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  • About this Textbook

    Literature, the Humanities, and Humanity attempts to make the study of literature more than simply another school subject that students have to take. At a time when all subjects seem to be valued only for their testability, this book tries to show the value of reading and studying literature, even earlier literature. It shows students, some of whom will themselves become teachers, that literature actually has something to say to them. Furthermore, it shows that literature is meant to be enjoyed, that, as the Roman poet Horace (and his Renaissance disciple Sir Philip Sidney) said, the functions of literature are to teach and to delight. The book will also be useful to teachers who want to convey their passion for literature to their students. After an introductory chapter that offers advice on how to read (and teach) literature, the book consists of a series of chapters that examine individual literary works ranging from The Iliad to Charles Dickens’ Bleak House. These chapters can not substitute for reading the actual works. Rather they are intended to help students read those works. They are attempts to demystify the act of reading and to show that these works, whether they are nearly three thousand or less than two hundred years old, still have important things to say to contemporary readers.

    About the Author

    Theodore L. Steinberg, Ph.D., Professor and Distinguished Teaching Professor, Department of English, SUNY Fredonia

    Dr. Theodore L. Steinberg serves as Distinguished Teaching Professor in the English Department at SUNY Fredonia, where he specializes in medieval and Renaissance literatures, though he teaches in a wide variety of areas. His publications include studies of medieval and Renaissance English literature, medieval Judaica, modern epic, and Yiddish literature. He encourages students to see the contemporary relevance of older literatures and the importance of the humanities, particularly literature, in the development of civilized life.

    Reviewer’s Notes

    This is a book for college students and adult learners who think they ought to know something about literature, but don’t actually enjoy reading it. This is also a book for teachers: for new teachers who have just been assigned an introductory course; and for old teachers who want to remind themselves why they became teachers in the first place. The author, Theodore L. Steinberg, is himself the kind of teacher who makes other teachers jealous: smart and learned (of course), but also warm, likable, and funny. Steinberg puts the pleasure back into literature, not by dumbing the books down, but raising us up to their level. His enthusiasm for books and their authors is unembarrassed and undefensive. His own pages read quickly because he has learned, from many years of experience, what students need to know and where they need help. In particular, he knows where students are likely to get bogged down, and he’s an expert at clearing away the obstacles and misunderstandings that make reading a duty instead of a delight.

    David Scott Wilson-Okamura
    Associate Professor of English at East Carolina University

    About Open SUNY Textbooks

    Open SUNY Textbooks is an open access textbook publishing initiative established by State University of New York libraries and supported by SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grants. This initiative publishes high-quality, cost-effective course resources by engaging faculty as authors and peer-reviewers, and libraries as publishing infrastructure.

    The pilot launched in 2012, providing an editorial framework and service to authors, students and faculty, and establishing a community of practice among libraries. The first pilot is publishing 15 titles in 2013, with a second pilot to follow that will add more textbooks and participating libraries.

    Participating libraries in the 2012-2013 pilot include SUNY Geneseo, College at Brockport, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, SUNY Fredonia, Upstate Medical University, and University at Buffalo, with support from other SUNY libraries and SUNY Press.

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