[Scientific Study of Literature 1:1] 2011
► pp. 165–172
Readers of a new journal in the scientific study of literature are undoubtedly aware of the potential benefits of a scientific culture in literary studies. However, they may be less sensitive to potential dangers. In order to enhance these benefits and avoid some of the dangers, this essay takes up the relations of authority and prestige that often accompany and distort the interconnections between humanistic and scientific research. Specifically, it considers how social and institutional conditions may place scientific and humanistic cultures in relations parallel to those between colonizing and colonized cultures. (This refers solely to the cultural relations. Clearly, there is no issue of violence or exploitation.) The parallel extends to forms of cultural response (e.g., “mimeticism”) that potentially distort both the humanist’s understanding of science and the scientist’s understanding of the humanities.