File spoon-archives/nietzsche.archive/nietzsche_2003/nietzsche.0311, message 17

Date: Wed, 5 Nov 2003 13:38:19 EST
Subject: Remember your gradschool whip

Lately I've been reading a lot of narratology, and it seems there are quite a 
few papers that deal with narratives as a strategy for personal identity and 
theories of personal agency. In many of these papers, there is an emphasis on 
Sadean models and theoretical ponderings that have to do with torture and S&M 
situations. This has been an academic fad for a while now -- seems you can't 
open a lit grad course list without some mention of the old Marquis.

My question: Does the use of the writings of de Sade mirror the experience of 
literature and lit-theory grad students?

In other words, all this prolixity about theorists of the body and power 
relations -- isn't it seized upon by grad students and aspiring professors more 
because it reflects their academic experience? The hours of note-taking, 
pandering to one's thesis advisor, submitting to the inane theories and politics of 
one's Maoist professor of the moment, one's self-sacrifice (and perhaps hidden 
resentment) as undergrad friends get cushy law or MBA positions -- isn't 
graduate school in literature or lit-theory organized and rewarded as an S&M 
experience? Doesn't this perhaps account for de Sade's popularity at least as much 
as any theoretical importance in his work?

Eric Yost

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