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Meesa gonna kill you!

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

On Literature (or Culture) Making you a Better Person

“Also she went in for culture, which gave her a certain moral authority. It wouldn't now; but people believed, then, that culture could make you better - a better person. They believed it could uplift you, or the women believed it. They hadn't yet seen Hitler at the opera house.” ― Margaret Atwood

***

The Ideal English Major - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education

"What we're talking about is a path to becoming a human being, or at least a better sort of human being than one was at the start. An English major? To me an English major is someone who has decided, against all kinds of pious, prudent advice and all kinds of fears and resistances, to major, quite simply, in becoming a person. Once you've passed that particular course of study—or at least made some significant progress on your way—then maybe you're ready to take up something else."

(the writer is, naturally, an English professor)

Someone: i think the best part of this article is all the english majors reading it critically. this article is probably best for the undecided undergrads, who will later develop the skills to tear it apart.

(Ed: but then, I am not an English major...)


As a question was posed in a religious studies module I took, "Is there a difference between studying religion and being religious?" Similarly, is there a difference between studying humanity and being human?


"We use terms like “bookish” and “the ivory tower” to suggest that those of us who spend our lives reading and writing literature are impractical, unworldly, and poorly adapted for life... English departments would be populated by saints and sages. I can only say that, after working for more than fifty years in English departments, that has not been my experience...

As for beneficial moral effects, critic George Steiner reminds us, “We know that a man can read Goethe or Rilke in the evening, that he can play Bach and Schubert, and go to his day’s work at Auschwitz in the morning.” And Margaret Atwood slyly says of some women who believed that Culture (with a big C) will make you a better person, “They hadn’t yet seen Hitler at the opera house”...

The idea that we learn how to live from literature claims either too little or too much for literature."

--- Literature and the Brain / Norman Norwood Holland
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