Author Topic: Fave Books / Currently Reading  (Read 741600 times)

Susannah

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #390 on: June 12, 2008, 11:07:31 AM »
I would never put David Foster Wallace in the Canon of Terrible with Palahniuk and Eggers, but that's just me.

I just finished reading "Lush Life" by Richard Price--a recommendation from a fellow FOT!  I really enjoyed it--kind of hard boiled and literary at the same time.  Price wrote "Clockers" and many episodes of "The Wire," which I still have not seen, so perhaps there is a sub-thread dedicated to this book somewhere else on the board.

I'm teaching two new classes next Fall--history seminars to seniors, rather than just the freshman English classes I taught this year, so I'm currently finding material for them.  One class is an Introduction to Media and Culture (kind of an intro crash course on Lit Theory and major cultural movements), and another is "Seminal Moments in the 20th Century," any suggestions are welcome!
« Last Edit: June 12, 2008, 11:15:12 AM by Susannah »

dave from knoxville

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #391 on: June 12, 2008, 11:22:23 AM »
I would never put David Foster Wallace in the Canon of Terrible with Palahniuk and Eggers, but that's just me.

I just finished reading "Lush Life" by Richard Price--a recommendation from a fellow FOT!  I really enjoyed it--kind of hard boiled and literary at the same time.  Price wrote "Clockers" and many episodes of "The Wire," which I still have not seen, so perhaps there is a sub-thread dedicated to this book somewhere else on the board.

I'm teaching two new classes next Fall--history seminars to seniors, rather than just the freshman English classes I taught this year, so I'm currently finding material for them.  One class is an Introduction to Media and Culture (kind of an intro crash course on Lit Theory and major cultural movements), and another is "Seminal Moments in the 20th Century," any suggestions are welcome!

I really loved Price's Freedomland, which translated horribly to film.

Shaggy 2 Grote

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #392 on: June 12, 2008, 11:37:54 AM »
Susannah, depending on where your students are at, I'd recommend Terry Eagleton, Frederick Jameson, maybe Judith Butler, maybe Derrida.  All that theory might be too tough for HS students, though.  One good resource on cultural movements is Stephen Duncombe's anthology Cultural Resistance: A Reader, from Verso.  It's basically what I use for my "Rebels" class. 
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Susannah

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #393 on: June 12, 2008, 12:32:41 PM »
Thanks Jason!  I'm definitely using a little Jameson--the essay that mentions the Westin Bonaventure hotel, specifically--hopefully we can take a field trip there too!

The textbook for the Media/Culture class is "Media and Society: An Introduction," by Michael O'Shaughnessy and Jane Stadler.  There's also a collection of primary source readings, too: basically the introductions to "The Origin of Species," "The Second Sex," "The Interpretation of Dreams," Barthes' "Death of the Author," etc.  I'm also having them read "If on a winter's night a traveler," "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie," and possibly "The Stranger" in addition to the theory stuff. The readings kind of depend on how well they're able to grasp the concepts.

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Shaggy 2 Grote

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #394 on: June 12, 2008, 05:50:27 PM »
Wow, can I take your class?  That sounds awesome.  Barthes is a great idea too.

I'm reading Jameson's Archaeologies of the Future for my fall class, but I'm such a dork that I'd probably read 400 pages of Marxist sci-fi lit-crit on the beach even if it wasn't my day job.
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Vambo

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #395 on: June 12, 2008, 08:02:36 PM »
Currently reading Empire Falls by Richard Russo. This is the fourth of his I've read and he has yet to disappoint.

Russo's a treat.  I wish I'd've read Nobody's Fool before seeing the movie--I'd've appreciated Newman's performance a whole a lot more.  Excellent all around.
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yesno

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #396 on: June 12, 2008, 10:03:37 PM »
Eagleton is a treat to read, although some past professors of mine have been kind of hostile to him. 

He's dead wrong on Dawkins, too.

masterofsparks

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #397 on: June 12, 2008, 10:57:58 PM »
Currently reading Empire Falls by Richard Russo. This is the fourth of his I've read and he has yet to disappoint.

Russo's a treat.  I wish I'd've read Nobody's Fool before seeing the movie--I'd've appreciated Newman's performance a whole a lot more.  Excellent all around.

I think they did a really good job of turning that novel into a movie. I saw the movie first but re-watched it while reading the book. Other than the casting of Melanie Griffith, I think it's relatively free of flaws. That's one of Newman's best performances ever IMO.
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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #398 on: June 12, 2008, 11:56:39 PM »
Eagleton is a treat to read, although some past professors of mine have been kind of hostile to him. 

He's dead wrong on Dawkins, too.

How so?  I'm pretty anti-Dawkins, but I haven't read enough to really defend my opinion - just that I tend to like a lot of his enemies from radically different disciplines, like Eagleton and Stephen Jay Gould.  And I hate Hitchens, with whom he is often lumped (fairly or not) and have since before he was calling for Kissinger's head.
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yesno

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #399 on: June 13, 2008, 01:20:46 AM »
Eagleton is a treat to read, although some past professors of mine have been kind of hostile to him. 

