Negotiation I

I’ll submit the list of your ten texts to the honors committee next week, so I’m creating this space for you guys to negotiate with each other now. 

And I think we have to have some of that negotiation here, because this process will only be satisfying to all if it’s democratic, and the Tuesday afternoon class is so much bigger than the Wednesday evening class. Like other kinds of inequality, this one poses a threat to our democracy.

So I’m creating this space for a free negotiation across the borders between Tuesday and Wednesday. Let’s do this.

Here is the list of ten, as proposed by the Wednesday evening group, also with one question and one proposal to consider.


  1. Sophocles, Antigone
  2. William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra
  3. Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal
  4. Herman Melville, Bartleby, the Scrivener
  5. Harriot Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
  6. Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
  7. Allen Ginsberg, Howl [There is a proposal on the table to continue to negotiate this one, see below)
  8. Paul Beatty, The Sellout
  9. Anne Boyer, “The Revolt of the Peasant Girls,” “Not Writing,” “No”
  10. Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric

The question: There is some hesitancy about Ginsberg’s Howl, because some students worried that it would be hard to write about this poem on the exam. (Students who harbor this worry, I invite you to express your concern in more detail below!)

When it was noted that Howl invites a discussion on the exam about queer literary history, there was general agreement about the need for that, so alternatives were proposed. We could perhaps substitute Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems, James Baldwin’s Another Country (or a different novel by Baldwin) or some poems by Elizabeth Bishop (although Bishop is more reticent about her sexuality, so maybe she’s not a perfect choice in this category?). Discuss below.

The proposal: We can also make an unofficial exam list for ourselves to keep track of texts that we’ve all read that seem valuable to remember, but we don’t have space for them on the exam. That list can include:

  • Audre Lorde, “Poetry is not a Luxury”
  • An Emily Dickinson poem or two (or three)
  • Whatever else you like

Let the negotiations begin.

  • What should we subtract, to add what– and why?
  • How should we answer the questions that remain?
  • For the texts that are poems, should we include more than one– and if so, which?

You may want to consult the full list, too, as you weigh in below, in the comments.

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32 Responses to Negotiation I

  1. I would like to motion to strike works 2, 4-5 and 9. Which I understand is a large change to the list, but I think the problem with the list we have at its core is what Kaitlin mentioned in our Tuesday class. We only control half of the list. So, we have to consider what the department will add if we don’t put it on our list. I think our list should try to stray away from canonical literature as much as possible, as the department will certainly be filling in that gap. As such, here is my reasoning for striking the works I’ve suggested –

    2. Anthony and Cleopatra – I don’t think we should devote space in our list to Shakespeare as there’s simply no way the department wouldn’t add it to their list.

    4+5. Bartelby and Incidents – This is again, a suggestion based around the format we’re working with. We don’t need to have two pieces from the 19th century on here when works like Frankenstein and the poems of Dickinson are so widely taught. I’d be very surprised if Frankenstein doesn’t end up on the exam whether or not we put it on our list or fill the list with 19th century works.

    9. Boyer – I think between Rankine and Howl (which I definitely think should remain on the list) I think we have enough poetry and can use the space to populate the list with some other texts that aren’t represented here.

    So for what we don’t have. We don’t have anything science fiction, we don’t have anything Gothic, we don’t have any Asian American authors. For my suggested replacements to the three works I’ve motioned to strike.

    1. Oryx and Crake, Atwood. – An easy to read sci-fi novel written by Margaret Atwood. Themes of environmentalism/conservation, animal rights, and questions of what it means to be human.

    2. The Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri – A collection of fictional short stories dealing with the varied experiences of Indian and Indian Americans coming to terms with cultural shifts.

    3. Beloved, Toni Morrison – Beloved is a perfect example of the American Gothic, and with the other works that are on and likely will be on the list, fits perfectly into literary histories of slavery, race, and questioning what it means to be human.

  2. Khurram says:

    Thought I’d share some of our logic with the list we suggested.

    Essentially, evening class worked on the first draft of the list with two determining criteria in mind (not including having periods/genres represented, which I think is inherent in the exercise):

    1. We wanted texts that could have options for interpretation. A lot of the previous exam questions ask to look for multiple examples or link numerous texts and having a work that is flexible enough to fit in a few spots was important.

