Have we, as the 21st century audience, begun to read into literature through a pattern we’ve created ourselves? It seems as though we are often taught that there is a set pattern of symbols that we often apply to teaching and learning any piece without considering whether it is of any relevance, stating that the author "may be saying…" Should context, thus, still be considered crucial in reading into a piece of somebody’s work since it is our only valuable piece of information; the only one given to us for certain about the author’s thoughts through their background? Is it the only way of veritably analysing somebody’s work or should there, rather, be left some thought to the reader’s imagination?
Interesting topic. You could also address the Death of the Author concept (which might relate more to authorial intent but you could easily tie that into context). – Sadie Britton4 days ago
I would argue context is still valuable and that often, you can't take a story completely out of context and expect it to be completely understood. For example, could you set a Holocaust story in the 1990s? You could certainly imitate *elements*, but without the background of Nazi Germany, Hitler's rise to power, and so on, is it really a Holocaust story? Is a story promoting feminism in the 1960s really the same if you take it out of the '60s and put it in 2017, when feminism is much more familiar and accepted? Then again, Jane Austen and other authors have had their work retooled for almost any time period and location you could name, so who knows? – Stephanie M.3 days ago
It's impossible to take a story completely out of its context, but at the same time you can't always get the entire context. I think we should at least be attempting to understand context. For example, I read Pride and Prejudice without looking into Austen's time at all. Later, I read the book as part of a class whose sole focus was to understand the novel in context and i found it to be a much richer experience. I understood the plights of the characters better and picked up on subtleties that I hadn't noticed before. Part of the fun of reading is analyzing what the author might have meant, so I do think there is plenty of room for imagination. However, context is key. – itsverity5 hours ago
How has the use of color in literature changed, especially in more recent works? Our tv shows and movies are closely edited, digitally graded, and dominated by blue and orange. We over-edit our "candid" photos, dimming the colors to look retro or cranking up the contrast. Do we see a similar trend in written descriptions?
Has the symbolism behind colors changed? Has the use of certain color symbolism been reduced as the result of changing trends?
As our literature becomes divided into increasingly smaller genres and subgenres, is the use of color similarly divided? Thrillers will always be "darker" than romances, of course, but are there other trends in symbolism, shades, etc?
I love this topic because there is so much symbolism in color, and it does change depending on how you use it. One fun fact you might explore: many colors symbolize different things depending on what part of the spectrum they are from. For example, in the 1995 remake of A Little Princess, director Alfonso Curan used many different shades of green. Warmer greens (jungle, lime, Kelly) were meant to convey the beauty of India, Sara's warm personality, etc. Colder, darker greens (gray-green, hunter, olive) were used on the attic, to convey Miss Minchin's harshness, etc. – Stephanie M.1 week ago
I find it interesting that, although many people claim to understand symbolism, they often won't notice many important clues to a story given (indirectly) through colours because they aren't highlighted for them. When I started studying Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire", my teacher at A Level told me that Williams is brilliant because he seems to never waste a word, and as the play's original title was in fact "Primary Colours", there is plenty of important context hidden behind colours. Williams is definitely one of the writing worth looking into; his use of imagery is sublime! – kristinagreta4 days ago
Throughout women-centered literature, hair is a popular symbol and motif. The Bible consistently describes hair as a woman’s source of beauty and glory, even her vanity. In classic novels such as Little Women, hair serves as a symbol; Jo March cuts off and sells her hair, her "one beauty," to help her wounded father. In so doing, she symbolically casts off immaturity and vanity in favor of womanhood.
The trend persists in modern books such as Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent; women brush, braid, and stroke each other’s hair during crucial moments throughout the novel. Women whose hair is forcibly cut or shaved are consistently shamed, and they mourn the loss as if mourning a person. Male characters often stroke, twist, or otherwise fondle love interests’ hair as a form of non-sexual intimacy. Even in fairytales and children’s lit, a young girl’s hair is often pointed out as a defining trait.
Using the examples listed and/or any others you are familiar with, examine why hair is so important in women-centered literature. Have attitudes toward hair played a role in the shaping of females and feminism? What about the lack of hair for female characters who have cancer or other conditions? Are the perceptions and usages of hair in literature changing, and are our perceptions of womanhood changing with it?