He's dead wrong on Dawkins, too.

How so?  I'm pretty anti-Dawkins, but I haven't read enough to really defend my opinion - just that I tend to like a lot of his enemies from radically different disciplines, like Eagleton and Stephen Jay Gould.  And I hate Hitchens, with whom he is often lumped (fairly or not) and have since before he was calling for Kissinger's head.

Richard Dawkins, for some reason, inspires a lot of backlash.  Unfortunately, a lot of it is based on a distorted view of his arguments, based on no more than his use of the word "selfish" to describe the "motives" of a gene, with the false logical leap that he must think that selfishness is natural and good and how we ought to be.  Quite to the contrary, although he points out that we can't ignore the role genes have in shaping us, he argues that we human beings really shouldn't give a rat's ass what our genes want.  Because we're not them.

If I were you, I'd read his book River Out of Eden, which is a brief introduction to his thoughts on evolution.  I'd recommend The Blind Watchmaker or Unweaving the Rainbow next.  The controversy with Gould was many-faceted, and I can't pretend to understand all of it.  Most of it seems to boil down to emphasis-- do you think that it is better to view evolution from the perspective of the replicator (Dawkins) or the animal/species (Gould)?

As far as his views on religion, Dawkins at no point suggests that the study of religion as a social institution is wrong.  He does not slight the fantastic contributions religion and religious people have made to culture.  He acknowledges that is may very well be true that we'd have a better society if everyone were Episcopalian.  None of that is germane to his argument, which is that religion is false.  (Yes yes, actually that it's extremely unlikely and as we haven't seen any evidence for it we should act as though it were as false even though you can never be certain of anything)

I've read Eagleton's essay against The God Delusion, as well as listened to his lecture series on theology (available free through iTunes U).  I actually have a lot in common with Eagleton in that I'm a non-believer who finds a lot of religious writings, particularly Catholic theology, to be very interesting.  I am also disgusted by uninformed dismissals of religion, and religious people.  But Eagleton is going after a straw man.  Dawkins has well thought-out reasons for the approach he takes.

Basically, I think Dawkin's analogy that you don't need to address the arguments of fairy-ology in order to dismiss the likelihood of the existence of fairies is correct.  Theology is all about what you do to understand God after you've taken the plunge.  The sophisticated thinkers Eagleton likes to mention don't do a better job of demonstrating the existence of God in the first place than your standard apologetics texts.  Eagleton seems to think very highly of the view that "God is the reason why there is something rather than nothing" or that "God is the necessary condition for existence."  But he is attacking Dawkins for failing to see the explanatory power or elegance of an idea that he sees no reason to accept in the first place.  That Eagleton himself does not subscribe to!  (Not to mention that in my view that such "explanations" simply add a step (Why does God exist rather than not?  Why can't the universe itself be self-justifying?  Etc.), and that I've read secular thinkers attack the problem in an extraordinary rigorous way (there's a great chapter in Nozick's Philosophical Investigations, for instance) that belies any assumption that these are questions suitable only for mystics). 

In the end, I think Eagleton is so taken with the beauty of some theological ideas (like the admittedly wonderful "radical superfluity of existence" argument) that he's a bit annoyed when someone like Dawkins comes around to remind him that they're not actually true.  From this and from reading his writings on literary theory, I believe that Eagleton is just into recherchť conceptual frameworks for their own sake.  This approach is totally alien to a scientist like Dawkins, who at least fancies himself ready to move on from a theory without remorse once it's been disproved.

Finally, Dawkins rejects all supernatural claims, not just Christianity.  Would Eagleton think that Dawkins must become a Koranic scholar before he can be a complete atheist?

edit:
I can't believe I just spent a half hour composing a message board post.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2008, 01:23:50 AM by yesno »

dave from knoxville

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #400 on: June 13, 2008, 09:15:35 AM »
Would you come to Sunday School with me this week, yesno?

yesno

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #401 on: June 13, 2008, 09:59:33 AM »
Would you come to Sunday School with me this week, yesno?

I actually go in trouble in 7th grade for bringing a knife to Sunday school.

Shaggy 2 Grote

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #402 on: June 13, 2008, 10:34:27 AM »
Thanks for that - very illuminating.  I probably still won't read Dawkins, but I'll refrain from throwing him under the bus based on what I've read.
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JonFromMaplewood

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #403 on: June 13, 2008, 11:00:41 AM »
I am an atheist and appreciate Dawkins' arguments in "The God Delusion", but like yesno, I find Dawkins' approach way too aggressive toward religious people.  He is definitely not doing good PR for us atheists.  I respect those who believe in God and even envy them.  Dawkins embarrasses me in the same way that the militant liberals at the Park Slope Food Coop embarrass me regarding my liberalism.*

*I am not dissing *everyone* at the Park Slope Food Coop...just those individuals who have zapped all the joy out of being pro-people.
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Shaggy 2 Grote

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #404 on: June 13, 2008, 11:02:51 AM »
Right, Jon, but no one ever accused you of being pro-angry hippie.  Am I right, people?
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