I gave my freshmen the "What is literature for?" lecture this morning.
They don't have a clue, of course. They think literature is something invented by English professors to bore them into submission.
So I started with the question of what literature is, and went from there.
Well, actually, I started with calling off the quiz, which always cheers them up. Then I asked them what literature was, and broke the news to them that literature included movies and MTV and Buffy. This upset about half the class. They don't want V for Vendetta to be literature. Only Jane Austen and Shakespeare should be literature. When I ask them why, they cannot tell me, but they are sure they are right.
When I tell them they are civilization, they are equally upset.
I tell them literature is trying to change their souls, and that to do this it has to make them listen. I tell them only MTV and V for Vendetta is getting them to listen anymore, so obviously it is the only real literature these days. I tell them that's why I'm studying it.
They are wholly appalled now.
I talk to them about how literature works, have them tell me what they like in a movie or a book, what engages them, what doesn't, show them how the character and the dialogue and the plot is used to make them hear ideas, talk about worldview and pushing the borders. I don't actually say unacknowledged legislators of the world, but....
They stare at me like I'm a cobra.
Most fun I've had in a week.
17 hours ago