Tag Archives: adolescence

Reading My Way to Adulthood

As an adolescent, I used fantasy in an attempt to hold on to my childhood innocence and hated “Catcher in the Rye.” Little did I realize that Salinger’s novel describes my struggle.

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500 Days of Marianne & Willoughby

The film “500 Days of Summer” has a lot in common with Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility.” Realizing this can make us feel better about the ending of both works.

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Reading Novels for Moral Instruction

“Tom Jones” teaches how to raise adolescents. And how not to.

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How Jane Eyre Is Not Twilight

“Jane Eyre” provides a lesson in how to emerge whole from a toxic relationship.

Posted in Bronte (Charlotte), Meyer (Stephenie) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Novels for When We Need Them the Most

I read “David Copperfield” before entering high school. I didn’t know that it would anticipate some of my unhappy experiences there.

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Fanny Burney Bolsters Young People

Fanny Burney’s “Evelina” is still very relevant to the lives of young people.

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The Dark Knight and Adolescent Gloom

“Dark Knight Rises” confirms the younger generation’s pessimism.

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Parents, Kids, Schools & Banned Books

Parents pressure schools to ban books because they want to protect their children. Their children want the books because they have a different set of needs.

Posted in Blume (Judy), Chbosky (Stephen), Rowling (J. K.), Salinger (J. D.) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

When Werther-Fever Upended Europe

Goethe’s “Sorrows of Young Werther” created a sensation in 1774, with a young cult following and older attackers.

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Kiki Ostrenga as Sister Carrie

Columnist David Brooks recently turned to Theodore Dreiser’s 1900 novel “Sister Carrie” in an attempt to make sense of the strange and disturbing case of 13-year-old internet celebrity Kiki Ostrenga.

Posted in Defoe (Daniel), Dreiser (Theodor), Nabokov (Vladimir) | Also tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Schools Cowed by the Religious Right

Holly Blumner had a vision. A member of the St. Mary’s theater department, Holly wanted to stage Susan Zeder’s Mother Hicks, a adolescent girl’s identity quest, and then take it into area schools. This post is the story about how rightwing groups have so terrified our schools that the vision died.

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Harry Potter, Teenage Hero’s Quest

During Christmas week we get to imagine being children again so I’ve decided to write about student responses to Harry Potter.   Members of my British Fantasy Literature class could write essays on any work of fantasy as long as they applied the tools and perspectives we developed in the course. Michelle Steahl and Evan Rowe […]

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Regency Teens, Same Issues as Today

Seldom have I enjoyed a course more than my current first year seminar on Jane Austen—specifically “Jane Austen and the Challenges of Being a Regency Teenager.” The title of the course isn’t historically accurate since young men and women in the early 19th century didn’t think of themselves as teenagers. Adolescence wasn’t as prolonged as […]

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The Titanic and Adolescence, 2 Disasters

Film Friday I have been recently writing about how Jane Austen’s 17-year-old heroine in Northanger Abbey uses gothic novels to negotiate the challenges of early 19th century life. Today I talk about how the greatest box office success in Hollywood history did the same for middle school girls in 1997. In fact, a major reason […]

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Moving Beyond Adolescent Fantasies

Sometimes I will discover that two different works start talking to each other simply because I happen to be teaching them both at the same time. This week Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey (from my Jane Austen first year seminar) and John Keats’ Eve of St. Agnes (from my British fantasy course) engaged in one of […]

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Thru Zombie Flix, Our Kids Fight Back

Night of the Living Dead  Film Friday Many of my students are fans of zombie movies (of all things). The genre has, in fact, taken off in recent years—a sure sign that one can never predict which symbol systems are going to grip our minds from one moment to the next (and why movie making […]

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Jane Austen’s Emma as Teenpic

Alicia Silverstone in Clueless  Film Friday I’m currently preparing to teach a first year seminar on “Jane Austen and the Challenges Faced by Regency Teenagers.” For years it didn’t strike me forcefully enough that most of Jane Austen’s heroines are either teenagers or recent teenagers. That’s because (1) Austen heroines seem fully adult and (2) […]

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Escape from Adulthood

Film Friday In the spirit of the final weeks of summer when Americans are going to the beach and visiting theme parks, I thought I’d turn to a thoroughly enjoyable film where a magical transformation takes place at a carnival. The film is Penny Marshall’s Big (1988), starring Tom Hanks as a 13-year-old (Josh) who […]

