Professionally Speaking: Rhetoricity and Mimesis in the Classroom



Teaching literature has never been easy — the old Oxford skeptics were not altogether wrong in thinking literature unteachable. Despite undergraduates’ ever-lessening knowledge of the cultural information necessarily assumed by writers of every age, it is not the body of students but the subject that is, in an important sense, unteachable. Facts, conventions, and the expectations of writers can be taught. But the process of assembling what is necessary to understand what is read is purely heuristic; the value of literature lies in the experience of understanding it and then exploring its significance within one’s own mental milieu. The classroom lecture can point the way, but the experience is an event (an event which need not end when the final sentence of a text has been read), not the sum of preparatory information.


Literary Work Literary Text Reading Literature English Department Habitual Mode 
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Copyright information

© Wendell V. Harris 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pennsylvania State UniversityUSA

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