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 6 years ago
  • 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 6 years ago
  • 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 6 years ago
  • 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. 6 years ago
  • 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 3 years ago
  • 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 2 years ago
  • 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 2 years ago

Want to write about Literature or other art forms?

Create writer account