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Thread: Journeys in Literature

  1. #1

    Journeys in Literature

    Good morning.

    I'm currently writing a course on "Journeys." The units will be something like physical, spiritual, group, and individual journeys. Any ideas for books, lessons, etc. are greatly appreciated. Books that come to mind are:

    Bryson, A Walk in the Woods
    Coelho, The Alchemist
    Abbey, The Journey Home
    Hesse, Siddhartha

    Please note also that I work with "alternative" high school students. Hence, I try to avoid "traditional" literature (except when my literature-purist side kicks in) because they all arrive from very different places with very, very different exposure levels to a colorful array of the "required" high school readings. As an attempt to keep the material fresh, I often look for readings they would not have ever seen. That also means it's frequently stuff that I haven't seen either (which makes it somewhat difficult for me to find). Any help is appreciated.

  2. #2
    aspiring Arthurianist Wilde woman's Avatar
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    Neat idea for a course. This immediately brought to mind Baudelaire's idea of the flaneur, which you might want to look into. When I was studying this, the book we read was Andrew Breton's surrealist novel Nadja. It's not really my cup of tea, but it's about a man who falls in love with a woman he meets on a chance encounter in the street and he continues to walk the same path everyday on the off chance of meeting her again.

    Other books that jumped to mind, but are pretty canonical:

    Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
    Gulliver's Travels
    Dante's Divine Comedy (the ultimate spiritual journey!)
    Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (in which each of the storytellers is on pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral to pay homage to Thomas a Becket)
    Boccaccio's Decameron (which the Canterbury Tales is largely based on)
    Lolita (there that long middle section in which Humbert Humbert and Lolita are driving across America)

    And I would be remiss as a medievalist if I did not mention The Travels of Sir John Mandeville.

    You might also want to consider literature in which characters are physically or spiritually lost, as a point of comparison.

    Ah, here's one a non-canonical one that your students might enjoy. It's called Winterdance by Gary Paulsen, and it's a nonfiction book about his experience running the Iditarod (a long and strenuous journey, physically, mentally, and psychologically) with 15 memorable dogs. The first section is a side-splittingly hilarious account of how Paulsen acquired the dogs and tried to train them. They did practice runs by having the dogs haul a broken down old car through the woods at night...I remember a particularly funny run-in with a skunk. The rest of the book documents the alternate hilarity and horror of running the actual race, during which the author develops a tragic heart condition.
    Ecce quam bonum et jocundum, habitares libros in unum!
    ~Robert Greene, Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay

  3. #3
    This is great! Yes, the flaneur is just right! I am (overly) thrilled with this idea, and might start the class with some lessons on this concept. Beautiful.

    Thank you again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wilde woman View Post
    Neat idea for a course. This immediately brought to mind Baudelaire's idea of the flaneur, which you might want to look into. When I was studying this, the book we read was Andrew Breton's surrealist novel Nadja. It's not really my cup of tea, but it's about a man who falls in love with a woman he meets on a chance encounter in the street and he continues to walk the same path everyday on the off chance of meeting her again.

    Other books that jumped to mind, but are pretty canonical:

    Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
    Gulliver's Travels
    Dante's Divine Comedy (the ultimate spiritual journey!)
    Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (in which each of the storytellers is on pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral to pay homage to Thomas a Becket)
    Boccaccio's Decameron (which the Canterbury Tales is largely based on)
    Lolita (there that long middle section in which Humbert Humbert and Lolita are driving across America)

    And I would be remiss as a medievalist if I did not mention The Travels of Sir John Mandeville.

    You might also want to consider literature in which characters are physically or spiritually lost, as a point of comparison.

    Ah, here's one a non-canonical one that your students might enjoy. It's called Winterdance by Gary Paulsen, and it's a nonfiction book about his experience running the Iditarod (a long and strenuous journey, physically, mentally, and psychologically) with 15 memorable dogs. The first section is a side-splittingly hilarious account of how Paulsen acquired the dogs and tried to train them. They did practice runs by having the dogs haul a broken down old car through the woods at night...I remember a particularly funny run-in with a skunk. The rest of the book documents the alternate hilarity and horror of running the actual race, during which the author develops a tragic heart condition.
    Wow. What a great post. I, too, am planning a hs course and could use some assistance. BTW, what lit. can you suggest in which characters are physically or spiritually lost?

    I am a grad student in ed. and need to prepare a unit for 12th graders that serves as an intro to literary theory. The prof would like the unit to contain Heart of Darkness and The Dead.

    I need to find texts that explains the various theories and pieces that demonstrate theory without being too dense for high school students. I'm having a very hard time finding the appropriate texts.

    Any suggestions?

  5. #5
    aspiring Arthurianist Wilde woman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emjlev13 View Post
    what lit. can you suggest in which characters are physically or spiritually lost?
    I personally think any texts of the "dream vision" genre provide answers for characters who are spiritually lost. Or travel literature:

    Alice in Wonderland
    The Wizard of Oz
    The Lion, Witch and Wardrobe
    The Phantom Toll-Booth
    Dante's Divine Comedy
    Chaucer's Book of the Duchess
    Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress
    Sartre's No Exit
    Kerouac's On the Road
    Becket's Waiting for Godot

    I need to find texts that explains the various theories and pieces that demonstrate theory without being too dense for high school students. I'm having a very hard time finding the appropriate texts.

    Any suggestions?
    You're teaching theory to high school students? That's impressive; I certainly never got theory in high school. I assume, then, that these are pretty advanced students - like AP level? If so, I'd try to find an anthology of literary theory which targets undergraduates. You might want to check out Jonathan Culler's A Very Short History of Literary Theory. But I admit theory isn't really my thing, so you may want to check the main forums where lots of people have made suggestions for intro-level theory.

    Another idea is to teach texts which came out of a certain period of theory. For example, my theory class read Hoffman's very creepy short story "The Sandman" during our psychoanalysis unit. If you've already committed to reading Heart of Darkness, maybe you want to work it into your postcolonial unit and read it in conjunction with Achebe's essay, "An Image of Africa", which accused Conrad of racism.
    Ecce quam bonum et jocundum, habitares libros in unum!
    ~Robert Greene, Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay

  6. #6
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    First thought that came to mind was Candide for some reason ... haven't read that in ages

    Second thought was the Odyssey and the Aeneid.

    The Divine Comedy (more specifically just inferno), the Hollander translation (text for free here: http://etcweb.princeton.edu/dante/pdp/), is actually a really good recommendation since it's easy enough to read, a classic, and soooOOOooo good.
    Dare to know

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