open mikes, read the small press, or actively look
for the cutting edge without feeling compelled
to dismiss it? They are so swelled with the sense
of their own importance they can’t see the living,
moving, crawling life of the literary amoeba
right before their feet. It creeps around them,
passing them by, making them irrelevant. No
wonder English departments are given short
shrift to the more “tangible” departments like
Students, the serious ones at any rate, realize
that literature is created by the tip of the pen,
not by the dusty prognostications of the would-be literary elite whose theories and lists become
less and less relevant as time moves on. I’m glad
to see a trusted member of the academy agrees.
Mr. Glines, a writer and journalist, lives in Littleton, Massachusetts.
as someone who has been an English professor
for 35 years, who has published a number of
books on subjects other than literature and has
never published anything on my devotion to the
magic of literature, I am either the best or the
worst person to respond to Albert Braz’s essay,
“In Praise of Literature.” But it needs a response.
First because I fear it is so old hat. Jeremiads
of this sort have been common as long as litera-
ture has been taught in universities. The obvious
problem is that the love of art is seldom a primary
topic for critics of art. And literature professors
are primarily critics. They are also historians and
theorists of art, but in all my years I have encoun-
tered one professor who saw his primary job as
praising literature. He was not very good.
Dr. Goldie is a professor of English at York University.
the recent article “Diffusing class disruptions” (University Affairs, October 2012) must
have hit a nerve, judging by the colleagues who
have contacted me to recount their own classroom experiences as well as those who offered
their home-made solutions. [Daniel Drolet
interviewed Dr. Marini for this article.] There
are also many colleagues who, while supporting
attempts to create civil learning communities
in their classroom, usually lament the time it
takes away from covering curriculum material.
Reflecting on the concerns of these colleagues, I suggest that alternative ways be
explored to engage students in a discussion
on civility. Face-to-face discussion on what
constitutes civility is the optimal way to test
one another’s ideas and assumptions; however,
if this is not practicable because of time constraints, a constructive alternative to consider
is the use of technology. Since most campuses
have some variation of classroom management software (e.g., Sakai, WebC T), professors
can post the same types of questions they
would pose in a face-to-face discussion.
These questions could include asking students to share examples of incivility they have
heard, observed or experienced. These entries
could be easily collated and posted to represent the range of instances of incivility experienced; more importantly, they are an indication of what students in your class would
consider to be uncivil, and by extension unacceptable, behaviour.
The next issue to discuss is what civility
means to students. Again, this will provide a
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