The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Doctoral Student (and Full-Time Teacher)

November 14, 2010

Ch. 9- Moderns Among Masterpieces

Filed under: Uncategorized — rachaelski @ 8:43 pm

When Rosenblatt talked of efferent and aesthetic stances being on a continuum, I think she may have been referring to experiences I had as I was reading the chapter. A collection of pieces from research journals, chronicling 50 + years of one’s research would most likely be read efferently. And I’ve been reading Rosenblatt’s book efferently, mostly. However, in this chapter I found myself sliding further and further away from efferent and into the aesthetic zone. This chapter actually inspired me, it made me want to do something. I created meaning as I read it.

As the title of the chapter indicates, Rosenblatt is comparing the reading of modern literature and classics, or “masterpieces.” In typical Rosenblatt form, she acknowledges the importance of each of the types of literature. She praises the classics, arguing that there is some reason that they have stayed with us as a culture for as long as they have. She then goes on to describe how we in education can ruin the classics, or at the very least turn young readers away from them. We take something that a great many people have gotten joy from, an aesthetic reading experience, and we make it into an efferent reading experience. We poke and prod at the book, we introduce them to background knowledge, we force them to acknowledge the superiority and importantness of the literature. And then we expect them to enjoy it (with a test or essay afterwards).

As I was reading this text, I found myself thinking about my identity as a reader. I do not have much experience with classics. With the exception of one teacher, my English teachers did not do much to develop my literary palate. We watched the Wishbone the Dog version of Moby Dick. That same teacher told us to skip the boring chapters about bull fighting in The Sun Also Rises. And I knew nothing of British or American authors. I read what I found at the library. I only read The Catcher in the Rye a couple summers ago for the first time. Reading Rosenblatt speak of the magic of classic works inspired me. It made me want to read some of those texts. As a result of Ch. 9, I did several things: looked up Time Magazine\’s 100 Books to Read Before You Die list, ordered the first four book (in ABC order) from Amazon, and ordered the book 1001 Books to Read Before You Die. I am also online shopping for a new bookshelf.



1 Comment »

  1. Rachel your entry really spoke to me, reminding of my own reading experiences. They were very similar to your own. I never really had classic literature crammed down my throat, so as a teacher I find myself telling my students things like well this is what critics accept as the theory but that doesn’t mean that is the way we see it. I love to read and I believe it is because I was allowed to read and interpret literature as I wanted. I don’t want to ruin reading for my students, so I always am fearful of this paradigm. Thanks for the Rose input!

    Comment by Lacy Anderson — November 15, 2010 @ 8:39 pm | Reply

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