Today’s students have read few books. What they have read is typically the topical, published-yesterday fiction that the hucksters of the scholastic book market sell to the middle schools and high schools as “edgy,” “with it,” or “out-of-the-headlines” portrayals of teenage anxiety.
How then might the instructor teach literary judgment to students who are practically without serious reading experience? Often they also lack rich vocabularies, suffer from stunted aesthetic sensibility, and think that the word novel is a synonym for the word book. Trying to teach them literary criticism is obviously challenging, if not altogether impossible.