FacebookTwitter
Hatrack River Forum Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » My English teacher believes Tolkien has no literary merit.... (Page 1)

  This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2   
Author Topic: My English teacher believes Tolkien has no literary merit....
Ginol_Enam
Member
Member # 7070

 - posted      Profile for Ginol_Enam           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
...as well as any other fantasy or sci-fi author.

I take AP English Literature and Composition. We've been looking at different promps used for past AP tests, and we've noticed that every single one has said that we have to choose a book of "literary merit." Someone asked exactly which books would have literary merit and how would we know what they were.

So my teacher answers by saying something along the lines of, "I'm sorry if you read science fiction or fantasy, but they don't have literary merit. Harry Potter, Tolkien, Stephen King; they are certainly fun reads, but they have no literary merit." That's not an exact quote, but its pretty darn close.

Once she said this, my respect for her completely disappeared. Quite frankly, if she can so quickly dismiss a book or author as having no literary merit just because of the genre, then she should not be teaching a class about literature. Not to say I'll slack off in her class or ignore her, however. I'm sure I can pick up some stuff about hwo to please AP graders and overanalyze the written word, but it will be a chore to come to her class, not a pleasure as my English classes have been for the past two years.

And it wasn't so much that she classified sci-fi and fantasy in general as having no literary merit, its almost expected, but that she singled out Tolkien himself. Its not that she's read the wrong books, but that she's just biased and ignorant...

Posts: 450 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
mackillian
Member
Member # 586

 - posted      Profile for mackillian   Email mackillian         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Have you read the dialogue in Tolkien's works? [Wink]

(and it's "prompts" not "promps")

Posts: 14745 | Registered: Dec 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Book
Member
Member # 5500

 - posted      Profile for Book           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Yeah, epics and sagas never did anything for western literature. Literature and knowledge began in the Renaissance. Of course. How silly of me.
Posts: 2258 | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Kwea
Member
Member # 2199

 - posted      Profile for Kwea   Email Kwea         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
If stilted dialog prevented a book from having merit, most of the classics would not be taught.
Posts: 15081 | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
0range7Penguin
Member
Member # 7337

 - posted      Profile for 0range7Penguin           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Argggg. Thats why my Highschool english classes angered me. [Wall Bash]
Posts: 832 | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Bob_Scopatz
Member
Member # 1227

 - posted      Profile for Bob_Scopatz   Email Bob_Scopatz         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Ask her to explain just how something like Moby Dick or The Old Man and the Sea, or pick just about any Dickens novel -- which certainly have core elements that are fantastic somehow have achieved the lofty description of "literary merit."

I'm sure she'll say something about character development. At which point it'd be somewhat appropriate to point her toward OSC (for starters) and ask what she's read of him.

Philistine!

Just because it's a genre that is actually interesting to a wide audience of people of all ages...

Maybe you could leave a copy of Ender's Game in her desk someday...

Dope!

Oh well...work hard, get your "A" and remember to do it better when you're in charge.

Posts: 22496 | Registered: Sep 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
mackillian
Member
Member # 586

 - posted      Profile for mackillian   Email mackillian         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I know, I was poking fun. [Razz]

But I am much more of a fan of the movies made from Tolkien's books and not so much his books. The dialogue kills me.

One thing I remember from my AP Lit courses is reading James Joyce's short stories. They were wonderful. I loved them. Found out he wrote novels.

I was completely disappointed in them. Unlike his short stories, the novels were so hard to comprehend that they failed in telling the story.

Posts: 14745 | Registered: Dec 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Book
Member
Member # 5500

 - posted      Profile for Book           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
You should smoke and spit in class and then when she asks you, "What are you rebelling against?" you look her right in the eye and say "Whaddya got?" lol thatd be so cool lol

Sorry I just had to get that out of my system.

