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.