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Scott Lax Blog

Academia and Writing

Today's New York Times asks the question, in an article called, "Naive Reading": Have critical theory and the use of the sciences in the study of literature gone too far?

The answer is, "Yes."

Academia feeds upon itself, particularly in the area of literature. It's self-involved, self-important, and self-sustaining. It produces too many untalented writers through MFA programs; it often encourages "close reading" and analyzing of texts that are far beyond what the author intended or cared about.

But it does give people tenure, and a salary with benefits, and it perpetuates itself, like some kind of ubiquitous mold.

There are a few great writers in academia. Most are outside of it. Beware the frustrated literature or writing professor. If you want to write, read writing you love and try to grasp what the author is doing and then write and write and write some more.

If you want to understand literature, read it. And ask your head, and equally, your heart, what is says to you.  Read More