Sunday, April 18, 2010

I Have Read This SO Many Times

So, tonight, I've been sitting here re-reading "The Yellow Wallpaper" for tomorrow's class, and I started thinking that I've probably read this story more times than I've read any other literary text. And, strangely, whenever I read it, I always notice new lines that I haven't really noticed in the past, and I think, "Really? Was this line always in here? Has she always referred to a servant named 'Mary'? Has she always used the phrase 'nervous depression'?" It just freaks me out as I think about the seeming impossibility of me not remembering these details after so many readings, and then I start to wonder if some scholar found a different edition of the text that's now being anthologized, and then I think, "Nooooo," and then I start to feel a bit like the narrator as I get paranoid and perseverate on these details. Maybe it's worse when the moon is out.

Anyhoo, I started wondering if "The Yellow Wallpaper" really is the literary text that I've read more than any other, and I started wondering what all of you have read more than any other text--something you've taught or not. "The Yellow Wallpaper"? "Prufrock"? "The Cask of Amontillado"? Maybe we shouldn't count texts that were central to your dissertations. . . but I'm not sure what perameters to put in place here. So you decide how to answer.

Do tell!


Jana said...

I taught British Literature for six years, so I think I read Frankenstein way more than other people. I still love it. I also read a lot of Wordsworth.

I really liked teaching "The Yellow Wallpaper" to college students, but at the time I had not gone through post-partum depression. Now that you bring it up, I think I'm going to read it again and see what I can find. I hope I can teach it again with this added experience to share. (I'm not a big sharer in the classroom, but I'm working on that, because kids love that sh*t.)

TKW said...

As a student: The Color Purple, Heart of Darkness, The Lottery.

As a teacher: Catcher in the Rye, Romeo and Juliet, (gag) Of Mice and Men.

I love The Yellow Wallpaper. I haven't read it in a long time...thinking I should re-visit.

J. Harker said...

You know, not three weeks ago a colleague was telling me about "The Yellow Wallpaper" and what an eerily disturbing work it was - and that I absolutely had to read it. And now this. I guess I should give it a look!

As for things I've read repeatedly, I can't really distinguish between student and teacher because there's no significant divide between the two just yet. Something about still being in grad school and only teaching intro classes.

Anyhow, the list would include:
Sophocles' Oedipus the King
Homer's Odyssey
Hesiod's Theogony
Books 1, 2 and 4 of Virgil's Aeneid
The dozen or so poems of Catullus that everyone beginning Latin student reads

So, do you know where I can get my hands on "The Yellow Wallpaper"? I assume it's in a number of anthologies, I just don't know which would have other worthwhile goodies in them.

medieval woman said...

For me it's definitely Beowulf and Chaucer's General Prologue! I teach them in almost every single class...

heu mihi said...

Dissertation-wise, it'd be "Piers Plowman," which I've read...five times? Not such a big number, but dude, PIERS PLOWMAN.

Teaching-wise (+ for-pleasure-wise): "Jane Eyre," most likely, which I've read once for fun, once as a student, once as a TA, and twice to teach (and I still heart it).

And then there are the books I read over and over as a child: "Harriet the Spy," "Black Beauty," the entire Ramona Quimby corpus, etc.

Looking ahead to my fourth year with the Brit Lits I & II, I'm starting to think about how, for the rest of my professional life, late August will = Beowulf; Oroonoko will always be the week before Thanksgiving; mid-January will endlessly trigger Wordsworth, etc. It's funny to think of 1200 years of literary history replaying itself through the cycle of the seasons.

The Steel Magnolia said...

LOVE "The Yellow Wallpaper" too!

I've probably read Douglass's Narrative an obscene number of times. Brilliant every time. Also, "The Story of an Hour" and Gloria Naylor's "Mama Day" and Walker's "Everyday Use" and "Their Eyes Were Watching God"--also brilliant every single time.

Oddly, there's a book called "Meet the Overcomers" about a family with special needs children that I read over and over when I was younger. It's an odd text for a child, but I was so moved by it.

Amstr said...

I've read Heart of Darkness for a number of classes (undergrad, grad, teaching). Hemingway's "Camping Out" essay comes to mind. And I've read (and seen the movie) of David Mamet's Oleanna about a zillion times.

When I re-read I think of Prof. W. reading Middlemarch every year. Or I suppose for him it's letting good literature read him every year.

Contemporary Troubadour said...

The Yellow Wallpaper! I had that on my syllabus for two semesters -- totally different reactions from my students each time around.

Hmmm, I'd have to say Hamlet tops the list of texts for me (read it four times as a student and taught it to three different classes).

Academic, Hopeful said...

Tess of the (bloody, sorry arse) D'Urbervilles. Among many others, but this is a book that haunts me.

Good Enough Woman said...

Jana, I teach Frankenstein, too, and it rocks. I'll be curious what you think if you revisit TYW.

TKW, Yes, everyone revisit TYW! I really like Heart of Darkness. But I know Ink hates Conrad. The horror!

JH, I have read very few of those texts that you listed. Clearly, I am a philistine. As for TYW, you can find a cool copy on Google books (and in just about any American Lit anthology).

MW, I like both of those and have taught them quite a few times, myself. I hated Beowulf in high school, but now I love it.

HM, I *so* love Jane Eyre. Love, love. I have taught it three times, I think. As for Piers Plowman--Dude. You are CORE. And you're so right about the seasons! Quite a few years ago, I'd always end up teaching Ray Carver's "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" right around Valentine's Day, which was both awesome and kind of ironic. Oh, and Harriet the Spy? We are kindred spirits, me thinks.

Steel, I've definitely read "Everyday Use" and "Story of an Hour" a lot. I've probably read "The Awakening" even more that either of those! Love Frederick Douglass.

Amstr, As you know, I heart Conrad. Did Prof W. read Middlemarch every year? I don't think I knew that. Do you know that I never finished Middlemarch? Shhhhhhhh. . . Not that I didn't like it, but that quarter of grad school was just SO busy! (And may I say that I'm so honored that you are reading my blog while you are in Bath, waiting for the volcano dust to pass over or dissipate.)

CT, Hamlet is on my hit list, too. But I don't always re-read it (in its entirety) when I teach it. I should though. I'm due for a thorough re-reading.

AH, Hey, there! I don't think I've read all of Tess. Just Madding Crowd and Jude. But only one time each . . .

Ink said...

OMG, I have the same experience whenever I read "The Yellow Wallpaper," which is often, as I teach it in three different classes every term! I think that's what makes it rich, though, that it opens itself a little more every time? One of my all-time favorites.

Other things I've read again and again for teaching: "Cask of Amontillado," "Story of an Hour," "Girl," "Everyday Use," "The Wasteland," "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird," _Fight Club_, _The Color Purple_.

Ink said...

Oh, and JH, it's here. Maybe I'll post it at your blog, too.

loveskidlit said...

Joyce's Eveline. I use it for everything... short, eminently teachable, and I've used it for film adaptation creative projects in Lit and Film too.

Heart of Darkness, but really... I reskim more than I reread!

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

Coming to the party quite late, here, but the things I've read more than anything else would include the following Shakespeare plays:

Henry IV, Part 1 (a billion times)
Henry V (two billion times)
Hamlet (three billion times)

The first two were part of my diss and are probably my favorite Shakespeare plays, but Hamlet has been in many, many classes of mine (as a student), and I've taught it three times.

When I was young, I read Gone with the Wind over and over again. It never got old. These days, I seem to reread the stupid Twilight books when I need a popcorn-for-the-brain fix. We all have our guilty pleasures, I guess. :)