Does it refer to "the schlars as a whole" ("the schlars" here refer to "the schlars of elite sub-discipline of literary and cultural studies")?

Context

For a long period,of time, as schlars of elite sub-discipline of literary and cultural studies in general, comparatists did not touch upon any topics concerning non-elite cultural and literary phenomena although many of them did involve themselves enthusiastically in the international postmodernism debate.