Story in Academia

Ulmer approaches story under a very different definition than what many people–even academics–would ascribe to the word. That said, his discussion of story made me think of how story in its colloquial sense(s) might appear across academic disciplines. If “[t]he love story is the tribute the lover must pay to the world in order to be reconciled with it” (Barthes qtd in Ulmer 147)–or if experience is understood by the uninitiated only through story–what role does story play in our studies?


One thought on “Story in Academia

  1. This post and the Barthes excerpt remind me of yesterday’s talk by Kevin Ohi. (Disclaimer: I don’t know that I totally understood everything that was said, so here is my best re-presentation.)

    Ohi spoke about the queerness and economics of transmission in reading and writing, particularly when appropriating another’s work, either for one’s own re-interpretation or for metacommentary. (The texts Ohi primarily engaged with were 1) “The Portrait of Mr. W.H.” — this is dedicated to the “Fair Youth” in Shakespeare’s Sonnets and 2) the work of his contemporary critic Walter Pater, who studied related topics about form and content.)

    Anyway, Ohi made some interesting points about the relationships of desire at play as one reads a text (reader/narrator; narrator/critic; narrator/subject; Shakespeare/Fair Youth; actor/audience; etc.) One of the more relevant points to this Vlog post is the suggestion that as soon as we write, we lose the desire for the subject/object that we are writing about. So, writing is loss. (I’m not sure this idea about loss is anything new–but it did provide an interesting reading for “Portrait”.)

    Thinking about this in the context of the Ohi talk, I was interpreting Ulmer’s interpretation of Barthes a little differently, I think–more along the lines of this idea that in order for the lover to become reabsorbed by the world-at-large, he must also sacrifice–or distance himself–from the lover who makes it meaningful. (Aestheticization via writing is one form of this distancing, according to Ohi.)

    I’m not sure what this means in terms of the Mystory, except that if there is a widely-accepted exchange of Mystories, perhaps the lover’s loss via his writing/sharing of the love story becomes a little less tragic, since everyone’s losses are shared, perhaps making manifest the super-annuation that Ulmer talks about in “After Teletheory: (288).

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