GRE Reading Comprehension
It is possible for students to obtain advanced degrees in English while knowing little or nothing about traditional scholarly methods. The consequences of this neglect of traditional scholarship are particularly unfortunate for the study of women writers. If the canon-the list of authors whose works are most widely taught-is ever to include more women, scholars must be well trained in historical scholarship and textual editing. Scholars who do not know how to read early manuscripts, locate rare books, establish a sequence of editions, and so on are bereft of crucial tools for revising the canon.
To address such concerns, an experimental version of the traditional scholarly methods course was designed to raise students' consciousness about the usefulness of traditional learning for any modern critic or theorist. To minimize the artificial aspects of the conventional course, the usual procedure of assigning a large number of small problems drawn from the entire range of historical periods was abandoned, though this procedure has the obvious advantage of at least superficially familiarizing students with a wide range of reference sources. instead students were engaged in a collective effort to do original work on a neglected eighteenth-century writer, Elizabeth Griffith, to give them an authentic experience of literary scholarship and to inspire them to take responsibility for the quality of their own work.
Griffith's work presented a number of advantages for this particular pedagogical purpose. First, the body of extant scholarship on Griffith was so tiny that it could all be read in a day; thus students spent little time and effort mastering the literature and had a clear field for their own discoveries. Griffith's play The Platonic Wife exists in three versions, enough to provide illustrations of editorial issues but not too many for beginning students to manage. In addition, because Griffith was successful in the eighteenth century, as her continued productivity and favorable reviews demonstrate, her exclusion from the canon and virtual disappearance from literary history also helped raise issues concerning the current canon.
The range of Griffith's work meant that each student could become the world's leading authority on a particular Griffith text. For example, a student studying Griffith's Wife in the Right obtained a first edition of the play and studied it for some weeks. This student was suitably shocked and outraged to find its title transformed into A Wife in the Night in Watt's Bibliotheca Britannica. Such experiences, inevitable and common in working on a writer to whom so little attention has been paid, serve to vaccinate the student ---I hope for a lifetime-against credulous use of reference sources.
The author of the passage is primarily concerned with
- A revealing a commonly ignored deficiency
- B proposing a return to traditional terminology
- C describing an attempt to correct a shortcoming
- D assessing the success of a new pedagogical approach
- E predicting a change in a traditional teaching strategy
Correct Answer: C