Starting in July, we’ll be featuring a new meme that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation. The schedule for the year is posted below, so feel free to get a head start. We look forward to seeing your responses!
Schedule for 2016
July 15: Is Jane Eyre‘s Rochester an attractive and brooding love interest, or dangerously manipulative?
July 22: Some argue Jane Austen writes “fluff” and others argue she belongs in the canon because she writes witty social commentary. Do you think Austen belongs in the canon? Why or why not?
July 29: Is Romeo and Juliet a tragic love story or an ironic comedy? Should we take the play seriously when its protagonists are so young?
Aug. 5: Which of Toni Morrison’s book is your favorite/affected you the most and why?
Aug. 12: Susan Pevensie’s fate in C. S. Lewis’s The Last Battle has been criticized for being sexist. Do you think it’s sexist or is Lewis trying to do or say something else?
Aug. 19: Which March sister from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women is your favorite and why? Do you agree with the way their lives played out?
Aug. 26: Is Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew misogynistic? Should we continue to stage it?
Sept. 2: Recommend a diverse classic. Or you can argue that a diverse book should be a classic or should be included in the canon. (Or you can argue that the book should be a classic, but that you don’t want to see it in the canon.)
Sept. 9: Which Tolkien book would you recommend to a reader after they’ve finished The Hobbit and LotR?
Sept. 16: Is the Phantom of the Opera abusive or romantic? (You can discuss the musical or the book version, or the differences between the two.)
Sept. 23: Which Austen adaptation is your favorite and why?
Sept. 30: What children’s classic couldn’t you read enough when you were growing up?
Oct. 7: Which of Dumas’s Musketeer’s is your favorite and why?
Oct. 14: Recommend a classic book that you think translated particularly well to screen (even if the adaptation was not entirely faithful).
Oct. 21: Should we be assigning Lolita in schools or is it taking up valuable syllabus space another book could have?
Oct. 28: What is your favorite classic picture book? Or you can tell us about a picture book you think will/should become a classic.
Nov. 4: Middlemarch has received criticism for the fate of its heroine Dorothea Brooke as some believe she does not live up to feminist ideals as she remains limited in her influence and matched to an inferior partner. Do yo think such criticism is warranted?
Nov. 11: Do you think the end of Charlotte Bronte’s Villette is a feminist triumph or an emotional tragedy? (Or something else entirely?)
Nov. 18: Which classic book do you wish had a sequel and why?
Nov. 25: Daisy Buchanan from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby says she wishes her daughter will be a “beautiful little fool.” Is Daisy herself nothing but a fool or is she trapped by her society?
Dec. 2: George Orwell’s 1984 is often referenced when discussions of privacy and oversight arise. Do you think an Orwellian state could happen or is that overstating the case?
Dec. 9: Nahum Tate is infamous for his 1681 adaptation of King Lear with a happy ending. Why do you think some adaptations of works are praised and others dismissed? Can we separate the merit of an adaptation from the merit of the work it is based on?
Dec. 16: Tell us about your favorite Charles Dickens novel.
Dec. 23: Recommend a classic you think should be read during the holiday season.
Dec. 30: You’ve been dropped into L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. What do you do first?