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The Magic Flute and Teenage Hormones

Film Friday The nature of Spain’s World Cup victory over Holland seems to have stuck with me all this past week.Spanish elegance won out over a Dutch “kick ’em in the legs” strategy (check out the state of hero Andres Iniesta’s legs here), and I have been writing about Prospero triumphing over Caliban and John […]

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Managing Midsummer Madness (i.e., Sex)

Midsummer Night’s Dream provides good instruction for the parents of teenagers. First of all, don’t think that you can tyrannically dictate your children’s choices (say, by threatening them with execution). On the other hand, they need guidelines and guidance. There’s no telling how they’ll behave once they are set loose in the forest of their […]

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Donne as an Aid to Teenage Angst

Well, the semester is underway.  Yesterday I began teaching one of my favorite classes, the early British Literature survey (Literature in History I).  Along with Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the Wife of Bath, Doctor Faustus, Twelfth Night, King Lear, and Paradise Lost, I will be teaching the poetry of John Donne.  I […]

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Using Twilight to Teach Antigone

Having compared Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight yesterday with Frances Burney’s Evelina, I feel I owe my readers an apology and an explanation. The apology is that I violated one of my principles for the website and judged the book by the movie. All I’ve read of Twilight is the excerpt on amazon.com. If I sell the […]

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Comparing Evelina and Twilight

We talked about the movie Twilight in the last gathering of my British Restoration and 18th Century Couples Comedy class. That and France Burney’s epistolary novel Evelina (1775). Hang on as I spell out the connection. If you don’t know about Twilight, then you are probably neither a teenager nor the parent of a teenager. […]

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Shaw Cuts through the Bull

Last night I gave a short lecture and then moderated a talkback following a college production of George Bernard Shaw’s play Arms and the Man (1894), directed by my colleague Michael Ellis-Tolaydo.  I hadn’t read the play since I was in high school, when I went on a Shaw kick.  (I first became enamored with […]

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She Stoops to Circumvent Inhibitions

Oliver Goldsmith     Discussions in my 18th Century Couples Comedy class are proving to be a lot of fun because, almost seamlessly, we move between the 18th courtship scene, challenges faced by young people today, and contemporary movies and television shows.  Comedy rushes in where wise men fear to tread, giving us a way to talk […]

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Bridging the 18th-Century Generation Gap

Yesterday my 18th Century Couples Comedy class concluded our discussion of Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones. We spent a lot of time talking about how it was popular with youthful readers in the 18th century, an idea I owe to J. Paul Hunter, my dissertation director at Emory University. Paul explores the issue in Before Novels: […]

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The Rebellious Thrill of Gothics

Emily in the Castle of Udolpho In yesterday’s post I discussed anxious parents and proposed Northanger Abbey as a sane approach to teenage reading (and movie watching and internet using). I elaborate here. I start first with the reading material in question. Heroine Catherine Moreland and her best friend Isabella Thorpe are enthralled with the […]

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Mocking Adult Anxieties about Novels

“Before,” by William Hogarth (1736) What can happen to your daughters if they read novels? According to William Hogarth, something like the above. Check out the lower left hand corner where a side table is falling over. The drawer has been left casually but deliberately open so that one can see the book that is […]

Posted in Austen (Jane), Johnson (Samuel), Sheridan (Richard) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Danger: Georgian Teens Reading Novels

Samuel Johnson  If we need proof that adolescence has always been a difficult age, we can look at those 18th century moralists that were panicked about young people reading novels. Of course if you’re young (to build off of a comment that Barbara makes in response to Friday’s post), part of the fun of reading […]

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I Was a Secret Holden Caulfield

I contrasted Lord of the Rings with J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye the other day.    It’s not a contrast that anyone other than I would make, and it’s all based on the fact that I loved the one and hated the other.  In my post today I explore my dislike of the Salinger […]

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Fantasy: Help or Hindrance?

My friend Alan Paskow, who is struggling with cancer, queried me about my post on Alfred Noyes’ “The Highwayman,” wondering whether the poem wasn’t just an insubstantial fantasy. I’ve been writing about The Lord of the Rings as a fantasy perhaps indulged in by a World War I veteran who wasn’t willing to face up […]

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  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

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