dwj-digest (Diana Wynne Jones) V1 #114

Jennifer Forsyth jforsyth at unr.edu
Mon Jan 10 17:27:24 EST 2000

On Mon, 10 Jan 2000 Philip.Belben at pgen.com wrote:

> >>When I taught a class called "Reading and Interpreting" to a group of
> >>English majors this summer, I asked everybody to tell a story about a time
> >>when somebody disagreed with their interpretation of literature or when
> >>somebody really liked it...
> I seem to remember Jennifer saying that only one student had a happy story.
> What was it?  I am fed up with all this gloom about lit. cri. classes (which I
> have never had to attend, thankfully)! ;-)

Unfortunately, the "happy story" is not a great one. In fact, it's
kind of like the other stories, except the student's ego is
intact. Basically, the student said that he was so brilliant that he never
had a teacher tell him there was anything wrong with any of his
interpretations. The problem with this is that, rather than demonstrating
that he had a particular gift for sensitive, creative, or insightful
readings, it mostly seemed that he had a strong sense of "there is one
right reading and only one, and it's mine." 

Hey! What do you mean "thankfully" you never had to attend a lit crit
class? (grrrr) :-)   (Seriously, I really enjoyed the opportunity to get
paid to spend a term chewing over the question of what makes a
"good" interpretation, if anything, and what a "bad" interpretation
is, not to mention "good" literature vs. "bad" literature. For those who
are familiar with Connie Willis, you might be interested that some of the
best conversations in our class came from reading "Even the Queen.")


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