    2. We wanted to control the canon. So, in a sample case like Shakespeare, I agree with you, Jordan, Shakespeare will probably make the exam one way or another. Why not control the play we’re going to write about?

    That’s part of the case for Antony & Cleopatra, and I think that directly addresses your concern. I haven’t read it, other classmates who did say it also fits with the first criteria I just wrote. Personally, I think no matter which Shakespeare we choose we should still pick one.

    We actually passed Bartleby the first time but came back to it after determining the list needed more pre-20th century texts. Aside from time frame, I think Bartleby could also be valuable because it could fit in a few different compare/contrast questions. Labor, mental health, power dynamics, the activity of inactivity. I see, of what I’ve read from our list, Beatty, Boyer, and Woolf comps, plus easy connections to unofficial referential texts that make the academic rounds (Walden, Marx stuff etc.).

    Incidents: felt like it was important to have a slave narrative on the list. I think it’s even-money we’ll get one either way. We went with Incidents because it’s a 19th-century slave narrative, pretty important century in modern slavery history (hits some of our 240s), and the genre, author, and topic open up different ways to use the text. Having said that, none of us were super attached to this choice (I think only I made the case), so I say check the logic rather than the work. Your Frankenstein point is a solid one.

    I don’t have an attachment to Boyer except that I can see her work being valuable in compare/contrast scenarios.

    To your suggested replacements, I don’t know enough about them personally except for Interpreter, but I would say if the criteria I wrote at the top of this post makes sense, maybe that could help guide swaps. With respect to adjusting for how we expect the other half of our list to take shape, I think it’s more valuable to control the canonical texts where there might be multiple options (like Shakespeare, not Shelley).

    • I see where you’re coming from in regards to controlling the canon. My worry is, especially in regards to Shakespeare, that there are texts that the department are going to put on the list regardless of our list. I don’t think that The Tempest is going to be left off. Same with Frankenstein. I’m concerned that if we end up trying to control the canon we’re going to end up with multiple canonical works by the same authors. I’m really just talking about Shakespeare here.

      I agree that a slave narrative is important, and of the between Bartelby and Incidents I’d imagine only one might be taken off the list. And I think if we have incidents, beloved, and the sellout (and probably Frankenstein) there’s plenty of literary-historical material there to write interesting and compelling essays.

  3. Cassandra says:

    I vote off 2, 3, and 9.

    I think Jordan is right and the exam will definitely include a Shakespeare, so it’s just a matter of whether we want to pick it ourselves or not. If we do include a Shakespeare, I’d prefer it if it was something more of us have read, Othello, The Tempest, or Hamlet. Jonathan Swift and Anne Boyer are redundant. I also think we need more queer representation, so we maybe should consider Audre Lourde or picking Orlando instead of Mrs. Dalloway. I also like Jordan’s Atwood suggestion. Lahari I’m not the biggest fan of, but I would be happy with her on the exam as there are plenty of rich topics to write about in her work. Bartleby I would like to keep, as right now almost half of our list is contemporary.

    To complicate things more, here are other suggestions:
    1. Maxine Hong Kingston “No Name Woman.” Asian American experience/feminism
    2. Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony. Native American experience/oral traditions

  4. Emily Abrams says:

    *what follows is said with all kindness, I promise*

    In support of including Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”:
    – A poem being “hard” to write about is not a sufficient enough of a reason to strike it from a list. It would be like saying something like “Shakespeare’s language is too dense; why do we still read it?” This exam list shouldn’t consist of texts that are “easy,” but rather texts that invite us to think critically on an array of topics.
    – “Howl” is not merely queer literature. It is “one of the most widely read and translated poems of the twentieth century. Many critics consider it a breakthrough in contemporary poetry and a literary masterpiece.” Ginsberg (notoriously) invites readers to consider a host of themes from the perspectives of the Beat Generation, from sexuality and religiosity to sociopolitical criticism and anti-establishment thought. The diction in “Howl” alone invites literary analysis.

