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Re: old favorites and sagging canon

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  • Katie Glick
    Okay, I have to play. I only graduated high school 13 years ago so I m guessing the outlook isn t as bleak as the people who wrote the article might think,
    Message 1 of 18 , Dec 24, 2006
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      Okay, I have to play. I only graduated high school 13 years ago so I'm
      guessing the outlook isn't as bleak as the people who wrote the article
      might think, unless things have drastically declined in the past decade.
      I'll also say that I read many more things in high school in addition to the
      selections from the list that were read, and most were just as worthy of
      being included--like previously mentioned Thomas Hardy and TS Eliot, Richard
      Wright, a great deal of "world literature" that I think was much more
      interesting than "War and Peace", short stories and poems of different
      literary periods, and much more. In fact, I could conceive of a high school
      curriculum that contains NONE of the things on the list and still provides a
      great and well-rounded education. So there.

      1. The Works of Shakespeare (read Romeo & Juliet in 9th grade, Macbeth &
      Othello and several sonnets in 12th grade for English classes, and was a
      "drama geek" so I had read several others in high school on my own, mostly
      comedies and a few tragedies. Read all works by sophomore year in college as
      I had to take three Shakespeare classes in freshman and sophomore year.)

      2. The Declaration of Independence (Yes, we read this in 11th grade history
      class)

      3. Twain, Mark, Huckleberry Finn (11th grade English)

      4. The poems of Emily Dickinson (read several in 11th grade English, was
      given "The Complete Poems" by my aunt, so I read them all by the time I was
      18)

      5. The poems of Robert Frost (we read a few in 11th grade English, not my
      favorite so I haven't read anymore)

      6. Hawthorne, Nathaniel, Scarlet Letter (11th grade English)

      7. Fitzgerald, Scott F., The Great Gatsby (11th grade English)

      8. Orwell, George, 1984 (In 12th grade government class we had to do
      independent book reports on one fictional and one nonfiction book having to
      do with government. I chose 1984 and All the President's Men. 1984 scared
      the crap out of me, and still does.)

      9. Homer, Odyssey and Iliad (We read these in 10th grade English)

      10. Dickens, Charles, Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities (read
      Great Expectations in 9th grade English and again in 12th grade drama class
      and then again in my college literature survey. Still have not read a Tale
      of Two Cities, but did read Oliver Twist, The Pickwick Papers, Bleak House,
      and David Copperfield before I was 18. I had an inexplicable love for
      Dickens and my parents had the complete works at home)

      11. Chaucer, Geoffrey, The Canterbury Tales (read in 12th grade English and
      in college)

      12. Salinger, J.D., Catcher in the Rye (11th grade English--I do think this
      is an important part of the high school canon because it's one of the few
      things you'll read in a literature class where you are able, as a teenager,
      to relate to the main character (at least for ME it was, others may vary).
      It definitely stands out for me as being something that immediately took
      hold of me, because it was the first thing I read for school that seemed to
      speak to my immediate situation. Up until that point, for me, reading
      "literary" books had been difficult, and I thought only the kind of juvenile
      literature that I read for pleasure could be relatable. This book changed
      everything for me. I realized there was real literature out there that could
      speak directly to my own experience of life.)

      13. The Bible (read in 10th grade English [as a piece of "world
      literature."])

      14. Thoreau, Henry David, Walden (11th grade English)

      15. Sophocles, Oedipus (Did not read for class, but read on my own [drama
      geek again], read again in college in history of theatre class)

      16. Steinbeck, John, the Grapes of Wrath (11th grade English)

      17. Ralph Waldo Emerson's essays and poems (11th grade English, not all, but
      some essays. I was sure he was on drugs.)

      18. Austen, Jane, Pride and Prejudice (12th grade English, I also read all
      other Jane Austen on my own that year, because I loved it so much. Read
      again in college.)

      19. Whitman, Walt, Leaves of Grass (11th grade English)

      20. The novels of William Faulkner (Read "As I Lay Dying" in 11th grade
      English. Or rather--attempted to read it. I hated it. But still remember to
      this day the chapter that simply read: "My mother is a fish.")

      21. Melville, Herman, Moby Dick (We also attempted to read Billy Budd in
      11th grade. It was hopeless. I tried to get through chapter one three times,
      then threw the book across the room. Our teacher gave up and gave us a 10
      question multiple choice test that "could be answered if you read the Cliff
      Notes." I'm sure it's a great book, but not for me at 16.)

