This book grows out of two questions that the author could not answer after writing A History of the Modern Fact: If the kind of knowledge that contemporary society values is really modern fact, then why does the discipline of literary studies matter? What can literary scholars do? This book is intended to address the issues behind this question. This introductory chapter discusses the changing perceptions of the function and value of literary studies and literary writing from the late seventeenth to the nineteenth century. An overview of the subsequent chapters is then presented.
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