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Published

The Potential of Classic Parodies -- Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a book and now a film parodying Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, playfully recycles Elizabeth Bennet’s story into a quirky — perhaps campy — tale that is more digestible for wide audiences. The parody references famous lines and scenes from the original, humoring those who have read and adored the book. Additionally, it opens up the less accessible media of ‘classic novel’ to a 21st century audience, hopefully piquing their interest in something they would never have considered before. Books like "Texts from Jane Eyre" and others rehash the favorite characters of English majors, but perhaps also open up older literature to young people only attracted to the young adult fiction section.

Are these tactics effective to opening up classics to a new generation? What is the effect of adding zombies to a story such as Pride and Prejudice? How do well-read critics of classics take to these parodies?

  • On the flipside the writer could also talk about taking more contemporary work and making it seem classic like how they wrote Star Wars like a Shakespeare play. – Jaye Freeland 2 years ago
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  • It could lead to some interest, but it would be uncertain whether these zombie version of classics would lead to reading the original. I think it depends on whether these parodies emphasize the theme or strengths of the classics or simply have fun by writing zombie stories in unlikely setting. – idleric 2 years ago
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  • What a fun topic! I know that my teenage sisters were prompted to read the original P&P after the release of P&P&Z. One might address how people love to "get it;" these new parody books are not only entertaining on their own, but might lead to reading the original just so that one "gets" the parody. – sophiacatherine 2 years ago
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  • Literary webseries are less quirky but seem to share the goal of getting younger people interested in older stories. I have little interest in reading classics like Pride & Prejudice, Emma, and Mansfield Park, but I feel like I know and enjoy the stories of those classics because of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Emma Approved, and From Mansfield with Love. Shakespearean adaptations like Nothing Much To Do and Shakes: The Town's the Thing do the same thing: the bard's timeless stories in plain, modern English. Perhaps this is a little outside the scope of this topic, or perhaps P&P&Z isn't quite broad enough and a writers needs some more more material to flesh out an article (no pun intended). – noahspud 12 months ago
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Is Gay Literature still in the closet?

Compared to gay and lesbian teen fiction, sales of gay-themed books for younger children remain “very dicey and very different”. It has been proven that the majority of the LGBTQI people who have come out across social media have had an incline since their younger years. This topic is in no way advocating for strong gay-themes, but in line with the short film “In a Heartbeat”, themes of love and social acceptance should be made available to anyone who is questioning, without fear of prosecution.

That isn’t to say that there is no gay-themed literature circulating. A quick google search, across all ages, will list must-reads.

But there still persists a closeted mentality in revealing characters to be gay. It wasn’t until after the series had finished, that J.K. Rowling announced that Dumbledore was homosexual. Outside of mainstream literature, the only medium I have ever witnessed open homosexuality has been within comic books. Furthermore, many mythologies exhibit homosexual themes, and even consist of deities who were openly gay, or bisexual in nature. The very philosophers who have contributed to societies mainstream thinking, and understanding, partook in homosexual acts and love; Socrates, and Plato to name a few — and even wrote about gay love.

There are many factors that can answer why gay literature is still only mentioned quietly, even in today’s age many countries are still very conservative. But with the rise of opinionated millennial’s, who for our very credit ask why we must be a certain way, this stodgy mindset could change – in no small part to social media, and online influencers.

It’s time we brought more focus to these types of literature, and have them available for those in the community, or who may be questioning. But where do we start?

We start by writing some great fiction, and getting it self-published. If you know of any writers, or stories, message them below so that someone questioning or who is actively seeking gay-themed content, can connect with a character not usually seen in mainstream media. It’s time this genre came out of the closet.

  • I think this is an important discussion to have. As even though there are a plethora of queer characters that are occurring in literature, if they are the protagonist in literature it is often only unspoken, or allegorically suggested, and if they are openly queer then the text as a whole gets sidelined into Queer Literature, rather than remaining as mainstream literature. I think this is a disservice to today's youth that do appear to be more open minded and accepting. As with feminist literature, it really is only through the immersion of queer protagonists in mainstream literature and television that significant changes will start to occur. – SaraiMW 3 weeks ago
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Selling a book by its cover

What causes people to buy certain books, is it the author, the title or the book cover? Publishing houses aim to sell books and in doing that they are conscious of what is on the book cover. From the font of the title and authors name and any pictures that represent what the book is about, the publishers arrange all of this so that the cover will catch the eye of a potential buyer. So, do people focus more on how the cover looks or are they more interested in the actual story of the book?

