Conclusion: Henry James and the Art of Teaching
The order in which the drama simply says things gives it all its
form, while the story told and the picture painted, as the novel
at the pass we have brought it to embraces them, reports of an
infinite diversity of matters, gathers together and gives out
again a hundred sorts, and finds its order and its structure, its
unity and its beauty, in the alternation of parts and the
adjustment of differences.
-Henry James, "The New Novel" (1914),
Notes on Novelists
The other Henry James I have interpreted in this book requires a different
literary pedagogy from what has been customary for Henry James, the master
of realism and early modernism. In this regard, the study of Henry James has
followed more general changes in the uses of critical theories, which in the
past decade have been increasingly validated by their relevance to actual
classroom situations. What I have described elsewhere as a "new pedagogy"
has indeed transformed critical theory from an abstract, speculative discourse
into practices to be tested in interpretive situations such as classrooms, con-
ferences, research groups, even everyday social interactions.! According to
these criteria, the traditional Henry James has often been excluded from all
but the most specialized and professional curricula. Henry James is rarely
taught in high school, in large part because teachers consider him too difficult
for students on both stylistic and conceptual grounds. He is also often judged
to be irrelevant or archaic, insofar as the traditional James is understood to
focus so exclusively on the vanished age in which an immensely wealthy
bourgeoisie challenged the waning aristocracy for social power. In this incar-
nation, Henry James may be taught as a literary "example" of his times, but
James's interests seem less relevant to introductory courses in the humanities
concerned with modern social values than more contemporary works dealing
with social problems of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality that stu-
dents must address every day.
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