    In support of including one of Jhumpa Lahiri’s works, either The Namesake or The Interpreter of Maladies: (replacing Swift or Melville on the list)
    – If we’re approaching this exam list with the intention of being representative of multiple centuries and themes, I find it concerning that our short list lacks representation of nonwestern writers.
    – As both invite readers to examine the immigrant experience, culture(clash)/identity, class and community, the addition of either The Namesake and The Interpreter of Maladies would be invaluable to our list (you know, considering all the nods we give in class to our political climate, just saying…)
    My dream short list:
    1) Antigone. 2) Mrs. Dalloway. 3) Howl. 4) The Sellout. 5) Citizen: An American Lyric. 6) The Namesake. 7) “Poetry is not a Luxury.” 8) Hamlet. 9) Beloved. 10) Oryx and Crake.

    • Emily Abrams says:

      Still wary of “Howl”? This blog post provides a useful brief breakdown of it:

      *quote above pulled from it.

    • Khurram says:

      Forgive my lack of knowledge on this, this is an actual question that comes from a gap in my knowledge, but if we want more nonwestern representation would that mean swaps from our post-19th-century selections, or would our submitted list skew modern? Not saying that non-westerners didn’t write pre-20th century, by the way, just that I don’t personally know what those texts would be.

      Also for the purposes of our list, is nonwestern swappable with nonwhite or nonwhite+nonmale?

  5. Kaitlin Margaret McDermott says:

    Jordan alluded in his post to a point that I made in our class last Tuesday. For those in the Wednesday class: I spoke about our (read:the collective students of 399w) need to think about the exam list strategically. In my opinion, this means considering the texts that have been widely assigned in classes here at Queens College (the canon — works like Frankenstein, *insert Shakespeare*, slave narratives, etc.) and leaving it up to the Department to assign those things to us. I, like some others, find it hard to believe that the Department won’t assign Frankenstein or something by Shakespeare. Though I understand the reasoning behind “controlling the canon,” I’m not sure that the benefits are proportional to the cost of valuable space on our class list. Put another way: I’d rather we pick a piece of 17th c. literature that seems appealing, interesting, or significant (even if we haven’t read it before) and leave Shakespeare and the like to the Department. Personally, I would rather be in control over the texts that are more “out there” — those things that can’t be expected and will be assigned anyway. It’ll even out either way in the end, it’s just about what we, as a class, want to control right now.

    That said, I move to remove texts 2, 5 and 9 from the list. The first two are firmly situated within the canon — based on my reasoning above, I believe they should be removed from our class list.

    Boyer’s poems are, I think, out of place on our exam list. To be honest, I don’t quite know what to do with Boyer with the exception of speaking about her in comparison to another text (like Melville’s story). While that may be an argument for keeping her, I don’t see what value her inclusion brings to our reading list aside from that. Instead, I think that her place on the list would be much better filled with the work of an AA/non-western writer, or a work in translation. I support the addition of Lahiri to the list in place of Boyer — Interpreter of Maladies brings something new to our list through genre (short-story collection) and thematic focuses (immigration, cultural studies, etc.). For those who haven’t read it: Lahiri is a beautiful writer, and her text is short and enjoyable. In other words, it’s not a huge undertaking to get through it.

    A final note on Howl: Like Emily, I struggle to see that a text’s difficulty should count against its inclusion on this list. Consider that the text, aside from (or as a function of) being one of the most influential and important works of the 20th c. is one of the most written about poems out there. If stuck for help with interpretation, an animated short is readily available on YouTube, as are readings, summaries, analyses, critical sources, and a vast reserve of other resources. Aside from the historical significance of the work, there’s a trove of themes, stylistic choices, and questions of form that can be written about. The text’s perceived difficulty is no reason to strike it from our list. Another point that is important to mention (not only with regards to Howl, but in thinking about this list generally): We are trying to make this list inclusive and representative of different periods, writers, backgrounds, and social groups. That, in itself, is a great goal and one that should guide our thinking. However, the way that certain spaces are being negotiated for writers, especially for queer writers, is verging on treating these writers as if they are interchangeable. Howl is, in itself, a significant work of the 20th century — surely Baldwin or Bishop or O’Hara’s works are also significant — but it is the merits (and there are many) of Ginsberg’s text that we should be determining, rather than seeking to substitute one queer author for another. We should remember that each work is a different work, each writer a different writer with different experiences, styles, and focuses. It is not just that they belong to a certain “category” of person, but that the works themselves are significant.

