Early in the 1970s, as increasingly diverse students were granted access to higher education through measures like the G.I. Bill, the discussion surrounding ESL students in the composition classroom began to note a distinction between how instruction should be designed for English language learners as opposed to instruction for native speakers. Authors argued that ESL students could not be assessed in the same manner as other students.
In the preface to Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire, the character Charles Kinbote urges the reader to refer to his annotations to a poem and to “study the poem with their help, rereading them of course.” Critics who followed this advice soon published labyrinthine notes with annotations of the annotations of the poem, “Pale Fire.” In his review of such criticism, Charles Ross writes of academics: “We are a busy people. Not many can wile away the hours in graduate school trying to construct a grammar of Zemblan. Give the public the solution it wants; then let us reread…a great short essay might have been a better choice than a spiraling critical study.”