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10

The Appeal of Harry Potter

Harry Potter continues to be an endearing franchise. What thematic elements make it so loved years after the books and films have been completed?

  • I think it has to do a lot with the fact that the books were famous before it became a movie and the kids who grew up reading those books are now adults and thus, they encouraged their younger siblings to take interest in the movies and read the book. Not to mention that some of us read the books as adults, (like me) and encouraged our children to take an interest in the franchise (both in books and movies). (at least that is what I did). – Nilab Ferozan 10 months ago
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  • I have see how popular the topic is on the Artifice itself. – Munjeera 10 months ago
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  • This would be a super read! I think it's important to consider the books and the films as separate entities , but also compare their success at some point in the article – LilyaRider 10 months ago
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  • Harry Potter has this certain nostalgic appeal that leads to people feeling a connection with the series, and the desire to pass it on to younger traditions. Aside from fantasy, the series deals with issues of friendship, loss, families, hope, struggles, etc., which allows for a multitude of viewership. Due to these numerous facets, this series has the ability to reach readers/viewers in at least one area of human emotion. – danielle577 9 months ago
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  • It's the characters. There are so many characters or parts of characters that each of us can identify with or want to be. I started to read these books as a teenager, and yet older than the targeted audience. I wanted to get my letter telling me I was a wizard (or witch) and would be swept away into this magical world that exists alongside of our muggle world. Even as an adult it is wonderful to believe that somewhere there is magic or this alternate world that could exist. The core story of love and friendship endures past the books and films. And even as I re-read the series I laugh and cry at the same moments that I read in the first reading. And am sad when it's all over that I need to re-read and re-watch. It's one that shall continue to endure. – therachelralph 9 months ago
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  • I agree that it's the characters because the characters are thought out to such an extent and written in such detail that they can easily be imagined as real people instead of just imaginary people from a book. They also cover a wide range of types of people and do not stick to hard stereotypes. The good characters have flaws. The bad characters have good somewhere inside them or backstories explaining why they are how they are. The booksmart Hermione doesn't always have the answer and brought new depth to the 'nerd' and 'bookworm' characters. All the characters have an amazing depth to them that is actually surprising considering just how many characters there are. Even small characters that you hardly see or ones that didn't even make it into the movies have complete characters. None are hollow characters just there for the furthering of the plot, instead being fully-formed people. I would say that the characters are the main reason the series remains relevant. The magic doesn't hurt though. Essentially, the series creates a world perfect for the imagination of all ages to explore and young fans just get to know the world and the characters in new and deeper ways as they get older. It doesn't just fade away and get forgotten because there's always more to experience and enjoy. – AnisaCowan 9 months ago
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  • It's the appeal of the alternative reality: this rich and amazing world that is just around the corner, if only we know how to look for it. I'd also say it was how well Rowling constructed her universe and how rich and detailed it is. Just the care she put into naming her characters, it reminds me of Tolkien.I think another part of the appeal is that we can all imagine ourselves in that world. If not as students, then as teachers or at least as a denizen. In that respect, it reminds me of Star Trek. – LisaDee 9 months ago
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  • Someone please formulate what Rowling did. I need the money. – Tigey 7 months ago
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  • Many people have mentioned the characters and I agree that is a huge part of it. JKR has called them "character-driven" books and after reading that quote I was immediately like, oh, yeah. It got me thinking. Technically all books are driven by the actions of characters, but some plots don't require you to know the characters on a personal level to be entertaining. JKR takes character to a whole new level; as people have said, it's like you know them (not just the main characters--almost all of them) and could predict what they would do in any situation. And her dialogue is fun, witty, and personal to each of her characters. It makes her writing more fun and truly exceptional, and the story so much more dimensional than the plot of defeating Voldemort. That goes along with the idea of world creation. I hate comparing HP to things like Twilight and The Hunger Games because it blows them out of the water from a writing, literary, and overall goodness standpoint. But a comparison serves to make my point--Stephanie Meyer and Suzanne Collins created worlds within or in the future of our world. They added new rules and created some creatures, devices, and spaces that are purely the products of imagination. But J.K. Rowling created a Wizarding world that, while occasionally intersecting with the muggle world, is a space all it's own. She doesn't even rely on the existence of technology. She invented hundreds of spells, animals, laws, backstories, places, histories. It's mind-blowing. – katybherman 4 months ago
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  • J.K. Rowlings Harry Potter series helped change my life as a child. Being of the Harry Potter generation I grew up reading the books, waiting in lines at midnight to get the books and skipping school the next day to barricade myself in my room to read it in its entirety as soon as possible. J.K. Rowlings taught me lessons about hardship, friendship, bullying and life with her stories, for that, I will be forever grateful. Literature to me is going on an adventure. No matter the genre, fiction or non–though I am partial to fiction. By opening the pages of a book we can be transported into a new world, learning and living through characters in the world created. We study and write about it for many different reasons, some to learn, others to simply enjoy. Literature has no bounds, it is not limited by the past, present or the future. It's the relatability of the characters and their progression through growing up learning about, life, love/lust, friendship, bully, and loss that allow us to connect with them, breath with them and even grieve with them. The world of Harry Potter is so much more than one boy with a scar on his forehead or simply words on a page. – RoyalBibliophile 2 months ago
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  • Check out Sarah's recent post, pending approval, as it addresses Harry and enduring popularity. – Paul A. Crutcher 1 week ago
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7

The Importance of Learning the Classics

Is it important to learn about classic literature to better understand contemporary writing?

