“The Resistance to Overanalysis” carefully analyzes the rhetoric that the business community, the self-help industry, and mass culture more generally use to pathologize overanalysis as an unhelpful, counterproductive practice that inhibits people’s efforts at reaching their goals and becoming happy, successful citizens. Focusing on the persistent stereotype that associates academics and intellectuals (particularly in the humanities) with overanalysis, the essay offers a critique of the anti-intellectual conventions that underlie denunciations of overanalysis. It also demonstrates how those conventions, and the ideological values they reinforce, have been echoed, from within the academic humanities, by what has been dubbed “postcritique.” The essay makes a case for why intellectuals in the humanities must exercise caution when it comes to adopting the values that the postcritique movement promotes, given the way those values subtend the populist, even fascistic, anti-intellectual interests that also fuel the stigmatization of overanalysis.
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Research Article| September 01 2021
The Resistance to Overanalysis
corey mceleney is an associate professor of English at Fordham University. He is the author of Futile Pleasures: Early Modern Literature and the Limits of Utility (Fordham University Press, 2017), which received an honorable mention in the twenty-fifth annual mla Prize for a First Book competition. He is currently working on a book project tentatively titled “The Art of Overanalyzing,” from which the present essay is excerpted.
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differences (2021) 32 (2): 1–38.
Corey McEleney; The Resistance to Overanalysis. differences 1 September 2021; 32 (2): 1–38. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-9309317
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