Read more about Literature, the Humanities, and Humanity

Literature, the Humanities, and Humanity

(12 reviews)

Theodore L. Steinberg, SUNY Fredonia

Copyright Year: 2014

ISBN 13: 9781942341031

Publisher: Open SUNY

Language: English

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Reviewed by Danielle DeRise, Lecturer, James Madison University on 11/21/21

As other reviewers have noted, this category is hard to evaluate for this text. Steinberg sets out to accomplish a specific purpose—to encourage appreciation of literature—and does so with a finite set of texts that he has personally curated as... read more

Reviewed by Jessica Hall, Adjunct Instructor , East Tennessee State University on 4/21/19

This text isn't comprehensive in the sense we usually apply to textbooks for literature courses, but as the author notes in his introduction, that isn't the point. It's a very specific overview of selected texts that are commonly taught in various... read more

Reviewed by Catherine Pritchard Childress, Adjunct Professor , East Tennessee State University on 4/15/19

While this text has much to offer when considering specific pieces of literature, I wouldn't label it comprehensive. Further, apart from a Works Cited page, the author offers no glossary, index, or notes section. read more

Reviewed by John Brinegar, Assistant Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University on 12/5/16

Steinberg's book is comprehensive in the sense that it articulates an approach toward reading and interpreting literature and then provides several examples of that approach in action; in other words, it sets out a project and then fulfills it. No... read more

Reviewed by Catherine Loomis, Professor of English and Women's Studies, University of New Orleans on 12/5/16

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 in the sense that it marshals many reasons to study literature, but the author chooses to focus on... read more

Reviewed by Peter Olson, Lecturer, UW-Stout on 8/21/16

Theodore L. Steinberg’s /Literature, the Humanities, and Humanity/ (Open SUNY Textbooks 2013), attempts to synthesize a discourse on the humanities and survey of well-known Western literary examples from Homer’s /The Iliad/ to George Eliot’s... read more

Reviewed by Zara Torlone, Professor of Classics, Miami University of Ohio on 8/21/16

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 insisting that reading of literature is an important and necessary component of education. Since... read more

Reviewed by Scott Dionne, Instructor, Portland Community College on 8/21/16

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 what it strives to do--to give students a kind of traditional sense of literary studies as a... read more

Reviewed by Zachary Hutchins, Assistant Professor of English, Colorado State University on 1/7/16

Theodore Steinberg has written a book that rejects “comprehensiveness” as a goal of introductory courses in literature or the humanities, so I’m not sure it’s fair to evaluate him using this particular criterion. What I mean to say is: whereas... read more

Reviewed by Catherine Ratliff, Instructor, Colorado State University on 1/7/16

Steinberg's text offers students and teachers a specific range of material on key classic literary authors and texts with chapters focused on Homer, Sir Philip Sydney, William Shakespeare, Alexander Pope, Henry Fielding, Jane Austen, Charles... read more

Reviewed by David Mount, Full-Time Instructor, Clackamas Community College on 1/7/16

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 Steinberg's favorite works of literature, making the case along the way for the enjoyment of literature,... read more

Reviewed by Katherine Scheil, Professor, University of Minnesota on 6/10/15

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

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  • 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.

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