Sunday, July 30, 2017

Global Literature: High School Edition

Over the years I’ve come up with a lot of global lit lists. But when I came up with an idealized high school curriculum a few months ago it opened up the potential for distilling such a goal into a manageable set of things to read.

My ideal curriculum held that Freshman year should cover World Lit from the Middle Ages to the 20th Century, Sophomore year focusing on world lit just from the 20th century, Junior year American lit, and Senior year a choice of electives.

So for Freshman year, let’s try:

August: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

September: The Inferno by Dante

October: Poetry of Li Bai, Du Fu, Wang Wei and Tao Chien

November: Journey to the West (abridged) by Wu Cheng’en

December: Haiku of Matsuo Basho, Japanese No Dramas

January: The Recognition of Shakuntala by Kalidasa, Poetry of Rumi and Saadi

February: Sundiata, African Folklore

March: Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

April: A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift, Candide by Voltaire

May: Poetry of Donne, Pope, Marvell, Wordsworth, Shelly, Baudelaire, Valery, and Rimbaud

June: Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen

And for Sophomore year, how about:

August: Sister My Life by Boris Pasternak

September: Children of Gebelawi by Naguib Mahfouz

October: In the Penal Colony by Franz Kafka, Funes the Memorious and the Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges, Diary of a Madman by Lu Xun

November: Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo, Eagle or Sun? by Octavio Paz 

December: Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

January: Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih, Death and the King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka 

February: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Rashomon by Ryunosuke Akutagawa 

March: Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather by Gao Xingjian

April: The China Tree by Issam Mahfouz, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

May: The Plague by Albert Camus

June: Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

Also, for kicks, here’s Junior year’s suggested American Lit:

August: The Crucible by Arthur Miller

September: Benito Cereno by Herman Melville, Leaves of Grass selections by Walt Whitman, The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe, and Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson

October: Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

November/December: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

January: American Indian Stories, by Zitkala-Sa, The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

February: Go Tell It on the Mountain, by James Baldwin, A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor

March: Howl: Part One by Allen Ginsburg and Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

April: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson

May/ June: Slouching Towards Bethlehem selections by Joan Didion, The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

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