refection essay

refection essay

Order Description

Reflection Essay
Select one of the following quotes and write an essay which explains the idea and argues either in its favor or against its claim. You are expected to make reference
to particular works we have read or ideas the class has discussed, but no additional research will be expected.
This essay, as any academic essay, should have an introduction, thesis statement, body, and conclusion. It should be formal in tone, though it need not be written
entirely in third person.
It should be at least 750 words in length.
Lawyers and Literature
James R. Elkins
Studying Literature
“We all have slumbering realms of sensibility which can be coaxed into wakefulness by books.” [Robertson Davies, A Voice From the Attic: Essays on the Art of Reading
13 (New York: Penguin Books, rev. ed., 1990)]
“[L]iterature is an art, and . . . as an art it is able to enlarge and refine our understanding of life.” [Robertson Davies, Reading and Writing 2-3 (Salt Lake City:
University of Utah Press, special ed., 1993) (1992)]
The study of literature “is the place—there is no other in most schools—the place wherein the chief matters of concern are particulars of humanness—individual human
feeling, human response, and human time, as these can be known through the written expression (at many literary levels) of men living and dead, and as they can be
discovered by student writers seeking through words to name and compose and grasp their own experience. English [that is, literature] in sum is about my distinctness
and the distinctness of other human beings. Its function, like that of some books called ‘great,’ is to strive at once to know the world through art, to know what if
anything he uniquely is, and what some brothers uniquely are. The instruments employed are the imagination, the intellect, and texts or events that rouse the former to
life . . . . [T]he goal . . . is to expand the areas of the human world—areas that would not exist but for art—with which individual man can feel solidarity and
coextensiveness.” [Benjamin DeMott, Supergrow: Essays and
Reports on Imagination in America 143 (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1969)]
“It appears to me quite tenable that the function of literature as a generated prize-worthy force is precisely that it does incite humanity to continue living; that it
eases the mind of strain, and feeds it, I mean definitely as nutrition of impulse.” [T.S. Eliot, Literary Essays of Ezra Pound 20 (New
York: New Directions Book, 1935)]
Literature “returns you to otherness, whether in yourself or in friends, or in those who may become friends. Imaginative literature is otherness, and as such
alleviates loneliness.” [Harold Bloom, How to Read and Why 19 (New York: Scribner, 2000)]
Literature “expands one’s sympathy, it complicates one’s sense of oneself and the world, it humiliates the instrumentally calculating forms of reason so dominant in
our culture (by demonstrating their dependence on other forms of thought and express, and the like). It is one of the deepest characteristics of literary texts to
throw into question the nature of the language in which they are written, and this necessarily throws into question as well the nature of any language in which they
might be talked about or into which they might be translated.” [James Boyd White, From Expectation to Experience: Essays on Law & Legal Education 55 (Ann Arbor:
University of Michigan Press, 1999)]. White goes on to observe that “literary teaching” leads us “towards incrementally more complete, but never wholly adequate,
understandings of other people and other minds— towards other languages, other ways of thinking and being and imagining the world. These understandings in turn carry
us towards a general understanding both of language and of the mind, one that is literary rather than conceptual in kind and affects our reading not only of
‘literature’ but of all the texts that make up our world.” [Id. at 58].
“What I think literature has most to teach, then, is a way of reading, and reading not only ‘literature’ but all kinds of texts and expressions: a way of focusing our
attention on the languages we use, on the relations we establish with them, and on the definition of self and other that is enacted in every expression.” [Id.]
“Students are formed by the reading they do, by the views of self and world such reading presents.” [Parker J. Palmer, To Know as We Are Known 19 (New York: Harper &
Row, 1983)]
“The study of literature offers many ways to improve literacy: it gives access to language, reading, writing, a shared culture, and one’s own self.” [Jean Trounstine,
Why Literature in Prison?]
“America’s literature matters. A nation defines itself and its world by the stories it tells and the books it reads. Concurrently, its international identity is shaped
by the songs of its poets, the myths of its writers, and the imagination of its citizens.” [“Why Literature?” The Writer’s Garrot (web posting no longer available)]
“The craft of literature: Articulates insights, sentiments in ways that sometimes the rest of us cannot—Gives voice to what is submerged and suppressed (the questions
behind the questions)—Defamiliarizes the familiar.” [Johanna Shapiro, Can Poetry Make Better Doctors? (web posting no longer available)]
“[L]iterature goes beyond life. It is art; it is an imaginative creation that can tell truths gracefully, subtly through narrative, poetry and the movement of
characters on a stage. Any imaginative act suggests possibility, and this is another reason to continue studying literature.” [Florence Dee Boodakian, In Defense of
Literature][website no longer available]
“Novels are profoundly useful tools to study human nature, and I teach these books as a strategy, not a panacea, to counter many of the ills attributed to legal
education and lawyering today.” [Ilene Durst, Valuing Women Storytellers: What They Talk About When They Talk About Law, 11 Yale J.L. & Feminism 245 (1999)]