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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Is Literature Dead for a lot of Students?

I don't mean dead to people who appreciate a very good book. I mean dead in terms of relevancy. And that relevancy is our day to day life. Many of our arts have been subsumed by technology, music in particular, and now it would seem the printed word is on the block. The Ebook has been a very good thing for the word printed or digital. People are still reading and by the sales of the Kindle they are reading quite a bit. But when I talk about literature I am talking about the books written in the beginning of the last century that have been a staple in many high school classes and college classes. Are these books no longer relevant to students?

And I would have to say to some degree...yes I brougth in the first few pages of This Side of Paradise (F. Scott Fitzgerald) for my students to read and it was like a wet blanket on a hot fire. The class which is very lively had suddenly gone silent and dead. As we read the first two pages together I saw the dull gleam of boredom descend. This then was what the students had been hit with in many of their classes and they found nothing to really glom onto. The learning process ground to a furious halt.

And I would have to say I don't blame them. Fitzgerald's prose did seem dusty in our blog environment. We had all set up blogs and everyday we discussed contemporary issues and writing and being very hands on. But this "literature" felt like an old phonograph record. Sort of interesting in a historical way, but that was about it. Again, I know there is a place for literature. But maybe there is a time limit. And if we are talking about learning....

Maybe it is what E.M. Forester said. Art (literature) is for a man with a full belly.

Books by William Hazelgrove