Literature

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What can we learn from existential philosophy in today's epidemic climate?

How do famous works of existential philosophy: particularly those published in the late 19th/early 20th century fit into the role of human extant today? Specifically to the younger generations that are experiencing a deep uncertainty and fear towards the future? This can be drawn from works by Hermann Hesse, Nietzsche, Camus, Sartre, etc.

  • This is an interesting topic. I do think history repeats itself and that there is a lot to learn from philosophy. Also, learning from how humanity survived other hardships and catastrophes is a good thing for people today as well. – birdienumnum17 6 months ago
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  • I also hope someone will write about this topic. But to me, the more interesting perspective is how older people feel about their value and relation to the society given that the pandemic hits them the hardest and there is a growing sense that we may scarify the old and weak so that we can reopen the society for younger people, who are eager to work and socialize. – ctshng 6 months ago
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  • "Existential" a word which I remember being confined to a more narrow understanding of specific writers, such as Camus or Nietezche, has now seemed to touch many things. As part of an essay addressing existentialism should be how it has been adapted and seems to pop up everywhere. – Joseph Cernik 3 months ago
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The state of "too good for this sinful earth" characters nowadays

Throughout history, many stories have featured characters who are depicted as being "too good for this sinful earth" and therefore dying young. Charles Dickens, for instance, wrote many such characters into his stories; and Uncle Tom’s Cabin also depicts its most famous characters in this way. Such an idea, of course, has explicitly religious connotations, with the idea being that the character is so pure that they belong in heaven and not on earth. Do such characters still exist in modern, secular media? If so, what are some examples? How can a story that lacks a religious bent portray a character as too good for the world (if indeed it’s possible)?

  • Oh yeah, they exist. A lot of times, they're disabled, which smacks of ableism (or they have cancer, which is not the same thing but is in the neighborhood). A lot of Christian-based movies have these, and what's interesting is that the characters come across as too good for earth even if they ultimately survive (inspiration porn). But sometimes you'll find them in non-religious literature, too. The key is, "too good for this sinful earth" in itself implies the character has some kind of faith or at least a belief in heaven, so there is some overlap. – Stephanie M. 4 months ago
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  • This is an interesting topic! I immediately thought of "Clarissa" by Samuel Richardson as one of "too good for this sinful earth" protagonists. I don't think such characters are as popular in modern media anymore because of how people's tastes and social ideals have changed, at least, that is true in most western movies/tv shows. There isn't any purely "good" character anymore and I think we mostly veer towards portraying characters as more human and flawed. But maybe that in itself could be an interesting direction to take for this topic. – Kheya 3 months ago
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The importance of multiple perspectives in literature

Analyse how books with multiple character point-of-view enhances the reading experience. What are the benefits of having both female and male main characters? In what ways does having four different points of view aide the story’s plot? As with real life, there is never one side to a story, there’s plenty. How does this relate to real life situations?

  • I think this would be an interesting topic since it is not just multiple POVs that enhance the experience, when done properly, it is the realisation that each character will have their own view on events that have passed. The unreliable narrator trope can be more concisely illustrated when other perspectives are shown, letting the audience know the biases of certain characters more. It allows the world in which the story is taking place feel much more like reality since a person's perspective is never actually subjective. When one character tells a story from their perspective, so much of that story is influenced by their own biases. By allowing multiple POVs this can be more obviously pointed out so that novel feels more accurate to real life. – NayanaK 5 months ago
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Canadian Literature

Analyze popular themes in Canadian Literature from LM Montgomery to Alice Munro to Margaret Atwood. Some have noted themes of survival, self-deprecation and social gospel. Also take a look at Northrop Frye’s literary criticism to form a lens to analyze Canadian literature.

  • I know that “Anne of Green Gables” is one of the classics and one of the more famous Canadian works of literature. Any discussion on this should include some discussion of this. – J.D. Jankowski 9 months ago
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  • The author of Anne of Green Gables is LM Montgomery. – Munjeera 4 months ago
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Guilty Pleasures

What are we saying when we claim the book we are reading is a "guilty pleasure"? Why do we assume we should feel ashamed for our choice of literature? Are we presuming that all literature can be qualitatively measured? Why should we, even with a tongue-in-cheek intent, associate reading with guilt of any kind? It can be argued that when applied to food there can be at least metrics for what define "good" and "bad" (even if it amounts to the same thing: unnecessary and self-inflicted shame). Who are we assuming judges us for books that we think we should not be reading?

