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The literary curriculum and the denial of backgrounds

Jim Neyland

The “literary curriculum” seeks to make curriculum space legible. This requires denying that knowledge has backgrounds that cannot be made legible. Worse still, the attempt to make knowledge legible undermines that which can reasonably be described, and leaves it, if not unusable, then deficient. The difficulty facing those who are concerned with preserving an emphasis on “backgrounds that cannot be made foreground” is that the notion of background evades easy discussion. There are several reasons for this. One is the fact that we—in particular, speakers of English—feel the force of a disposition that urges us to name things and attribute a kind of ownership to them.

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