17655RE: [mythsoc] Re: old favorites and sagging canon
- Dec 23, 2006I teach literature in an independent high school, and I am always interested
in these lists. Assuming that those producing this list were not truly
intending for a college freshman to have already read all of the works in
some of these (all of Shakespeare, Dickinson, Faulkner), I thought my school
was covering the (admittedly western) canon fairly well.
1. The Works of Shakespeare�at my school, Shakespeare gets good coverage
with Othello (once Julius Caesar) in 10th and Macbeth and Midsummer for all
12th this year, with honors and AP reading Hamlet as well (and I had my
seniors read The Tempest as well when I was teaching Brit Lit).
2. The Declaration of Independence�covered in both American Lit and
3. Huckleberry Finn�read by 11th graders
4. The poems of Emily Dickinson�we all teach Miss Dickinson in 11th
5. The poems of Robert Frost�also covered in 11th
6. Scarlet Letter�again, American lit (junior year) staple
7. The Great Gatsby�also part of the junior lit experience
8. 1984�the first title on the list we do not cover; it would fit in the
curriculum for 12th (British), but many schools teach this in 9th grade
9. Homer�s Epics, The Odyssey and The Iliad�covered through a summer and
then in 10th grade
10. One of two by Dickens, Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities�not
covered; like 1984, these are titles often taught in a freshman course (or
even in 8th grade), but they fit the material for 12th grade
11. The Canterbury Tales�covered in 12th; the GP is always taught, then a
sampling of the tales
12. Catcher in the Rye�not taught at this time, although I understand it
was taught in 9th grade before our current model, so it has been part of the
13. The Bible�While we no longer offer a course of Bib Lit , we still cover
parts of the OT in 9th Summer Reading and then selections from the NT in
10th grade; certainly much of Western Lit and much of our canon requires a
solid knowledge of scriptural texts
14. Walden�read (in excerpt) with juniors
15. Oedipus�studied in 10th
16. The Grapes of Wrath�not currently taught, although many of our juniors
did read it as part of an assignment for US History
17. Emerson�s Essays & Poems�studied in 11th
18. Pride and Prejudice�taught in 12th
19. Leaves of Grass�read (in selections) in 11th
20. The novels of William Faulkner�the AP 11 reads The Sound and the Fury;
Honors 11 reads As I Lay Dying
21. Moby Dick�not currently covered in any course
22. Paradise Lost�taught in 12th grade
23. Aeneid�taught (in excerpt) in 10th grade
24. The Republic�while all of Plato is not read, �The Allegory of the Cave�
is the opening to Western Studies in 10th grade
25. Communist Manifesto�taught in 10th as part of Western Studies
26. The Prince�also taught in 10th as part of Western Studies
27. Democracy in America by de Tocqueville�read (in excerpt) in American
history; I used one selection from it in my honors lit this year (as a look
at the American Dream)
28. Crime and Punishment�taught in honors 10th
29. Aristotle, Politics�not covered at this time
30. War and Peace�not covered at this time (although some short stories by
Of these 30 items, only five are not covered in some aspect by our
department, and those fit a �once upon a time we did teach�� sort of answer.
>From: "Merlin DeTardo" <emptyD@...>_________________________________________________________________
>Subject: [mythsoc] Re: old favorites and sagging canon
>Date: Sat, 23 Dec 2006 19:14:44 -0000
>Around the time I graduated high school in 1990, I remember
>encountering a similar but longer list of books based on a poll of
>English professors, who were asked what they wanted incoming
>freshman to have read.
>I think most of the books on the new list are read by some high
>school students, but probably no high school student reads all of
>them. From the list, I remember encountering these in my (public)
>1. Some of The Works of Shakespeare: Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth,
>Othello, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of
>the Shrew, The Tempest, Twelfth Night, various sonnets.
>2. The Declaration of Independence.
>3. Excerpts from Mark Twain's work but no complete novel.
>4. Some Dickinson poems.
>5. Some Frost poems.
>6. Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter.
>7. Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.
>8. Orwell, but Animal Farm not 1984.
>9. No Homer.
>10. Dickens's Great Expectations but not A Tale of Two Cities.
>11. No Chaucer.
>12. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye.
>13. Nothing from the Bible.
>14. Excerpts from Thoreau's Walden.
>15. Sophocles's Oedipus.
>16. Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath.
>17. Some Emerson poems.
>18. No Austen.
>19. Some Whitman poems.
>20. Faulkner's As I Lay Dying but nothing else.
>21. Excerpts from Melville.
>22. No Milton.
>23. No Vergil.
>24. Excerpts from Plato.
>25. Excerpts from Marx.
>26. Excerpts from Machiavelli.
>27. Excerpts from Tocqueville.
>28. No Dostoevski.
>29. No Aristotle.
>30. No Tolstoy.
>The foreign language works were in English translation, of course.
>I expect others here officially read about as many as I did, though
>titles will vary between us. By comparision, I wonder: what would
>Tolkien have read at King Edward's? Obviously many of these works
>are too new. Is there a curriculum in Carpenter's biography, or
>perhaps in Hammond and Scull's new book?
> >>---jane Bigelow <jbigelow@...> wrote:
> >> Egad. I indulge in a bit of lamenting the ignorance of the
>younger generation now and then myself, but that book list is
>completely unreasonable. How many people are ready to read *and
>understand* most of those titles before the age of eighteen? Also,
>I'm all for classical scholarship, but I do think we should have
>some contact with modern writers such as, say Tolkien. ;-) As a
>librarian I respect reading tremendously, but people may need to get
>up and do something else now and then, too.
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