“We need to cultivate a generation of tough, literature-loving, pro-western scholars in order to foster a much-needed western cultural renaissance.” – Professor John K. Press
‘Data mining’ – the computational extraction of meaningful information from large data sets – includes a technique wherein you count how many times a word appears in a book or a set of books.
From it we learn that 19th-century American authors mentioned ‘Europe’ more than we realized; so, critics can reposition these writers as a part of a cosmopolitan discourse. But, as Stanley Fish asked, what if the word ‘Europe’ comes after the words ‘never been to’? Such scientific readings ignore literature’s actual wonderful stories and meanings. We must act to stop it.
There are other ways literary academics have perverted our reading. Academics frequently look at a work’s relationship to colonialism. Thus, Shakespeare’s The Tempest is now about the Caribbean in the European imagination. Beyond this thematic hijacking, esteeming Shakespeare itself is seen as complicity in Euro-centric dominance. Western students are told they must abandon their own literature for that of ‘the other’ in the name of post-colonial social justice. In fact, literature isn’t even called literature any more, it is just a ‘text,’ meaning a socio-cultural artifact. Really!