Making of Americans Democracy and Our Schools

ISBN-10: 0300168314

ISBN-13: 9780300168310

Edition: N/A

Authors: E. D. Hirsch

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Book details

List price: $17.00
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 8/31/2010
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 288
Size: 5.25" wide x 8.00" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.330
Language: English

Hirsch is a conservative critic best known for his repudiation of critical approaches to literature (chiefly poststructuralism and New Criticism) that assume that the author's intentions do not determine readings. He argues that any such methodology is guilty of "the organic fallacy," the belief that the text leads a life of its own. For Hirsch, the author's authority is the key to literary interpretation: The critic's job is to reproduce textual meaning by recovering the author's consciousness, which guarantees the validity of an interpretation. In his two most important books, Validity in Interpretation (1967) and its sequel, The Aims of Interpretation (1976), Hirsch warns against the "critical anarchy" that follows from the "cognitive atheism" of both relativism and subjectivism. For him, these result from a corollary of the organic fallacy, the thesis that meaning is ultimately indeterminate because it changes over time or with the differing interests and values of different readers. According to Hirsch, meaning does not change; only value or significance does, as readers relate a text's fixed meaning to their cultures. If there is more than one valid interpretation of a text, it is because literature may be reduced to more than one "intrinsic genre" or meaning type---the particular set of conventions governing ways of seeing and of making meaning at the time the author was writing. Many critics suggest that the intentions Hirsch recovers in intrinsic genres are really his own, rather than those of the author, because no one, including Hirsch, can escape his or her historically conditioned frame of reference when developing interpretations of literature. Hirsch's recent books, including Cultural Literacy (1987), are seen as proof of those flaws by those who are troubled by the history and values of the dominant culture that Hirsch insists is the only culture. Hirsch argues that "common knowledge" is being denied minority students and others by feminists and other "radicals" who have undermined the authority of its great texts.

Preface
The Inspiring Idea of the Common School
Sixty Years without a Curriculum
Transethnic America and the Civic Core
Linguistic America and the Public Sphere
Competence and Equality Narrowing the Two Achievement Gaps
Competence and Community Renewing Public Education
Core Knowledge History/ Geography Thread, K-2
Content is Skill, Skill Content
Notes
Acknowledgments
Index
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