I mentioned above: we are dealing with what might be described as properties of literary works, features that mark them as literature, but with what could also be seen as the results of a particular kind of attention, a function that we accord language in considering it as literature. Neither perspective, it seems, can englobe the other to become the comprehensive perspective. The qualities of literature cant be reduced either to objective properties or to consequences of ways of framing language. There is one key reason for this which already emerged from the little thoughtexperiments at the beginning of this chapter. Language resists the frames we impose. It is hard to make the couplet We dance round in a ring into a fortunecookie fortune or Stir vigorously into a stirring poem. When we treat something as literature, when we look for pattern and coherence, there is resistance in the language; we have to work on it, work with it. Finally, the literariness of literature may lie in the tension of the interaction between the linguistic material and readers conventional expectations of what literature is. But I say this with caution, for the other thing we have learned from our five cases is that each quality identified as an important feature of literature turns out not to be a defining feature, since it can be found at work in other language uses. The functions of literature I began this chapter by noting that literary theory in the 1980s and 1990s has not focused on the difference between literary and non-literary works. -33- What theorists have done is to reflect on literature as a historical and ideological category, on the social and political functions that something called literature has been thought to perform. In nineteenth-century England, literature emerged as an extremely important idea, a special kind of writing charged with several functions. Made a subject of instruction in the colonies of the British Empire, it was charged with giving the natives an appreciation of the greatness of England and engaging them as grateful participants in a historic civilizing enterprise. At home it would counter the selfishness and materialism fostered by the new capitalist economy, offering the middle classes and the aristocrats alternative values and giving the workers a stake in the culture that, materially, relegated them to a subordinate position. It would at once teach disinterested appreciation, provide a sense of national greatness, create fellow-feeling among the classes, and ultimately, function as a replacement for religion, which seemed no longer to be able to hold society together. Any set of texts that could do all that would be very special indeed. What is literature that it was thought to do all this? One thing that is crucial is a special structure of exemplarity at work in literature. A literary work-Hamlet, for instance-is characteristically the story of a fictional character: it presents itself as in some way exemplary (why else would you read it? , but it simultaneously declines to define the range or scope of that exemplarityhence the ease with which readers and critics come to speak about the universality of literature. The structure of literary works is such that it is easier to take them as telling us about the human condition in general than to specify what narrower categories they describe or illuminate. Is Hamlet just about princes, or men of the Renaissance, or introspective young men, or people whose fathers have died in obscure circumstances? Since all such answers seem unsatisfactory, it is easier for readers not to answer, thus implicitly accepting a possibility of universality. In their particularity, novels, poems, and plays decline to explore what they are exemplary of at the same time that they invite all readers to become involved in the predicaments and thoughts of their narrators and characters. -34- But the combination of offering universality and addressing all those who can read the language has had a powerful national function. Benedict Anderson argues, in Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, a work of political history that has become influential as theory, that works of literatureparticularly novelshelped to create national communities by their postulation of and appeal to a broad community of readers, bounded yet in principle open to all who could read the language. Fiction, Anderson writes, seeps quietly and continuously into reality, creating that remarkable confidence of community in anonymity which is the hallmark of modern nations. To present the characters, speakers, plots, and themes of English literature as potentially universal is to promote an open yet bounded imagined community to which subjects in the British colonies, for instance, are invited to aspire. In fact, the more the universality of literature is stressed, the more it may have a national function: asserting the universality of the vision of the world offered by Jane Austen makes England a very s pecial place indeed, the site of standards of taste and behaviour and, more important, of the moral scenarios and social circumstances in which ethical problems are worked out and personalities are formed. Literature has been seen as a special kind of writing which, it was argued, could civilize not just the lower classes but also the aristocrats and the middle classes. This view of literature as an aesthetic object that could make us better people is linked to a certain idea of the subject, to what theorists have come to call the liberal subject, the individual defined not by a social situation and interests but by an individual subjectivity (rationality and morality) conceived as essentially free of social determinants. The aesthetic object, cut off from practical purposes and inducing particular kinds of reflection and identifications, helps us to become liberal subjects through the free and disinterested exercise of an imaginative faculty that combines knowing and judging in the right relation. Literature does this, the argument goes, by encouraging consideration of complexities without a rush to judgement, engaging the mind in ethical issues, inducing readers to examine conduct (including -35- their own) as an outsider or a reader of novels would. It promotes disinterestedness, teaches sensitivity and fine discriminations, produces identifications with men and women of other conditions, thus promoting fellowfeeling. In 1860 an educator maintained, by converse with the thoughts and utterances of those who are intellectual leaders of the race, our heart comes to beat in accord with the feeling of universal humanity. We discover that no differences of class, or party, or