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17655RE: [mythsoc] Re: old favorites and sagging canon

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  • Hugh Davis
    Dec 23, 2006
      I 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
      American History
      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
      Tolstoy are)

      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@...>
      >Reply-To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      >To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      >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)
      >high school:
      >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?
      >-Merlin DeTardo
      > >>---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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