What We Should Have Known: Two Discussions
Cultural Writing. Literary Criticism. The two discussions in WHAT WE SHOULD HAVE KNOWN took place at the offices of n+1 in the summer of 2007. Eleven n+1 editors and contributors--including Caleb Crain, Meghan Falvey, Mark Greif, and Ilya Bernstein--met to talk frankly about regrets they have (or don't have) about college--what they wish they had read or had not read, listened to or not listened to, thought or not thought, been or not been. The idea for the discussions was prompted by a desire to give college students a directed guide, of some sort, to the world of literature, philosophy, and thought that they might not otherwise receive from the current highly specialized university environment. They were also an attempt to answer the "canon"-based approach to college study in two ways: by identifying canonical books produced by our contemporaries or near-contemporaries--something conservative writers have always refused to do--and, second, by articulating a better reason to read the best books ever written than that they authorize and underwrite a system of brutal economic competition and inequality.