Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Quit 'yer whining.

The motivations for the last question about Lord of the Flies was born out of my frustration at the booklist for my next semester adolescent literature course.  Of the 12 novels, only 5 belong to the most recent generation of YA fiction (Stargirl, Speak, Hunger Games, Monster, The Giver).  All the others are books that are at least 40+ years old, one of which is Lord of the Flies.  I am more angry than I should be at this list; most of the others I could accept, but that one just seems more out of place than the others.  I never really cared for the book myself, but I appreciate that it has some complex, interesting things to say about human nature.  I think that the intended audience is a large part of what defines the genre, and I really don't think Golding would say he intended this book for adolescents. You could argue the same about Fahrenheit 451, which is also on this list.  In fact, you could argue that F451 makes even less sense, since at least the cast of characters in Flies are actually kids.  I have to stop thinking about this.  I am too close to the end of the semester to get my blood pressure up.

If the Education course were offered next semester, the books would be more progressive/newer.  And how ironic is that?  If anything, the curriculum & instruction department would have more reason to have a syllabi of older books, since that's mostly what is still taught in schools (unless motivated teachers campaign otherwise).  The English department would be the place to explore new, emerging genres.  Unfortunately, it is exactly the opposite in this case, and I'm terribly disappointed.

I guess I feel like if this is the booklist for the class, it might be a waste of time.  I'm taking this class to help expand my understanding for my capstone project.  I want ask what makes the genre what it is, how we define it, why it's growing so quickly, and can we find YA fiction that we think deserves the designation of "literature"?  But with more than 50% of the syllabus comprising novels that are already canon  -- it's just disheartening.


  1. Have you actually BEEN to the class yet? I can see how a really stellar professor could blend canon and current works, leading students to explore the question of what makes something YA (or not). Canon texts COULD be useful in a course like this because so many schools require them. I do not have the option of teaching a current YA piece, for example.

    (Of course, that's my best-case scenario. It's entirely possible that you won't be so fortunate. *g*)

  2. It's true that few teachers get the opportunity to teach any contemporary pieces - YA or not. But part of my frustration is that this isn't a class in the education department -- it's in the English Lit department, taught by an English Lit teacher. I just think they're losing an opportunity to really explore the genre.

    But you're right: I should give it a chance. I tend to expect worst-case scenarios. There is the possibility the professor could make it worthwhile, and I should hope for the best. I think what adds to my hesitation is that a friend of mine has warned me that in her previous classes with this professor, she felt that she didn't get a lot of out of the class. Still...I'm likely to get more out of it with a positive attitude! :)