    A few potential texts to consider:

    17th c. — In place of Shakespeare, we could think about a text like Don Quixote. It is similarly important, fits the time period, and is in translation.
    18th c. — The Sorrows of Young Werther, J.w. Von Goethe. Interesting, important, short, and in translation.
    19th c. — In place of including a slave narrative (again, I’m sure one will end up on our list), let’s include some gothic literature (as Jordan said, it’s noticeably absent from this list). Wuthering Heights is a solid choice, but something from any of the Brontë ladies would fit nicely. For those not interested in them, HG Wells, Tolstoy, and Dickens are all writing in this period.
    20th c. — Personally, I am impartial to Kafka and would welcome the inclusion of the Metamorphosis (another work in translation) on our list, somehow/somewhere.
    21st c. — Replacing Boyer, let’s add Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies.

    My ideal list:
    1. Antigone 2. Don Quixote 3. Mrs. Dalloway 4. The Metamorphosis 5. Howl 6. Sorrows of Young Werther 7. Wuthering Heights 8. Citizen: An American Lyric 9. Interpreter of Maladies 10. The Sellout

    • Emily Abrams says:

      I agree with Kaitlin that adding a text in translation would be fitting for list, for the purposes of variety and diversity of perspectives. Since both classes seem to have omitted Pamuk’s novel from the short list, I like the suggestion of including Don Quixote. I agree that it could take the place of a work from Shakespeare or a slave narrative that would most likely be assigned by the department regardless. Here, at least, we get a pick of a great piece that often gets overlooked.

    • Khurram says:

      Alright, a couple of things to clear up:

      1. Howl was reconsidered, not because we thought the work was hard, but that writing about it would be difficult considering our guiding principles, namely flexibility. I recognize that both you and Emily have suggested material to dispel that notion, but the idea of “hard text” came up a few times, and I wanted to clarify. If the case for Howl is it’s more versatile than some may think, that better addresses why we reconsidered it.

      2. There’s a finite number of slots. It was never our intention to make works in a genre like queer literature interchangeable. Actually, we intended to make sure we reserve a slot for queer literature. Because we’re working with limited space, it seems like (and probably even functions like, I get it) we’re suggesting interchangeability based on only one component of complex works.

      Yes, there’s an obvious way to overcome that kind of list construction. Look, I think really what we’re apart on is criteria, not specific texts yet. I don’t feel like, as a group, we’re at that point, though as I write that, it’s not like six slots are up in the air. Obviously, we’re short on time, but if we could turn that around quickly, it might help.

      For example, maybe we should establish if a guiding principle is canon control or choosing the “out there” texts, and I bet that would bring us closer to a final list.

      • Kaitlin Margaret McDermott says:

        Hi Khurram,

        Thanks for writing a bit more about what your class was thinking as you all put the list together. For those of us in the Tuesday session, the information that was posted on this page is all we know about how the list was generated. Statements like that “it would be hard to write about” could be interpreted either as difficult in subject or form, or that the text itself is hard to work into the list. For the reasons I outlined above, I disagree with the former. Zach (below) has outlined some reasons against the “inflexibility” argument. Ultimately, my belief is that the text is no less versatile than a text like The Sellout or Antigone. Each texts has its own merits and ideal applications — Howl is one text that I think could add to our list, in a host of different ways. Anywho, as far as the comment on interchangeability, that wasn’t in reference to any one person in particular, but to the way that the debate was framed in the blurb above. Blogging is, I think we can all agree, not the most effective way of talking about the complex issue of representation, nor of communicating effectively our respective ideas.

        One last note: I agree with you that it would be more productive to think of a guiding principle regarding the creation of the list. In my post, I wrote about my own belief that we should think strategically about the list, pulling together works that are further outside of the canon, thereby hedging that the Department will pick a number of widely assigned texts that fall within the canon. This is my personal belief, and one that I know a few people in my class do share. But, alas, this is not mine nor your decision alone.

        Ah, democracy.

        • Khurram says:

          Yep, I understand. I think your belief is very compelling, and I hope everyone gets a chance to consider it, which is the purpose of this forum. Especially for us outside your session. Same logic for the canon control strategy. For the record, I suggested controlling the canon to our session, so this isn’t like a “digging in with my unmoving opinion” deal.

          What this forum doesn’t work well for is voting on the list and/or guiding principles, which Cassandra’s doc should take care of.

