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What in the world was Roland Barthes on about in 'A Lover's Discourse'?

In 1977, Professor Roland Barthes released his book ‘A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments’.
Over 200 pages long, this text is dense, lengthy, and at times incoherent.
Therefore, an article deconstructing and analysing this text would be an insightful read.
What is Barthes trying to say? How does he say it? Are his ideas accepted and approved of, or disagreed with?

One point he seems to be making is that our own experiences of love are dictated to us by the discourse of love within our culture. It is through this language that our expectations of what love should feel like are formed.

Therefore, after breaking down Barthes’ text and some key fragments/ideas, this article could look into examples of popular culture and how they have influenced modern ideas of love. The romance genre in film, tv, literature, and even music are prevalent. Everything from Shakespeare’s plays to Romantic Comedies to Disney movies.

If, indeed, you deduce other claims worth discussing in the text, find popular or contemporary examples to suit that also!

  • I'm currently writing an article on this (leaving this note here just in case the topic gets unlocked again). – aprosaicpintofpisces 4 weeks ago
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Taken by aprosaicpintofpisces (PM) 2 weeks ago.
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The Monk Vs. The Italian

In 1796, Matthew Lewis published the novel ‘The Monk’. An early example of ‘masculine’, or horror gothic, it covers many shocking and depraved themes.
In 1797, Ann Radcliffe published her ‘feminine’, or terror gothic novel, ‘The Italian’. It is viewed as a reaction or response to Lewis’ novel. It discusses some similar themes, but in a milder way.
An article could compare and contrast these texts. Worth noting is the things they do the same, such as offering commentary on Catholicism or exploring issues of love and sexuality.
They also differ in several ways, from opposing treatments of women and the use of supernatural occurrences.
Overall, the article should conclude the ways in which Radcliffe has used the original to build her own story, and also where she has deliberately chosen to deviate from Lewis’ text. Potentially offer insight into how the two authors’ differing approaches reflect the society at the time. An in depth understanding of horror vs. terror gothic would be worthwhile in building a substantial argument.

  • I've only read The Monk and I found it quite shocking and entertaining. Great gothic novel. I would be interested in reading more about it and the comparison to another gothic book would be something quite compelling and thought-provoking. Looking forward to learning more about it. Don't forget to present these novels in the context of their time and to sketch out the wider landscape in literature in the 18th century. – Dani CouCou 1 week ago
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The Staying Power of The Secret History

The Secret History, by Donna Tartt, became an instant classic when it was first published in 1992. Though it is primarily set in the 1980s, the story has a dreamy, timeless quality. To read it at a still impressionable young-adult age feels like a rite of passage. On the surface, it is a captivating murder mystery about a clique of Classics students at an idyllic New England college. But to stop there would be to sell the book short. Examine the potent combination of factors that have elevated The Secret History to its iconic status. In my estimation these include the introspective, romantic narration reminiscent of that of Victorian novels; the bittersweet, melancholic tone; and Tartt’s subtle sense of humor. These elements work in concert to ensure that this well-constructed, well-paced mystery leaves a lasting emotional impression.

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    Should Chick Lit Be Taken More Seriously?

    The genre of "Chick Lit" is often seen as nothing other than feel good and fluffy. However, can the argument be made where this genre can be seen as anything more? Should it be seen as more? Should those who read this genre feel shame?

    Choose a few books that support your position on the topic, and explain why you think it is one way or the other.

    • An important thing an article on this should consider is the term "Chick-Lit" itself, and the negative connotations of that. As far as I am aware, there is no such demeaning term for male-oriented literature (I could be incorrect?). It seems the entire 'genre' is set back by this name alone. If it merely fell under the banner of romance, or romantic comedy, would these books be treated differently? It could be argued, then, that this 'genre' has been dismissed in part due to societal perceptions, rather than any notion of literary merit. – Samantha Leersen 4 weeks ago
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    • I actually really like what you have mentioned about this, and that is something that could be explored to make the argument a little more complex! – RheaRG 4 weeks ago
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    Fragmented Literature: What Does It Achieve?

    Modernist texts are often heavily fragmented – the plot is jumbled and does not follow a simple beginning to end chronology. This can be off-putting for many readers as it can make a story hard to follow and less immersive.

    However, what are the benefits and what does writing in fragments achieve? An article could look at a selection of texts that are fragmented and offer an analysis of what this particular structure is doing.

    For example, in Kaddish for an Unborn Child by Imre Kertesz, the plot keeps circling back to the same line, its repetition representing the repetitive trauma it has caused the protagonist. Or, in The Corpse Washer by Sinan Antoon, the plot is broken up by page long chapters detailing the nightmares had by the protagonist which can show how they interject in his life just as they have interjected into the plot.
    There are many works of literature that fragment the narrative and do so for thoughtful and strategic reasons. Thus, exploring texts that do this meaningfully could be an interesting read!

