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« Huntington blogging | Main | This Week's Acquisitions »

December 28, 2006



Takes me back many years. I was a history major and took a 400-level English course (a genre course in comedy) in a demanding, highly-rated department, which I enjoyed greatly and in which, to judge from the professor's comments on my exam, I did extremely well. But I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing in the course or why what I had done was such a big deal. All I knew was that I had read some interesting and funny books and, on the exam, made what seemed to me common-sensical observations on what made the works I was discussing funny. I suspect that such "insights" as I had brought to bear depended more on a decade of watching sit-coms and stand-up comics and a couple of years of writing what passed for a humor column in the college paper than on my coursework.
Looking back, I wish I had raised this with my teacher.


Too close for comfort. I've never liked "close readings" because I always associated them with Biblical exegesis. Perhaps this is what links the New Critics with LP's sermons.

At college, my residence was a lovely neo-Gothic building with a library stuffed with old collections of sermons and biblical commentary. Reading ten pages of commentary on "Jesus wept" is enough to make anyone weep.

Then again, I've always been sympathetic to Tristan Tzara.


Speaking as a fellow toiler in the field of sermon studies, I must say that I don't entirely agree with the distinction you're making here. The best recent scholarship in this area is interdisciplinary -- and it's not just literary critics who have become more 'historical' in their approach to sermons (and other texts), it's historians who have become more 'literary'. I find this a very encouraging trend.

Happy New Year!

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