Popular Culture Review 29.1 (Spring 2018) - Page 154

framework our field of studies is doomed to be devoured by neighboring disciplines.” (135) This seems very true, and with his announcement (“Welcome to Imaginology”), Savoye invites us to open up our discipline, which was never defined in the first place, to the pleasure principle of reading, discussing, and writing about imaginary parallel dimensions. What will likely be useful to grad students and novice instructors is his elucidation of “at least ten different modes according to which parallel imaginary dimensions are structured: Poetic, Epic, Marvelous, Tragic, Comic, Romantic, Realistic, Fantastic, Anticipatory, and Experimental.” (224) To observe a veteran literary scholar (Savoye is a professor of French and Spanish of literary and cultural studies at West Virginia University) reassert the primacy of storytelling—and the pleasure of stories—over parasitical theory is delightful. Boredom, not theory, is the enemy, he maintains, and the reason why English departments aren’t expanding and why tenured positions are scarce. As he puts it, near the end of Beyond Literary Studies, [S]tudents enrolled in literature classes are today for the most part fed with unfounded speculations of would-be writers of a new, supposedly exciting literary genre known as “theory,” the practical applications of which shine by their absence, and forced to ingurgitate a different type of vocabulary—the kind you cannot virtually use anywhere outside of a close circle of friends. Whereas the knowledge of true imaginary parallel dimensions developed linguistic and creative abilities that could be used in a variety of professional contexts […] anyone involved in the field of publicity or public relations would certainly benefit more from enjoying a series such as Mad Men than from ploughing through selected passages of Of Grammatology. (264) One quibble. The ghost of controversial literary critic Leslie Fiedler flickers in the margins of Savoye’s book. Fiedler,known for Love and Death in the American Novel (1960), stressed the latent interracial homosociality in, say, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. A secondary work of Fiedler’s, What Was Literature? (1983), by most accounts is an expression of bad faith as he struggles for a reason to value the humanities in a postmodern landscape. Fiedler’s solution? To tear down the wall between high and low culture, and to address a broader range of objects, from Shakespeare to 1970s TV cop show Starksy and Hutch. Fiedler’s assessment ended up being prophetic; the enduring presence of this journal stands as evidence. Thus, Savoye’s disregard of Fiedler makes me speculate: Haven’t literary studies already been supplanted by popular-culture scholarship thanks to his own publisher, McFarland? Could Imaginology, in other words, be just another name? 154