Posts: 2258 | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
mackillian
Member
Member # 586

 - posted      Profile for mackillian   Email mackillian         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Do you feel better now?
Posts: 14745 | Registered: Dec 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TomDavidson
Member
Member # 124

 - posted      Profile for TomDavidson   Email TomDavidson         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
One of my AP English essays actually asked me to examine the use of place as metaphor in fiction. I brought up Tolkien's use of the Shire, Gondor, Mordor, and Lothlorien -- and compared those to the use of London and the Reservation in Huxley and the woods and the city in Hawthorne.

While Tolkien's themes are certainly more explicit, I don't think they're any weaker for that.

As I specifically referenced Lord of the Rings and Brave New World -- a fantasy novel and a sci-fi novel, respectively -- and got the highest possible score on the AP test, I'm pretty sure that the judges did not (at least at that time) use the same definition of "literary merit" that your teacher does.

Posts: 37419 | Registered: May 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
ambyr
Member
Member # 7616

 - posted      Profile for ambyr           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Ask her how she feels about Marquez.

Ask her how magical realism differs from fantasy.

Ask her how she feels about Bradbury, Orwell, or Huxley.

Ask her why their work fails to be science fiction.

Posts: 650 | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Ginol_Enam
Member
Member # 7070

 - posted      Profile for Ginol_Enam           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by mackillian:
(and it's "prompts" not "promps")

Yeah, I know. Typo...

Anyway, my dad is actually ticked enough that he said we was going to write a letter. Whether he actually will or not is still up in the air (depends on whether it stays on his mind or if he forgets; you know).

I was planning on some point at just simply writing an essay for her, or something. Just simply arguing with her bfore/during/after class probably wouldn't accomplish much.

She's also one of those people whose opinions are fact. She'll "debate" with someone, certainly, but she won't actually be considering your points or anything; she'll just wait for your to finish so she can continue on explaining why she's right.

So...

Posts: 450 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Book
Member
Member # 5500

 - posted      Profile for Book           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by mackillian:
Do you feel better now?

Sure, I feel great.
Posts: 2258 | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
raventh1
Member
Member # 3750

 - posted      Profile for raventh1           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Some people believe that the Earth is flat.

Just because someone believes something doesn't mean it's true. [Wink]

You should give her a pair of glasses that filter out yellow or red, and tell her that she has to wear them until you can read something sci-fi.

Although it looks like she's already color blind. [Frown]

Posts: 1132 | Registered: Jul 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Scott R
Member
Member # 567

 - posted      Profile for Scott R   Email Scott R         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
This is very important in understanding where your teacher is coming from: Did she say why she considered those works to have no literary merit? Don't automatically think that she's discounting the works merely because they have fantastical elements. In order to argue against her point (Genre books have no literary merit) you have to know WHY she feels that way.

Dickens, Huxley, Orwell. . .meh. For my money, it doesn't get any more fantastic than Shakespeare.

quote:
Once she said this, my respect for her completely disappeared. Quite frankly, if she can so quickly dismiss a book or author as having no literary merit just because of the genre, then she should not be teaching a class about literature.
Never let someone's prejudices stand in the way of your learning. Despite her prejudices, she may be a very competant teacher, and you'll regret it if you discount her entirely based on this remark alone. There is, after all, a lot more to literature than just genres. Recognize that her attitude (all that we've heard of it) is widely held. And then get over it, and try to learn from her.

All teachers have prejudices. Take what is true, and discard the dross.

[ September 07, 2005, 07:14 AM: Message edited by: Scott R ]

Posts: 14554 | Registered: Dec 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
DavidGill
Member
Member # 8166

 - posted      Profile for DavidGill   Email DavidGill         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
FYI:

I was a grader for the AP exam in English/Literature two years ago, and when I was a high school teacher, I taught AP English.

Over a two week period, I read thousands of essaysno exaggeration. The best essays were written by students who obviously enjoyed the novels and wrote with some sense of passion and humor. The worst essays were those written about the tried (tired) and true topics--Hamlet, Joyce, Dickens, Hardy, etc. We called these styrofoam essays because they were so lifeless.