  6. maggie C. says:

    I think I really agree with Emily’s list. Howl is by no means a hard poem, offers a lot of variety in terms of topics, and works well with a lot of the other literature. For Shakespeare, Hamlet can also be very useful with the other texts. I know we were pretty much in agreement on Citizen, Antigone, Mrs. Dalloway, and Beloved in class, but I could be remembering incorrectly. Oryx and Crake sounds great because it’s something that can be read in conjunction with works like Frankenstein which might be (probably) on the exam. “Poetry is Not A Luxury” and The Namesake I’d definitely argue for as they’d be great additions to the rest of what’s going on. However, I’m really open to other suggestions as I feel like things like “Boyers” and “The Tempest” and a few others on the original list can definitely be replaced.

  7. None of the following is directed at anyone, but is simply a passionate defense of a work I care for:

    To start my post, I’d like to discuss Allen Ginsberg’s Howl. It has been a controversial text in this discussion, it seems, and as the one who nominated it, I feel obligated to chime in. My peers have raised some apprehensions about it – that it might be perceived as a difficult text, or at least inflexible – and others have pushed back against this apprehension. I, too, would like to push back.

    If the topic of our seminar is “the good of literature,” I can think of few texts more appropriate than Ginsberg’s Howl. The poem itself depicts people – not only queer people – who, at the time, were marginalized in mainstream society. Ginsberg gives them a voice and a narrative. He seeks to represent the underrepresented. The government at the time was uninterested in such representation. Due to a single line’s depiction of a homosexual sex act, copies of the poem were seized on their way into the country and booksellers were arrested for its distribution. The result of these events was an obscenity trial – a trial to decide whether or not Howl would be censored. Thanks to the support of the literary community, the court ruled that Howl was, indeed, worthy of publication. This ruling was a victory, not only for underrepresented people throughout the world, but for the American right to freedom of speech.

    How can a poem that made a real, legal difference through literary representation be left off our list in a class on the good of literature? I understand that this value may be less personal to some than others. I understand that its beauty is subjective. These are points I’m willing to concede. Its difficulty or inflexibility, however, does not outweigh the invaluable literary good that the poem achieved.

    As for the matter of replacing Howl with another queer work, I think Kaitlin’s argument is enough like my own that it doesn’t bear repeating.

    As far as other texts go, I second replacing Shakespeare with Don Quixote. I’ve read Shakespeare plenty, and am sure his work will be included in the complementary ten texts if we omit it. I’ve never read Don Quixote, however, and would love to. I also support the inclusion of Kafka – either the Metamorphosis or a few of his shorter works, like “A Country Doctor” and “The Cares of a Family Man.”

    My ideal list:
    1. Antigone 2. Don Quixote 3. Robinson Crusoe 4. Beloved 5. Mrs. Dalloway 6. The Metamorphosis 7. Citizen: An American Lyric 8. Interpreter of Maladies 9. The Sellout 10. Howl

  8. Cassandra says:

    Since I’m having major writer’s block, I thought I’d put together a form where we can vote on the suggestions on this thread. Texts don’t have to be selected based on a majority vote, but it might be helpful for us to see where everyone’s at in one place. Let me know if you want me to add other questions/texts.

  9. gfisk says:

    I’m weighing in kind of late here to say:

    First: You guys are awesome. The questions you’re raising about the list are all really good ones, and I’m so impressed with the quality of your debate about them. Thank you, all– and, especially, Khurram, who has weighed in a few time to represent the minority interests of the Wednesday class. Writing on the internet isn’t always conducive to rational debate (!), particularly on an uneven playing field, and– I am so impressed by you all.

    Then, a couple of general thoughts about what the department will look for in your list:

    1. It should represent all of the periods evenly, without skewing too much to the contemporary. Even though the department will supplement your list, they will also expect that you haven’t left big holes for them to fill.

    2. It should have a variation of forms, so some experimental poetry is a good idea. That would include Boyer as well as Ginsberg.

    We can talk about how you apply these principles! But I wanted to just mention them as you keep pondering the list. You’re doing an amazing job.

  10. gfisk says:

    P.S. One more thing: We probably shouldn’t have too much work in translation on the list, sadly. (I say “sadly” because, as you know, I incline in that direction, personally.)

    Since you’ll only have 20 texts on your exam in total, and the degree you’re getting is in *English* literature, there will be a general expectation that most of the texts were written originally in the English language.