  • I think this a great start for a topic! Maybe you could refine the topic a little by pointing to specific classics that are commonly assigned in secondary education? For example, To Kill a Mockingbird, Great Expectations, etc. I think that specific examples would definitely focus the article more and add to its impact. – Opaline 5 months ago
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  • Learning the basic nature of Classic Literature has always had a high importance, but there are stories that can be substituted. This might be something you'd want to explore as you're researching, such as what books might be able to replace, for example, A Tale of Two Cities in terms of having the same themes; so perhaps finding a more modern novel with themes of doppelgangers, unrequited love, and so on. I believe this is how new classics are born as time goes on and the classics we have now become more like the tales of Chaucer - simply something we skim over once or twice through secondary school or university. – Steven Gonzales 5 months ago
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  • I'm so glad there are more voices for this! I've taught college and high school, and I lose sleep over the push to leave Classic Literature to electives and Humanities rather than retaining it as part of a general education requirement. Yes, there are some we can substitute, but why? I don't believe that anything contemporary has the same academic or historical value. The emphasis on language and prose style is often only evident in older works. I would love to see how many of the most successful writers were influenced by the classics. A lot of the best novels out there have hints of classic works - prose, themes, conflicts and unique premises. To understand contemporary works, it would help to read the works that influenced their authors. – wtardieu 5 months ago
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  • Classics can be very Euro-centric. The more balanced approach of examining literature with classical themes would make a more relevant article. Such as looking at famous love stories, changing circumstances in life and qualities about human nature.I think it is worth giving this topic another analysis but framing it with classical world literature. – Munjeera 3 weeks ago
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  • I began my writing journey after several writing courses during college. I earned stellar commentary from my classmates and the professor. But, it wasn't until I started to revisit the writing of Shakespeare (which I dreaded in high school), the Greek myths (which always fascinated me), and science-fiction (H.G. Wells, Arthur C. Clarke) that my inner voice resurfaced. The best place to begin testing personal writing ability is in the poetry and narratives of the great ones. It is the proving grounds for the imminent author or the hesitant observer. – lofreire 2 weeks ago
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  • I think that the "classics" are classics for a reason, but the canon of classic literature mostly excludes women, people of colour, and non-European/American literature, which is a huge problem. It might be interesting to examine how the canon of classic literature is being (rightfully) challenged by scholars who are inserting frequently underrepresented narratives and texts back into literary history. So, yes, I think people should read classics that interest them, but prioritize expanding their horizons. – Kristen 2 days ago
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Elizabeth Slays the Dragon: Feminism in Children's Literature

Analyze how children’s literature has changed over the years to be more inclusive and to have strong female protagonists. One example of this theme is The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munch.

  • This is an interesting topic. I cannot say I am familiar with many strong female protagonists in children's literature other than The Paper Bag Princess. That goes to show there should be more – Riccio 8 months ago
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  • You could start with Jo in Little Women and Anne in Anne of Green Gables plus Pippi Longstocking and Ramona and Beezus. – Munjeera 7 months ago
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  • It's stupid to have male heroes only since men are stronger than women, as a group, but not the dragons, etc., that are so often slain in children's literature. This father of two female dragon slayers says, "Great topic." – Tigey 7 months ago
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  • Look at Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen"--in that story, the little girl, Gerda, is the one who embarks on the dangerous journey to save the boy, Kay. Also, some of George McDonald's fairytales feature interesting female protagonists, as does Oscar Wilde's "The Canterville Ghost." – Allie Dawson 3 months ago
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  • Don't forget Hansel and Gretel, wherein Gretel is the one who ultimately defeats the witch. Feminism is a lot older than we think. Some other great examples of feminism in children's lit: 1. Amazing Grace (can't remember the author right now): Grace, a young black girl, is determined to get the lead in her class' production of Peter Pan, although her classmates say a black girl can't play the role. 2. Homecoming (Cynthia Voigt): Dicey Tillerman, 13, takes over the role of mother and leads her 4 siblings to a new home after their mentally ill mother disappears. 3. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (Avi): Charlotte, a young girl growing up in the 1830s, becomes a crew member on the Seahawk during a voyage from England to America, and helps put down a ruthless captain. 4. Dear America and American Girl books: many of these have strong female protagonists. Focus on Julie, Kit, and Felicity for particular AG examples. – Stephanie M. 2 months ago
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  • Also, try Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. – Munjeera 3 days ago
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Taken by Stephanie M. (PM) 3 weeks ago.
7

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 4 weeks 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 4 weeks ago
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  • Pomegranates definitely have religious meaning and significance! It would be interesting to see how they all tie together, even in later medieval symbology (in art and heraldry). It might be important to note how many of these more ancient cultures were interconnected and played off of each other's mythology. – boldlygone 2 weeks ago
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  • I think this could be a very eye-catching article. There's definitely history and plenty of research material there. It would be interesting to see how you would integrate culture, literature, and tradition. – ReidaBookman 3 days 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 weeks 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 4 weeks 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 4 weeks ago
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Taken by lmunson (PM) 3 weeks ago.
4

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 month 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. 1 month 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 weeks 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. 1 month 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 month ago
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7

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 1 month 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. 1 month 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 month 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 month 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 weeks 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 weeks 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 4 weeks ago
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  • There is also importance placed on when a woman foregoes her hair, by choice or otherwise. See: Mulan, Mad Max Fury Road, and V for Vendetta. – Triggerhappy938 3 weeks ago
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