  • Actually a really interesting topic that spans literature and psychology. It would be interesting to also look at the division of categories - women vs men, different age groups, cultural divisions (for instance reading 'The Satanic Verses' in India is a very different 'guilty pleasure' to reading a Mills & Boons in America), even looking at the period changes as different popular culture texts have been adopted into mainstream society. – SaraiMW 3 years ago
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  • From my experience, a lot of 'guilty pleasures' are books that are marketed towards women, and because of this they're seen as inherently inferior to works that are aimed at a mixed audience. While, generally, these books are no less worthwhile than their counterparts, because of the stigma surrounding them people attempt to justify their enjoyment of them as a 'guilty pleasure' to avoid having to get into a lengthy discussion of why they should be allowed to enjoy them without ridicule. – jessicalea 3 years ago
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  • Very interesting idea! You could use works on the production fo taste such as Bourdieu's "Distinction" and consider the role of age, gender, race, sexuality, and other axes in defining what's a "legitimate" pleasure and what's a "guilty" pleasure. Maybe also consider the role of shame in the idea of guilty pleasure – rmostafa 3 years ago
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  • "Guilty Pleasure" as reading something that doesn't fit what we might usually read. Reading a romantic novel if it is rare for someone to do. It might it open up a new world to explore regarding how we develop different perspectives. In this regarding, guilty pleasure serves a purpose, not just something we read because we needed to read something. – Joseph Cernik 2 years ago
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  • I guess it's similar to when you like something but all your friends don't like it, so you either watch or read it secretly, like you're almost ashamed of liking it and don't want your friends to know you have a differing opinion. Or when you're expected to not like something, like an adult liking Barbie movies for example, or a man liking otome games. Not saying they can't, anyone can like anything. – TaylorKirb 2 years ago
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  • I personally am not exactly a believer in the idea of a "guilty pleasure." If something gives one a sense of pleasure, no ill feelings coming from it, then why feel guilty? I do suppose it comes mostly from how most popular circles perceived a piece of media that garners that term. If others in a majority are bound to call something bad or not the usual level of quality, it can make one feel somewhat lesser for being in the camp that sees merit. But they're the ones who should be the most vocal about it as well. – berryplusbears 2 years ago
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  • I personally never understood the notion of "guilty pleasures." If you enjoy a piece of media, then you shouldn't feel guilty about it. If I don't like a piece of work then I won't enjoy it, that's it. Like berryplusbears mentioned, I think it's from various media communities and how they may perceive other works that may not fit their specific criteria for what makes something good but still enjoy it. If you ask me, that's just expanding your tastes, but I guess it also helps some people justify liking certain things for themselves. – ImperatorSage 2 years ago
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On the Benefits on Third-Person Omniscient Narration

Third-person Omniscient is something that many authors and readers have moved away from. But why? Extremely popular once, it has seemed to fall away in the last hundred years. perhaps a deep dive into this topic would be of interest.

  • I agree! It seems as though immersivity within many art forms (i.e. books, games, music, etc.), is becoming a central role in their creation. Looking into what are the first-person and third-person books' defining characteristics/tropes would be a good start. – gabbymb 2 years ago
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  • This would be very fascinating to look into! Such an interesting way of writing that would be nice to see more of in the modern world narrative writing. – inkski 2 years ago
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Old v. New: the value of reading the 'classics' against the value of contemporary authors

In all reality, it would seem that the best literary diet would consist of both old and newer literature. However, I’ve noticed that some people hold vehemently to one or the other, myself notwithstanding. It’d be interesting to see if anyone could turn this into an interesting discussion.

  • I feel that to make this topic effective, you would have to establish what counts as contemporary vs. what counts as classic. What decade establishes something as "new." It could be argued that Lord of the Rings is reaching the point of "Classic" as it came out in 1954. But it is still beloved as a contemporary piece of literature (due, in part, to the films). – Jemarc Axinto 5 years ago
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  • Who are the "some people?" Academics? Why does this matter who holds on to what? A potential author will have to include this. – Cmandra 5 years ago
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  • I also agree with Jemarc. I am very interested in seeing how someone takes this topic, great idea! – emilyinmannyc 5 years ago
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  • If by old you mean: "classic" and by new you mean: "modern" this could be a very interesting topic! Something else to consider is that different generations could lean more towards one or the other; it all depends on the target reading audience in question. On a side note: verses in the topic title needs an "s". But the title itself is a little confusing, I would consider rewording it to maybe something shorter. – Megan Finsel 5 years ago
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  • "Classic" is a very arbitrary term, and can often be problematic. This idea of separation between classic literature and modern literature oftentimes fails to acknowledge the value of modern writers and what they do for the future of writing and literature.To make this topic work, I would agree with Jemarc in saying that you would have to establish clear boundaries between what is classic and what is modern, and you'd have to do this in a more concrete manner than taste. The generational aspect is also important to consider, but I think the most important thing to note would be what inherently separates the "classics" from modern literature as a body. For instance, what does "The Great Gatsby" have as far as qualities that "The Hunger Games" does not? Beyond time period and subject matter, is there something inherently different in the quality or form of the writing?Just my thoughts on the subject. It's a good topic, and one that I've certainly heard and thought a lot about. – Farrow 5 years ago
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  • I think there is also an implication that "classic" literature carries weight and MEANING where "modern" literature may be thought of as entertaining and for consumption. – MELSEY 5 years ago
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Romanticism Vs. Neo-Classicism: Which Movement is More Moving?

Scholars of literature have argued over Romanticism and Neo-Classicism as one happens to follow the other in writing movements, though the two are starkly different from each other. A huge shift in narrative expression, especially in poetry, is seen as written works shift from the garnished Neo-Classist to the emotional Romantic. Which style is truly more moving to the audience: The grandiose and otherworldly descriptions in Neo-Classicism, or the human and personal confession of Romanticism? Most would say Romanticism as it is easier to relate to for the audience. Rather than describe something as untouchable by all else and remove the audience from the piece (which is what Neo-Classicism tends to do), Romanticism brings the audience in and puts them in the poem or story with the speaker. An audience is more easily moved when they are emotionally and personally engaged.

  • I think this could be an interesting topic, to try to compare several poets from each movement and see what the pros and cons of different styles add up to. However, what is potentially problematic is just how subjective enjoying, or being moved by, poetry/literature is. Most people will simply have personal reactions to different authors and poets, and this could cross the lines of the movements and be from opposite ends of these aesthetic philosophies. This could be interesting though, if the author elaborated on what he/she finds moving from different poets! – Claire 4 years ago
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  • I think this is a very valid topic. I would include the effects of the sublime when it comes to art when you talk about these two eras, especially Romanticism. The sublime connects to a person's emotions and their ability to remove themselves from the situation and think about why the art effects them. – aeolsen17 4 years ago
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