Monday, February 9, 2009

Poor Mr. Gregerson

Upon reading Mr. Gregerson’s column about the lack of “great literature” in Wabash College curriculum, I was appalled at the arguments Gregerson uses to support his opinion. And it seems that I am not alone: the response to this column – both from students and faculty – has been overwhelmingly negative. Several letters to the editor in the subsequent issue of The Bachelor rebuke Gregerson for his ignorance of the Senior Colloquium Course and modern literature as a legitimate genre.

Although I am no doubt inclined to side with the students and faculty (regardless of their status in the hierarchy of tenure) who are actually involved in the course, I cannot responsibly judge the value of the corpus that Gregerson describes. In all honesty, I am among those who have never heard of such modern authors as Gubar, Nabokov, and Murakami. I do not dare to comment on the literary merit of these authors; by doing so, I risk developing my own, self-professed ignorance into arrogance and pompousness.

However, I feel it necessary to comment on the way in which Gregerson develops his argument. His opinion is legitimate and he is certainly entitled to it. Unfortunately, he employs irrelevant and erroneous arguments about religion and instructor ability to a topic that has little to do with either of these. Instead, he should have focused on what constitutes great literature. Although undoubtedly important, a work’s popularity and longevity are not the sole bases upon which literature is canonized. Gregerson fails to acknowledge the importance of universal themes and characters that inspire generations of readers. Further, greatness is a product of personal opinion and connection with a piece of literature. Had Gregerson more fully developed a legitimate argument about great literature, he may not have received the poison pen backlash from his peers.

1 comment:

  1. I chose to respond to Mack's post because I like what he addresses in his final paragraph. I believe that Mr. Gregerson definitely had a strong opinion, however, the manner in which he went about supporting his opinion was in poor taste. I feel that Mr. Gregerson rushed this article and was writing off the top of his head because he clearly did not do much research. Before he bashed an author or deemed hisself worthy of choosing what is "great literature", Mr. Gregerson should have done his research. Agreeing with Mack, I believe that Mr. Gregerson's argument would have had a bit more validation had he developed a clear definition of what defines "great literature". Because he lacked this clear cut definition, he came off as ignorant and received much deserved criticism.