Saturday, January 24, 2009

A professor's observations on his postliterate students

What is it with this guy? Does he think, like, schools are supposed to pass on Western culture or something?
Since the mid-1980s, I have taught a standard survey of literature course to undergraduates in California, Michigan, and most recently upstate New York. This course introduces canonical texts, from Homer’s Odyssey to early medieval texts such as Beowulf or the Icelandic sagas, and sometimes later works. Over the years, my experience has chronicled what I believe to be a broad retreat from genuine literacy into a new, orally based “post-literacy” of emotion-drive mentality, egocentrism, “presentism,” and logical obtuseness. This retreat will have serious consequences for our society.

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