Lit. Crit. (was: Re: More than you ever wanted to know (was Re: answers from Diana))

Nat Case ncase at
Thu May 31 14:50:24 EDT 2001

>On Wed, 30 May 2001 Philip.Belben at wrote:
>>  On the other other hand, when someone in my class - probably me -
>>  discovered that one of the options we could have taken was science
>>  fiction, Mr E---- said something like "It may be fun to read, but
>>  you wouldn't want to study it", a classic case of literary bias,
>>  though I didn't realise it at the time.
>Or perhaps it was meant literally.
>(One recalls many horror stories about books being ruined for life
>under the dissection of English Lit. classes...)

Seems to me we're talking about the same problems the students are 
dealing with in YOTG: the subject matter as seen by the students is 
itself distorted by generations of mediocre teaching. Not that It's 
the teacher's fault, or really any individual's. It's just the 
accumulation of lots of decisions made based on that basic human fear 
of losing one's position (as student, teacher or administrator) when 
threatened by those who don't understand the need for risk or the 
complexities of the immediate problem.

I hated English criticism in High School, but eventually learned to 
make it a game, played with the teacher: I'll come up with an 
interesting compare and contrast, and amuse myself with that, and if 
it's compelling enough, they'll ignore the fact that I only address a 
few pages... Frankly, I think one of my biggest problem with English 
class was the pace we were supposed to read (and I know even AP 
English has nothing on serious College or Grad School reading loads. 
It's like being forced to evaluate wines based on swish-and-spit, 
especially if you're a slow reader (which I am when it isn't 
something easy to devour).

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