NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED333437
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1990
Pages: 18
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
The Difficulty of Reading. Report Series 4.4.
Elam, Helen
American education has long equated reading with the narrower notion of literacy. Such an approach bypasses the concept of "difficulty," or the placing of ideas into question. The educational system has resisted adoption of a broader view of reading, because: (1) anything difficult is viewed as elitist and undemocratic; and (2) the concept of "difficulty" arises from such "alien" disciplines as philosophy and psychoanalysis. The idea of reading as an interpretive activity removes the interdisciplinary boundaries. Poetry, for example, inhabits a space where logic and clarity do not hold sway, where language opens up strange paths that defy all intellectual classifications and attempts at possession. Radical questioning of the legitimacy of knowledge and the function of the university has been resisted by both academia and marginalized groups. Problematization, or the bringing of an issue to difficulty, defers solution and closure. Traditional feminist and minority discourse become the representation of the culture, without either "literature" or "culture" being put into question. Newer approaches to criticism reject the possibility of metatheory which classifies the "whole" from a privileged point of view and identifies reading with estrangement and difficulty. If the work of theory is the problematizing of reading, theory stands in opposition to the institution. Theory ultimately puts the institution's role, organization, and relation to knowledge into question. While the sciences fit in well in the academy, the humanities' role is to problematize method and engage the classroom and the university in difficulty. (Twenty-two references are attached.) (SG)
Literature Center, University of Albany, Ed B-9, 1400 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12222 ($3.00 prepaid; checks payable to the Research Foundation of SUNY).
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, DC.; Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Center for the Learning and Teaching of Literature, Albany, NY.