Repetition/Reading

Sun Jan 22, 2006

I’m very lazy about changing a CD in my car stereo unless I’m on a long drive. I think I once listened, as Clancy can attest, to Blonde on Blonde (mind you a scratched-copy with “Visions of Johanna”–the “all night long we sang that stupid song” from “Dr. Wu”–unplayable) for at least a month’s worth of driving. I’m coming up on a month now with The Harder They Come. Even thought about playing the first track as a way of explaining my grading policy.

I’m curious about investigating the literature on skimming, repetition, and reading comprehension. I’ve always thought that there are serious flaws in high-order reading comprehension tests such as you find on the GRE or LSAT–there’s a problem of domain specificity. I had a passage of lit crit on the GRE which I was able to answer from the barest skim, but, had I looked at it more carefully, I probably would have discovered or invented problematic ambiguities.

Literariness (which is distinct from “difficulty”) is inversely proportional to what might be called “skimmability,” and I think this has important implications for the totailty/immanence questions I discuss in the post below. Furthermore, I hope that the empirical literature on reading comprehension can yield some interesting sociological data here.