      22. Milton, John, Paradise Lost (12th grade English. Did not have to read in
      college, although many English majors took a whole class on him in first or
      second year, which I was exempt from.)

      23. Vergil, Aeneid (did not read, read on my own while in college)

      24. Plato, The Republic (did not read. Read in college philosophy class)

      25. Marx, Karl, Communist Manifesto (did not read. Read in college
      philosophy class-"Psychological (Freudian) Marxism." I don't recommend this
      branch of philosophy.)

      26. Machiavelli, Niccolo, the Prince (did not read. Read in college class on
      the Italian Renaissance)

      27. Tocqueville, Alexis de, Democracy in America (have never read this)

      28. Dostoevski, Feodor, Crime and Punishment (did not read. Read in college
      Russian Literature class)

      29. Aristotle, Politics (did not read. Read in college philosophy class)

      30. Tolstoy, Leo, War and Peace (attempted to read on my own in high school.
      Got bored and watched the movie instead).

      So I did read most of these, and I read almost all by the time I was 20.
      Although I will say that I was a big reader of things on my own, and I was
      in honors English classes, which required extra reading that regular classes
      did not do. Also I was an English major in college so whatever I missed, I
      picked up soon thereafter.

      HOWEVER. I don't think it's necessary for everyone to enjoy reading or to
      have read these books in order to be a respectable person. If you're a
      "humanities" person, it's a good idea to have read a lot of them, but I
      wouldn't ask anyone to trudge through them if they don't like them, or if
      they would rather spend their time painting or cooking or fixing a car or
      writing a computer program or whatever. There are all kinds of experiences
      to be had in life, and although I love to learn and read, I don't think
      reading any certain books is necessarily important for everyone. I think
      what's important is that you spend a lot of time learning about subjects
      that interest you, rather than forcing yourself to learn about subjects that
      don't because someone says you should. And I certainly don't think it makes
      me better or smarter than anyone else to have read these particular books.

      -kt


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • WendellWag@aol.com
      You know, I hate to think how I would have been judged if a college had decided whether to accept me or not based on how much of this list I had read when I
      Message 2 of 18 , Dec 24, 2006
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        You know, I hate to think how I would have been judged if a college had decided whether to accept me or not based on how much of this list I had read when I graduated from high school. I think I had read a cut version of a couple of Shakespeare's plays in our lousy literature textbooks. I'd read the Declaration of Independence, I think. I'd read 1984 on my own. I'd read some short selections from Homer in our literature books. I'd read a cut version of a Dickens novel in our textbooks. I'd read large parts of the Bible. And that's it. Depite this, I was easily the biggest reader in my high school class

        The same thing was true in other academic areas. I entered college not only planning to study math but hoping to get a Ph.D. in it. Yes, my education was lousy at that point. I recovered from it. And if a college looked at my SAT's (719 V, 772 M), they could tell that I would do well. I shudder to think what they would have done if they had judged my ability by how much I had learned up to that point. Yes, it would be nice for students to be well educated in high school, but the fact is that some students come to college poorly educated and still do well in college.

