A love/hate relationship with Text Book

First I want to say a couple of negative things: I don’t like the format of Text Book at all– the way the sections are broken up and presented to me as a reader is confusing — the headings, subheadings, and sub-subheadings, &c., are all a bit too much. Not to mention that it must have been a real bear to edit! But that is minor. For content:

I liked the sections on metaphor, especially the one starting on page 94 — metaphor as a basis for thought. It was fascinating to read those lists (pgs 97-99) of concept metaphors that I knew, but never thought about or considered directly. I liked all of the different examples, but quite honestly, I found myself becoming so engrossed in the examples that I forgot what it was the authors wanted to teach me. Perhaps I was letting myself get away with this, but once I got to the section on parables, I became absorbed in the examples — I love Italo Calvino, and rereading two excerpts from him made me grab Invisible Cities off my bookshelf and reread some of my favorite parts.

However, I think that as a student, I would hate having this book as my “textbook” for a literature class. I would probably think it was too specialized, too narrowly focused, and maybe a little confusing. (I realize that I’m saying all of this without having read the entire thing yet, but hey.) I also feel that the book (these first two chapters, at least, and especially the second) pushes the reader so far into the metaphors that it becomes difficult to find your way out, to find your way back to metaphor itself as an object of study, to the construction of metaphor as an object of study.

But having said all of that, reading this book in the context of this class really made me think harder about language, words, and story telling, and about how metaphor really is present… almost everywhere! Which is kind of a fascinating thing to consider, and that pretty much makes the book a worthwhile read for me. I think there are a lot of valuable ideas here, and this book gives you the chance, as a teacher, to point out to your students that interpretation of literature is not that different from the other types of interpretation we do on a daily basis (I think I’ve noted this before, in blog posts or elsewhere). Finding ways to instill confidence in our students — to make them confident readers and interpreters — is really important, and I think there are some ways to do that via this book.

One thought on “A love/hate relationship with Text Book

  1. Professor Sample

    I agree with your criticisms of Text Book. In fact, I was going to teach the book the last time I taught ENGL 610, but decided against it. I was feeling more adventurous this semester and I thought I’d give it a try. It probably would be confusing as an actual text book, but for us, it seems like it’s working well.

Comments are closed.