creed can destroy the power of genius to charm and to instruct, and that above the smoke and stir, the din and turmoil of mans lower life of care and business and debate, there is a erene and luminous region of truth where all may meet and expatiate in common. Recent theoretical discussions have, not surprisingly, been critical of this conception of literature, and have focused above all on the mystification that seeks to distract workers from the misery of their condition by offering them access to this higher regionthrowing the workers a few novels to keep them from throwing up a few barricades, as Terry Eagleton puts it. But when we explore claims about what literature does, how it works as a social practice, we find arguments that are exceedingly difficult to reconcile. Literature has been given diametrically opposed functions. Is literature an ideological instrument: a set of stories that seduce readers into accepting the hierarchical arrangements of society? If stories take it for granted that women must find their happiness, if at all, in marriage; if they accept class divisions as natural and explore how the virtuous serving-girl may marry a lord, they work to legitimate contingent historical arrangements. Or is literature the place where ideology is exposed, revealed as something that can be questioned? Literature represents, for example, in a potentially intense and affecting way, the narrow range of options historically offered to women, and, in making this visible, raises the possibility of not taking it for granted. Both claims are thoroughly plausible: that literature is the vehicle of ideology and that literature is an instrument for its undoing. Here -36- again, we find a complex oscillation between potential properties of literature and attention that brings out these properties. We also encounter contrary claims about the relation of literature to action. Theorists have maintained that literature encourages solitary reading and reflection as the way to engage with the world and thus counters the social and political activities that might produce change. At best it encourages detachment or appreciation of complexity, and at worst passivity and acceptance of what is. But on the other hand, literature has historically been seen as dangerous: it promotes the questioning of authority and social arrangements. Plato banned poets from his ideal republic because they could only do harm, and novels have long been credited with making people dissatisfied with the lives they inherit and eager for something newwhether life in big cities or romance or revolution. By promoting identification across divisions of class, gender, race, nation, and age, books may promote a fellowfeeling that discourages struggle; but they may also produce a keen sense of injustice that makes progressive struggles possible. Historically, works of literature are credited with producing change: Harriet Beecher Stowe Uncle Toms Cabin, a best-seller in its day, helped create a revulsion against slavery that made possible the American Civil War. I return in Chapter 7 to the problem of identification and its effects: what role does the identification with literary characters and narrators play? For the moment we should note above all the complexity and diversity of literature as an institution and social practice. What we have here, after all, is an institution based on the possibility of saying anything you can imagine. This is central to what literature is: for any orthodoxy, any belief, any value, a literary work can mock it, parody it, imagine some different and monstrous fiction. From the novels of the Marquis de Sade, which sought to work out what might happen in a world where action followed a nature conceived as unconstrained appetite, to Salman Rushdie The Satanic Verses which has caused so much outrage for its use of sacred -37- ames and motifs in a context of satire and parody, literature has been the possibility of fictionally exceeding what has previously been thought and written. For anything that seemed to make sense, literature could make it nonsense, go beyond it, transform it in a way that raised the question of its legitimacy and adequacy. Literature has been the activity of a cultural elite, and it has been what is sometimes called cultural capital: learning about literatur e gives you a stake in culture that may pay off in various ways, helping you fit in with people of higher social status. But literature cannot be reduced to this conservative social function: it is scarcely the purveyor of family values but makes seductive all manner of crimes, from Satans revolt against God in Milton Paradise Lost to Raskolnikovs murder of an old woman in Dostoevski Crime and Punishment. It encourages resistance to capitalist values, to the practicalities of getting and spending. Literature is the noise of culture as well as its information. It is an entropic force as well as cultural capital. It is a writing that calls for a reading and engages readers in problems of meaning. The paradox of literature Literature is a paradoxical institution because to create literature is to write according to existing formulasto produce something that looks like a sonnet or that follows the conventions of the novelbut it is also to flout those conventions, to go beyond them. Literature is an institution that lives by exposing and criticizing its own limits, by testing what will happen if one writes differently. So literature is at the same time the name for the utterly conventionalmoon rhymes with June and swoon, maidens are fair, knights are boldand for the utterly disruptive, where readers have to struggle to create any meaning at all, as in sentences like this from James Joyces Finnegans Wake: Eins within a space and a wearywide space it was er wohned a Mookse. The question what is literature? arises, I suggested earlier, not because -38- people are worried that they might mistake a novel for history or the message in a fortune-cookie for a poem but because critics and theorists hope, by saying what literature is, to promote what they take to be the most pertinent critical methods and to dismiss methods that neglect the most basic and distinctive aspects of literature. In the context of recent theory, the question what is literature? matters because theory has highlighted the literariness of texts of all sorts. To reflect on literariness is to keep before us, as resources for analysing these discourses, reading practices elicited by literature: the suspension of the demand for immediate intelligibility, reflection on the implications of means of expression, and attention to how meaning is made and pleasure produced.