Theory

“I think undergraduates should be kept away from Theory at all costs. I don’t think people should be allowed to even hear the word ‘theory’ until they’re doing graduate work—for the very good reason that it’s impossible to theorize about texts before one has deep familiarity with them (not that that stopped anyone in the 1980s when I was in grad school). Undergraduates should be taught to have a clean appreciation of what texts say and how they say them, and learn how to write intelligently and clearly about that. If undergraduates had to have a model of criticism it ought to be popular criticism rather than traditional academic criticism.”

Daniel Mendelsohn

One response to “Theory

  1. This is dead on, I believe, as is the further observation about “a generation of academics whose approach to literature is contemptuous.” What all of it misses is what Richard Rorty calls “the inspirational value” of literary works.

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