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The Possibilities of Narrative

The problem of representation has persisted since antiquity. Literature had long opposed the writer’s ability to tell a story on one side, and to represent reality accurately on the other. The twentieth century has shown that both are concurrently achievable and modern literature, in particular the novel, is the product of the confluence of these two ideas.

An essay that explored how narrative has developed the capacity overcome this binary and to both tell a story and represent our experiences of reality would be a poignant contribution.

This is particularly pertinent in a cultural climate that continues to move away from homogenous conceptualisations of existence. In a cultural climate where language continues to lose authority it would be interesting to explore how language can adapt (as it always has) to overcome the severe destabilisation of what is (I use the term hesitantly) a Post-Truth world.

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    Riddley Walker: The Myths and Sense of Self-Denial Humankind Perpetuates In The Face Of Discovery And Change

    From the use of mythical stories to drive groupthink regarding the leveraging of forbidden knowledge, to the characters’ struggle with suppressing their innate desire for progress of any kind, Riddley Walker minced no words when it came to exposing humankind’s willingness to live in ignorance of their past and inner selves, with the lead character exploring and trying to make sense of a post-apocalyptic England instead of staying put in his settlement and abiding by orthodoxy.

    An article on Riddley Walker would break down the through-line that guides the book. That through-line being how humankind can falsely equate knowledge (i.e. the insight one possesses) with wisdom (i.e. how one uses the insight they possess in their interest and that of society), and how the devastating consequences of such an equation can drive folks to fence themselves in instead of trying to discover and use knowledge more carefully. The article could also take a look at one of the novel’s foremost inspirations—St. Eustace and the Legend that epitomizes the Christian martyr—and detail the ways in which said inspiration contextualizes the novel’s backstory.

    The main line of inquiry to be pursued could be as follows: How should one keep up with the inner drive to seek and implement knowledge without getting ahead of themselves? Should one fully trust fate to guide them on the path to knowledge, even if taking said path can potentially mean running afoul of one’s community and repeating the mistakes of the past?

    • What an exciting topic!In hindsight - trusting fate fully is both a blessing and a curse! I think eventually, after a certain number of what I call 'initiations', seekers learn to navigate and pace themselves through the labyrinths of experience, more easily done by surrendering control. Yes you will run afoul of one's community as it's an essential stage of the journey ;)...Ah but...the more I know the less I know. It's quite the paradox. Do we use knowledge or does knowledge use us? I have a theory about that. – RozeeCutrone 1 day ago
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    The Politics of the Shire

    The author of the Lord of the Rings JRR Tolkien was a traditionalist conservative shaped by both his Catholic beliefs as well as the Anglo-American tradition of conservatism, often traced back to Edmund Burke. Analyze the impacts of his worldview on the polities of the Free Peoples in general and the Shire in particular. A focus on the traditional order of the Shire and its transformation into a planned economy under "Sharkey" would be a good starting point for an article.

    • I've always found the Shire a fascinating place. Tolkien's image of a lush, peaceful, and unmechanized countryside is very fitting for his story, where the industry/mechanization of war threatens much of middle-earth . It also benefit to look at Tolkien's own experience in WW1 at the brutal Battle of the Somme. Tolkien had a brutal/horrible experience, confronting the terrors of modern mechanized warfare. – Sean Gadus 3 weeks ago
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    All Quiet on the Western Front: The Greatest War Novel of All Time?

    Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front is considered the greatest war novel ever written. Why is this book singled out? What makes it so different from other literature about war? This article would examine themes, setting, and characters and look at why the book has remained so timeless. (Comparisons to the movie/s can also be made.)

      Taken by Aliadwan02 (PM) 3 weeks ago.
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      A Canticle For Leibowitz: The Cycles Of Unearthing And Using Knowledge That Can Enhance and Undo Civilization

      Between the sense of historical recurrence that ends in nuclear annihilation, and the preservation of knowledge in a world initially hostile to education, A Canticle for Leibowitz looked at the issue of the human mentality never easily catching up with rapidly evolving technology or understanding its proper use, the Catholic Church acting as a gatekeeper for knowledge that can prove dangerous in the wrong hands. Especially those of states bearing the same ambition and sense of tribalism that destroyed civilization beforehand.

      An article on this topic would take a look at how A Canticle for Leibowitz tackles humankind’s relationship with knowledge, particularly sizable discoveries such as electricity and atomic energy. This topic could also explore backstory events such as the Simplification that saw the persecution of the literate and how this ingrained culture of mass ignorance resulted in the rising state forgetting the mistakes of the past and heading toward the same nuclear conclusion that undid the Earth in the first place.

      The primary line of inquiry to be pursued could be the following: How should we handle knowledge that can both (re)build and destroy life, particularly when we’re aware of how it was wrongly employed beforehand?

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        Dragons - East vs. West

        Dragons are known to be creatures of immense power and destruction and can be found in folklore across the globe. However, there is a difference in the way dragons are depicted as symbols of power between eastern and western culture. Eastern culture depicts power through embodying a dragon i.e. an aspiration to become like a dragon whereas western culture depicts power through slaying a dragon i.e. overcoming a foe who is as powerful as a dragon.

        • I think that you've already established some broad values that are commonly associated with Eastern culture vs Western culture that might be a bit too leading. I would love to see how these norms and attitudes have been challenged by more recent depictions of dragons (i.e. how dragons are of the East in Game of Thrones but were brought over to Western culture multiple times). – kickingupanacho 1 year ago
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        • I like the angle you chose--embodying or becoming a dragon (East) vs. slaying it (West). It's different from the more typical discussions about European dragons being associated with fire and destruction while East Asian dragons are associated with nature/weather and benevolence or one has wings and the other is pretty much a flying serpent. It'd be imperative to look at cultural sources, especially with Eastern culture as dragons are almost always (and exclusively) associated with kings/emperors. – snowycarousel 1 year ago
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        • Very interesting! I cant help but find the Western interpretation all the more inspiring. In spite of the vast difference in size and strength between a human and a dragon, the human still prevails, through courage and intelligence. The Western interpretation seems very applicable as a parallel to many of the problems that humanity faces, whereas the Eastern interpretation.. I can understand to a degree.. I've noticed many therianthropic themes in Eastern culture (humans turning into animals).. I wonder where this cultural focus stems from.. – Dstoll25 1 year ago
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        How are fairy tales ingrained in our culture today

        There has been many fairytales that have been written throughout the decades. One particular fairytale (little red riding hood) has taught us certain lessons and meanings about society. Explore how these meanings and teachings have changed within the 20th century.

        • Another thing to keep in mind is that "Cinderella" can mean any of a wide range of things. Over the centuries there have been many, many versions of Cinderella-type stories, in many different cultures. For instance, in Scotland there's the fairy tale of Rashin-Coatie, and certain Native American tribes have the tale of the Rough-Faced Girl (or something similar). So, there isn't really a single "traditional" version of Cinderella. – Debs 1 year ago
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        • This seems very interesting. While we might not be teaching children these tales anymore directly, the ideals and overall message are still strong to this day. – Aliadwan02 3 weeks 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!

        • I'm currently writing an article on this (leaving this note here just in case the topic gets unlocked again). – aprosaicpintofpisces 2 months ago
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        Taken by aprosaicpintofpisces (PM) 1 month ago.