Tis About Lit and Reading It

Monthly Archives: July 2011

Oh two posts in two days, I must be on a roll.

As the summer break is coming to an end, students must once again break out of the comfortable cushion that the holidays naturally carve for themselves. Tis only natural. So it is also natural for any Literature student to acquire these books, in the pursuit of learning and education (“pssssht”).

Interestingly, I am not doing any British modules this semester. While it was an adventure reading Crusoe and romping between 18th and 20th Century Britain. I have decided to take time-travelling to a whole new level by traipsing into the weirdness of Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Initially rather reluctant to take this module, my love for fantasy literature (Yes, I am a closet Harry Potter, C S Lewis and Diana Wynne Jones – God bless her soul-  fan) has pushed me to study it as a serious pursuit. I cannot help but wonder if my passion will be dulled by such intense study of literary theory of magic.

Also, I am rather excited about studying American and Asian American Literature, I suppose they would make a fascinating combination of modules. The White Man’s perspective and the Eastern perspective of said White Man.

The following is the booklist. I have realised that I am rather inefficient at keeping track of what I read so do bear with me as I try to cross them out on this list. So mechanical but much needed, yes?

EN3243: Science Fiction and Fantasy

Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card

Hexwood, Diana Wynne Jones

Miles Errant, Lois McmAster Bujold

Anno Dracula, Kim Newman

Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson

Ilium, Dan Simmons

A Philosophical Investigation, Philip Kerr

EN3234: Asian American Literature

The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston

M Butterfly, David Henry Huang

Jasmine, Bharati Mukherjee

Sister Swing, Shirley Geok-lin Lim (just finished reading).

Selected writings (handout) of Garrett Hongo, Wakako Yamauchi, Carlos Bulosan, Bienvenido Santos, Russell Leong and others.

EN3231: American Literature

“Self-Reliance”, Ralph Waldo Emerson

“American Scholar”, Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Young Goodman Brown”, Nathanial Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne

“Civil Disobedience”, Henry David Thoreau

“Bartleby, the Scrivener”. Herman Melville

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass

“Paradise of Bachelors, Tartarus of Maids”, Herman Melville


And all that the Lorax left here in this mess/was a small pile of rocks, with the one word…/ “UNLESS”…… UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot,/nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

Well, it has been awhile since I last updated this blog (“awhile” is a bit of an understatement) and I am back to save this blog! With my new reading lists up, I suppose I will blogging about my reading experience again (they shall be up as soon as my modules are confirmed).

Other than “reading Lit”, I also “teach Lit”. Not as a full-time job in a public school. That would just  quash all the creative spirit out of me and turn me into a teaching drone with multiple lesson plans.

Teaching Literature to a 13-year-old girl has been a rather interesting learning experience (I’m afraid this is not a euphemism disguising the positive for the negative). While recognising metaphors and detecting tones in poetry has become second nature to me, at the same time assuming that the rest of the world is running at the same pace as me (literary-speaking). So imagine the poor girl’s alarm when I gave her Wordsworth’s Daffodils and Frost’s The Road Not Taken for poetry analysis. Imagine the poor girl’s alarm! Whilst my heart was filled with pleasure and dancing with them Daffodils, she “gazed– and gazed– but little thought” or any notion of the meaning of the poem could she understand. Nothing “flashed upon [her] inward eye”.

Rather disheartening. Teaching metaphors is a lot more challenging than one would think. It is my personal belief that no teacher or professor can ever teach one the skills of Literature without first having any liking of it. The key to it is appreciating it and liking it. Not a professional opinion that should be taken seriously.

On another note, her school is doing one of the most famous political allegories of the twentieth century. If you are guessing, 1984 comes as a close second. Yes, it’s Orwell’s novella Animal Farm! I suppose Animal Farm would be an appropriate text to teach teenagers metaphors and allegories so I do not yet despair over their choice of text.

To encourage or set her mind thinking about allegories, I have chosen Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. Well yes, a children’s book but I view it as a great text to expand further the ideas of alliteration, metaphors, similes, onomatopoeia and allegories. Of course, fantastic creatures and plants like the truffula tree and Brown Bar-ba-loot are meant to excite the senses, but consider their playfulness and wonderful way it twists and turns the tongue.

Tutoring Literature has made me realise that something as simple as The Lorax could help one expand their vision of the literary world. Literature is not about thick books, flowing prose and poetry that no one understands (take the top Prof of Literature at Oxford for instance). It’s about books that help us perceive and make sense of the world better. So save those Enid Blyton books, save The Lorax!