Michelle Taylor is a doctoral student in English at Harvard University. Her book project examines how twentieth-century coterie formations and material cultures in Europe mediated literary modernism for authors and artists.
If ambiguity is the bread and butter of academia, discomfort is probably its toaster, by which I mean that our profession loves and relies on discomfort. In the classroom, and even in reading, we take this discomfort to be productive, even therapeutic; we see it as an invitation to find in the text a space that will alleviate the feeling, or to make that space in the discourse that surrounds it. Transforming discomfort into opportunity—even producing discomfort for said purpose—is a trope so common in teaching narratives that it sometimes feels like a generic marker. Yet as the stories of #MeToo multiply, I’m beginning to question the function and fungibility of that feeling.