    • I suppose in literature that would be food for thought. But, I can emphatically say that it occurs in film as well. Take for instance the film Raging Bull. To the untrained eye or first time viewer, the boxing scenes appear fragmented, or improperly edited. In fact, it is a deliberate technique known as image collision. Effectively what it does is arrange a sequence of scene cuts with no apparent flow between them. The viewer is left to fill in the gaps or smooth over the perforations in the actor's activity and the camera movement. In the process, the audience is drawn into the cinematic spectacle before them. I would be interested in knowing if this a common practice in literature as well. (Aside from the obvious example, Alice in Wonderland.) – L:Freire 4 weeks ago
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    Taken by Gnat (PM) 3 weeks ago.
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    The Novella, a forgotten medium?

    I propose an article that looks at novellas. The article could describe first what they are, explaining the length and conventions, explore how they differ from both a novel and a short story.
    It could be worth looking into the history of this medium, when were they most popular and why? What were the first texts classified as novellas and what purposes did they serve? Perhaps offer suggestion as to why they are not big in the literary scene today.
    Then, the article could offer analysis of some famous novellas, The Metamorphosis, Heart of Darkness, Jekyll and Hyde, Of Mice and Men, just to name a few.
    Offer suggestion as to why these in particular were popular, was it their content? Context? Were their authors already published writers so fans would read anything of theirs?
    If so desired, contrast the good by offering examples of novellas that are perceived as not good and offer reasons as to why. Are they not given the space to be fully developed? Does its brevity mean it is missing something?
    Use this analysis to draw conclusions regarding the novella’s place in literature including, if possible, whether this medium is likely to regain popularity or merely survive as a medium at all.

    • Cool topic! I very much prefer long novels, but I have read some wonderful novellas, including Jekyll and Hyde and Of Mice and Men (although I have mixed feelings there b/c of outdated disability representation). Do you think serialized novels might fit the topic as well? – Stephanie M. 3 months ago
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    • Serialised novels could absolutely fit the topic, if they can be logically incorporated into the discussion. Perhaps, they could be used to substantiate the length argument. Are novella-length texts enjoyed more when the reader knows there'll be one or two more instalments to follow? – Samantha Leersen 3 months ago
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    Taken by Burkely Hermann (PM) 3 weeks ago.
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    The Portrayal of Women in Gothic Literature

    Look at the portrayal of women in Gothic literature. What tropes do they often fulfil?

    There’s the shrieking heroine of The Monk or The Italian (written by Matthew Lewis and Ann Radcliffe respectively). Even modern day Twilight has this.
    Bram Stoker’s Dracula shifted things by having Mina as the ‘new’ woman – the only reason she was respected is because she supposedly had the brain of a man. Even then, she was viewed as someone who needed protecting.
    Even texts like Jekyll and Hyde make a statement about women’s place in society by simply NOT including women in the narrative.
    Modern Gothic texts tend to favour the cool and powerful female protagonist, which in theory seems empowering, but can also be problematic.

    What is the effect of each portrayal of women? Are the women in each given text empowered or powerless? Is historical/social context important in how the female characters are portrayed? Do any texts defy their time period? Is there a difference between texts written by men and texts written by women?
    An article on this should analyse a wide variation of texts, from different time periods.

      Taken by angelacarmela96 (PM) 7 days ago.
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      Historical Texts that Captivate Readers

      Writers of history usually receive the bad reputation of being boring and uninspired storytellers, for the events of history aren’t designed to be page-turners. On the other hand, there are histories that embellish for the sake of storytelling but compromise accuracy. This is also criticised.

      Thus, an article exploring histories that are both accurate and educational whilst still captivating audiences would be a great read.

      Offer examples of good histories, and give reasons as to why they are effective as both works of popular literature AND educational history resources. Jung Chang’s Wild Swans or Ten Days That Shook The World by John Reed are two good examples.
      Some factors that make history writing ‘good’ include: the inclusion of personal stories (not mere objective facts), prose that is accessible to all, not just academics, and the formation of a chronological narrative that, while remaining accurate, sparks interest and excitement.

      There are some wonderful examples of written history that tend to get lost amongst the ‘boring’ stuff. So an article highlighting examples of good history, and analysing why that is, would be interesting and perhaps even helpful for those looking to write public history.

      • Seeing this topic has reminded me of Lucy Worsley's recent PBS documentary series Royal Myths & Secrets. In it, she explores how the public images of famous figures such as Elizabeth I, Queen Anne, and Marie Antoinette have been heavily distorted from their flesh-and-blood counterparts. Details such as when these historical accounts were written, the relationship between writer and subject, differences between national propaganda/mythical storytelling and textual evidence/alternative accounts, etc. all play a role. Like you said, it raises ethical questions over what "the truth" is in the pursuit of a good story. Do the ends ever justify the means? – aprosaicpintofpisces 2 months ago
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      • This something that I struggle with as a student of history; what is a historian's vocation? Is it just writing just what happened as Leopold von Ranke put it so long ago? Or is it telling a tale about what happened as Herodotus did in his masterful work? Or should a historian try to craft laws of history in the vein of the early and post-War Annales School? Is he/she a scientist, a writer or a philosopher? I'd think it was a mix of all three. – RedFlame2000 2 months ago
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