Worth Reading - 1/7

1. Commentary on a recent proposal to turn the study of literature into a quantitative system

To grasp this collective system, Moretti calls for a “quantitative approach to literature”—hence the graphs, maps, and trees—which will “widen the domain of the literary historian” and deal in data “ideally independent of interpretations.” Moretti calls this approach “distant reading,” a method of “deliberate reduction and abstraction” which yields historical patterns through artificial constructs. Moretti hopes emerging literary labs can collect and share data and create a new quarry for the digital humanities, a future heretofore unimagined in literary scholarship: namely, research without close-reading.

2. Another cry for more traditional forms of education from the Imaginative Conservative: 

There is no reason to turn up our noses at this, to sneer at it as “mere” memorization. Actors commit hundreds and hundreds of lines to memory. Is that “passive”? Singers commit hundreds of songs to memory. Is that “uncritical”?

One of my favorite professors in graduate school grew up on his grandfather’s farm in Saskatchewan, back in the days when a wheat farmer would spend long hours behind the plow. He told us that his grandfather’s neighbor spent those hazy hours sometimes reciting Milton’s Paradise Lost. He had gotten it by heart. Notice what great difference there is between the phrases “learning by rote” and “getting something by heart”? You cannot do such a thing without considerable intelligence and love.

3. There has been some movement toward free enterprise in Cuba. This is a good beginning:

Remember when you bought that first thing – a car, maybe – with your own first income? Remember the feeling of pride it gave you? You’d scrubbed pots and pans in the diner kitchen all summer. Or maybe you were the “go-to” babysitter for everyone in your church. You earned that money, and you bought yourself something.

Now imagine living in a world where that could never happen. You are told by the government that they will care for your every need, no need to pay for anything. Everyone will get the same things, and all will be well. We call this place “Cuba,” and that system has not worked. (See also, Soviet Russia, Bay-area communes and Shakers.)

With the U.S. sanctions against the island nations now lifted, Cuba is beginning to see economic life again. The Communist government also recently changed laws about self-employment.
I never had the chance to meet him in person, but I have become an ardent admirer of Carl F. H. Henry. And while I have come to appreciate his brilliance as a Christian thinker, I am always struck by his humility. Don’t get me wrong, Henry was not reluctant to call a spade a spade or to dismantle erroneous arguments, heterodoxy, or injustice. But he did so with a marked humility that is also evident from the countless anecdotes I have heard from his former friends, students, and colleagues.

Christian scholarship must be, by its very essence, characterized by a love for, and earnest desire to seek, the truth. This means it will by necessity involve conviction, critical thought, and the best tools of research and inquiry.

5. Pennsylvania has relaxed some of its very stringent Home School regulations. The decrease in oversight does not impress at least one author at the New York Times:

Unlike so much of education in this country, teaching at home is broadly unregulated. Along with steady growth in home schooling has come a spirited debate and lobbying war over how much oversight such education requires.

The above piece really does a good job of trying to disguise the bias. This would be a good article for a home school student to evaluate to see how the author, Matoko Rich, presents an opinion while pretending to present only factual information. Illustations are chosen to present homeschooling as a low content version of the real thing. The only testimonial of a home school graduate is one student who completed her homeschooling in New Jersey and has since gone on to be a doctoral student at the University of Michigan, according to her academica.edu page. This isn't a bad article, but it is an opinion piece in place of a true new content. This is why we (and our children) must be careful to scrutinize our news sources.