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ERIC Number: ED378578
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1994-Nov
Pages: 12
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Touring the City: College Sophomores Address Homelessness with Orwell.
Helmers, Marguerite
Traditionally, university-level general education courses in English focus on the appreciation of literature. A fundamental premise of this approach is that literate people enjoy reading because they can talk about books with friends, which makes the classroom a sort of modern-day coffee house. Contributing to this pedagogical philosophy is the conviction that the general education course provides students with their last chance to read important works. Despite the efforts of one instructor to give a political dimension to an introductory literature course, students remained passive spectators of literary art. Apparently, they were assured that they might comfortably remain observers of past cultures and non-participants in important debates. The poetical and political impulses established in the course were not congruent and actually instituted conflicting pedagogical aims: the poetical reinforced a passive, appreciative mode, while the political demanded engagement with provocative questions. Responses to an essay question showed passive responses to social problems such as the homelessness investigated in George Orwell's "Down and Out in Paris and London." It is clear that the problems with those responses resulted from the course's own conflicted trajectory: what began as a course in intellectual spectatorship ended with a call for social action. There are, however, other more productive ways to unite the poetical and political; the two, for instance, can be contrasted in a study of British identity. (TB)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A