Friday, May 27, 2005

Everybody's Autonomy

I'm reading Spahr's Everybody's Autonomy and loving it. What a lucid, accessible and intelligent academic writer. I'm fascinated by the discussion of accessibility, and of course thinking of Stein as an immigrant writer, the detailed comparisons of sentence structures to that of ESL speakers. There's clearly some kind of connection...but more as I read. Here's a link to the introduction, and here's a review.

And I found this on the UPenn site and loved it:

Juliana Spahr on how reading is taught in school

"Reading is usually taught in school so as to walk hand in hand with assimilation. And it is at its most oppressive when taught through principles of absolute meaning. Beginning reading exercises tend to emphasize meaning as unambiguous and singular; the word 'duck' in the primer means the bird, not the verb. Further, as a learned and regulated act, reading socializes readers not only into the process of translating symbol into word with a one-to-one directness, but also into specific social relationships. Dick and Jane, to use the most cliched example of a primer, teach how to live the normalized lives of the nuclear family as much as they teach how to read. Further, much of what is read does not fully engage the resistant possibilities within reading, and as a result it tends to perpetuate reading's conventions."

Juliana Spahr, Everybody's Autonomy (2001), pp. 11-12


Anonym said...

Well that's lovely, Juliana Spahr, but Dick and Jane is not only the most cliched but also the most outdated example of a primer: contemporary readers are less focused on the regulations of society and more focused on straightforward storytelling. Furthermore, if the primer's reading exercises tend to emphasize meaning as unambiguous and singular--probably rarely, as textbooks go out of their way to avoid double-meaning words such as "duck" in their earliest lessons--it is because the the primer is meant make the earliest connection: this is a word, and this is what it represents. It's up to the teacher to help the student make connections with and understand other meanings. Reading is active, but activity is a responsibility of the reader.

lemonhound said...

Yes, reading is active. Certainly it is one that has "stuck" with us however, though I do recall being incredibly resistant to Dick & Jane!