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Using Classic and Contemporary Literature to Explore Themes in Law and Politics
Unformatted Document Text:  and are having a more difficult time comprehending literature. In 2004 the National Endowment for the Arts released a study entitled “Reading at Risk” that generated a lot of discussion among educators and the media because the findings indicated a significant drop in literary readers. 1 In a follow-up to the 2004 survey, the NEA released a report in 2007 entitled “To Read or Not to Read.” Based on government, academic, and foundation data, the report confirms the steady decline of reading habits among many Americans, including those with a college degree. 2 Among the most relevant findings for our discussion is the fact that only 52 percent of Americans ages 18 to 24, the college years for most students, read a book voluntarily, down from 59 percent in 1992. Also, the number of adults with bachelor’s degrees and “proficient in reading prose” dropped from 40 percent in 1992 to 31 percent in 2003. 3 The report concluded that college attendance no longer guarantees active reading habits. In addition to developing an interest in classic literature and reading for pleasure, the course fits within our university’s general education curriculum. Courses are designated as general education if they incorporate active learning exercises, writing and critical thinking assignments, and are interdisciplinary in nature. My course on law, politics, and literature contains all of those features. The course also has been added to our primary text program where students take courses that are based on original texts of famous authors or scientists. Except for a few introductory readings, the course is based around primary works of literature that either 1 Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America. National Endowment for the Arts. Washington, D.C., (2004). The report found drops in all groups studied, with the steepest rate of decline - 28 percent - occurring in the youngest age groups. The study also documents an overall decline of 10 percentage points in literary readers from 1982 to 2002, representing a loss of 20 million potential readers. 2 To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence. National Endowment for the Arts. Washington, D.C. (2007). The publication is available free of charge at: www.arts.gov 33 To Read or Not to Read, Executive Summary, pgs. 6-7. Page | 4

Authors: Fliter, John.
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and are having a more difficult time comprehending literature. In 2004 the National Endowment
for the Arts released a study entitled “Reading at Risk” that generated a lot of discussion among
educators and the media because the findings indicated a significant drop in literary readers.
a follow-up to the 2004 survey, the NEA released a report in 2007 entitled “To Read or Not to
Read.” Based on government, academic, and foundation data, the report confirms the steady
decline of reading habits among many Americans, including those with a college degree.
Among the most relevant findings for our discussion is the fact that only 52 percent of
Americans ages 18 to 24, the college years for most students, read a book voluntarily, down from
59 percent in 1992. Also, the number of adults with bachelor’s degrees and “proficient in
reading prose” dropped from 40 percent in 1992 to 31 percent in 2003.
The report concluded
that college attendance no longer guarantees active reading habits.
In addition to developing an interest in classic literature and reading for pleasure, the
course fits within our university’s general education curriculum. Courses are designated as
general education if they incorporate active learning exercises, writing and critical thinking
assignments, and are interdisciplinary in nature. My course on law, politics, and literature
contains all of those features. The course also has been added to our primary text program where
students take courses that are based on original texts of famous authors or scientists. Except for
a few introductory readings, the course is based around primary works of literature that either
1
Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America. National Endowment for the Arts. Washington, D.C.,
(2004). The report found drops in all groups studied, with the steepest rate of decline - 28 percent - occurring in the
youngest age groups. The study also documents an overall decline of 10 percentage points in literary readers from
1982 to 2002, representing a loss of 20 million potential readers.
2
To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence. National Endowment for the Arts. Washington,
D.C. (2007). The publication is available free of charge at:
3
3
To Read or Not to Read, Executive Summary, pgs. 6-7.
Page | 4


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