I read two essays on ENDER'S GAME, and both were excellent. We talked a lot at the end of every day, and no one even said that specific genres were anathema. In fact, there were many complaints about the lack of variety in the readings and the void of humor.

Posts: 80 | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Katarain
Member
Member # 6659

 - posted      Profile for Katarain   Email Katarain         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
She's behind the times. Do some research and show her some articles and books that critique and analyze sci-fi and fantasy. There's plenty out there. Lots of people, probably a lot smarter than her, have written on the genre. (You know... "scholarly" stuff.)

I have access to all the best databases at the library... let me know if you want a list of sources.

-Katarain

Posts: 2880 | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Foust
Member
Member # 3043

 - posted      Profile for Foust   Email Foust         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Ask her about the Illiad or the Odyssey - if published today, both would be found in the "fantasy" section. And ask about A Midsummer Night's Dream - also fantasy.

Your teacher is on crack.

Posts: 1515 | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Miro
Member
Member # 1178

 - posted      Profile for Miro   Email Miro         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Wow. I'm getting flashbacks to high school. I had nearly the same arguments with my 11th and 12th grade AP English teachers. Over and over and over again. *sigh*
Posts: 2149 | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
mackillian
Member
Member # 586

 - posted      Profile for mackillian   Email mackillian         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
So
Ask her how she feels about Seamus Heaney's use of the word "So" in his translation of Beowulf. [Smile]
Posts: 14745 | Registered: Dec 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Jon Boy
Member
Member # 4284

 - posted      Profile for Jon Boy           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Now I remember why I transfered out of honors English 11th grade and didn't take AP English 12th grade.
Posts: 9944 | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Olivet
Member
Member # 1104

 - posted      Profile for Olivet   Email Olivet         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Ah, asker how Margaret Attwood's, or even Toni Morrisson's works measure up in her thinking (especially Atwood's). You could make a very good case that they are SciFi and Fantasy (at least in some part fit the definition based on content). I think she's just parrotting what she was taught, which makes her seem kinda... ill-informed.

That's just sad.

Posts: 9293 | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Scott R
Member
Member # 567

 - posted      Profile for Scott R   Email Scott R         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I was going to point out Morrison's work, but I'm not really well-versed in it enough to take a stand.

So, thanks, Olivet!

(Imagine the teacher's arguments-- "But Morrison's books are all about RACE! They're written by a woman! They deal with the REAL WORLD (tm) (C). )

Posts: 14554 | Registered: Dec 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Chris Bridges
Member
Member # 1138

 - posted      Profile for Chris Bridges   Email Chris Bridges         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
[sarcasm]But those won't work either, because they're popular. Popular works, by definition, have no literary merit.[/sarcasm]
Posts: 7790 | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kojabu
Member
Member # 8042

 - posted      Profile for kojabu           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
One of my AP English essays actually asked me to examine the use of place as metaphor in fiction. I brought up Tolkien's use of the Shire, Gondor, Mordor, and Lothlorien -- and compared those to the use of London and the Reservation in Huxley and the woods and the city in Hawthorne.

My high school AP English teachers said that you can't use Lord of the Rings anymore because it's been made into movies and become so commercialized. They said that the AP testers would just toss the essay out. Whether or not that's actually true is a different story, but it didn't effect me because I hadn't read them at the time and still haven't finished the series to this day (4 years later).

edit to add: not saying it doesn't have literary merit because it's popular, just that AP testers might not like it.

Posts: 2867 | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tatiana
Member
Member # 6776

 - posted      Profile for Tatiana   Email Tatiana         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I completely disagree that Tolkien's dialogue is stilted. People who think it is have missed the point entirely. Rather, it is elevated, antiquated, lofty, dignified, jolly, down to earth, simple, clever, crass, brutal, malevolent, kindly, or sharp, according to the characters and situations in the story. It's not supposed to read like current popular fiction, or like people speak today because it's not about our current culture today.

