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Title: The future(s) of literature?
Authors: Corby, James
Keywords: Literature -- Appreciation -- Forecasting
Literary form
Issue Date: 2012-12
Publisher: University of Malta
Citation: Corby, J. The future(s) of literature? Malta: University of Malta, 2012.
Abstract: What are we enquiring about when we ask about the future of literature? What do we mean by the future of literature? We are asking about how literature might be otherwise than it is now. But more than this, the question concerns how literature might in the future be otherwise than it is now. This is not the same as asking about how literature might be elsewhere, in other contemporary cultures, nor even how literature was or might have been in the past. The implicit claim is that in the future literature might be—or might have to be, if it is to survive—different in a distinct and unprecedented way. What might lead us to think that the future is a category that is unique in this regard, i.e. that it is the crucible in which and out of which a distinctly radical form of transformation might happen? Well, change is always temporal, but saying this doesn’t get us very far—we could, in this regard, just as well ask about the history of literature as the future of literature. The future, though, is unknowable in a way that the contemporary and the past isn’t. Even if we accede to the idea that there are inevitable epistemological constraints on our knowledge of the present and past, we would have to concede that the future is unknowable in a special way. However, if the future was indeed radically indeterminate— utterly unknowable—speculating on the future of literature would be pointless—at best a diverting but unedifying indulgence, the stuff of fantasy and daydreams. So we do have expectations, hopes and fears about the future and we have ideas about how the cultures that we are concerned with (literary and otherwise) are currently moving forward towards, or realising, the future.
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