Because It Is So Important, What We Do

“As teachers of Literature, we must be self-respecting and that self-respect can only come if we understand the nature of what we do … It is as vital as what the sciences do … you must have this conviction. If you don’t have it, you must cultivate and grow it… Objectivity is what the sciences aspire to; what we aspire to – the subjective – is not less important … We have the ability to reason and argue our subjective positions … There is no objective meaning of a poem. There are many possible commentaries. We get a feeling of inferiority that we have no right answers. There are many ways to be right in Literature. The world is plural. The question is how you arrive at what you arrive at not what you arrive at, and we do so with thought and feeling together … Literature captures this complexity. It is the scientist, bureaucrat and politician who should make way as we walk by … the danger is that the measurable is the only thing measured in education, we need to break the back of this prejudice … Literature gives pleasure; don’t let your student approach a class like a visit to the dentist.”

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