When you read novels placed in a different setting, you have to reach out a bit, stretch your mind, and go live inside their situation instead of your own. Russian 19th century novels have samovars and maidservants and degrees of relationship are expressed by the forms of people's names used. British 18th c. novels have fox hunting protocol, issues of social class, and you can tell what class characters are by their manner of address. All novels have different sets of assumptions like this and you limit yourself severely if you only find our current vernacular accessible.

The very best novels aren't being written here and now, in fact. If you want to mainline the good stuff, you have to be willing to wander farther afield. [Smile] Tolkien is definitely, unmistakably, certifiably, some of the good stuff. [Wink]

Posts: 6245 | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TomDavidson
Member
Member # 124

 - posted      Profile for TomDavidson   Email TomDavidson         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:

My high school AP English teachers said that you can't use Lord of the Rings anymore because it's been made into movies and become so commercialized.

*blink* Can you use Great Expectations, Sense and Sensibility, or Gunga Din?
Posts: 37419 | Registered: May 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I wanted to read Ender's Game in my high school AP English class for one of the individual book choices we had to pick.

I was also told that it didn't have enough merit to be worthy of doing a report on. The teacher just doesn't have a respect for other genres.

Sci fi and fantasy is a setting, the genre doesn't define the worth of the novel.

Posts: 21897 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
FlyingCow
Member
Member # 2150

 - posted      Profile for FlyingCow   Email FlyingCow         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Apparently this teacher sees no worth in Jules Verne, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley or Kafka. Or the aforementioned Huxley or Orwell. Or Bradbury or Heinlein (for 451 and Stranger).

My art teacher told me once that fantasy art wasn't art - so I proceeded to focus on that for the rest of the AP course, making sure all of my pieces had some fantastic element to them. I think, in retrospect, he wanted to challenge me to make it worth something, so I worked harder at it. Who knows.

Posts: 3960 | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Ginol_Enam
Member
Member # 7070

 - posted      Profile for Ginol_Enam           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
Never let someone's prejudices stand in the way of your learning. Despite her prejudices, she may be a very competant teacher, and you'll regret it if you discount her entirely based on this remark alone. There is, after all, a lot more to literature than just genres. Recognize that her attitude (all that we've heard of it) is widely held. And then get over it, and try to learn from her.

All teachers have prejudices. Take what is true, and discard the dross.

I know [Smile] I'm still going to do my Historical Pathways assignment as best I can, but I just can't help feeling a bit of frustration everytime she starts talking about books.


quote:
She's behind the times. Do some research and show her some articles and books that critique and analyze sci-fi and fantasy. There's plenty out there. Lots of people, probably a lot smarter than her, have written on the genre. (You know... "scholarly" stuff.)

I have access to all the best databases at the library... let me know if you want a list of sources.

-Katarain

Would you, really? That'd be awesome! Obviously my opinion alone wouldn't do much to convince her of anything...

Neither would my dad's opinion. He pledged to actually write a letter when I told him about this (although for different reasons: he's ticked that she would presume to tell us what has literary merit at all).

So...

Posts: 450 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
ambyr
Member
Member # 7616

 - posted      Profile for ambyr           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The only English class I ever took in college was Race, Gender, and Science Fiction. There's -tons- of critical analysis of science fiction out there (stuff on fantasy is a bit harder to come by, but not by much).

It was a great class, by the way, not the least because I'd already read more than half of the assigned novels.