  • On Goodreads, I occasionally come across readers who buy a book because of how gorgeous the cover is - and they later find out it's just a bad story in a pretty wrapping. (I myself have been guilty of this, which now makes me wary of buying a book based solely on its cover.) But I do think the author's name is a big factor; if you've read a good series/standalone by a certain author, you're more likely to purchase their newest publication, perhaps without even looking at the new story's synopsis because it's expected the newest venture will be just as well-written or funny or action-packed as the last one. Even if it's a flop or not as great, copies will still sell solely based on the success attached to the author's name. For example, I know people who bought J.K Rowling's "The Casual Vacancy" simply because of her name on the cover, even though they were warned it was nothing like Harry Potter and they inevitably hated or gave up reading it. – Karen 3 months ago
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  • Good topic. So good that a really interesting book of scholarly essays has already been compiled on the subject. It's worth checking out if you're interested in paratextuality of this kind: Judging a Book by its Cover: Fans, Publishers, Designers, and the Marketing of Fiction (2007), ed. Nicole Matthews & Nickianne Moody. – ProtoCanon 3 months ago
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  • Obviously people are going to judge a book by its cover. We shouldn't, but it happens all the time. Covers are designed to grab our attention with the most marketable facets of the book. The only real way to combat a bad cover is good buzz circulating around the book community. – AGMacdonald 3 months ago
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  • Nice topic. We all can't help but judge a book by its cover occasionally. A good cover and title grabs our attention it makes us pick it up and read the description. I've noticed that I am more likely to buy or check out a book with a cover I like, but only if the story sounds interesting to me. I still pick up books even if I'm not a fan of the cover. – TooBusyReading 3 months ago
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Female Masculinity in Faulkner

The women in Faulkner’s novels are volatile characters (as most characters in his books are), but in a different way. The women are often stronger, more brusque, and generally independent, traits that the men in the novel wish they had. Specifically looking at The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying, how do the women appear more "masculine" than the men they interact with? How does their masculinity positively and negatively affect their relationships with others?

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    Literature in the modern online social sphere

    How will the increasing move to online social worlds such as Facebook and Instagram influence the consumption and production of literature. Will the move from physical books to technological based formats change the way words and ideas influence us. Is the day of the long classic novels coming to an end? Is this move making written word more accessible to mass audiences. Will this inevitable cultural and technological shift be the dawning of a new age of literature, or the death of an ancient human practise?

    • Its clear the way we use them is evolving, I think it creates an opportunity for new techniques to be used by writers, like a painter discovering some new colours. Especially as a new realm of experiences to decipher and dramatise. – beekay 6 months ago
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    • I have read many books that have detailed futuristic worlds in which physical books are 'ancient, with yellowing pages and brittle spines' and wondered myself whether this vision of the future could, in fact, become truth, particularly with the creation of ebooks and the ever increasing ability to purchase texts online. – SophIsticated 6 months ago
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    • Would it be helpful to look at games and our ability to participate in the story - has their level of characterisation rivalled (or does it have the potential to rival) 'long classic novels'? – Els Lee 3 months ago
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    Discovering Harry Potter: Does Age Matter?

    This is a fairly personal topic I’d like to write myself, but will leave to more experienced Potterheads.

    I was ten when the first Harry Potter book came out. I grew up in a moderate, but still observant Christian family who considered it too much of a risk to expose me and my then-six-year-old brother to a series that contained any form of witchcraft. I didn’t read the books then and later, got too busy with other books. Besides, I didn’t want to be labeled childish for carrying around HP paperbacks in, say, high school.

    As an adult, I’ve finally gotten around to opening my Hogwarts letter and starting the series, and it’s been a lot of fun. However, I can’t escape this fact: I’m a thirty-something woman. I have a different HP experience than the average 11-year-old.

    And so I’m curious to see an analysis of this phenomenon. Does age matter when you’re discovering HP for the first or two hundredth time? How do children and adults view the series differently? Are there less or more "mature" ways to interact with it? Or, as I suspect, has Harry Potter bridged age gaps in a way other book series can only dream about doing? If yes, how did J.K. and Harry do it?