        Wendell Wagner

        >Here's the entire list, by the way. Remember, they're being
        >criticized for not having read all thirty before leaving high school.
        >
        >1. The Works of Shakespeare
        >
        >2. The Declaration of Independence
        >
        >3. Twain, Mark, Huckleberry Finn
        >
        >4. The poems of Emily Dickinson
        >
        >5. The poems of Robert Frost
        >
        >6. Hawthorne, Nathaniel, Scarlet Letter
        >
        >7. Fitzgerald, Scott F., The Great Gatsby
        >
        >8. Orwell, George, 1984
        >
        >9. Homer, Odyssey and Iliad
        >
        >10. Dickens, Charles, Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities
        >
        >11. Chaucer, Geoffrey, The Canterbury Tales
        >
        >12. Salinger, J.D., Catcher in the Rye
        >
        >13. The Bible
        >
        >14. Thoreau, Henry David, Walden
        >
        >15. Sophocles, Oedipus
        >
        >16. Steinbeck, John, the Grapes of Wrath
        >
        >17. Ralph Waldo Emerson's essays and poems
        >
        >18. Austen, Jane, Pride and Prejudice
        >
        >19. Whitman, Walt, Leaves of Grass
        >
        >20. The novels of William Faulkner
        >
        >21. Melville, Herman, Moby Dick
        >
        >22. Milton, John, Paradise Lost
        >
        >23. Vergil, Aeneid
        >
        >24. Plato, The Republic
        >
        >25. Marx, Karl, Communist Manifesto
        >
        >26. Machiavelli, Niccolo, the Prince
        >
        >27. Tocqueville, Alexis de, Democracy in America
        >
        >28. Dostoevski, Feodor, Crime and Punishment
        >
        >29. Aristotle, Politics
        >
        >30. Tolstoy, Leo, War and Peace
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        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • William Cloud Hicklin
        ... Al-Hazred is a fictional character of a H.P. Lovecraft s... ... Cthulhu Mythos of Lovecraft s imagining, as well as being a fictional artifact... No!
        Message 3 of 18 , Dec 24, 2006
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          --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Jonathan Michael Reiter
          <jmrmpd@...> wrote:
          >
          > I think we're talking about real time Arab Scholars. Abdul
          Al-Hazred is a fictional character of a H.P. Lovecraft's...
          > As is The Necronomicon, another fictional character in the
          Cthulhu Mythos of Lovecraft's imagining, as well as being a
          fictional artifact...


          No! Really?? </heavy sarcasm>


          > Jonathan Michael Reiter
          > jmr
          > ----- Original Message -----
          > From: William Cloud Hicklin
          > To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
          > Sent: Saturday, December 23, 2006 10:50 PM
          > Subject: [mythsoc] Re: old favorites and sagging canon
          >
          >
          > --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, jane Bigelow <jbigelow@>
          > wrote:
          > >....No scholars from the Arab
          > > world?
          >
          > You mean like the Necronomicon :)
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
        • jane Bigelow
          Wendell, I would ve been denied college admission myself if reading even most of the items on that list were a prerequisite. Many were not required by my high
          Message 4 of 18 , Dec 25, 2006
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            Wendell,

            I would've been denied college admission myself if reading even most
            of the items on that list were a prerequisite. Many were not
            required by my high school Way Back Then, so the decline of
            civilization must date back quite awhile. Since I now have my MLS
            and have published nonfiction, short stories and a novel, I guess I
            also recovered!

            It's been decades since I graduated from high school, so I no longer
            recall what I read then and what much later. Can remember thinking
            Jane Austen was a total bore, though I loved the Brontes, which I
            believe I read on my own. It's probably lucky for me that I didn't
            encounter anyone remotely like Heathcliff in my Kansas City, MO neighborhood.

            We did briefly encounter Greek tragedy in my senior year. We weren't
            supposed to look in the back of the book where some of the comedies
            were, but some of us did. Lysistrata was quite a revelation! It did
            keep me from ever thinking of the classics as dusty or dull.

            I do think it's a good idea to be exposed to some things that you
            don't think you'll like. Sometimes you're surprised, as I was when
            my husband dragged me to a talk on medieval civil engineering. I
            just think that a list of such length and complexity is too much to
            expect as a baseline. At the same time, it leaves out too much that
            would help to establish a shared core of (not necessarily accepted)ideas.

            Jane


            At 06:44 PM 12/24/2006, you wrote:

            >You know, I hate to think how I would have been judged if a college
            >had decided whether to accept me or not based on how much of this
            >list I had read when I graduated from high school. I think I had
            >read a cut version of a couple of Shakespeare's plays in our lousy
            >literature textbooks. I'd read the Declaration of Independence, I
            >think. I'd read 1984 on my own. I'd read some short selections from
            >Homer in our literature books. I'd read a cut version of a Dickens
            >novel in our textbooks. I'd read large parts of the Bible. And
            >that's it. Depite this, I was easily the biggest reader in my high school class
            >
            >The same thing was true in other academic areas. I entered college
            >not only planning to study math but hoping to get a Ph.D. in it.
            >Yes, my education was lousy at that point. I recovered from it. And
            >if a college looked at my SAT's (719 V, 772 M), they could tell that
            >I would do well. I shudder to think what they would have done if
            >they had judged my ability by how much I had learned up to that
            >point. Yes, it would be nice for students to be well educated in
            >high school, but the fact is that some students come to college
            >poorly educated and still do well in college.
            >
            >Wendell Wagner
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