Fun Fact: early comic books made female characters have bright red hair to sell more books, as it was very eye-catching, leading to the many red-haired comic book characters of today – m-cubed1 week ago
Didn't know that! :) I don't know if it would be quite on topic, but one could certainly explore hair color as part of this. It tends to be symbolic. For instance, did you know directors of child-centered movies, such as those starring Shirley Temple, would often cast dark-haired girls in "nemesis" parts? – Stephanie M.1 week ago
Ooo, this is a really interesting topic. Hair is so important in gender and race in lit and film and I would love to see more about this. It's interesting as well the different ways that haircuts can be framed in film (a shaved head on a woman can often be a demeaning act, but a woman cutting or shaving her own hair can be a moment of liberation.) – Emily Christ6 days ago
I also think this is an incredibly interesting topic. The symbolism behind hair is present through ALL our human history, from vikings to monarchies. The obsession with hair and hierarchy reflects so well today, as it did hundreds of years ago, and the use of it, the natural importance we imbue upon hair (or lack thereof) is inherent in our perception of each other. To use it in literature is a fine tool indeed. – bbartonshaw6 days ago
While the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings have gained their well-earned places in western literature, Tolkien’s published works were only a small scrap of the material he created and wrote about Middle-Earth over a span of 60 years. Tolkien’s ideas of Middle-Earth’s languages, history, and cultures changed time and time again, even in the span of writing a single short story. Tolkien’s ‘Legendarium’ evolved so frequently that it took a life of its own.
What does Tolkien’s Legendarium teach us about the creative process? Most of the work he created violently contradicted itself, does that impact what we view as ‘canon’? Can having this outside body of work flavor how we read the Lord of the Rings? Do the works published after his death, such as the Simarillion and the Children of Hurin count as Middle-Earth ‘canon’? Was it acceptable for Christopher Tolkien to compile these new books from his father’s works? Since new Tolkien work is being published to this very day, can we say that Tolkien’s stories are still evolving even in the post-Peter Jackson age?
Great topic. I'm not a big fan of Tolkien (I tried, but couldn't get into the whole LOTR franchise). That said, I'd be the first to say he is a freaking genius when it comes to creating fantasy worlds. Fantasy authors, IMHO, face unique challenges because along with characters and settings, they have to create the rules and standards for an entire fictitious society, and keep them consistent. Very few can do that. This is also a timely topic, considering how big fantasy still is (Harry Potter, Twilight, Once Upon a Time, Emerald City, you name it). I personally have former colleagues who'd love this article. – Stephanie M.1 week ago
This is a great topic. I would recommend reading what Christopher Tolkien has written about publishing his father's work. If you own some of the works mentioned, you already have access to his introductions. – C8lin1 week ago
What is it about YAL that makes the genre so popular. Despite its name and set ‘age range’ young adult books are making waves and gathering attention to those of many ages allowing us to escape into the words created. Is it simply because we find the characters, situations, or world relatable? Are we living vicariously through the lives of characters we wish we could have been or been? What is it about YAL that is so captivating? Don’t believe me? Just look at all the book to screen adaptations chosen to live on the big screen. How do you Escape into the fantasy world of dystopian or YAL. Young adults and teens alike choose to lose themselves in the words living and learning vicariously through the characters.
Something that would be interesting would be to compare YA lit to other kinds of niche/'genre' fiction like mystery or sci-fi/fantasy-- both YA and traditional genre fiction are extraordinarily popular, but don't get the kind of respect that more traditional "literary" fiction gets. – Sadie2 weeks ago
I've found that, often, classes on YA argue that the reason people read so much YA is the "reliability" factor, though I don't know if that's necessarily all of it. I also think that there is an aspect of YA that lets topics that may not necessarily be as accessible in other genres come through in subtle interesting ways. But that may just be my own thoughts on the thing. Interesting topic! I'd love to see it written! – Mariel Tishma2 weeks ago
It can be argued that Romanticism has continued to persist past the 1800s and continued on one form or another. With this in mind, it would be interesting to see a comparison between Romanticism and Hippie culture. Is Hippie culture a continuation of Romanticism? What are the similarities and differences between these ideals? How does it show up in literature?
Why is it that people find it so difficult and unsavory to read? Very few people actually enjoy and take it upon themselves to read anything from literature, modern works, the news, or frankly anything that consists of many words that require analytical thought to understand. Has this become too much for people? Literacy should never be compromised.
