Here’s that Shakespeare tool I was telling you about, No Fear Shakespeare: http://nfs.sparknotes.com/henryv/
I love this, and always have because:
A) I think it’s a perfect example of the usefulness of Digital Humanities in the English dept.
B) It bridges the gap between antiquated language and, well, high school Freshman.
After you mentioned the vocabulary omissions in certain versions of literary texts, it got me thinking “what are we missing if they leave out words that we neither use nor totally understand anymore?” And “what does understanding a word that is no longer in common use mean? What is common use?” And a myriad of other debates came rushing in.
I would actually like to submit this as a topic for “Is It Literary?”
Many of you have asked me how you are supposed to answer so broad a question as “Is it Literary?” In response to your concerns, I’ve crafted this cheater post in which I provide a sample to you of something that I believe is literary and a brief explanation of why. This should help you in the future to select sample texts that you would like to see posted and also to formulate an answer to this tricky question.
If you click on the link below, you’ll be directed to a clip from the 1931 version of the movie Frankestein: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8H3dFh6GA-A. Watch the clip first, then come back and read the rest of this post.
At one point in literary studies, films would have been automatically excluded from consideration in relation to the category of the “literary” primarily due to their medium of expression. Today this is less of an issue as film studies courses are a part of nearly every English department no matter how conservative.
Putting the issue of medium aside, it would still be possible to argue that this is not literary because it does not have a single author to attribute its creation to. The film’s history also suggests something other than literary quality as it was intended to be a mass-market thriller.
I disagree with all these perspectives on Frankenstein (1931). The film is literary to me for a number of reasons. Here they are, in no particular order:
1. Tradition has already determined it’s literary (The Stanley Fish “interpretive community” answer.) Kind of a cop-out, I know, but it still works.
2. The film is an adaptation of a literary work–Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818).
3. Complex character development makes the monster appear more likable than his master and his violent death at the end raises questions about the justness of the society portrayed in the film.
4. Numerous other literary works (in many different media) were influenced by this film.
5. The film can be analyzed using many of the critical methodologies examined in our class.
So there you have it. A quick selection and analysis of what I believe to be a literary text.
Among the hardest questions to answer in the discipline of English is what makes a text literary. If you have a creative work that you feel forces us to consider this question, post a link to it on this site using the category marker–Is it Literary? If you’d like your name to be known, place your name in the tag box.
Please keep your submissions tasteful and remember to be respectful to each other while commenting on each submission.