Best introductions to …

by John Holbo on April 4, 2006

Scott Kaufman has an interesting distributed intelligence project. He’s soliciting suggestions for ‘best introductions to’ various standard topics in literary studies. Feel free to contribute. It’s a nice project. Lots of subjects could do with good lists of this sort.



Scott Eric Kaufman 04.04.06 at 2:05 pm

I should have done this differently: held up Book X as the book to read if one was only going to read one book on a given subject. Then, over the course of many years, I’d collect all the answers to my various provocations and posted them as a completed list . . . which people could then take issue with. But thanks for the link. Hopefully it’ll drum up more interest in my pet project. (One which, for reasons explained elsewhere, I think can be a really important one. What if I know the medievalist at the institution considering me for a position specializes in the C12th renaissance? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to pick up a book which’ll 1) inform me as to what that is and 2) which has a scholarly stamp-of-approval as something generally respected by the field?


Hogan 04.04.06 at 3:33 pm

I was gonna say . . .

Anyone who calls American Renaissance an introduction to 19th-century American literature is using the word “introduction” in some sense with which I’m not familiar. But I can see calling it the one book to read if you’re going to read only one book.

And as someone who regularly asks the one-book question (about the French Revolution, the Ottoman Empire, scholasticism, Romanticism . . . ) I see tremendous value in compiling the list. I will watch your future progress with considerable interest.

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