    Antigone gets a bit of a pass, because Greek literature is so foundational to all Western literatures. But we don’t want to go nuts with texts written in other modern languages. We can discuss this, too!

  11. gfisk says:

    P. P. S. One more thing: I think if you put Shakespeare on the list, the department will consider that covered. You won’t end up with two plays by Shakespeare.

  12. Cut out 2, 3, 5-7

    I think Jordan is right in regards to some Shakespeare play will likely be on the exam, but I do agree with Khurrham in that we should be the ones to pick which play we will use. That being said, I think we should swap Antony and Cleopatra for Hamlet because of we could use it in a varying scope of methods. The theme of action versus inaction could alone be used with at least five of the texts from our current list in some shape or form.

    I don’t doubt that Frankenstein will somehow be on the exam, so I don’t think we should bother to include that into our list. However, I think including Oryx and Crake would be useful and likely persuade the department to include Frankenstein (if they haven’t already decided on it), being that we could touch base on themes involving environmentalism, the human self, etc.

    Agreeing with Kaitlin and a few others, I think certain cannon texts will likely be on the exam; for this reason, I vote we take off Harriet Jacobs. Frankly, I’m still on the fence about Mrs. Dalloway, but right now I would swap Virginia Woolf with Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights because I think we could discuss class division, race, and role of women with this text.

    I motion that we include Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Laila Lalami for its depiction of life for multiple African Migrants traveling from Morocco to Spain (pre and post journey). Considering the current conversation surrounding migration I think it would be beneficial to include a text that comments on the issues effecting today’s world. Additionally with this text, one idea would be able to examine the role of women through violence and survival or to use Anne Boyer’s “No” to discuss action and refusal.

    As for the poems, I do like including the Boyer because I think they was be helpful in compare/contrast moments- you could write a whole essay on inaction in Hamlet, “Bartleby”, and Boyer’s “No”. Nevertheless, if I had to choose I would leave out “Not Writing”, just because I think that “The Revolt of the Peasant Girls” and “No” could be incorporated in more ways and to give anyone else a slot to add something else.

    Short list:

    1. Antigone
    2. Hamlet
    3. Claudia Rankine- “Citizen”
    4. Boyer “No” + “Peasant Girls”
    5. Beatty
    6. Melville
    7. Brontë, “Wuthering Heights”
    8. Atwood “Oryx and Crake”
    9. Lorde “Poetry is not a luxury”
    10. Lalami

  13. Entering the arena late in the conversation I would like to join Kurram on defending the choices of our evening class and opening up the floor for more options.
    If I’m being 100% honest I agree with the students that say that we don’t have to pick a Shakespeare play and leave it up to the committee but it would be better and less of a burden on everyone if the list that we compile has a lot more of the text we’ve already read rather than texts a few of us or only one of us has read to lessen the load of new material to look at next semester. also I would like to propose that we do not put more than one Shakespeare and leave the other option up to the board for the sake of a spot on the list of ten and include something we can for the most part agree on. I am open to reading new material and my limited knowledge of many of the texts that you beautiful people are proposing are new to me but i certainly do not want to read more new material than necessary. hope this doesn’t come off like me complaining but I just want us to keep in mind that what we do not know we will have to get to know on top of whatever the board is cooking up for us.

    • P.S. If i am being 10000% honesty I kinda don’t really care about which books we choose as long as they are arguable, understandable, won’t make my head hurt, and won’t take long to read.
      Just keeping it real,

      • th provide context: because we will have a lot to focus on with out thesises??? theses?? thesi (for plural, not sure). and on top of that other classes, work (if you do work) and other resposibilites. so I’m down with anything as long as it wn’t be too hard and fit that personal criteria that I’m sure that we all have in mind.


  14. gfisk says:

    I’m writing quickly to say: The afternoon class is proposing this, and we’ll discuss tonight.

    To all: If you have thoughts that we should ponder in tonight’s discussion, please post them here!

