chapter
Institutional inertia and the state of the discipline
ByEric Hayot
Pages 6

The negation at the heart of the concept and the institution is the negation of any form: a bracketing that opens up, paradoxically, the possibility of a certain freedom, a possibility whose exemplification in literature includes not only the self-aware jokers of the Oulipo school but also anyone who has ever written a sonnet, a one-act play, a novel. The institution of writing in literary studies is, therefore, what Christian Jacob has called a lieu de savoir, a site of knowledge. Not a site in which knowledge is produced, but an aperture, a context, like all apertures and contexts also shaped by the things that pass through it – but which tends to appear to us in a simple, fixed form, as the natural framework for the production and consumption of humanistic knowledge. That conversational model held for the report that succeeded Charles Bernheimer’s, though again we can observe institutional differences at work.