    • Oh, this is a really good point. I grew up with HP and participated in fan culture while it was still going on, but recently met someone who never got involved until last year. We both love the series, but we have vastly different interpretations and relationships with the HP universe. Partly because of age, sure, but I think also because of our relationship to the fandom/culture surrounding it. – Emily Esten 2 months ago
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    • A nice idea for a topic, Stephanie. I have to confess to having a little bias in favour of the HP books as I was an extra on the last HP film, but having said that, I too discovered the books shortly afterwards. So, at the tender middle-age of 49 I started reading them. As an adult, what I discovered was a remarkably consistent form of storytelling that also matured and darkened in its subject matter as its young readers grew up.One thing I will credit Rowling with is encouraging a generation of children to do what successive UK governments had failed to do - namely to read for pleasure! I enjoyed discussing the stories with my nephew as he grew up and trying to solve the great puzzle, so in that respect alone it helped to connect the young and the not so young in a shared literary experience. It also opened up a few interesting discussions with other adults who saw me reading the books on the Tube; those who, perhaps under different circumstances, I might never have spoken to. – Amyus 2 months ago
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    • I grew up with the Harry Potter series so it's an important part of my childhood. I was actually too young when they first came out, so my mom would read them to me as bedtime stories instead. It turned into a bonding experience as my mom became almost equally immersed in the wizarding world as I was. I'm sure it was a different experience for her than it was for me. Since I was a child and the Harry Potter series involves a "coming of age" narrative, the human issues I was reading about were mostly on par with my own experiences growing up. The books and my life could co-exist side by side. For my mom, it perhaps provides a bit of nostalgia. It takes her back to when she was younger and makes her feel like a kid again. Feeling "like a kid" again while reading the books and actually being a kid while reading them is obviously a completely different perspective. Perhaps, for adults, it provides a mini-vacation from a world that seems to have lost a bit of its magic. It reminds you of an innate sense of curiosity and wonder we often lose as we get older. For kids reading them, there is perhaps less of a barrier between the wizarding world and our own. After all, Harry Potter incorporates our own (Muggle) world and the wizarding world within the same universe. The wizarding world seems like an undiscovered realm that we're too oblivious to realize is hidden right under our noses. The capacity for human ignorance can be astounding, so why can't there be a bit of magic we've failed to notice? Our entire existence is both a miracle and a mystery. Maybe J.K. Rowling is a witch herself! She certainly cast a spell on several generations worth of readers. As to how she did that so successfully, that's a more difficult question to answer. Audiences tend to like the ole' good versus evil storylines. Its voices aren't solely adolescent ones either, which separate it from YA that almost exclusively focus on kids' perspectives. I also greatly admire anything that's relegated to being mere "children's entertainment" which is instead handled with maturity and depth and acknowledges kids' capacities for awareness and intelligence that exist outside of adult comprehension. – aprosaicpintofpisces 2 months ago
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    Have 2017 YA novels escaped the cliched storylines?

    How does the 2017 YA shortlist fare against the timeless classics? Is it full of another stream of overused and cliched story lines and characters, or has it emerged into a fresh line of strong protagonists and insightful morale messages?

    • Well, I don't know enough about the current short list to write this topic, but I'm definitely interested in what the writer comes up with. There are certainly plenty of clichéd storylines, especially in the dystopian genre. But I have seen some unique twists on familiar premises. – Stephanie M. 3 months ago
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    • Hmm, this should be interesting. After what I feel has been a pretty dry spell in YA novels in recent years, I'd be happy to see an uptick in originality for sure. – jaysongoetzz 3 months ago
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    Teaching the Bible as Literature

    Teaching the Bible in any context, especially the classroom, is tricky. Teachers and professors have to be careful not to present the text in a devotional context, because not everyone is a devotee. However, the Bible is also a rich literary work; excerpts from it appear in many curriculums, especially World Literature textbooks. With this in mind, discuss the best way to teach the Bible as literature. For example, could certain parts of the Bible be paired with different classics (the story of David and Bathsheba Romeo and Juliet, excerpts from Revelation a time-honored apocalyptic or dystopian novel)? What would be your chosen pairings? Are there any parts you’d want to stay away from, or parts that lend themselves to literary teaching better than others?

    • Eschatology, the study of end times, as related to the dystopian future could be useful here. – Munjeera 3 months ago
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    • Good read! – Zoinks 3 months ago
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    • Thanks. I hope somebody writes this. I would, but as a Christian and religion/philosophy major, I'm probably too biased toward certain POVs. – Stephanie M. 3 months ago
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    • An overwhelming amount of critical literature has been produced on this subject; just type "bible as literature" (preferably with quotation marks retained) into a good library catalogue, and you'll find no lack of research materials. Though only a drop in the vast pool, one of the major influential writers on this subject (to my knowledge) is Northrop Frye. He'd probably be the best place to start for a novice. Also, a useful narratological concept which may be applied is Gérard Genette's "conditional fictionality" (see Fiction & Diction, p.24), which he proposes as a means of evaluating narratives which can be seen as "a true story for some and a fiction for others"; he goes on to cite mythology -- irrelevant to whether referring to the polytheism of antiquity or the monotheism of today -- as a prime example of this category, saying "one may accept a religious narrative as being both truthful and literary, in which case its literariness owes nothing at all to fictionality." Hope this helps. – ProtoCanon 3 months ago
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