Institut zur Erforschung und Förderung österreichischer und internationaler Literaturprozesse
Knowledge Networking in Cultural Studies
Reichenau, May, 24-27, 2001
 TRANS No. 10: 
"Knowledge Networking in Cultural Studies" 
(since June 2001)

The Literary Text as a Vehicle for Knowledge Production
Gerhard van der Linde (Pretoria)

The paper argues that the idea of knowledge outputs as the result of a production process suggests that the process has certain characteristics with which the literary text is not completely aligned. The paper outlines two models of knowledge production, termed the business model and the communication model, which accommodate these characteristics, and seem to exclude the literary text as a vehicle for knowledge production. However, a pluralistic conception of knowledge itself should leave room for multiple models of knowledge production.  Two alternative models are proposed and outlined, termed the text model and the narrative model, and the compatibility of the literary text with these two models is established. Some of the ways are indicated in which the literary text uses factual information, and  the capacity of the text to interrogate extra-textual realities, rather than merely conveying facts, is emphasised. Thus, many literary texts deal with aspects of the cognitive dimension, such as problemsolving and objective knowledge. This is exemplified with reference to texts by Lem and Simenon. The capacity of the literary text to raise questions and open up discourses also operates in the ethical dimension. In this regard, it primarily acts as a framework within which possible responses to ethical issues are played out, without treating such issues systematically or presenting reasoned solutions. It is argued that literary treatment of both the cognitive and the ethical can best be explored through interdisciplinary readings within multidisciplinary communities of readers. Finally, the paper suggests that the literary text  can offer powerful metaphors for the world as enigma, that which lies beyond knowledge and the knowable. It is precisely this awareness of mystery, intuitively grasped, which lies at the basis of the quest for knowledge, for making sense of the world.

Papers held at the conference "Knowledge Networking in Cultural Studies" are published in
TRANS. Internet journal for Cultural Studies, No. 10/2001

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