August 13, 2009
Your Vote Counts!
At least, it might. Pretty soon I have to finalize book orders for a new course I'm teaching in the winter term, a second-year survey of "British Literature Since 1800." I feel strongly that despite the pressure it will put on the very limited time I have available to cover a vast range of material, I can't teach such a course without including at least one 19th-century novel and one 20th-century novel--but picking just one puts a lot of pressure on each choice! I'll be using the second volume of the Norton "Major Authors" anthology, which will take care of poetry, non-fiction, and short fiction. I've been thinking that if you're going to showcase a single Victorian novelist, it simply has to be Dickens, and as we have at most two weeks and I will mostly have students without much literary experience, I've been thinking it has to be one of the shorter Dickens, meaning basically Hard Times or Great Expectations. Before I put the order in, though, I thought I'd see how many people agreed with me and how many would consider someone else the "must read" author of that century, or another book a better choice. So I've put a little poll at the side; feel free to place your vote there and/or to put a suggestion in the comments. For what it's worth, my underlying theme in the course will be something like "what do people think literature is for, and how do they use literary form to get this done?" And the 20th-century novel I've almost decided on is Atonement, for lots of reasons, one of which is that it is kind of a two-for-one deal, given its engagement with Woolf-ian modernism (which we will address through readings from the anthology too).