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21st Century Lit

It’s obviously a little early for this, but fun nonetheless: The Millions speculates about a 21st-century literature syllabus. They’re doing it on behalf of an American high school teacher, and although the teacher doesn’t specify that the course only deals with American literature, this is almost a completely American list.

Some examples of the choices offered at The Millions:

Garth: This is sounds like a great class. I wish I’d had you as a teacher! One of the implicit challenges of answering the question is the tension between the need to appeal to high schoolers and the search for formal innovation. These two are not mutually exclusive; I vividly remember falling in love with Infinite Jest as a high-schooler. Still, some of the aesthetic strategies that separate contemporary writers from the hoary old 1900s (which are so last century) come at the cost of emotional immediacy. some of my favorite works of 21st Century fiction – Helen DeWitt’s The Last Samurai; Kathryn Davis’ The Thin Place; Lydia Davis’ Varieties of Disturbance; Aleksandar Hemon’s The Question of Bruno – may be a little too cerebral for high schoolers.

It’d be great if high schoolers were actually made to read this stuff.



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