I'm a reader. Sometimes, I write somethings, but mostly, I'm a reader. On good days, I'm a professional reader, so, I'm very interested in smart articles about reading and I found one today that I'm passing along to you.
Professor Robert Pippin, University of Chicago, wrote a very fine article, In Defense of Naïve Reading. Basically, the article compares and contrasts two very different types of reading experiences, that of the casual reader and the experience of the person who's reading very deeply, say, an English major such as myself. Here are two particularly cogent paragraphs from the article:
Finally, complicating the situation is the fact that literature study in a university education requires some method of evaluation of whether the student has done well or poorly. Students’ papers must be graded and no faculty member wants to face the inevitable “that’s just your opinion” unarmed, as it were. Learning how to use a research methodology, providing evidence that one has understood and can apply such a method, is understandably an appealing pedagogy.
Literature and the arts have a dimension unique in the academy, not shared by the objects studied, or “researched” by our scientific brethren. They invite or invoke, at a kind of “first level,” an aesthetic experience that is by its nature resistant to restatement in more formalized, theoretical or generalizing language. This response can certainly be enriched by knowledge of context and history, but the objects express a first-person or subjective view of human concerns that is falsified if wholly transposed to a more “sideways on” or third person view. Indeed that is in a way the whole point of having the “arts.” [more]
Of course, the casual reader and the deep reader aren't two different people as much as just two different states of reading a single person may move through depending on the time, material and other circumstances. While I might "read" the television show, Firefly, differently than my thirteen-year-old daughter, I think we can both enjoy the material with equal measure.