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Old 05-17-2012, 09:40 PM   #1
ficbot
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What books would be interesting and useful to study for an entire semester?

I received an alumni newsletter from my alma mater the other day which detailed some changes to the English program. When I was there back on 1996-2000, the program was set up with about a dozen categories organized around various time periods, and you had to take prescribed amounts from each grouping (for instance, there was a grouping which included Beowulf, Shakespeare and the Restoration and you had to take two of the three).

The new program simplifies things a little by making pretty much everything in the first two years compulsory (year 1 emphasizes theory and how to study literature, year 2 is the general survey course and then in year 3 you can go deeper into time periods that interested you in year 2. One of the compulsory upper-year seminar courses is a novel study whereby you work on a single text for the entire semester in great detail.

This is an intriguing idea to me and I am wondering what novels they might pick. I recognize each professor will have their own area of expertise and preferred teaching materials (I once took an upper-year seminar with the generic title 'Post-Colonial Literature' which, due to the professor's provenance, consisted exclusively of works from South Africa). But I am assuming the department will vet the choices for this seminar given that the students will be saddled with the chosen books for an entire term and given that I imagine the goals must be broad enough that a student who takes it with one professor over another will still come out of it with a similar enough experience.

So, what books do you think they might choose for such a course? The newsletter offered no examples or particulars other than the concept itself, of a novel study course where you spend an entire semester reading just the one book, in great detail.
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Old 05-17-2012, 09:59 PM   #2
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... But I am assuming the department will vet the choices for this seminar given that the students will be saddled with the chosen books for an entire term and given that I imagine the goals must be broad enough that a student who takes it with one professor over another will still come out of it with a similar enough experience.

So, what books do you think they might choose for such a course? The newsletter offered no examples or particulars other than the concept itself, of a novel study course where you spend an entire semester reading just the one book, in great detail.
Any time period or genre restrictions?

For the modern era, I might think LORD OF THE RINGS might be suitable given Tolkien's background and intent in writing the novel.

And, of course, for "traditionalists", there's always FINNEGAN'sWAKE.
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Old 05-17-2012, 10:19 PM   #3
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Any time period or genre restrictions?

For the modern era, I might think LORD OF THE RINGS might be suitable given Tolkien's background and intent in writing the novel.

And, of course, for "traditionalists", there's always FINNEGAN'sWAKE.
Tolkein can not be covered thoroughly, IMO unless you also cover the first World War. And modern catholicism to some extent.

Tolkein's experiences on the battlefield very much shaped some of his writing, just as with C.S. Lewis.
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Old 05-18-2012, 02:19 AM   #4
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For those conservatively canon, Ulysses (James Joyce), Finnegan's Wake (still James Joyce), and Lolita (Vladmir Nabokov) are good choices.

For those looking for something more unconventional, I recommend:

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
City of Saints and Mad Men by Jeff VanderMeer
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
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Old 05-18-2012, 08:09 AM   #5
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My alma mater (UNC) teaches full semester classes on Ulysses (in the English department) and Lord of the Rings (in the Folklore and Mythology department). We also spent an entire semester on Paradise Lost (in the English department).
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Old 05-18-2012, 08:12 AM   #6
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Moved to "Reading Recommendation", because that's exactly what's being asked for here.
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Old 05-18-2012, 12:34 PM   #7
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My alma mater (UNC) teaches full semester classes on Ulysses (in the English department) and Lord of the Rings (in the Folklore and Mythology department). We also spent an entire semester on Paradise Lost (in the English department).
Ulysses +1 (in all honesty, I've never read it. I am intrigued by it's parallel with the Odyssey though.)

also;
The Bible - as a foundation for most English literature, not as a religious text.
Clarissa - Samuel Richardson
Great Expectations - Dickens (both endings)
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Old 05-19-2012, 05:58 PM   #8
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This is an intriguing idea to me and I am wondering what novels they might pick. I recognize each professor will have their own area of expertise and preferred teaching materials (I once took an upper-year seminar with the generic title 'Post-Colonial Literature' which, due to the professor's provenance, consisted exclusively of works from South Africa). But I am assuming the department will vet the choices for this seminar given that the students will be saddled with the chosen books for an entire term and given that I imagine the goals must be broad enough that a student who takes it with one professor over another will still come out of it with a similar enough experience.
Bit premature; probably best to wait until the American Empire collapses.
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Old 05-20-2012, 06:12 AM   #9
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Bit premature; probably best to wait until the American Empire collapses.
I would hazard a guess that the previous poster was referring to European colonialism.
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Old 05-20-2012, 10:39 AM   #10
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Is it confined to novels ?
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Old 05-20-2012, 12:50 PM   #11
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I would go back to school if there was a class on HHGTTG.
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Old 05-20-2012, 01:17 PM   #12
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Almost any of Dickens's novels would probably fit the bill.
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Old 05-21-2012, 12:53 PM   #13
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I would nominate À la recherche du temps perdu, or In Search of Lost Time, by Marcel Proust. Plenty to read and discuss over the course of a semester. In fact a semester may not be long enough.
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Old 05-25-2012, 06:41 AM   #14
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well my girl friend is taking a literature class ,,they are studing ,,Of mice and men ,,Grapes of Wrath and Tobacco Road....when I heard this I told her to ask her teacher if he thinks that in the last 100 years,,withe the millions of new books published,if he didnt think there was something a bit newer or better they could study
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Old 05-25-2012, 06:46 AM   #15
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well my girl friend is taking a literature class ,,they are studing ,,Of mice and men ,,Grapes of Wrath and Tobacco Road....when I heard this I told her to ask her teacher if he thinks that in the last 100 years,,withe the millions of new books published,if he didnt think there was something a bit newer or better they could study
Do you honestly think that John Steinbeck is not an author whose work is worth studying?
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