The Aims and Methods of Scholarship in Modern Languages and Literatures

James Thorpe

Editore: Forgotten Books
Formato: PDF
Testo in en
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Dimensioni: 2,82 MB
  • EAN: 9780243829019
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A collection of essays cannot convert us into able scholars, of course. For that we need much learning, the capacity to deal creatively with knowledge, and a certain amount of good luck. But we also need a discipline to help us shape our material into the form of useful contributions, and that discipline ultimately derives from a recognition of the aims and methods of scholarship. These essays discuss four forms of scholarship — linguistics, textual criticism, literary history, and literary criticism. In each case, the writer offers his ideas about fundamental questions facing the modern scholar: the range of purpose open to him, the basic problems confronting him, the presuppositions underlying his work, the methods and procedures available to him. Of the various themes which run through these essays, either by direct statement or by implication, it seems to me that there are two which ought to be kept in mind while considering the propositions set forth in each essay. One theme, reiterated over and over again, is the interdependence of these four forms of scholarship. The partitioning of scholarship into these essays is a convenient division of functions, not of people; each essay is about a character istic type of study, not about a separate band of scholars living apart from the rest of the learned world. All literary scholars, these essays assert, need at least an elementary grasp of all four forms, and they cannot work effectively without being able to use the relevant evidence which can be — or has been — gained through each of those modes of inquiry. Any given literary problem may turn out to involve all of them, anti a scholar can treat his problem with complete reliability only if he exploits all sources of understanding. The individual scholar generally finds, it is true, that he has more interest and greater skill in one mode of study than in another. But what the professor of scholarship needs, if he wants his work to be adequate, is the ability to follow any promising approach that may lead to a sounder understanding of the topic on which he happens to be engaged.