Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Future of Literature, part 3

The current issue of Smithsonian magazine is themed on 40 things to know about the next 40 years. One of the 40 things they cover is the future of literature, based on the opinions of Rita Dove, 1993 poet laureate of the United States. I found her thoughts to be quite interesting and decided to share. Part 3 of 3. Here are the links to read Part 1 and Part 2.

Genealogical research is causing more people to embrace a multiracial heritage. How will this affect literature?

It cuts down on stereotyping and the fear of the other, becuase we are all the other or the other is us. The assumptions of the mainstream change. A mainstream novel of the early '70s or so would contain the dilemmas of, say, a household in Connecticut. Everything that had to do with country clubs or the tensions at a cocktail party was assumed to be the mainstream. That left a burden of explanation for any writer who was not of the mainstream. So a Jewish-American writer had to go into great details to explain Seder, or an African-American writer had to explain--somehow in the context of their story--how they did their hair. Now that we are more and more identifying ourselves as multiracial, these elements of other cultures are becoming better known. That will change the nature of the mainstream, and that is quite a tidal wave.

You once asked, "Why can't we find the universal in our differences?" Is literature getting there?

Absolutely. That's one of the great shining lights of the future. I think as we become more multicultural and able to look at each corner of the world, the more at ease we are with our differences. And we are going to be more comfortable reading something about experiences which are, on the surface, very different from ours. Yet we'll still feel confident that we can access the common humanity.

Scripture of the Day: James 5:11

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