October 10, 2007

Academic Writing and "Fun" Writing

"I once asked this literary agent what writing paid the best, and he said, 'ransom notes.'"
Harry Zimm, Character in the Movie Get Shorty

The things we study in the field of English aren't always old. New literature is coming out all the time. We study that too. The question is, who gets to call the shots on what that literature is? I know I've read Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling has received awards for several of the various books in the series. Is Harry Potter literature? or merely pop culture writing gone wild?

This type of theme is what we the proud few of Seton Hill's first ever "Writing About Literature" course set out to puzzle over; and the results are in.

Dani had quite a bit to say on that same Harry Potter topic.

"That is not, to say, that we could not learn something from say, Harry Potter. But, since that is a piece of what some currently call "popular fiction", the commentary is less obvious because the work is so new and we have to search a little for it. For example, there is a whole underlying theme of racism and class differences in Harry Potter."

Jen had her own take on academia vs. pop fiction. She took a look at several different works (including that wizard of the literary world, Harry Potter.)

"Wicked, a popular modern musical, would most likely be considered by most to simply be Popular Fiction. This does contain issues of segregation and racism as well as the ever popular fear and hatred of the misunderstood--as seen all throughout history--but all of this is on the surface. Someone may disagree, but from my understanding, this seems to be one of the main determining factors, since the lines tend to be blurred."

I had my own take on it as well and I couldn't avoid that green-eyed wizard either.

"I'm not entirely sure there is a true answer. The answer isn't always who receives awards for their writings. John Banville's novel did earn the Man Booker Prize for 2005, but J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Sorcerer's Stone in the US) has won a lot of awards: The Nestlé Smarties Book Prize 1997: Gold Medal 9-11 years, FCBG Children's Book Award 1997: Overall winner and Longer Novel Category winner, Birmingham Cable Children's Book Award 1997, Young Telegraph Paperback of the Year 1998, British Book Awards 1997 Children's Book of the Year, Sheffield Children's Book Award 1998, and Whitaker's Platinum Book Award 2001. Beyond the pop culture phenomenon her series has caused, J.K. Rowling's books aren't studied as truly academic."

The results differ by person and personality, but they do all strike a similar tone.

Posted by Diana Geleskie at October 10, 2007 8:00 PM | TrackBack
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