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Keywords:

  • language;
  • modernism;
  • tradition;
  • vernacular

ABSTRACT. J. B. Jackson's seemingly straightforward prose in fact represents a subtle intellectual strategy that combines critique with celebration. Affirming the craft of great narrative storytellers, he critiqued jargon and other vain displays of theoretical and historical knowledge (though he greatly valued both kinds of knowledge) and challenged the rigid categories of academic disciplines. This essay uses Jackson's ideas to subvert the artificial dichotomy between modernity and tradition, demonstrating instead how both concepts are in flux and dependent on one another. The domain of the everyday or “vernacular,” never static or sentimental, embodies a hybridity based on ingenious adaptations to multiple constraints.