The Riddle of Unreadability

ReveThis month I received the Conference Proceedings of the IRUN Graduate Conference (Peter Pasmany Katholic University). It contains a wide variety of lectures held by PhD’s in Social Sciences, Psychology and the Humanities.

In my lecture entitled ‘The Literary Scholar as Literary Critic’ I took the opportunity to present my latest case study that deals with the infamous Huizinga-lezing of the Dutch scholar and critic Karel van het Reve ‘Literatuurwetenschap: het raadsel der onleesbaarheid (Literary Studies: the Riddle of Unreadability) (1978). It meant a frontal attack on the works of contemporary Dutch literary scholars and the way Literary Studies was practiced at that moment.

What arguments does Van het Reve use to legitimate the profession of the literary scholar? What are the intertextual scientific traditions he places himself in? What normative statements does he make in respect to the scholarly enterprise of Literary Studies? And how can an analysis of a text like this help us to better understand the underlying norms and values that define the academic study of literature in general?

The Conference Proceedings are published open access. The article ‘The Literary Scholar as Literary Critic’ can be read here (scroll to page 45).


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