Posts: 650 | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
ricree101
Member
Member # 7749

 - posted      Profile for ricree101   Email ricree101         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Wow. This topic makes me feel really lucky. I was introduced to both Tolkein and OSC by my 8th grade lit teacher. Furthermore, Ender's game was added to the freshman summer reading list(but not till my senior year). On top of this, we had several other "popular" books, such as Runnaway Jury, either on our reading lists or in class. Heck, we even read a Dean Koontz book.
Of course, we still had many of the "classic" works too. However, even those were usually ones that were interesting, or at least tolerable(except for the Scarlet Letter. Worst book I ever read). So I guess I just got lucky when it comes to school districts.

Posts: 2391 | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dan_raven
Member
Member # 3383

 - posted      Profile for Dan_raven   Email Dan_raven         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
College Literature Courses I have taken at a leading University:

The Ghost Story.

Epic Stories from Gilgamesh through Tolkien.

Detective Stories/Ancient Chinese vs Modern Western (This may have been a history course as well. China, not Poe, invented the detective story, about 4000 years ago.)

Fantasy Genre Literature:

Shakespeare: Macbeth (witchcraft), Hamlet (Ghosts), Mid-Summers Night Dream & The Tempest.

Hawthorne: Most of his stories.

All ancient epics:
The Illiad/Oddesey/Gilgamesh/Aenid/Beowulf...

Sir Thomas Malory: Immorte De Arthur

we could go on for so long...

Posts: 11895 | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tresopax
Member
Member # 1063

 - posted      Profile for Tresopax           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
A major problem with high school english is that they (and by they I mean the English teachers I had) attempt to teach that people should read to appreciate "literary merit" rather than teaching how to actually enjoy books.

"Literary merit" is a reflection of a skill akin to juggling, only with words and symbols rather than balls and pins. Like juggling it is an entertaining skill, and those who do study or appreciate it can understand just how amazing it is to see a true master of writing at work. These fans of literature for the sake of being literary are a minority, though. I think for most people, "literary merit" is not an end in itself, but rather a sideshow. It is just a means to effectively communicate the story - with the story being the thing that is valued for itself.

This is why the method of focusing on "literary merit" as the standard of judging a book is so bad for high school english. Students who enjoy juggling words will appreciate it, but for the majority who do not, it will seem like a waste of their effort. They will ask "Why do I need to appreciate the literary prowess of James Joyce?" and the true answer will be "You don't." Students need to write, but nobody needs to study literary masters to learn to write decently enough. But they DO need to learn how to enjoy reading - how to pick up a book and expect to get something personally worthwhile and meaningful out of it. That is a skill every student will likely benefit from throughout their life.

Worse yet is when students take home the lesson that the only way to be a good book is for it to have "literary merit". It is NOT a good thing to have so "refined" taste that one cannot enjoy the majority of the good books out there. It is an unfortunate situation when someone cannot pick up The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter and is so distracted with "literary" faults that they fail to value the novels for what they are. This is not what our schools should be teaching.

Posts: 8120 | Registered: Jul 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
jexx
Member
Member # 3450

 - posted      Profile for jexx   Email jexx         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Tell your AP teacher that Dickens was his era's answer to Stephen King. Seriously. Or to be more precise, 'serially'. (I crack myself up) Charles Dickens wrote many of his stories in serial form for magazines. He got paid by the word. It shows.


(I am not a fan of Dickens, but he seems to be one of the more revered 'classic writers', so he is useful in arguments like these. *smile*)

And mack, ITA with you in regards to Joyce. I never *loved* his short stories, but they were readable, *unlike* Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. When I came up against that book, I just. Couldn't. Read. It. It made me question my comprehension skills. Heh. Turns out, it wasn't me!

Stupid Joyce.

eta: In defense of AP English teachers (but not this particular one, necessarily), how to approach a novel or story's theme (and etc.) is one of the most valuable critical thinking skills that can be taught. In my opinion. Obviously, I have not yet learned that skill. My sentences are fragmenty and parenthesized like crazy. I blame Joyce! Haha.

Seriously, though, there's a whole new level to reading when you know about theme, subtext, foreshadowing, and literary analogy.

