Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Reading Moby Dick In A Night. From the Harvard Political Review.

I remember a white whale and the name Ahab, both decontextualized. It was at around 9:30pm on a Wednesday when I sat down at my desk, curled up in a blanket, and read Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. A chapter in, I set aside my physical book and turned to a free version of the text online. I scrolled and scrolled until the words blurred. I finished skimming the book just in time for class the next morning when I stumbled into seminar along with my six classmates. All of us had just read what is arguably American literature’s most esteemed text in a single night.



  1. First thought on reading the headline and first paragraph: Fuck you, snowflake.

    After reading the entire article, revised thought: You're right, snowflake.

    What kind of moron assigns a text like Moby Dick and only gives ONE DAY for discussion???

    My grad seminar in American Romanticism involved Moby Dick and two weeks of discussion and writing on the text. At an tier 2 school.

    As someone who teaches lit surveys to freshmen and sophomores at an open access institution (a far cry from Harvard), I have known for a long time that a) students don't want to read and b) their Net reading has trained them to skim rather than dive deep. But a syllabus like this student's actively rewards such reading, rather than challenging it. And it's a seminar, for heaven's sake--the whole purpose of that kind of class is to go in-depth on a few texts!!

  2. I did that the first time I read "War and Peace." It did lead to an insight about the book.

    It's about Russia.

  3. As part of my freshman year English course, I read Jane Austen's "Mansfield Park". I did it over a weekend, partly to get it out of the way and because I didn't have anything else to do during that time.

    I've hated Jane Austen ever since.


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