Thoughts on Textbook

As most of the posts have already indicated, I really had a hard time with this week’s readings. I just couldn’t get into Textbook at all. I found it especially hard to navigate through, with the long narratives and questions mixed right in with larger theories and research. Like several other people have already mentioned, the format the text took really hindered my ability to navigate and comprehend it. 

Almost immediately, I asked myself what age group this book is designed for. I’d like to think that this book is designed for a more advanced undergraduate literature student, although I was really confused/surprised when I read this on page 11: “every high school student knows that novels and plays have an introduction…is she right? Do you think these things?” Here, the authors are obviously indicating that their readers are intended to be high school students, at least for the particular section. I really can’t think of a class in high school where this would be a useful and practical textbook. On one hand, its subject matter is really densely packed (Freudian theory and Christian symbols mixed with the 6 elements of narratives and commercial transcripts). On the other hand, chapter 2’s subject of metaphors is something I feel like most high school kids and undergraduate lit students already know a lot about. And I can’t help but noting that obviously, we are all at the graduate level and most of us feel sort of blah about the book, not really able to take much from it. How, then, can we expect high schoolers to make anything of it? That being said, I did find some of the “For Discussion and Writing” sections in the book helpful and semi-practical. For example, the writing prompt used with the play “The Stronger” asks students to revise the one-act play to be from the point of view of Miss Y, the character who doesn’t talk. This prompt reminds me of some of the readings from Week 7 about how students comprehend literature at a higher level if they are asked to retell the story from a different point of view. 

I was first introduced to the concept of “texts are everywhere” in a senior level undergraduate class in Visual Rhetoric. We studied everything from photographs to museum exhibit design to commercials to power point presentations to understand how these texts compared to traditional literary texts. I tend to think that Textbook fits more closely with the goals of a class on visual rhetoric than it does with a more traditional literature class.