Sunday, January 29, 2017


Students are to post reactions (minimum 350 words each) to the assigned reading/listening linked below. Students are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.

"Against YA: Adults Should be Embarassed to read Young Adult Books" by Ruth Graham: "I’m a reader who did not weep, contra every article ever written about the book, when I read The Fault in Our Stars. I thought, Hmm, that’s a nicely written book for 13-year-olds. If I’m being honest, it also left me saying “Oh, brother” out loud more than once. Does this make me heartless? Or does it make me a grown-up? This is, after all, a book that features a devastatingly handsome teen boy who says things like “I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things” to his girlfriend, whom he then tenderly deflowers on a European vacation he arranged." Click heading to read the rest of the article.

"I Write Young Adult Novels and I Refuse to Apologize for It" by Rachel Carter: "It is clear that Graham did a (very) little bit of homework, reading John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, two extremely popular contemporary YA novels. I’ve read and enjoyed both of these novels, and to hear Graham reduce them to a proverbial eye-roll was more than a little disappointing. Are these love stories? Yes. Do they sometimes employ romantic language that, as Graham put it, “left me saying ‘Oh brother,’ out loud more than once?” Perhaps. But at their heart, these are complicated stories about family, class, death, and how we form connections with people when our everyday lives are filled with turmoil. They’re about love, too, but to claim that they are only cheesy love stories with “uniformly satisfying” endings is a lazy reading of two well-written, moving novels." Click heading to read the rest of the article.

"The Death of Adulthood in American Culture" by A.O. Scott: "I will admit to feeling a twinge of disapproval when I see one of my peers clutching a volume of “Harry Potter” or “The Hunger Games.” I’m not necessarily proud of this reaction. As cultural critique, it belongs in the same category as the sneer I can’t quite suppress when I see guys my age (pushing 50) riding skateboards or wearing shorts and flip-flops, or the reflexive arching of my eyebrows when I notice that a woman at the office has plastic butterfly barrettes in her hair". Click heading to read the rest of the article.

"Ashamed of reading YA? The fault lies not in our stars but in our stores" by Alexandra Petri: "Ah, the arbitrary divisions of bookstores. Now it’s “Young Adult” and “Serious Fiction for Older Adults” and “Romance” and “Science Fiction.” In Dickens’s day, “Books About Winsome Orphans” and “Books About Prostitutes With Hearts of Gold” stood where “Teen Paranormal Romance” and “YA But Specifically YA About Finding Yourself” (a category I actually saw at a Barnes & Noble recently) stand today. I’m sure they evoked about equal measures of sneering. (Dickens was especially gifted and managed to get his book stocked on both shelves, guaranteeing that "Oliver Twist" would be a platinum-level bestseller.)" Click heading to read the rest of the article.

"Can 35 Million Book Buyers be Wrong? Yes." by Harold Bloom: "Taking arms against Harry Potter, at this moment, is to emulate Hamlet taking arms against a sea of troubles. By opposing the sea, you won't end it. The Harry Potter epiphenomenon will go on, doubtless for some time, as J. R. R. Tolkien did, and then wane." Click heading to read to open PDF and read the rest of the essay.

Friday, January 20, 2017


Students MUST post reactions ( minimum 250 words) to the combined assigned viewing AND reading(s) linked below. Students need only post ONE comment addressing BOTH the viewing and the fictional excerpts. Students are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.

Neil Gaiman at the 2008 National Book Festival
Click link to watch the video.


What the (very bad swear word) is a children's book, anyway?" by Neil Gaiman. Click link to read essay.


The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman:"There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife. The knife had a handle of polished black bone, and a blade finer and sharper than any razor. If it sliced you, you might not even know you had been cut, not immediately. The knife had done almost everything it was brought to that house to do, and both the blade and the handle were wet." Click heading to read the rest of the first chapter.


The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman: "I wore a black suit and a white shirt, a black tie and black shoes, all polished and shiny: clothes that normally would make me feel uncomfortable, as if I were in a stolen uniform, or pretending to be an adult. Today they gave me comfort, of a kind. I was wearing the right clothes for a hard day." Click heading to read the rest of the excerpt.