The Academic vs. the Purely Edifying
I was having a conversation about (what else?) Twilight with a fellow English Major when we hit an interesting snag. What were we looking for in the book in the first place? I said that, while enjoyable, I really couldn’t respect Stephanie Myer’s work too much because I find the writing to be a bit graceless, and not particularly thematically interesting. I found what my friend said to be very intriguing. “I can separate between things that I would read for an English class and things that are—things that are purely edifying.”
So here’s the question, and one that I really don’t have an answer to. Can anyone, you, me, an English Professor, can separate and distinguish between an academic and a purely leisure text? As I see it, you can only make that distinction when you have already made up your mind before you have begun to read something. If I thought that Twilight was going to be the greatest literary masterpiece of all time, I would read it in a very different way than if I thought it was a fun, quick-read teen romance. This isn’t quite judging a book by its cover, but rather by the things that friends, peers, and the media tell you about a book. Which really just raises a whole load of questions about the books we read, how we read them, and why. (If that makes you a little uncomfortable and unsettled, welcome to the club.)
If you have any responses to this, or any other post, please let me hear them. Maybe you agree with the person I was talking with, and think that I’m completely wrong. If so, I’m sure it would be interesting to hear from you. Either comment here on the blog, or, if that feels too public, feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can think on what you say, or publish it anonymously if you are alright with that. The point is, I would love to hear some feedback and dissent. Or assent. That’s good too.