About Post-Discipline

Post-Discipline is a sociological account of North American literary studies and contemporary literature after the institutionalisation of high theory and, subsequently, the deterritorialisation of literary pedagogy: its escape or departure from the literature classroom. While literature departments in North America have experienced decreasing student enrolments, budget cuts, and program closures since the end of the Cold War, the study of literature has flourished in schools of professional education. Since the 1970s, business schools, medical schools, and law schools have started to emerge as new sites for literary pedagogy, investing in courses, degree-granting programs, and institutes that promised to draw productive links between reading literature and professional practice. Beyond mere interdisciplinarity, which coordinates or synthesises the terms, methods, and objects of different and equal disciplines, what these programs imagine ushering in is the era of the post-discipline: a time when the value of literature may be more accurately recognised and strategically defended by people and institutions untainted by the specialised techniques, expert discourses, and career credentials that distinguish literary scholars as professional readers and writers.

The project examines how these programs attempt to cultivate liberal humanist values that they believe transcend the specialised discourses of both literary studies and the professional schools. It also considers how contemporary literature has responded to the deterritorialisation of literary pedagogy by resurrecting, or retooling, certain romantic and resistant fantasies of literary study.

The project’s key outputs include Dr Emre’s forthcoming monograph Post-Discipline: Literature, Professionalism, and the Crisis of the Humanities, and the Online Syllabus Database.

About the Researchers

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Dr Merve Emre

Merve Emre is associate professor of English at the University of Oxford. She is the author of Paraliterary: The Making of Bad Readers in Postwar America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017), The Ferrante Letters (New York: Columbia University Press, 2019), and The Personality Brokers (Doubleday: New York, 2018), which was selected as one of the best books of 2018 by the New York Times, the Economist, NPR, CBC, and the Spectator, and informs the CNN/HBO Max documentary feature film Persona. She is the editor of Once and Future Feminist (Cambridge: MIT, 2018), The Annotated Mrs. Dalloway (New York: Liveright, 2021), and The Norton Modern Library Mrs. Dalloway (New York: Norton, 2021).  She is finishing a book titled Post-Discipline: Literature, Professionalism, and the Crisis of the Humanities (under contract with the University of Chicago Press) and starting a book called Woman: The History of an Idea (under contract with Doubleday US / Harper Collins UK).

She is a contributing writer at The New Yorker. Her essays and criticism have appeared in publications ranging from The New York Review of Books, Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and the London Review of Books to American Literature, American Literary History, and Modernism/modernity. In 2019, she was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize, and her work has been supported by the Whiting Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Leverhulme Trust, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Quebec, and the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin, where she was a fellow from 2020-2021. In 2022, she will serve as one of the judges of the International Booker Prize.

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Dr Hayley G. Toth

Hayley G. Toth is a Post-Doctoral Research Assistant on Dr Emre's project, Post-Discipline: Literature: Professionalism, and the Crisis of the Humanities at the University of Oxford. She specialises in reading, literary sociology, and digital humanities, and is responsible for producing digital resources relating to Post-Discipline.

Hayley gained her PhD at the University of Leeds in March 2020, and undertook a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Leeds Arts & Humanities (LAHRI) in 2021, before joining the University of Oxford in September 2021. She has published articles and review essays in Interventions: Journal of Postcolonial StudiesModern Language ReviewComparative Critical Studies, and African Identities. Hayley is currently working on her first monograph Postcolonial Readings.