What's Wrong with Didacticism?

British Journal of Aesthetics 52 (3):271-285 (2012)

Charles Repp
Longwood University
Works of literature that are too overtly instructive are commonly faulted for being didactic. For so-called literary cognitivists, who believe that instruction is an important literary value, this seems to pose a problem: if we value literature for the instruction it affords, why would we ever object to overt instruction? In this paper I propose the following answer: overt instruction can arouse suspicion of intellectual vices in the author, such as intellectual arrogance, dogmatism, and prejudice, which can make the lessons the author seeks to convey less rationally acceptable. Overt instruction in a work of literature is sometimes a fault, therefore, precisely because it makes the work less valuable as a source of instruction
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DOI 10.1093/aesthj/ays023
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