Edmundson, Mark. Why read?

Author:Pucci, Anthony
Position:Brief Article - Young Adult Review - Book Review

EDMUNDSON, Mark. Why read? Bloomsbury 146p. c2004. 1-56234-608-9. $12.95. A

Edmundson, a professor at the University of Virginia, offers a stinging indictment of recent trends in the teaching of the humanities as well as a spirited call for a "renewed democratic humanism" as an alternative approach. Noting that the percentage of students receiving degrees in the humanities has dropped from 21 to 13 percent from 1968 to 1993 and that the percentage continues to decline, Edmundson fears that a "true liberal education barely exists in America now." The consequences are grave not only for individual students but for society as well. Instead of creating opportunities for students to challenge their core beliefs, to discover who they are and what they can do, colleges have become "like American culture ... ever more devoted to consumption and entertainment."

To reverse this trend, Edmundson states his central belief that literature is "the major cultural source of vital options for those who find that their lives fail short of their highest hopes." He describes his vision for what he wants for his...

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