Afterword: The Story of a Bookmark
Along these lines, literary study (in its broadest sense) draws attention to the importance of words and of narrative, an awareness of their capacity to persuade, to argue, to take on differing styles and modes of representation to produce and privilege particular meanings. It is not a task as romantic, perhaps, as saving the world from itself. But such a relatively modest aim for the study of literature is linked inextricably with other activities that I see as central to English today (and even tomorrow, if I can be so reckless as to prognosticate). I would argue, and I admit certain biases, for the role the study and research of literature (but not of an immovable, ahistorical canon of literature) has in recognising pleasure and aesthetics as desirable features of cultures, both today and in the past, and for examining the shifting values of those diverse cultures in terms of aesthetics, politics and ethics, the very stuff that literature and its study lend themselves to. And if our student enrolment numbers are anything to go by (our undergraduate creative writing units enjoy a large and enthusiastic cohort; our courses are not unique in this respect), there is something that might be identified and celebrated as the ‘creative’ aspect of literary study. By this feature I do not mean only creative writing as it is routinely understood – writing poems and stories and plays – but also the fostering of appreciation of intellectual inquiry, as well as the production and circulation of knowledge (things of interest to ‘creative industries’). In this light, how literary study is taught is also surely identifiably ‘creative’, something in which we, as teachers and researchers, have an active hand.