Thursday, August 4, 2011

limited to residents only

An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education has been making the rounds, so of course I only just got around to reading it.

The main point is that long-form reading, i.e. the study of literature that we all remember from high school/college literature courses, is unsustainable beyond "a self-perpetuating minority that we shall call the reading class." It sounds snootier than it is, but not by much.

What bothers me about this article, and others like it, is the double-standard it perpetuates. You'd never read something like this about math or science - in fact, conventional wisdom is that students absolutely NEED to learn them, no matter how boring or difficult that process may be. Those skills are important, and they take effort.

And while I don't disagree with that, it sticks in my craw when that same educational culture turns around and declares that literature (and to a lesser-but-still-implied degree, the humanities) is a garnish; that the same rigor applied to learning math and science is both unnecessary and impossible to apply to books. Perhaps this is because we're not competing with other countries over who can produce the best sonnets, but there's still a condescension here that casts a sour light on my entire profession, and I can't just let it sail by without comment.

Besides, if I had to write papers about The Once and Future King, then so should everyone else. I hate suffering alone.

Monday, August 1, 2011


The reading was a success! I may even post a picture from it at some point. I read three short stories, two of which can be found on the sidebar to your right under "Published Works," to about 20 people or so (oddly, very few of them were among the 20 or so people who RSVP'd on Facebook), and they asked some really good and thoughtful questions. One of them said afterward that she felt like she was in a surreal version of Inside the Actor's Studio, due to the set (a comfy cubist chair and a plastic plant on the Spotlight UB circle rug) and the creepy preshow music I put together for the occasion. That, and I kinda look like James Lipton.

Really though, I learned a lot and it was nice to hear those stories out loud. Not even the untimely death of my passenger door's power window regulator could spoil my weekend - the whole thing was quite lovely. Once I take my car to the shop tomorrow, I may bring the new lappy to campus and see if I can get some writing done. If not, I'll bring it down to the local coffee shop and make use of their free wi-fi, since mine can't be counted on these days for some reason. Masons, I suspect.

Up next is the Artichoke Haircut open mic on Thursday, and then cranking down on the sound design for Muldoon. So I'd better sleep now, methinks.