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August 17, 2010

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It's funny, I never thought of writer houses as complicated or controversial things before. I just thought of them as simple and nice ways to honor an author.

Great interview! I'll definitely be looking at this book.

It really bothers me when people in a field look down on people outside of it. The way you were describing your initial feelings towards these houses "fandom, not critical assessment," reminded me of that. As a former music major turned English major, I have seen this attitude, this pretentiousness, across disciplines. What's wrong with fandom? As a teacher, I worry that this idea that literature can only be truly appreciated properly by trained critical academics is damaging our students. If these books aren't meant for the likes of then, why on earth should they bother reading them? No wonder kids are so loathe to pick up the classics. They're scared of them. They're afraid that they won't "get it," that they are just too stupid to understand it, so they never try. If we want kids to read anything more sophisticated than Twilight, we have to get rid of this elitism.

I really agree with your statement "How patronizing, I thought to myself, to make fun of such responses." Literature is, above all, and art of communication. To tell a student or anyone else that their emotional response to a text isn't valid because it doesn't fit into the academic criticism field is not only going to hurt our cause, but it goes against the spirit of literature itself. To me, if a person feels something profound or meaningful after reading a book then they "got it" and they don't need me to explain it any more.

I'm not sure if I'm even making sense here, or if I've strayed too far from the topic of the interview to even be relevant. Regardless, I intend to read this book if I can find a copy. Thanks for the interview!

Emily, if you have trouble finding the book in a local shop, you can order it directly from the publisher here: http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/14811.html

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Looking forward to hearing more.

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