Press Release: UMass Dartmouth Professor Robert Waxler's new book contends reading is crucial counter-cultural activity in world of digital technology and mobile devices
Date: August 25, 2014
"Reading narrative fiction remains critical to what makes a humane and democratic society," said Professor Waxler. "'The Risk of Reading' focuses on the importance of human language and how that language is central preserving human identity and knowledge. We are linguistic beings and reading literature remains crucial to understanding ourselves and the world around us."
In a culture which too often celebrates spectacle, electronic devices, celebrity, and visual over narrative, reading should be considered a counter-cultural activity crucial to a coherent human identity. Reading literature is one of the best opportunities individuals have to remain self-reflective in a chaotic and confusing world. Each chapter of "The Risk of Reading" takes up a well-known work of literature to discuss and explore the connection between language and our everyday existence.
"'The Risk of Reading' is a passionate and provocative account of why literature matters. Waxler provides a practical guide to major works of classic and popular fiction, from Frankenstein to Fight Club, and a powerful and sophisticated argument for the ethical and intellectual value of reading," said Princeton University Assistant Professor of English Joshua Kotin.
"Robert Waxler's 'The Risk of Reading' makes a persuasive case for the significance of literary reading to human life and understanding. In the first chapter, Waxler argues the value of 'deep reading' of literature as a way to journey to new worlds, observing that readers who take the risk also reap the rewards which come from engaging with story and the rich language of narrative. He then guides his readers on a series of journeys through literary works that well illustrate the importance of literature as initiating a deep reading process. In the final chapter, Waxler suggests that the real 'risk of reading' lies in the risk of not reading, especially as electronic media beckon," said Martha C. Pennington, Distinguished Visiting Professor of English, City University of Hong Kong, and Research Fellow in Language and Communication, Birkbeck College, University of London, UK.
Robert Waxler earned his Bachelor of Arts at Brown University, his Master's at Boston College, and Ph.D. at the State University of New York. He co-founded the internationally known alternative sentencing program for criminal offenders, Changing Lives Through Literature (CLTL) program in 1991. CLTL was founded on the philosophy that literature has the power to transform men's and women's lives. Through connections made with literary characters, individuals gain insight into their lives and behavior, while learning that they are not alone with their problems.
Professor Waxler is also the co-founder of the UMass Dartmouth Center for Jewish Culture. He has served as Chairman of the English Department, Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Dean of Continuing Education. He has authored or co-authored several books, including "Changing Lives Through Literature", "Finding a Voice", "Transforming Literacy", "Losing Jonathan", and "Courage to Walk".