I have a theory that most speculative fiction writers (good ones) used to be AP English teachers. They tend to have subtext.

Posts: 1545 | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Kwea
Member
Member # 2199

 - posted      Profile for Kwea   Email Kwea         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Wow, Tres...that makes twice. [Smile]
Posts: 15081 | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Chris Bridges
Member
Member # 1138

 - posted      Profile for Chris Bridges   Email Chris Bridges         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
In contrast, my advanced English teacher way back when noticed I was getting ahead of the class reading so he gave me a copy of Tom Robbins' "Another Roadside Attraction."

While I was already an avid reader, this started my lifelong appreciation for Tom Robbins and got me interested in books that didn't have the rocket ship logo on the side. Today if he gave that book to a studewnt he'd be sued, disgraced, and fired.

Posts: 7790 | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
jexx
Member
Member # 3450

 - posted      Profile for jexx   Email jexx         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Oh, did anyone mention C.S. Lewis? His "Screwtape Letters" is widely regarded as filled with whatchacallum, oh, yeah, "literary merit". (I'm getting grumpy about this subject, hehe) Not to mention, he was a contemporary and rival/friend of Tolkien's.

Ooh! Ooh! And Jonathan Swift wrote sci-fi/fantasy!
So THERE!

eta: Ovid's Metamorphoses could be called fantasy (gods and goddesses turning into trees and whatnot). And it's diiiiirrrrrty! Shocked me at fifteen, I tell you! Hee!

Posts: 1545 | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kojabu
Member
Member # 8042

 - posted      Profile for kojabu           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:

My high school AP English teachers said that you can't use Lord of the Rings anymore because it's been made into movies and become so commercialized.

*blink* Can you use Great Expectations, Sense and Sensibility, or Gunga Din?
I think the main thing about it was the hype. How many people my age have seen those movies? Probably a vastly smaller percentage than those who have seen LOTR and all their Extended Editions. Multiple times. I think it also might come down to something with having actually read the books as opposed to seen them in the movie theater when everyone else was.
Posts: 2867 | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Bob_Scopatz
Member
Member # 1227

 - posted      Profile for Bob_Scopatz   Email Bob_Scopatz         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I would choose Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis

quote:
As Gregor Samsa awake one morning from a troubled dream, he found himself changed in his bed to some monstrous kind of vermin.
Or, in the translation I first read:
quote:
Gregor awoke one morning to find he'd turned into a giant bug.
It's a metaphor...
And it's a relatively short book. The standard highschool essay about it is 2x as long as the book is.

Posts: 22496 | Registered: Sep 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
DavidGill
Member
Member # 8166

 - posted      Profile for DavidGill   Email DavidGill         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Ginol,

Don't bother trying to convince the teacher. When you take the novels part of the test, you get to choose the works you want to write about. At that point, it's all about convincing the graders that you're a good writer.

By the way, the average read time for grading each essay was less than one minute. You won't get much time to convince your audience.

Posts: 80 | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Shmuel
Member
Member # 7586

 - posted      Profile for Shmuel   Email Shmuel         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hmm. I was a TA in a senior-level college course in Fantasy Literature... syllabus here, for whatever it's worth.

And given Tolkien's credentials as an Oxford professor (with a particular focus in Anglo-Saxon literature), you'd think he'd be relatively non-controversial...

Posts: 884 | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Altáriël of Dorthonion
Member
Member # 6473

 - posted      Profile for Altáriël of Dorthonion   Email Altáriël of Dorthonion         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I haven't read all the posts here, I stopped at the one where "she is on crack" (kudos to Foust), but I beg to differ from her opinion. Just because the book was not written by some old coot a long time ago during hard days does not mean the old coots of today cannot write well. Keep this away from OSC's eyes!!! [Smile]
Posts: 3385 | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
mackillian
Member
Member # 586

 - posted      Profile for mackillian   Email mackillian         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Bob, I love differing translations. [Smile]
Posts: 14745 | Registered: Dec 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
J T Stryker
Member
Member # 6300

