From: Jennifer Formichelli
On the other hand treating Eliot as
though he would be incomprehensible to them,
I believe you do a great disservice to
(not unlike Williamson's own attitude).
PM>Did I indicate that I present him as incomprehensible?
JF>What is wrong, exactly, with requiring that your students
(whatever year) _are_ or become familiar first and foremost
with the poems?
PM>Did I indicate that I don't do that?
JF> Is that not what teaching is about?
Why pander to a lack of knowledge?
PM> Ah, the mystery of teaching?
Your remarks make me wonder if you listen to your student at all.
As to pandering? You are welcome to assume that
I pander. It matters not to me.
JF>And if you plead such a lack in defense
of teaching with Williamson by your side,
then I am not sure assigning a volume of
commentary is at all appropriate.
PM>Goodness gracious! What a wildly prejudicial
set of assumptions. You must be familiar with
straw man arguments, or so it seems. Is that
how you teach your students? Is it a whole
new approach to "The Hollow Men"?
JF>Such books are only useful to scholars, not beginners.
The whole things is rather out of spirit with Eliot's
notions that one ought to approach the poetry directly,
and other sources only later, when stimulated and
fortified by familiarity and curiosity.
PM>Well now we get to the subject of technique or the lack
thereof. Setting aside your wildly prejudical assumptions
about what I do or don't do in the teaching of Eliot,
since they are irrelevant, however amazing they may be,
I am wondering what you do when your students want to go
beyond classroom discussion, or do you forid them
from doing that? Are you perhaps so patronising as to
stop them from discovering opinions other than your own?
Then, of course, there is the question of their authorng
papers, and learning to do basic research. Or do you
prevent them from doing that too.
If I recommend Williamson it is on the basis of much
experience of what works for my sudents by listening
carefully to what they have to say and by what G.W.
gives them to bring to the discussion of Eliot. It is
Williamson who seems to work for them best. Our library
is full to overflowing with all the standard Eliot critics.
Williamson simply seems to be the writer of choice.
If we were doing graduate work, then perhaps the discernment
of critical quality might be more relevant.
PM>Now, as to your opening remarks:
JF>I hesitate to respond.
PM> Then why bother? Obviously your opinion of
what I have to say is so low, why stoop to pander towards me?
JF> Please do not assume that I am in any way hurt
by what you say. I am not.
PM> How nice for you. I can't remember having
made any remarks intended to hurt you.
I assume that you are all grown up and well
adapted to the rough and tumble of discussion.
Why, for goodness, would you think that I
would want to hurt you, or that you could even
give me the power to do that? How curious!
If one is hurt in these matters,
one can only do it to one's self.
It is naieve to think otherwise.
JF> My remarks were quite far from wildly
prejudicial; I, at least, offer some evidence for my claims, a duty
Williamson noticeably shirks.
PM> Evidence!!!????? Not a whit. Your remarks have been
mere unsubstantiated generalisations that even most
first year sudents wouldn't try to get away with.
Your remarks are prejudicial because they have not
supplied even the smallest example whereof you speak.
They are or were wild, because they were not to
Rick's purpose, which had to do with the mix of
commentary to informtion. Despise the commentary
all you want. Be my guest. It was the MIX to which
I was speaking. As to the information G.W. supplies....
I've found it usually accurate and helpful.
I don't agree all that much with his reading of
the works, but frequently that disagreement sparks
ideas of my own. STILL, even if all his information
were wrong, I think he has the MIX right.
PM>Not if I can help it.
I certainly haven't hesitated to respond.
It's too much fun.
On Tuesday, May 6, 2003, at 03:18 PM, Peter Montgomery wrote:
> Hi Rick,
> It seems to me that your question had to do with
> the mix or ratio of commentary to information.
> It seems to me that Williamson got the mix about
> right, esp. for a beginner. YOUR intended audience
> may be different. As for Jennifer's wildly prejudicial
> remarks as to the quality of Williamson's work, well,
> they leave me smiling, but I don't think they are
> pertinent to what you are trying to accomplish.
> Some people have absolutely no concept of what it's
> like for 1st year students, esp. when confronted
> with strange beasties like Eliot. Williamson is/was
> not one of those people.
> As for the oh so sad case of F.O. Matthieson, I have never
> heard anything but very high praise for his work, and I have
> always found that work most illuminating, but I'm
> not so sure he had the right information/commentary mix
> for porpoises such as yours. I think he was assuming his
> reader was much more familiar with the work than Williamson
> Perhaps if we are to be helpful to you, you might define
> the task a little more fully. That might also help us
> carry on in our wildly prejudical ways in a different thread
> altogether, and not be such a nuisance to your excellent
> Dr. Peter C. Montgomery
> Dept. of English
> Camosun College
> 3100 Foul Bay Rd.
> Victoria, BC CANADA V8P 5J2
> [log in to unmask]
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Rickard A. Parker [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 2003 12:30 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: George Williams (was Annotation)
> Peter Montgomey wrote:
>> If you are looking for a madel as far as
>> commentary goes, why not try Williamson. He
>> seems to have just the right mix.
> Jennifer Formichelli wrote:
>> Do you mean George Williamson, author of A Reader's Guide to T.S.
>> Eliot? His commentary (not the same thing at all as editorial
>> commentary) strikes me as a mix of wildly prejudicial remarks
>> andthoughtless restatements of the words of the poems couched in
>> meaningless prose.
> Were you maybe thinking of F.O. Matthiessen?
> He added much to my appreciation of Eliot.
> At any rate I'll checkout both.
> Rick Parker