Via Matilda, some events of the Sydney Writer’s Festival are to be streamed live by Bigpond. Although Telstra makes it sound as if you have to be on their broadband, anyone can get the stream. (Someone should tell Telstra that’s the beauty of the internet and their continual attempts to "proprietrise" it is tiresome in the extreme). Ahem. Anyway, back to the streams, for those not in Sydney, this is a great way to hear some of the writers. Apparently there will be an ‘on-demand’ function so you can listen to them afterwards should you be busy at the time they are broadcast. It kicks off tomorrow night with Lewis Lapham’s keynote address. (What were they thinking? Tomorrow’s State of Origin night! Ahem).
"If we really push all classics, all the time, it gets too heavy," said
Kathryn Delaney, the English curriculum coordinator at Watertown High
School. ”When students bring a book home and their parents say, ‘I
read that when I was in school!’ a lot of kids don’t like it."
And your point is? Surely the learning of literature should be just that, about literature. I know, I’ve done years of undergraduate pomo work, anything can be a text these days. Well, anything can be read as a text but that doesn’t actually mean it’s any good. Obviously, the criteria by which something is judged to be ‘good’ has been heavily weighted by non-literary measures in the past, but this doesn’t mean we have to put Barbara Cartland on a par with Jane Austen.
If the kids can handle the classics, give them the classics. Give them just above what they can handle, push them, but not too far that they are turned off books for life. Sometimes reading is like muesli, it might taste like shit but you just know it’s doing you good…
Two articles of note from the New York times (use login stackblog password stack):
Christopher Hitchens reviews The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism and decides that it “is a pointer to the abysmal state of mind that prevails in so many of our universities”.
A man dies with no will, leaving his large collection of books up for grabs (and which, incidentally, was partially responsible for his death).