1. SnipSnap
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    SnipSnap Active Member

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    Some people don't know how to make a good literature class.

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by SnipSnap, Jul 11, 2008.

    I got my american lit course syllabus in the mail today. And I hate American literature in general, so imagine my frustration when I saw these titles:

    The Poetry of Anee Bradstreet, Edward Taylor, Michael Wigglesworth, and Nicholas Noyes

    Excerpts from the Federalist Essays

    The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

    The Poetry of William Cullen Bryant

    Masque of the Red Death, Fall of the House of Usher, and Murders in the Rue Morgue.

    The Last of the Mohicans.

    Walden.

    The Scarlet Letter.

    The poetry of Walt Whitman.

    The poetry of Emily Dickinson.

    Huckleberry Finn.

    The Turn of the Screw.

    Maggie: A girl of the Streets.

    The Waste Land.

    The Crucible.

    Tortilla Flat.

    Invisible Man.



    Some of the stuff is kind of cool. Like towards the end. [Who puts T.S. Eliot in an American Lit course? I know he was born in America, but really, he doesn't belong in American Lit. And plus I've read most of this stuff. And so I'm not happy with the syllabus. Mainly because I'm never happy with anything :D.]
     
  2. Chickidy
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    Chickidy Contributing Member

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    Why don't you like American Literature? Whats wrong with it? What makes everything else better than it? Are you saying we Americans aren't a creative, talented bunch?
     
  3. Daisy
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    Daisy New Member

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    If you've already read most of it, it should be an easy A which should be a good thing if you hate American Lit.

    Or at the very least, having read most of it, maybe it will free some of your time to read things you do want to read.

    I'm sorry but I'm just so curious I have to follow Chickidy's lead. Why do you hate American Lit, anyhow?
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you hate american lit, why are you taking it?... is it a required course for your high school or college curriculum?
     
  5. cargirl86
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    cargirl86 Member

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    Unfortunately, much of that is standard in American Lit courses. I had to take American Lit my senior year of college (I had been focusing on Brit Lit for my minor, but couldn't fit the class I wanted to take into my schedule.) That's pretty much a carbon copy of what the syllabus for my class looked like, except I'm not seeing Moby Dick, Uncle Tom's Cabin or anything by Louisa May Alcott.

    I *hate* American Lit, too ... hate is a strong word, but I definitely prefer Brit Lit. Oh, well. Happy reading!
     
  6. LibbyAnn
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    LibbyAnn Contributing Member

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    I read pretty much all of that in my American Lit class...plus Moby Dick, and a few others. I can't really 'imagine' your frustration because I think many of those titles are great reads.

    Why are you taking an American Lit class if you hate it so much? I had the choice to take American Lit or Brit Lit...I took both and enjoyed both for very different reasons.
     
  7. Cpn. Anon
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    Cpn. Anon Member

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    So you do "American Lit" and not "English Lit." in america?

    I'm curious to as how your hole uni system works. I'm starting on an Eng Lit course (in england) this year, and they offer a year abroad in the second (which i'd want to do; either in canada or the usa). But i think I wouldn't want to do an "American Lit." course.
     
  8. Cpn. Anon
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    Cpn. Anon Member

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    So you do "American Lit" and not "English Lit." in america?

    I'm curious to as how your hole uni system works. I'm starting on an Eng Lit course (in england) this year, and they offer a year abroad in the second (which i'd want to do; either in canada or the usa). But i think I wouldn't want to do an "American Lit." course.
     
  9. LibbyAnn
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    LibbyAnn Contributing Member

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    American Literature classes usually encompass literature written by American authors. At my college, it's split into two parts - before and after 1875. The first part started with authors like Anne Bradstreet and went up to Mark Twain.

    Your English Lit course is probably what we're referring to as British Literature - it's stuff from Shakespeare, Percy Shelley, etc.
     
  10. SnipSnap
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    SnipSnap Active Member

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    Yes. It unfortunatley is required. They don't even offer english lit, or any other kind of literature except American at my school anymore. Which is part of the reason of my frustration.

    The reason I dislike american lit is becuase it just isn't good. It's really not the fault of America in general. Authors in America have constantly been struggling to find a "unique" American style. And we always succeed in find a new style, but then it changes. Which, quite honestly, happens with all forms of literature. But the fact that it's America just makes me angry. :)

    I am pretty much not complaining about the literature. I just don't like the idea that they are forcing me to take a class of literature from my own country, when I am not given options for other types of literature.

    I just find ways to disagree with everything.
     
  11. LibbyAnn
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    LibbyAnn Contributing Member

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    Try and have an open mind about some of that literature. It's not all bad :) Even though the literature is from America, you can still learn from it. Even if you hate all of it, you can learn what not to do in your writing.
     
  12. PipeandPen
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    PipeandPen Senior Member

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    I agree with the others who said that this is a pretty standard American Lit. course. I get that you're angry, but there's not much you can do about it.
     
  13. SnipSnap
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    SnipSnap Active Member

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    I really like some of the stuff on the list. Like Last of the Mohicans, and Walt Whitman, and much more. When I say I hate American Lit it doesn't mean that I hate every single piece from American Lit. I think some of that stuff is great when looked at as a piece of general lit, and not specifically from America.

    I don't hear about classes called Thai lit or South African lit, even though there's some pretty cool reads from those countries also.
     
