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Pomegranate symbolism in ancient literature

Pomegranates have been cultivated by humans for thousands of years, and perhaps one of the oldest harvested fruit. The red, bulb-like fruit is mentioned in Ancient Egyptian texts, Greek mythology, the Bible, and the Quran. Different cultures used this fruit as treatment for various ailments (i.e. tapeworm in ancient Egypt). It is interesting how different ancient cultures viewed pomegranates and used them symbolically in their literature.

  • So the article would provide a perspective about Pomegranates (what they are, where they are grown, which cultures had them) and then expand on that point, using symbolism and literature perspectives.Or so I understand. Will it have religious connotations? Just curious. – shehrozeameen 1 day ago
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  • I believe it will have religious connotations as some cultures (such as the Zoroastrians and Jews) used pomegranates in their traditions and rites. – AaronJRobert 1 day ago
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The Legacy of Alice in Wonderland

The plot of Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is both confusing and simple: a child, in what is said to be a dream, encounters and creates havoc in an alternate world. However, the meaning of the story has changed drastically over time. While some works (ex. Tim Burton’s Through the Looking Glass or The Matrix) use the original story as a metaphor for fighting social and governmental oppression, many others, from the recurrent use of the name Alice for mentally unstable/institutionalized characters (ex. Twilight) to the discussion of drug/alcohol issues (Even in music, ex. Shinedown’s Her Name is Alice) see in the tale a darker message. In both cases, these interpretations at first glance seem far removed from the story of a sleeping child. How have the connotations of the story changed over time, and are these changes reflective of the work’s audience, the cynicism of the era the audience lives in, both, neither, etc.? Alternatively, since we know that fighting social norms was once considered a sign of insanity, are the various connotations actually conflicting, or are they in any way interconnected? In short, it would be interesting to take a closer look at the various legacies of Alice in Wonderland, dark and positive, and determine which have persisted over time and why. What do they say about the work, and what do they say about us?

  • I wonder if the book and movie Still Alice would fit here? It's probably a coincidence that the protagonist's name is Alice, but from what I understand, Alzheimer's can make you feel like you're falling down a rabbit hole. Whoever writes the topic might also want to look into Finding Alice, author Melody Carlson. It's a Christian-based novel but not overtly so. The protagonist, raised in a fundamentalist home, develops schizophrenia in college. She uses allusions to Alice in Wonderland, as well as appropriate descriptions, metaphors, and so on while going through the journey of mental illness. – Stephanie M. 4 days ago
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  • I actually had "finding Alice" in mind while writing this topic but couldn't remember the title and author, so indeed it would definitely be something to think about. Also, another work that the writer could look into is Resident Evil, though I'm not very familiar with it, since many of the elements (character called Alice, security system called Red Queen) reference the work [Note: This is about the movie, I'm not sure how different it is from the games]. I don't know if this falls into the first category of fighting oppression (I thing the games are about fighting a corporation), the second, or if it opens up new avenues of interpretation/legacies, but it could add to the writer's analysis to look into it. – Rina Arsen 2 days ago
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  • The video games "American McGee's Alice" and "Alice: Madness Returns" are excellent samples to study when exploring the mentally unstable Alice route. – KennethC 1 day ago
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How Relevant is Understanding Context in Understanding a Piece of Writing?

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 Britton 1 week ago
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  • 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. 7 days ago
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  • 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. – itsverity 4 days ago
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Use of Color in Literature

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. 2 weeks ago
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  • 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! – kristinagreta 1 week ago
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Crowns of Glory: The Importance of Hair in Women-Centered Literature

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-cubed 2 weeks ago
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  • 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. 2 weeks ago
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  • 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 Christ 1 week ago
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  • 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. – bbartonshaw 1 week ago
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  • I was actually considering posting a topic of braided hair used as artistic political statements. I've noticed a trend that braided hair is a common design element in many propaganda campaigns. Many Nazi propaganda pieces used women (such as athletes and pilots) in braided hair in their posters. I noticed the same trend in Chinese propaganda during the 1960s. In modern times, I noticed that strong female characters in movies also sport this hair style such as Katniss Everdeen from the hunger Games and Maddie Ross from True Grit. I think hair is a very interesting topic that I would like to explore! – AaronJRobert 4 days ago
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  • I didn't think of braids in particular, but you're right. They do seem to be a popular hairstyle in real life and fictional mediums. In fiction, especially for young girls, they're also often used to denote childhood. A girl begins to grow up when she trades braids for a French twist or other up-do. For example, in The Giver, little girls stop wearing braids when they turn ten. Laura Ingalls Wilder was shown wearing them in the TV version of Little House on the Prairie, until she began dating Almanzo. There are thousands of things to say about braids, for sure. – Stephanie M. 4 days ago
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  • The more I think about this topic, the more complex and vast I realize it is. You can break this topic down by hairstyle, culture, chronology, genre, or medium. I was also thinking of Laura from the Little House on the Prairie. As a child with braided hair, she challenged conventions and ventured on her own (I remember an episode where Laura ran away to a mountain for a spiritual retreat). But when she grew older and began seeing Almanzo (taking a more domestic role), her hairstyle changed into a bun. Braids could be a sign of girlhood, but maybe they can also be a symbol of female empowerment? – AaronJRobert 3 days ago
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Tolkien's Legendarium and Literature as a Living Body

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. 2 weeks ago
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  • 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. – C8lin 2 weeks ago
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Young Adult Literature: The Escape

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. – Sadie 3 weeks ago
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  • 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 Tishma 3 weeks ago
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Romanticism and Hippie Culture

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?

    Taken by DKWeber (PM) 4 weeks ago.