Literary Reading in Decline
Posted 09 July 2004 - 10:35 PM
Posted 09 July 2004 - 11:18 PM
|QUOTE (Alan Thomas @ Jul 9 2004, 08:34 PM)|
|My recommendation? Kill your TV (or at least sedate it).|
Does that include my DVD player?
Posted 10 July 2004 - 10:10 PM
|QUOTE (Darrel Manson @ Jul 10 2004, 12:21 AM)|
|But then I'd lose Sundance and IFC|
Then program it for just those two channels.
Alan, this doesn't surprise me (being in the 18-30something age group) - I had friends in college who said that they would only read books/articles if they had to for class. It was pretty pitiful.
Posted 13 July 2004 - 02:10 PM
In 20 minutes, I'll have round two of my interview with Dana Gioia. (Round One was last week.)
Anybody have a burning question related to this topic?
(I'll only have 15 minutes, but I'm open to ideas.)
Russell Lucas (unregistered)
Posted 13 July 2004 - 02:30 PM
Posted 13 July 2004 - 02:53 PM
Posted 13 July 2004 - 02:58 PM
|QUOTE (Clint M @ Jul 10 2004, 10:09 PM)|
|I had friends in college who said that they would only read books/articles if they had to for class. It was pretty pitiful.|
Video killed the library star?
One of my nieces, a communications major at the University of Miami, was harassing me last summer for reading a book at the beach. She's a smart kid, but says she only reads assigned stuff for school, and even then hates it.
Posted 11 March 2011 - 09:42 PM
Then we have the egregious abuses of English as represented in dumbed down English translations of the Bible. Of all the English translations of the Bible, none approaches the Authorized Version (The King James Version) for the beauty of its poetry and its timeless ability to remain in one’s consciousness. When I was a child learning the Bible in my Methodist Sunday school and church liturgy, the King James Bible was the Bible I heard and I still remember its marvelous verses: “Suffer the little children to come unto me,” now dumbed down to “Let the children come to me” or “How can this be since I know not a man” now rendered as the incredibly clumsy “How can this be since I have not had relations with a man?” or “Whom God has joined together let no man put asunder,” which is now the wretchedly inclusive “Whom God has joined together human beings cannot separate.”
The worst English biblical translations occur in my Catholic Church in the tone deaf New American Bible, which, among other atrocities, renders St. Paul’s “I have fought the good fight” to the embarrassingly inaccurate “I have competed well.” Hearing that at Mass is like hearing long fingernails scrape across a chalkboard. And speaking of the Mass, the dumber downers have worked overtime there. Before Vatican II Catholics all over the world heard the beautiful Latin Tridentine or Pius V Mass at worship. Now they celebrate in the vernacular with hootenanny hymns and mistranslations of Pope Paul VI’s Novus Ordo Mass. Dumber downer translators and their advocates defend the new translations because the older ones are hard to understand. In other words people are too stupid or too unteachable to learn ...
Posted 12 March 2011 - 07:01 AM
Posted 12 March 2011 - 12:16 PM
Granted, I did go to a junior community college for a two years. But even afterwards, it still seemed like my professors were deliberately trying to assign books for class precisely in order to completely destroy my love for reading. I've complained that I had bad English/Lit professors, but then I've talked to other friends who got stuck reading Theodore Dreiser, Gore Vidal, and Dan Brown (yes, that's correct, some college English classes now read Dan Brown).
Posted 12 March 2011 - 12:51 PM
Posted 12 March 2011 - 06:43 PM
Posted 12 March 2011 - 09:32 PM
Posted 13 March 2011 - 01:28 AM
I tend to read far more short stories than novels, so I discovered some of my favorite authors in anthologies. I think that's how I first came across M.R. James, which sparked an interest in English ghost stories and "weird tales" that's still going strong. Odds are an anthology will have at least one story that leaves you wanting more from that author. To that end, The Best American Short Stories might be a good place to start.
Another thing I like doing (and I'll probably come off like an uber nerd here) is looking into literary criticism. Reading people write persuasively about books they love can be inspiring. Try picking up Harold Bloom's Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human and see if you don't get jazzed about Shakespeare. Or Chesterton's Criticisms and Appreciations of the Works of Charles Dickens, or even Lovecraft's Supernatural Horror in Literature.
I guess the point I'm trying to make is that sooner or later, we all get the books we deserve.
Posted 13 March 2011 - 03:18 AM
I love hearing that some of you had good literature classes in college. That's great but I think it's rare. Judging from the number of Americans who read voluntarily and/or for pleasure, some professors somewhere are not doing their job.
Posted 13 March 2011 - 06:55 AM
But Bloom is kind of an anomaly in modern literary studies. He's willing to express his passion for literature, and his intense loathing. That willingness to be so freely subjective and intense vanishes when you enter many of the higher echelons of academic literary study.
Edited by Ryan H., 13 March 2011 - 06:59 AM.
Posted 13 March 2011 - 07:06 AM
But then during my first two years of college, I stumbled into a couple literature classes that, as the old cliche goes, changed my life. I mean that literally. I gradually shifted from being a music major to a music major with a lit minor to an English Ed major with a music minor, and a decade later I defended my doctoral dissertation proposal on contemporary American lit. (I never finished my Ph.D., but that's another story about major life changes.)
A quick checklist of required college readings that contributed greatly to my evolution: Catch-22, The House of the Seven Gables, Beloved, Sister Carrie, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Goodbye, Columbus, Frankenstein, Jane Eyre, Hard Times, The Great Gatsby, The Sun Also Rises, the stories of John Cheever and Raymond Carver, Lolita, Ivanhoe, and on and on. The list would be fifteen times as long if I included graduate work and prep for comprehensive exams.
Edited by Darren H, 13 March 2011 - 07:07 AM.
Posted 13 March 2011 - 08:43 AM
I think that the biggest problem in teaching "literary" works, is that even the teachers often don't actually know what makes these great works of literature. If the teacher is just teaching them because they are a part of the curriculum, and doesn't personally have any passion for them, then he or she isn't likely to be able to instill any in his or her students either. And after a few years of this, and feeling like it's a battle to get students to read literary works that they aren't interested in, the teacher will often assign a lower-hanging fruit that the students, in the mind of the teacher, are more likely to enjoy (and hence, read.)
I know that in high school I was assigned Lord of the Flies and thought it was the biggest trash I'd ever had to read, and most of my classmates, I remember, felt the same way. But during my first year of teaching I had to teach it again, and I realized that it is actually fairly brilliant, and I was able to communicate to my students why it was brilliant, and many of them came away with a much greater appreciation for the book than I had had in high school.
A former professor of mine wrote a great blog post on this, though focussing on AP English. http://dgmyers.blogs...-knowledge.html
What it boils down to is low expectations and a lack of literary appreciation on the teacher's part.
Posted 13 March 2011 - 10:20 AM