Whether it’s questions on the value of our greatest writers and their works, or the nature of literary criticism, the way that we approach literature has long been the subject of heated debates. Our curated selection of these ten maps set out ways to think critically around the subject and its impact on our societies.
Ben Jonson described Shakespeare as being “for all time” - that is, his works resonate with all time periods and peoples. His body of work spans poetry and plays, many of which are the most praised, quoted and performed still today. Is the work of Shakespeare truly this universal and timeless?
Various social movements in the last centuries have shifted society in many ways, whereas fairy tales have stayed within the same narratives. Should fairytales be retold to reflect modern values?
The Victorian novelist Charles Dickens was in many ways an important social reformer. However, he also bought into many prejudices typical of his era, including anti-Semitism and racism, which are evident in several of his books.So, was Dickens a social progressive in bringing working-class issues to light in his writing, or did he allow his prejudice - typical of his era - to outweigh this?
In Nobel Prize-winner William Golding’s 1954 dystopian novel Lord of the Flies, a group of British schoolboys are stranded on an deserted island and are left to govern themselves. This ill-fated attempt to battle through civilization, morality, and order led to extreme bloodlust, violence, and savagery amongst the group of boys. Jack Merridew, the power-loving antagonist of the story is obsessed with dominance over the group since the beginning of the novel. But despite Jack’s antagonistic nature and selfishness, he may not be malicious.
The idea of substituting classic literature for more contemporary works in the classroom has been a continuous topic of discussion throughout many school districts. To teach the classics, or not to teach the classics? That is the question.
Stephen King is one of the world’s top-paid authors, with over sixty published books and even more films and TV shows based upon these novels. The way he portrays women in these books, unfortunately, is not always the best. Women are constantly subject to abuse, fantasy, and objectification. Are Stephen King’s novels sexist, or not?
African-American literature is a body of literature made in the U.S. by Americans of African descent. Because of how African-Americans were integrated into the founding of the U.S., African-American writing is often concerned with racism, oppression, and struggles for freedom. At the same time, should such literature always be concerned with political advocacy, or should Black writers and artists focus on art for art’s sake?
Art and literature should be moralizing because they are powerful forms of creative expression that can bring about significant moral change in people. It also imparts moral teachings that are crucial to such forms of creative expression.On the other hand, it is not the goal of the medium.
In the world of literary criticism, there are many theories about the correct way to interpret literature. Some critics argue that the text alone determines a work’s meaning, while others pay more attention to factors like historical context or the reader’s experience. Scholars also practice other methods of literary criticism influenced by feminist, Marxist, or psychoanalytic theories, to name a few. So, what are the various theories about interpreting literature?
More and more people are listening to books rather than reading them, but how do the two experiences compare? Do people retain the same amount from audiobooks? Is one format easier to get into than the other? How do the different formats affect the experience of the book? Does the format change the way the book is interpreted?