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Love, the Great Leveller, or the Fortunes of Excellence in the University

Eluned Summers-Bremner
College Literature
Vol. 34, No. 1 (Winter, 2007), pp. 174-194
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25115410
Page Count: 21
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Love, the Great Leveller, or the Fortunes of Excellence in the University
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Abstract

My essay considers the role of excellence in the managerialized University, focusing particularly on the field of literary studies. It considers excellence not only as a term that has been recently devalued but as one that functions opaquely. The opacity of excellence's function in the University is demonstrated by means of an analogy with the Lacanian psychoanalytic understanding of love as the motor of psychoanalytic labor and as a working blindness. Lacan's reading of Plato's Symposium is the literary source for the understanding of love as transference or the working opacity at the heart of psychoanalytic practice. I argue that the relation between writer and reader is also transferential and that the love relation invisibly sustained by scholarly work in the field of literary studies provides an operational excess that cannot be entirely recaptured by the audit regime's reduction of excellence to a quantitative measure of academic work.

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