One of the texts that I am using this semester offers a short bio before some of the works (it is a comp reader with seemingly random works that are then to be written about). But, when my freshmen encounter these bios they are, in my opinion, co-opted into the editor’s subtle interpretation of the work.
For example, Dylan Thomas’s “Don’t Go Gentle” has the biographic blurb that ends in his death by alcohol. I have had numerous essays today describing the ironic nature of the poem in that Dylan encouraged his dad to fight a fight he wimped out of.
Now, I may or may not agree with the surface-level interpretation, but I really would like the students to explore the poem for themselves before dismissing it at a poser-spewn throwaway.
You tell me, are author bios over-determining the student’s reading?