Who are these people?! And also what makes you think we read less? I guess I don't know either way, but do you have some statistics saying that book sales are lower? Or libraries are empty? I know print is going away, but I think people still read news on line. Or read magazines. – Tatijana1 year ago
I can personally vouch for some of your sentiments. Despite my best intentions, it takes a lot of personal coaxing to get myself to sit down and read instead of doing something else. Because when I like to relax, I like to use my eyes and my hands or my ears rather than sit in the same position letting my eyes roll over a page. Although to be honest, I've had this inkling lately that I would get much more satisfaction from reading a book than watching a film, because often, the stories in some of the books I remember enjoying in the past were more engaging and dynamic than a lot of the films I enjoy. So I have plenty of reason to return to reading books. I just don't find myself doing it much, if at all, on a day to day, week to week, and month to month basis. I DO, however, read plenty of articles and stuff online, including here on the Artifice. It's just when it comes to books, especially thick or heavy ones, I have less of a tendency to pick one up. – Jonathan Leiter1 year ago
I think you would find it very difficult to argue that no-one reads when they would have to read your article to see your argument..? It could certainly be said that people's reading habits have changed: Online content tends to have shorter paragraphs to keep attention; short stories and poetry are starting to be more popular again because they can more easily be devoured in a short amount of time; if you really wanted to argue that people don't read at all, you could potentially look at the re-emergence of spoken-word poetry (such as Polarbear or Kate Tempest) and how people are listening to poetry because of podcasts, commutes etc. rather than buying poetry books and reading them (this can be proven with the poetry book sales vrs views on youtube etc. for said artists.) – Francesca Turauskis1 year ago
If you Google "people reading less" like I did, you may find more concrete examples to support the topic, as others have suggested. In an October 2015 study, to paraphrase, American people in general read less, but women and young adults read the most. I'd be curious to see why that is. Here's a link: http://electricliterature.com/survey-shows-americans-are-reading-less-but-women-and-young-people-read-the-most/ – emilydeibler1 year ago
This is very interesting. I would like to see some psychological articles interact with this reading into our culture, and possibly the implications of the dominance of social media. – emilyinmannyc1 year ago
Others above have questioned the general statement about 'people not liking reading'. But could it be asked, "What has happened to society's attention span?" Someone once said he reads the first paragraph of a book and if it doesn't interest him, he moves on. Really? I also heard someone say they won't watch any movie from the 70's or before because they are too slow. Where is the public's patience? I attended a lecture by a successful screenwriter and he said there is a golden rule in the biz that no one camera shot lasts longer than 8 seconds. I didn't believe him until I started counting at the movie theater and sure enough, the camera changes every 8 seconds. Does the 'fast' changes of camera shots, the high paced video games and instant chat of texting influence our attention span? Are we no longer satisfied with Fast Food and now demand Faster Food? This could be a relevant take on the subject. - Dr. T – DrTestani1 year ago
I this topic could be taken in the direction that people don't read as much as they used to. To support this idea, things such as the decline in business success of bookstores, or the rise of flash fiction as a popular form of literature can be examined. Is it that people no longer like to read, or that they would rather pull up a piece of flash fiction on their phone rather than lug a copy of Anna Karenina around with them? – MichelleAjodah1 year ago
I have to question such an absolute statement as literacy should never be compromised. I am not sure if you mean literary appreciation, which I definitely think can and should be compromised. I think that literacy is irrelevant and a completely different issue than what you are discussing before. Whether or not one can read does not mean that they will want to read, and I think that the causes for someone being illiterate are different for those who are less passionate to read. Anyway, I think this is an interesting topic, but the writer needs to have a wider view of the media landscape than saying that something should not be compromised. Perhaps, look at some of the benefits/harms of straying from normal reading activity, the changes in how people consume literature, and definitely why these changes have occurred, and perhaps where we are moving towards, whether it be some post-physical or post-social landscape of reading, or so on. – Matthew Sims1 year ago
I think this could also discuss increasing visual and other literacies that have taken primacy in a more visual culture. "Reading" itself has changed, and is no longer viewed as one person interacting with a text -> an author -> an idea, in a vacuum. Instead, reading has social elements (Oprah's bookclub, for example) and there are other motivations to read instead of just for literary learning. – belindahuang183 weeks ago
I think this should also cover the use of audio and e-books which have seemed to replace "regular" reading. Are people possibly just getting too lazy to pick up a book or are they too busy to sit down and read? – kspart3 weeks ago
Something should be said about the new culture we live in when it comes to books. There is a reason why the argument on 'if we need libraries any more' even exist, or why Borders went out of business? I don't necessarily think people aren't reading anymore I just think how people are reading is changing... – cousinsa23 weeks ago
I understand where you're coming from, but I also believe that, as technology continues to advance, people tend to read in a different setting or capacity. It's not necessarily that people are reading any less or are straying away from it as a whole, it just varies from person to person, what technologies they immerse themselves in, how it affects their time/motivation to read, etc. – caitlynmorral3 weeks ago
This could easily be an interesting article to explore with some substantial evidence. Instead of going in with the assumption that nobody reads anymore, try focusing more on the how; how people read. It's ridiculous to assume nobody reads, it's not to assume that people read differently than traditionally thought. – Shipwright2 weeks ago
Cinderella, Snow White, Belle. These are just a few of the heroines from traditional fairy tales that lack a maternal figure. Most often, the mother is deceased and the heroine must navigate the world without her guidance. What is the significance of this maternal absence? How has the lack of a loving, nurturing mother in traditional fairy tales enabled the story to progress? Or has the lack of maternal figure hindered the development of the heroine?