Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Thanks are due to Prufrock's Page for leading me through to this thoughtful article
by Lennard J. Davis, professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago, on reading and teaching Conrad's Heart of Darkness from different perspectives. He says how he underlined more and more different parts of the book as a student when he re-read it from a beatnik, anti-imperialistic and then feminist point of view, but then he had to consider his attitude towards teaching it all over again when students expressed not anger with it, but resignation and disappointment:
I found myself moving toward the decision not to teach Heart of Darkness anymore. Why should I inflict this painful work on my students? If any ethnic group announces that a word, phrase, or book is offensive to them, should I not honor their unique subjectivity? But the thought of giving up the book also created a kind of anxiety for me. Was I just giving in to the voice of censorship? Were my students’ sensibilities simply a new form of the old thought police?
This is one of the best articles I've seen on the responsibility of teaching texts - and the respect between tutor and students.

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