  14. LibbyAnn
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    LibbyAnn Contributing Member

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    Actually, I took an African Lit class...it was good! I've also taken a class that focused only on women writers...I can't remember the specific name of that one, though.

    But I know I'm the nerd that likes pretty much everything I read. At least in my literature classes (and there have been plenty of them!) anyways.
     
  15. PipeandPen
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    PipeandPen Senior Member

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    Oh, they're there, especially at the really large universities.
     
  16. SnipSnap
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    SnipSnap Active Member

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    I've heard about classes with just women authors. And just african lit too. But Thai lit makes me laugh. I can believe it's out there though.

    As of yesterday, with the completion of maggie: a girl of the streets, I've officially read all of those books. So I guess I'll have time to read cool stuff, like british lit :D.
     
  17. wildfires
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    wildfires Member

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    My English course at school is terrible, as is the teacher. Guess that's all that can be expected from GCSE English though!

    :(
     
  18. cargirl86
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    cargirl86 Member

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    I think a lot of it has to do with how 'good' the teacher is. I had wonderful teachers in Brit and World Lit throughout high school and my first three years of college, while I did not have a decent American Lit teacher until my final semester, senior year of college. Quite honestly, by that time I was so focused on the diploma and the light at the end of the tunnel, I couldn't really appreciate the effort she put into her class.

    And while I say that I 'hate' American Lit, my top three favorite books are considered American classics by quite popular American authors. But even if you adore reading, if the teacher isn't passionate about the subject, the class can quickly turn dull, creating a distinct dislike of the literature being presented.
     
  19. wildfires
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    wildfires Member

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    My teacher has no passion for English whatsoever and has made it damned clear that she's only at the front of the room for the money. Shame.

    The course isn't the best thing in the world either. We have to analyse poetry from an anthology for one of the exams. Yes, they have some okay writers in there, but they seem to be wonderful at picking out their worst, or blandest, poems because they're so open to interpretation as there's nothing there in the first place!
     
  20. cargirl86
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    cargirl86 Member

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    The state of our education system is dismal, at best. I've pretty much decided that if I ever have kids, they will be home schooled or attend a private school. My mom was a teacher before her stroke, and beginning in my high school years she made it pretty clear that if I had a younger sibling, s/he would not be in a public school system.

    I think there are some wonderful public schools out there, as well as well-meaning teachers. But with teachers needing to take care of the discipline problems before addressing the other students as well as having to "teach the test rather than the material," it's no wonder that more and more children are, in fact, being left behind every year. It would make the best teacher in the world cynical and burned out.
     
  21. SnipSnap
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    SnipSnap Active Member

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    I agree that a teacher can "make or break" the quality experience you can get from a class. I took an english class this past year, and my teacher actually told me that Thomas Pynchon wrote A Farewell to Arms :D.

    I took that as a good clue that she was not very good. Plus her grammer was atrocious. And she gave us all excerpts from "On Writing" by Stephen King, to show us what "good writing" looked like. :rolleyes:
     
  22. wildfires
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    wildfires Member

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    Aye, my school's in special measures and that's only made it worse. It's hardly a surprise that there are very few good teachers. It just becomes even more annoying when they're teaching something you love very badly... and sad when the class want you to teach it! =|
     
  23. Chickidy
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    Chickidy Contributing Member

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    Its completely dependent on the child, my school had wonderful teachers and excellent classes, we're a small school district but dammit we do a good job. Some kids would not learn, some kids would learn out of necessity, and some would learn out of interest, depending on the class and the kid. I was one of those interested kids in some classes, but there were a few who no matter what gave no effort. You can't put all the blame on the shoulders of the schools, its half the child's fault.
     
  24. wildfires
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    wildfires Member

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    And we could argue all day about whether schooling should be better from day one. Inspirational teachers = interested children, but there has to be interest from the start.
     
  25. cargirl86
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    Well, of course. No two people are exactly alike. Not everyone is going to instinctively enjoy learning, particularly when confined to a desk for seven to nine hours daily. Of course, a student must meet the teacher at some point, most appropriately halfway. As my history professor would say, "I can lead you to the trough but I can't force you pigs to drink." (He was an interesting character.)

    I don't think anyone here suggested that blame should be placed entirely on the schools; certainly some school systems do a much better job than others. My disenchantment with the education system in general is that politicians are becoming too involved, and making all of the wrong decisions, in my opinion. A standardized test does NOT determine the advances a child has made in his or her education, but standardized testing is rapidly determining much in a child's education. Many teachers bemoan having to "teach the test" rather than hitting developmental and educational milestones. Many teachers now offer lessons on how to be a "good" test-taker ... heck, I remember learning that when in doubt, pick 'C.' There is no doubt that testing is an important part of seeing where a student is, but it's not the entire picture and someone, somewhere isn't quite getting that. And by "someone," I mostly mean the crusty old politicians that couldn't tell you how much a gallon of milk costs these days.

    I also disagree with the statement that "it's half the child's fault." In high school, maybe. But with children in the primary and elementary school levels, it could be a myriad of reasons, particularly the home environment. And, of course, if the love of learning isn't instilled during those early ages, it's unlikely it will develop as the child grows older.

    So does some of the blame belong to the student? Of course. But it's not an "either/or" situation. The problem is with everyone involved ... from teachers to school boards to parents to the government to the students themselves.
     

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