Literature, the Humanities, and Humanity

(9 reviews)


Theodore Steinberg, SUNY Fredonia

Pub Date: 2014

ISBN 13:

Publisher: Open SUNY

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Reviewed by Catherine Loomis, Professor of English and Women's Studies, University of New Orleans, on 12/6/2016.

The author does not claim the book is comprehensive, and in fact he draws attention to the limits of its chapter topics. The book is comprehensive … read more



Reviewed by John Brinegar, Assistant Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University, on 12/6/2016.

Steinberg's book is comprehensive in the sense that it articulates an approach toward reading and interpreting literature and then provides several … read more



Reviewed by Scott Dionne, Instructor, Portland Community College, on 8/22/2016.

For what it is, this book provides an excellent overview of literary studies as a discipline within the humanities. You can't fault the book for … read more



Reviewed by Zara Torlone, Professor of Classics, Miami University of Ohio, on 8/22/2016.

At the time when study of the Humanities in general and literature in particular is under constant attack, this book pursues a noble goal of … read more



Reviewed by Peter Olson, Lecturer, UW-Stout, on 8/22/2016.

Theodore L. Steinberg’s /Literature, the Humanities, and Humanity/ (Open SUNY Textbooks 2013), attempts to synthesize a discourse on the humanities … read more



Reviewed by David Mount, Full-Time Instructor, Clackamas Community College, on 1/8/2016.

The book is not at all comprehensive and doesn't set out to be. That's what makes it wonderful. It's a guided tour through some of Professor … read more



Reviewed by Catherine Ratliff, Instructor, Colorado State University, on 1/8/2016.

Steinberg's text offers students and teachers a specific range of material on key classic literary authors and texts with chapters focused on Homer, … read more



Reviewed by Zachary Hutchins, Assistant Professor of English, Colorado State University, on 1/8/2016.

Theodore Steinberg has written a book that rejects “comprehensiveness” as a goal of introductory courses in literature or the humanities, so I’m not … read more



Reviewed by Katherine Scheil, Professor, University of Minnesota, on 6/11/2015.

This book covers a wide range of material, from Homer to George Eliot, from Shakespeare to Jane Austen. Other chapters focus on Sidney, Pope, Fielding, and Dickens.… read more


Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Homer, The Iliad
  • Chapter 3: Homer, The Odyssey and Virgil, The Aeneid
  • Chapter 4: Sir Philip Sidney, Astrophel and Stella
  • Chapter 5: Shakespeare
  • Chapter 6: Pope, “The Rape of the Lock”
  • Chapter 7: Henry Fielding, Joseph Andrews
  • Chapter 8: Jane Austen
  • Chapter 9: Charles Dickens, Bleak House
  • Chapter 10: George Eliot, Middlemarch

About the Book

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 Contributors


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.