Marjorie Garber

William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of English and of Visual and Environmental Studies
Harvard University

The Muses on Their Lunch Hour

The Muses on Their Lunch Hour
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As a break from their ordained labors, what might the Muses today do on their lunch hour? Speculate on Shakespeare, the lecture form, psychology, literary influence, and the contemporary university? With the ease born of deep knowledge, Marjorie Garber moves from comical journalistic quirks (“Fig Leaves”) to the curious return of myth and ritual in the theories of evolutionary psychologists (“Ovid, Now and Then”), in a collection of rich, varied, and perceptive essays.

Two themes emerge consistently in Garber’s latest exploration of symptoms of culture. The first is that to predict the “next big thing” in literary studies we should look back at ideas and practices set aside by a previous generation of critics. In the past several decades we have seen the reemergence of—for example—textual editing, biography, character criticism, aesthetics, and philology as “hot” new areas for critical intervention. The second theme expands on this observation, making the case for “cultural forgetting” as the way the arts and humanities renew themselves, both within fields and across them. Although she is never represented in traditional paintings or poetry, a missing Muse—we can call her Amnesia—turns out to be a key figure for the creation of theory and criticism in the arts.

Praise for

Loaded Words

In this wonderful collection of what she modestly calls ‘musings,’ Marjorie Garber makes an irresistible case for the value of literary study and for herself as one of its great modern practitioners. The essays are brave in their commitments and brilliant in their execution. They are at once provocative and playful—and abidingly humane

David Scott Kastan, Yale University

Marjorie Garber assembles witty, shrewd, and imaginative essays on interdisciplinary topics that range widely from Shakespeare to psychoanalysis, and the practice of higher education today.

Publishers Weekly