The Problem of Literary Value (Manchester Medieval Literature and Culture) (Hardcover)
This book addresses the vexed status of literary value. Unlike other approaches, it pursues neither an apologetic thesis about literature's defining values nor, conversely, a demystifying account of those values' ideological uses. Instead, arguing that the category of literary value is inescapable, it focuses pragmatically on everyday scholarly and pedagogical activities, proposing how we may reconcile that category's inevitability with our understandable wariness of its uncertainties and complicities. Toward these ends, it offers a preliminary theory of literary valuing and explores the problem of literary value in respect to the literary edition, canonicity and interpretation. Much of this exploration occurs within Chaucer studies, which, because of Chaucer's simultaneous canonicity and marginality, provides fertile ground for thinking through the problem's challenges. Using this subfield as a synecdoche, the book seeks to forge a viable rationale for literary studies generally.
Robert J. Meyer-Lee is Professor of English at Agnes Scott College