Academics, teaching, books, technology, and fighting introversion one post at a time.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Random bullets of reading criticism
When you're taking notes on a critical article and it's really good, do you find yourself taking so many notes and writing down so many quotations that you might as well memorize it?
Conversely, is there a halo/reverse halo effect when you read, much as there is when you read student papers, wherein after reading a really good article the next one seems pretty lame? Or is it that the article really isn't as good?
When you're reading a less-than-compelling article (have to be thorough!), do you ever succumb to the temptation to set free your inner snarky self? I find myself wanting to write things like "Dude! X made this argument 20 years ago" or "Well, duh!" even as I realize that this won't be helpful when I come back to the article in five years and wonder what on earth I was thinking.
Do you cringe when early critics (say, 1940s through 1960s) praise the "fidelity to Negro dialect" of some nineteenth-century author for something that we see as really, really racist?
Doesn't it make you wonder what tidbits of embarrassment critics of the future will find in our essays? For the record, I'm betting that all the "let's be dispassionate about/enthusiastic about describing the painful deaths of animals in the Hemingway manner" will be seen not as admirable aesthetic detachment but as a bad moral lapse by future generations of scholars.