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The New Classics

What can be considered a new classic? Writers like John Green and Stephan King boast quite a large fan base (and literary output), but will they go down in history? Does fame equate to immortalization in literature? After all, many writers were unbeknownst while they lived, but others (such as Shakespeare) received wide fame amid their careers. Whose work can be considered literary? Are they losing ground in the shadow of these modern, famed "genre writers"?

  • Genre shouldn't matter re: enduring quality of a piece of literature.It's a little risible to suggest the likes of Shakespeare might be losing ground in the shadow of John Green!Fame doesn't equate to immortality in history, but obscurity tends to mean you're not even in the mix for future consideration.One of the biggest problems nowadays is the general disconnect with "things past", losing touch with history i.e. self-censoring art and literature and creative content based on its date of creation. It not only makes it harder to source new classics but means - for most - the canon of older classics is shrinking. Contemporary fame matters but originality and lineage and breadth of vision should matter more.Also there's a growing parochialism, especially in the Anglosphere - facilitated in part by the net and social media bringing together 'communities' in large enough numbers so they satisfy the 'interaction' instinct most of us possess. If people don't feel the need to step outside their echo chambers, their horizons narrow and their creative output follows suit, eventually becoming mere placebo. All this is a path of least resistance and any book worthy of "new classic" should either transcend this reductionism by scope or scale; or burst the bubble of whatever tribal boundaries might seem to appropriate or contain it.John Green is a sweet guy with a nice turn of phrase but none of his novels yet will be "classics" except maybe for future social historians; and not for the literary merit of the books themselves. Stephen King is different. He's a Balzac type: quantity over quality to such an extent the sheer quantity actually becomes a quality. – magisterludi 2 years ago
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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!

    Taken by aprosaicpintofpisces (PM) 23 hours ago.
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    Books by Black Authors and Why You Should Read Them

    In the wake of recent global uprisings on the Black Lives Matter movement, people have turned to books about and written by black people to further educate themselves on the subject. Perhaps the article could talk about a list of books that sheds light on the topic, and why the book is relevant today. While I can think of a list of authors such as Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin and a few others, it might be interesting to see a list of both classic and contemporary books that are worth reading and why. It might also be interesting to do a research on lesser known authors or books/short stories published by anonymous sources and look into why you think they were anonymously published or why you think the author/the work did not recieve as much attention as it should have.

    • Good topic! I'd add some recent YA offerings by black authors or featuring black characters. Actually, you could probably write a whole article on that genre alone. – Stephanie M. 1 week ago
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    • As a Black writer, especially of speculative fiction, I would love for a piece like this to shed some light on some of the hidden gems of Black speculative fiction that would be of particular value in this historical moment. I'm sure just exploring this singular angle would be more than enough for a piece on its own. – therisingtithes 6 days ago
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    Stories of Creation

    Analyze and compare the various stories of creation through various parts of the world. The stories examined will include Genesis, Aztec Mythology , Norse Mythology, Greek Mythology, Eastern Mythology, African Mythologies, et cetera. Specifically how are they similar? How do they differ? What sort of message do they impart?

    • This is a very interesting topic that would involve a lot of scholarly research! This could be an extensive article so perhaps picking three to four mythologies would allow the most room for detailed research and reflection. – Scharina 4 months ago
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    • I agree that is might be good to narrow it a bit. For example, comparing the flood in Gilgamesh to Moses with the Great Flood of Gun-Yu.Instead of contrasting several of these religions, could one perhaps write it on the religious commonalities? – ruegrey 4 months ago
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    • This does need narrowing, but I don't blame you for wanting to explore every possible religion and mythology. Perhaps exploring in subgroups might help? An example might be monotheistic creation stories vs. polytheistic, or Middle Eastern (Torah, Bible, Koran) vs. European or African? – Stephanie M. 1 week ago
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    The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: Analyzing the Pros and Cons of Prequels

    Suzanne Collins’ newest book, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, a prequel to The Hunger Games trilogy, is set to release May 19th, 2020. This prompts the question: What benefits do prequels provide for a story? The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes supposedly takes place in Panem 64 years before the original trilogy. By backtracking, not only do audiences lose favorite and well known characters, but any world-building that existed needs to be restructured and changed. On the other hand, it does provide significant details to the history, as well as the opportunity to flesh out backstories. Collins isn’t the only author to do this; J. K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter series, and then Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, going back 70 years in her timeline. So, analyze the potential benefits and possible drawbacks to prequels for beloved novel series.

