I took a class of mine, AP Literature and Composition, to task for including classic works of literature in the curriculum. I would like to apologize for my previous criticisms. The quality of the works are not only acceptable, but deserve to be studied in a college level course.
Frye’s Anatomy of Criticism is a cornerstone of all great works of literature. It is truly craftsmanship, with the anatomy being described as “the structure of any good work” (Frye, 8). Frye’s Anatomy is so important that it has been included in the “Great Books of the Western World” and will be included in every AP Lit exam from here on out. I understand that students are forced to study certain works that are important for their future careers, but many students do not appreciate the importance of some great works up front and therefore dismiss them as irrelevant or a waste of time. Many students often wonder why they are forced to read books that are so old and boring when they could be reading more recent novels such as The Hunger Games or Twilight. The problem with those novels is that they will never be classics because they lack great writing. Great writing is what makes a classic novel and differentiates it from
A recent post on The Great Books of the Western World blog about why studying AP Literature is good for you might have been expected to generate some controversy. Instead, it’s generated only a few comments, and none of them have made much sense.
Taken out of context like this, the post doesn’t make much sense either. It was written for teachers of the AP class, not for students taking the AP test (or any other test), and it seems to be using “you” in the sense of “you who are currently teaching AP Lit.”
So I’ll take a stab at interpreting what Mr. Cullinan actually meant. He was trying to motivate teachers to assign great works of literature by telling them that if they do, they’ll be doing their students a favor–that is, helping them get ready for college. The first section is an argument that people who don’t read books generally aren’t very smart or interesting (which I think we can all agree with). The second section says that students who take the AP course are likely to do better in college than students who don’t (this part is a bit controversial, since no evidence is presented). So he concludes that teachers should assign lots of good books because their students will profit from reading them and
I don’t know if you have heard of the Great Books but they are a series of books and readings, originally intended to be an entire liberal arts education in only 80 volumes. The project was started by a man named Robert Hutchins who was the president of the University of Chicago.
The first volume, A Great Book is any book that has been so meaningful to so many people over the centuries that it has survived despite all the efforts of organized religion to destroy it. The Great Books were published with such titles as The Imitation of Christ, The Confessions of St. Augustine, and The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, etc. They are books that were not written for money or popularity but were written for their authors spiritual betterment and for the betterment of society at large.
The book I am recommending is titled “The Great Conversation: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy” by Arnold Isenberg which covers from 700 B.C. to 1900 A.D., most of Western History and philosophy..
In my opinion this is a must read book for anyone interested in anything academic because it provides a framework for studying anything. It provides answers to questions like “What are the basic questions we ask?” “How do
One of the things I love about the Advanced Placement course in Literature and Composition—the class on which the AP English Literature exam is based—is that it gives you a chance to read some of the greatest works of literature ever written. By reading them with a trained teacher, you’ll get to appreciate these masterworks as they were meant to be appreciated.
The AP test will focus on some of the same works and authors that we’ve been studying in class. But there’s something even better about taking the course: it will give you the opportunity to read a long list of other great books that are not part of the test, including plays, poetry, short stories, essays, and novels. You’ll find that once you get started, you won’t want to stop reading!
The readings are divided into four categories: Drama, Poetry, Fiction, and Non-Fiction. While most students find it fairly easy to decide whether or not they like a play or a poem, many have difficulty deciding whether or not they like a novel or an essay. So for this exercise I’m going to give you two examples from each category that have received very different responses from critics and readers.
The human need to tell stories is as old as humanity itself. This need gave rise to art, the first human invention. There is no doubt that it is a good thing; great art has brought many people happiness, and inspired many people to do good things.
Telling stories is a very powerful way of communicating ideas and emotions. It’s also one of the most fun ways to spend time! But in high school, you don’t have time to do much but drill down on the fundamentals. If you’re like me, your English classes focus on just a few authors: Shakespeare, Chaucer, Austen, Twain, and so on. You read these authors in translation if it’s a foreign language text; if it’s an English text, you read it in your chosen translation.
And that’s great–you’re still reading these authors at all! But there are thousands upon thousands of years of human storytelling behind those handfuls of authors you’re reading in high school. And that means there are thousands upon thousands of stories left untouched by high school classes!
And even in those classes–why are you reading Chaucer? Because he was part of the Common Core? Or because he was an influential author who wrote The Canterbury Tales? Well, he wrote