[...] Paglia has for years defended her belief that the academy, especially the Ivy League, is in great peril. She points to post-structural literary theory as the major problem, calling it an endlessly repetitive, “over-elaborate industrial contraption that is like a giant mousetrap that you put the work in. And it kills the work. It just kills it.” She credits post-structuralism with turning prospective graduate students off of academia: “Anyone with enthusiasm for the works looks like a lunatic.” She predicts that without an infusion of new life, academe will fall to the hands of desiccated drones with no sense of chronology or deep erudition who will slowly kill works with theory.If the picture she paints seems dismal, it is because she believes there is a revolution at hand, and no one wins a revolution without first inspiring relative discontent in the masses. Paglia’s book—with its pointed omissions of John Ashbery (“unreadable, useless, opaque”) and Seamus Heaney (“a third-rate, derivative Yeats”)—is a call to arms. Paglia’s rabble-rousing is in the service of her passionate desire to see to see poetry brought back from its marginal status, and to see a generation of brilliant young theorists shake up a languishing academia. The message is loud and clear: graduate students of the world, unite!
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