Author Archives: Jennifer Summit

About Jennifer Summit

I am a professor of English at Stanford University. My research interests generally focus on the medieval and early modern periods, but I've become increasingly interested in how we might use some of the methodologies and questions that have been generated by the academic subfields of the history of reading and the book to understand the uses of literacy today.

undergraduate literacy (again)

I was surprised to see the 2007 NEA study cited as evidence in a recent recent WSJ account of undergraduate literacy: "The Young and the Bookless". The other sources we’ve seen point to a rise, not a fall, in reading … Continue reading

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time to focus on readers, not books

The recent NYT op-ed, "The Country That Stopped Reading", will interest all of us on the “What is a Reader?” project–particularly its reflection on the dangers of substituting informational for literary texts in schools. But I was particularly struck by … Continue reading

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Who’s responsible for teaching reading?

A recent article in The Washington Post argues that English teachers are misinterpreting the common core standards in reading to mean that they should ditch fiction for nonfiction: “Yes, the standards do require increasing amounts of nonfiction from kindergarten through … Continue reading

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Your Brain on Jane Austen

“What is a Reader?” participants curious about what our own Natalie Phillips has been up can read about her research here : “If the ongoing analysis continues to support the initial theory, Phillips said, teaching close reading (i.e., attention to … Continue reading

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The Bookworm Generation

According to a new report,”Generation Y, those born between 1979 and 1989, spent the most money on books in 2011, taking over long-held book-buying leadership from Baby Boomers. That’s according to the 2012 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behaviors … Continue reading

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Readers are Leaders

“Deep, broad reading habits are often a defining characteristic of our greatest leaders and can catalyze insight, innovation, empathy, and personal effectiveness,” argues a blog post from Harvard Business Review by John Coleman, "For Those Who Want to Lead, Read."

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CA Reading Association

I’ve been browsing the California Reading Association website, which has interesting links: less of direct relevance to higher ed, but it’s good to keep up with reading at the K-12 levels nonetheless.

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Robot Readers

A post on Alex Reid’s blog, “Digital Digs,” robot graders, new aesthetic, and the end of the close reading industry, observes, “I think the “close reading” model that dominates English . . . is ultimately linked with computerized grading and … Continue reading

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Teaching Reading through Fiction

Responding to the news article on teaching reading through nonfiction (cited below), Howard Gardner (Education, Harvard) writes to the NYT : “Those educators who selected a reading program that valued fictional works presumably thought that was an appropriate emphasis. It is … Continue reading

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Teaching Reading with Nonfiction in NYC: NYT article

This working group has been exploring and discussing the teaching of reading (especially at the post-secondary level) through fiction, which is the focus of traditional literature and English departments. An article in today’s NYT suggests that elementary students performed better … Continue reading

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