 - posted      Profile for J T Stryker   Email J T Stryker         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Oh well...work hard, get your "A" and remember to do it better when you're in charge.
Or, you could do what i did... get a "D" in the class and get a 5 on your AP test.... I thought it was funny... My mother disagreed...
Posts: 1094 | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tatiana
Member
Member # 6776

 - posted      Profile for Tatiana   Email Tatiana         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Bob, so you think it was a metaphor? I think he was an actual bug. Are you sure it's just a metaphor? I totally hold with those who favor actual bugdom.

I guess it's true that not just anyone would become a giant bug overnight. It takes a very special sort of person, I suppose. So the metaphorical aspects can have a similar weight when you take that into consideration.

What Kafka didn't say outright but only just hinted at a little was that finally finally finally things felt right.

Posts: 6245 | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
ricree101
Member
Member # 7749

 - posted      Profile for ricree101   Email ricree101         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Giant bugs are cooler than metaphors, so therefore it must have a literal interpretation. Can't argue with logic like that, can you?
Posts: 2391 | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
ketchupqueen
Member
Member # 6877

 - posted      Profile for ketchupqueen   Email ketchupqueen         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I had a "choir" teacher (admittedly not at a mainstream HS) who was the director of a gospel choir. She made us listen to gospel (at a Jewish school!) because she's convinced it's the only music with any real merit. When we were supposed to learn a song, we had to learn it by listening to it only. She said that everyone learns it faster that way. When I said that I actually learn music faster by listening to it once while looking at sheet music or at least a set of lyrics, she said that that's not true, that I just thought I did but was actually using the lyrics as a crutch. [Wall Bash]

What can I say? Some teachers are idiots about certain things.

Posts: 21181 | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Bob_Scopatz
Member
Member # 1227

 - posted      Profile for Bob_Scopatz   Email Bob_Scopatz         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
kq, she must be the sort of person who would never turn into a giant bug. Poor soul.

I will admit that I did not catch the metaphor in Animal Farm when I read it. I thought it was a nice book about talking pigs.

Anyway, I think Kafka intended his book to be taken literally but that over the years people trying to get PhDs in literature have discovered this deeper "other" meaning. Just because the author wanted to write a cool book about a guy who turned into a bug and how that works for him, that doesn't mean that there wasn't some subconscious metaphor at work, scurrying into the crevices as he wrote.

So, really, it can operate at both levels. It's a great story about a guy who turned into a bug, and it's a deeply meaningful story -- literature with "true merit" about a guy who turned into a bug for a very good reason.

(is that 500 words yet?)

Posts: 22496 | Registered: Sep 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Katarain
Member
Member # 6659

 - posted      Profile for Katarain   Email Katarain         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I have an email ready to send you with 300 citations with the words "Science Fiction" either in the title, subject, summary, or elsewhere. I eliminated, however, any article that was in a journal with the words "Science Fiction" anywhere in the title. I figured that since Science Fiction journals only publish articles about Science Fiction, your teacher might say they're all just biased and pretending to have literary merit. So my results are NOT from those journals.

I'm only sending the first 300 citations from 1870, because I do have a job to do after all. [Smile]

Also, these citations are from the MLA INTERNATIONAL BIBLIOGRAPHY. That's very respected among English teachers, and so it should be by her as well. We're talking the freakin' MLA! [Wink]

Print the list out, lay it on her desk, and ask her if Science Fiction has no literary merit, why are these articles included in the MLA database, and what are all these people talking about?

Let me know where to send the email.

EDIT: Make that 184 citations. Gmail truncated the email because it was so long...and even though I can get to it, I've already done the editing so that it won't print on a million pages and I don't want to do it again... [Smile]

[ September 08, 2005, 10:12 AM: Message edited by: Katarain ]

Posts: 2880 | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
  This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2