Thursday, February 5, 2009
Lecture4: Reader Response wordle summary_Mandy
This word cloud reflects my 'reader-response' in that I have picked out the words I identified with most, avoiding words like Marxism, populist excitement, liberatory political movement or elitist 'high theory' and so on. Without knowing much about current or past literary theory, this article to me, ‘the reader’ was about why Reader-Response theory isn't being taught or discussed much anymore and that it should be.
In summary, this article talked more about academic politics than anything else. Harkin is disappointed reader-response theory has disappeared from the curriculum/academic discussions all together and argues the reason why is because young, untenured professors of theory "sought to professionalize themselves" by focusing on teaching writing vs reading... so, in order for them to protect themselves against "hostility from traditional members of English departments" they 'professionalized', ie dropped reader-response theory because it wasn't hard enough a subject and pursued developing literary theory not using reader-response theory as a tool for teaching composition. So, basically, they were pedagogy snobs. They cared more about their professional prominence than social action and being better teachers.
Thus, the words I chose reflect this interpretation. I do agree with her that there is probably some of this going on, that it's not 'intellectual' enough to talk about/teach, but not convinced it's a conspiracy... maybe more of academic social problem (lol). It's like mixing medicine with profit; it poses a binary opposition. To be a successful professor you must be a part of the elite though your mission is a populist one... it's conflicting and until that is resolve professors have to be concerned about professional prominence at the same time as social action and being better teachers. Ah, the middle path. So easy to see, so difficult to maintain!