Saturday, April 14, 2012

Taking Suggestions

I'm trying to thing about what novel(s) I want to teach in my comp/argument class next fall. For several years, I didn't teach any fiction in that class because the weeks spent on fiction seemed to steer us off course. But then I got frustrated that I didn't even feel like I was teaching and *English* class. So this semester, I brought back the novel. In fact, I taught two. But I changed my approach and connected the novels to issue-based articles that were circulating in the public sphere and it all worked really well.

In choosing the novels, I wanted high-interest books that were connected to current issues that we could write about and discuss. I chose The Hunger Games and The Help. For The Hunger Games, we read articles on many related issues: the spectacle of violence, the 99%, reality TV, etc. For The Help, we studied the criticism that the book has received along with arguments defending the novel and we explored the idea of being a resistant reader (we also read texts by authors such as Zora Neale Hurston). Anyway, I developed full unit on each novel, and they were great. But I want to consider different novels for the future. While I might do The Hunger Games again, I am hesitant since everyone will have read it now. As for The Help, for many of the students it was great, but for others, it was low-interest.To be specific, the guys had trouble getting into it. If I wasn't at a community college and wasn't so eager to get my students reading, I wouldn't care. But if I can find a book with broader appeal, that would be great.

I've thought about Fight Club, but I'm not sure that's really my thing. I've thought about looking into something by Octavia Butler, and I've thought about checking out Atwood's Oryx and Crake. But this point, I'd love to hear any suggestions.


Cyn said...

*perks up* Will go ahead and say that either Oryx & Crake (1st in Maddadam Trilogy) or Year of the Flood (2nd) would be productive texts for what you describe (and very timely)!

You could also do some excerpts from Bill McKibben's Enough if you go that route, as context but also nonfiction example of discussing relevant issues.

Amstr said...

I feel like I just read old people novels these days. I think they're amazing, but I'm not sure the cc crowd would be into them. Or that they'd be timely.

I just read Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Adichie, which I really liked. It has lots of connections to the discussion of aid to Africa, Kony, etc. but it's quite long and multi-threaded. Maybe for an advanced lit class, but not for comp. It'd be great to find something that's more accessible on those topics.

I'd be wary of teaching Hunger Games post-movie release. (Though I haven't seen the movie yet.)

And now I'm off to read George Eliot's Adam Bede for book group.

Zenmoo said...

I'd suggest The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga or Snowdrops by A D Millar. Both are a bit similar thematically & both are cracking reads. I'd think they'd appeal to men and women. Or something by Qiu Xiaolong - one of his Inspector Chen series?

Jan said...

How about Pigeon English, Stephen Kelman. It is a British story, but one which my have parallels in the US.

P.S New Blog:

Cyn said...

Amstr, if you do go see the movie, be prepared for googly-feeling eyes after. It is shot so close up and jerkily...whew!

Worth seeing still, but I wish I had been prepared for the camerawork somehow.

Good Enough Woman said...

Thanks for the suggestions, everybody! I will be following up on all of them. I do know that a faculty member is currently using White Tiger who teaches the course that is one-level below mine, so I probably won't use that to avoid unnecessary repetition for the students. But I've heard they really like it! I'm reading Octavia Butler's Kindred right now. The plot is certainly compelling!