    • I think this is a great topic for modern books and films, which have seemed to embrace the prequel. – Sean Gadus 3 months ago
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    • Good topic! I'm very into well-drawn characters, so I'd say it depends on how strong your characters are and how relatable their journeys are. I haven't read The Hunger Games yet, but for an example, I can tell you Newt Scamander is a great protagonist. Also, he's one of those rare characters who manages to be a cinnamon roll without being insufferable. – Stephanie M. 2 weeks ago
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    • Just read the Ballad of the Snake and The Songbird and I absolutely loved it. Tracing the history of the hunger games was intriguing and it was great delving into the experience of being part of the Capitol during and after the war! – Sean Gadus 2 weeks ago
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    Moby-Dick And Humankind's Fear Of And Desire To Conquer The Unknown

    Between Melville’s description of the color white as one of unsettling nothingness and the meticulous description of whales/whaling that can border on the obsessive (which could mirror Ahab’s mindset), Moby Dick sports a kind of thematic link that emphasizes humankind’s grappling with that which they either can’t/won’t understand or are willing to study if it means being better able to control the unknown. Have any of you gotten the impression that Ahab—in his single-mindedness—stands as a metaphor of sorts for the individual who not only dreads the strange, but also seeks to annihilate/tame it?

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      The Importance of Reading Classic Novels in English Classes

      When some think English classes, one might think of novels such as: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, Of Mice and Men, Lord of the Flies, Hamlet, etc. What importance do novels like these hold in literature? Why might some be considered the building blocks of English? Analyze the importance of classic novels in English courses and why they are still relevant in today’s classes.

      • I think this is a very interesting question and engaging question. One topic of it would be work investigating is the idea of Canonicity. it is related to the different purposes of reading, why things are considered important or significant works, and why we teach certain things in classes.A big takeaway of Canonicity is that there isn't just one reason we read a group of works and there are different important works depending on who you ask this question and the reasons behind reading.This might be an area to explore related to the reading of classic novels in English class – SeanGadus 4 years ago
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      • Great topic, and truly relevant given today's educational system. I work at a large university and find that students are ill prepared in both writing and their backgrounds in literature. Pretty much all of the books you mentioned were things I read in high school. We talked about character development, plot lines, and other relevant themes within them. Nowadays, it seems as if most English classes are centered around blogging and social media and not the perpetuation of great literature. – NoDakJack 4 years ago
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      • In my English classes, we did read the classics; however, there was also a focus on reading material written by authors other than white men. Because of this, we supplemented the classics with more modern, yet still popular works, such as The Kite Runner. It would be interesting to show both the benefits and possible drawbacks of the classics, as there is a great benefit from reading material written by authors who are not white men. – rosacan 4 years ago
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      • Beautiful topic. I've been a bookworm practically since toddlerhood and declared my major in English as early as I could get away with, so I definitely think there are "building blocks" of English lit that students should read. They are still relevant, and they should be considered building blocks. My thought, however, is that the canon may be evolving. That is, I wonder if we're focusing on building blocks too much, or if some books have been read so often that students and teachers feel they are "done to death." I'd be interested in an author who looks at some of these classics and then tries to decide which ones the canon should "keep," and which might be traded in for more modern books in middle, high school, and college classes. For instance, should we give Hamlet a break and study a lesser-known play such as A Winter's Tale? Should we toss out Of Mice and Men in favor of a contemporary book with a contemporary understanding of cognitive disabilities? The list goes on... – Stephanie M. 4 years ago
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      • This would be a great read, and if I could suggest another avenue, look into The Decline of the English Dept. by William Chase. Really delves deep into the humanities and how English is the basis of most avenues of learning – sophiebernard 11 months ago
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      • In my experience, classic novels are usually really easy to analyse. They’re usually filled with techniques, symbols, motifs, allegory, the themes are usually obvious. While the content may be problematic, they’re often useful for teaching students how to approach texts because they’re so accessible in that way. – Samantha Leersen 3 weeks ago
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      • I think this article would make for a swell addition to the website, especially if it tackles the Western canon and the parallels of those works included under the high art umbrella. Generally speaking, classic English-language novels such as Dubliners, Blood Meridian, Moby-Dick, and Heart of Darkness tend to delve into and expose the human condition via plot, setting, and character. All of these combine to craft a thematic arc and consensus that conveys the work's tone and atmosphere. – Michel Sabbagh 3 weeks ago
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      Has there ever been a truly faithful adaptation of a H.P. Lovecraft story?

      Adaptations of Lovecraft’s tales are, of course, rife in modern society. Just last year, the film adaptation of Color Out of Space (2019), attempted to visually recreate the cosmic horror of the original text. However, when the original story made it very explicit that the ‘color’ is indescribable by human standards, is it faithful to attempt to visually represent it and, more generally, can any visual adaptation of Lovecraft’s work be truly faithful?