    And thank you, all, for *keeping it real*


    Sophocles, Antigone
    More, Utopia
    Shakespeare: something more widely read than Antony & Cleopatra
    Defoe, Crusoe
    Melville, Bartleby
    Wharton House of Mirth
    Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
    Ginsberg, Howl
    Beatty, The Sellout
    Rankine, Citizen

  15. gfisk says:

    Compromises are being made! The evening class is:

    -Conceding to the afternoon class on:
    The addition of Wharton
    The addition of More’s Utopia
    Omitting Harriet Jacobs
    Omitting Swift
    Taking your point about Antony & Cleopatra

    Arguing with the afternoon class on:
    Replacing Defoe with Richardson
    Replacing Ginsberg with Boyer*

    *The evening class was persuaded by Zachary’s argument for the relevance of Ginsberg but felt like they were adding a lot of texts that were new to them and really wanted to keep Boyer, so: They stuck by their decision to keep Boyer on the list, figuring that everyone has read it, and the afternoon class can read Howl, too. Also, they were disappointed to lose Antony and Cleopatra but took your point that it’s not widely read.


    Sophocles, Antigone
    More, Utopia
    Shakespeare: Hamlet
    Richardson, Pamela
    Melville, Bartleby
    Wharton, House of Mirth
    Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
    Anne Boyer, “The Revolt of the Peasant Girls”,”No”, “Not Writing”
    Beatty, The Sellout
    Rankine, Citizen

    • As disappointed as I am about losing Howl, I am now more worried about Pamela. There is a lot on here that not everyone has read and Pamela is incredibly long – could there be a more accessible 18-19th century epistolary text we could substitute out? I read the Coquette this semester in my American Literature course and it was incredibly interesting with lots of possibilities and direction for writing compelling papers. And it’s a relatively quick read. Thoughts?

      • Kaitlin Margaret McDermott says:

        Like Jordan, I’m also concerned about the swapping of RC in favor of Pamela. I have never read either text, but I’m worried about the feasibility of reading a 500+page novel (in comparison to RC – 150p) along with the other works we will cover. Individuals in the Tuesday and Wednesday class alike mentioned the desire to keep the reading list (or, what we have control over) manageable. Is swapping RC — a dense but do-able novel — for Pamela fitting those guidelines?

        I think Jordan’s suggestion is a good one. The text hits a couple of the same notes as RC and Pamela, and puts an early American female author on our list. It’s worth thinking about, I think.

      • I also agree with Jordan because while I am fine with the rest of the texts on the list I do feel that we should not have Richardson’s text on the list. This is a text I haven’t personally read before and we definitely need another women writer on the list. Looking at Foster’s text I see that connections can be made in regards to social class. Also, like Richardson’s text it’s written in the 17th century. I, even, want to add it’s less dense than Richardson’s text because like Kaitlin I am concerned that the page length will make this book unmanageable to use for our test.

  16. gfisk says:

    I hear your concerns! I will talk to the honors committee about the possibility of reading an abridged version of Pamela. (There are a couple of abridged versions that have 200 pages or fewer.)

    I am very hesitant to switch it for a different text at this point. There is a pervasive feeling in the evening class that they’ve given up a lot of things that were important to them in order to let the afternoon class get what you wanted, and I see their point. They were especially sorry to lose Antony & Cleopatra– which they were excited to discuss– in favor of Hamlet, which fewer of them have read.

    And, remember: everyone will have to read some new things for this exam; nobody will get everything they want. Some people will read a new Shakespeare play, and others will read a long novel. Also, remember, the exam isn’t until April.

    And when you take it, each of you will be able to choose which texts you discuss at length, so any text that isn’t a favorite for you can figure marginally in the essays you write. Each class will also concoct a “shadow list” next week, so the things that are most important to each of you will remain on *your list*, no matter what.

    I can also speak as a person who has read both Robinson Crusoe and Pamela and say: I think Pamela will be more fun to discuss and more interesting to read– it’s about sexual harassment in the 18th century! And it is one of the first novels ever written. It’s also epistolary, which will give you a lot to think about, formally.

    I hope everyone will consider the desires of the rest and not feel too upset about this. Now I think we should have taken a vote much earlier, but I also think that the list we’ve come up with is a good one, with some treats in there for everyone.

    So, I will begin by asking the honors committee about the possibility of reading an abridged version of Pamela. Then I’ll submit the list with the caveat that there is remaining controversy about this one choice, so I may have to ask them to make one change later. I think that would be ok, and I’ll make sure that it is and keep you posted.

  17. gfisk says:

    P.S. The evening class is also accepting the afternoon class’s addition of More’s Utopia, which is significant, too.

  18. gfisk says:

    P. P. S. I hope everybody is excited about the list + the parties we’ll have reading.

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