Literary histories were created in the nineteenth century as part of the nation-formation process but did literary works produced in this period really participate in that in such a self-aware way? What if some of them work against it — intentionally or not?
Also, literature is taught to teach language and culture, but also aesthetics, rhetoric, discernment; literature refines sensibilities. It is also taught as part of nationalistic enterprises. Does cultural studies serve this last purpose as well?
That is: do those who reject literature as meaningless, elitist and irrelevant, and prefer to study television, do so for the nationalistic or essentializing reasons some study literature? Are our students trying to identify a Volksgeist? Was literature abandoned when theory interdicted studying it for Volksgeist and national character or soul?
The problematizing discussion of the terms culture and national culture may be even more important than I had realized.