Saturday, February 25, 2006

Unexpected Rewards of Reading

What many people don't realize about literary studies is that by studying literature you wind up studying everything.

For example, right now I'm reading Cory Doctorow's novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. In order to get a good sense of the setting (Disneyland, but in the future), I'm reading a few articles about Disneyland.

To better understand other aspects of the story, readers should also learn about blogging, social networking, and digital information management, interactive design, cloning, not to mention the history of science fiction as a literary genre from its inception to its practice in the present day.

This is what serious readers do. They read a text but they also read all about many things related to that text.

And so, by reading literature deeply and passionately, one gains a compelling reason to learn at least a bit about everything.

1 comment:

JN said...

Dan, I got the same message about paying attention to everything in order to be a good teacher and reader via my reading of Frank McCourt's new memoir, "Teacher Man." Everything is context, and without context the text's don't matter; we can't connect. Young readers, particularly, seem to have this trouble of contextualizing their reading.