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onela22's Comments

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Slow Sell, or, Why Professors Matter

Slow Sell, or, Why Professors Matter

Commented Nov 6, 2009 at 16:20:41 in Books

“At first I was going to say that this mode of promotion--teachable books--would only pertain to books with literary pretensions. Since mass markets seem to be getting squeezed out, everything *looks* like a high art novel, but I would expect it would be nominees for the Man Booker and their like--alone--that might hope for the slow read longer burn. But then I realized that people teach books for all kinds of reasons. Oprah books (which I read, but am here somewhat putting down as lower-brow) get read for their own strengths and also because some literature courses try to include a few books that regular people read, on the (good) theory that students should practice applying their skills to more than the most high. So I've already talked myself out of one qualification for your idea.

Then I wondered if it's only Americanists--and what's more, post-1945 Americanists--who can promise to teach a new book every year. Seamus Heaney's Beowulf aside, there just aren't new publications of old texts that can catch the slow read wave. But once again I realized that I was thinking like a snob--at most American colleges and universities, either English isn't specialized enough to break out into periods this way, or contemporary books in English are the main game anyway.

So instead I have to conclude that you're right, and that you've highlighted a productive new mode for thinking about how we can talk about books.”