Thursday, August 09, 2007

Culture wars and real ones

It's hard to believe that 14 years ago (14 in academy years=1 human year), a sentence like this could appear in a journal article: "No longer in the postwar period the sole intellectual and economic center of the world, Europe continues to be seen by the American Right as the primary source of culture and cultural legitimation." I almost fell out of my chair, but read on to realize that the author, Katie Trumpener, was talking about the culture wars of the 80s and 90s. The "Right" comprised the defenders of the Eurocentric Great Books curriculum that was under attack by multiculturalists. In 1993, apparently, the American Right's feminization of Europe had not taken hold--or at least went unnoticed among humanities faculties. I'm wondering how much of the "Europe is faggy" meme is a direct result of the run-up to war in Iraq.

Imagine any right-winger now espousing the greatness of European thought, past or present. Europe is our enemy, femmy and godless besides. Even the Enlightenment has to go under the bus because it promotes rational thought. Can't have that. Darwin? A satanist. What I wouldn't give for the wingers to go back to reading T.S. Eliot, if they ever did. But "The Wasteland" is full of Hinduism. (See Trumpener, "The Shape of the Moment and the Struggle for the Text" in Modern Philology 100:3 [February 1993].)

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