I think I’ve done my part (and a great deal of self-service) on the Globelines P2P issue, now let me zoom out and take a look at one thing that actually concerns me as an academic and an educator -The Great Book Blockade of 2009.

MLQ3 has already written about (and aggregated) what I think are the most important points regarding this, so let me do the lazy thing and just point you to a couple of his posts –The Great Book Blockade of 2009: Timeline and Readings and We, the People: As Readers.

Now here’s my beef regarding the issue.

On a personal (financial) note, one reason why I only get to buy books a few times a year is because of their cost. Now here’s an additional five percent out of my wallet just to enjoy a good read all because these books aren’t cultural and educational by the standards of someone in the government. So fork over the 5%, Gaiman fanboy.

Such simple judgment reflects the dwindling significance of the humanities to our society. I can see it. Our college’s enrolment is down. Why even study art and literature if I can make a better profit after studying engineering and the “real” sciences?

Whoever said that these books (bestsellers, pop lit, and graphic novels) are nothing but leisure reads should be forced back to kindergarten. Mind you that the latest edition of the MLA even has entries on how to cite comics. These are books (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and graphic novels) that are already part of academe (i.e. educational)! Our department has courses tackling them and I know we can go on and on discussing them using different literary, linguistic, and social theories.

Sure, not every one of these best sellers can be considered landmark literary works but they do serve a purpose. While I am really not a fan of Rowling, I have to admit that I take comfort in students (in GE lit class) actually reading Harry Potter. While students may not have read most of the literary canon, the class can use Harry Potter as a jump off point in the discussion.

And how about that bit about Lord of the Rings. Sure it became even more popular because of the trilogy but how can you even discard a literary (and linguistic!) masterpiece by the person who worked on the the definitive Beowulf theory and the OED’s letter W.

Administrators should let this sink in – these books are making our students read again. Deprive them of that motivation and surely, we’ll find ourselves more illiterate as a society. Then again, that’s always been the plan. Dumb society down so that no one will be able to shake the status quo.

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