Tuesday, 19 August 2008

proposed reading list - feedback?

I need to get a reading list together, by tomorrow afternoon, for a unit on post-1900 women's writing (to teach next year.)

This is what I've got so far. I'd like to hear your thoughts - constructive ones in particular but not exclusively. Whatever you've got.

The definites are bolded. They're definites because I love them. The perhapses explained below.

A Room of One's Own

The Getting of Wisdom (HH Richardson)
Flush Woolf
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie Muriel Spark
The Group Mary McCarthy
Swastika Night (Katherine Burdekin)
The Memoirs of a Survivor
Sacred Country (or) Restoration (Rose Tremain)
Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq (Riverbend) (or) Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi)

Themes, in no particular order: education, autonomy, conformity, modernity, mass culture, war, schooling, consumerism, women and animals, sexuality, violence, gender, totalitarianism...and the desire to imagine thus... and the technical means of representation thereof.

Limiting factors: there absolutely cannot be more than eight texts on the Prescribed list, and even that is pushing it. All the definites are quite short except for The Group. I would quite like to intersperse the novels with related short stories and if I can refine this down to seven prescribed then that's a possibility.

There is already a fair bit of Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison etc floating around the department. Obvious omissions might be for that reason.

Doubts: Restoration is a bit of a misfit, not because it's about a man but because it sits oddly with the present/future direction of the rest of them. I think it fits thematically, and historical novels need to be represented, and it's marvellous. But it's still weird. Swastika Night I have doubts about because it's quite expensive. And maybe the Richardson and the Spark together is overkill?

Anyway, like I said, this needs to be finalised by tomorrow. LOL.


eyrie said...

Angela Carter for short stories.

Mel said...

I'm currently reading Persepolis and heartily recommend it.

Ampersand Duck said...

yes for Angela Carter. Yes for Restoration. yes for Persepolis.
Orlando for VW?
More short stories, for sure. James Tiptree Jr?

lucy tartan said...

No for Angela Carter - taught elsewhere in the dept.

Tiptree is at the top of the shortlist of short story writers.

Already got two Woolfves!

Argh, I REALLY want to include Restoration but how can I fit it in?

Persepolis is a controversial text. I feel a bit uncertain about putting in only one text related to the Middle East and having it be that one. Would really like to hear opinions about that.

Gosh this is difficult.

R.H. said...

Carson McCullers?

Anonymous said...

Christina Stead, Shirley Hazzard? Or maybe I'm being a tad Australian-centric.

Perry Middlemiss

lucy tartan said...

How do any of the books of the last three suggesteds fit in with what I've already got on the list?

lucy tartan said...

oh, another couple of criteria: needs to be something *I* have read (obvs) and needs to be something the young folk might find appealing.

Pavlov's Cat said...

It's too late and it's too long, otherwise I'd have suggested Marjorie Barnard's Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow.

Helpful, no?

lucy tartan said...

I wondered about that, but I've not read it - it sounds ideal though (apart perhaps from the length)

Is it excerpt-amenable?

Pavlov's Cat said...

I can't remember, to tell you the truth. The censors certainly thought so. One reason it might have been appropriate is that there is so much interesting meta -- not just the Aust politix/censorship stuff but also the issue of collaboration and all the juicy implications of that for the question of writing and (gendered) subjectivity, with debates over the attribution of the novel to the fictitious 'M. Barbard Eldershaw' given that Barnard wrote most and quite possibly all of it.

I don't even know if it's still in print. I think Virago did the full uncensored text at some point. The real comparison here of course is with Come In Spinner, which also has interesting and instructive meta, and which is also far too long.


lucy tartan said...

Too long is always a tragedy.

Thirteen week semester is not long enough.

R.H. said...

Richardson McCullers and Woolf were all on the run from something.

I don't know about the others.

R.H. said...

You might try 'Madam Zilensky and the King of Finland'.

-Carson McCullers. A short story.

TimT said...

Rosemary Dobson? She's written plenty of good lyrical poems, so if you get a copy of the 'Selected Poems' you'll probably find plenty of good stuff to use.

Also, a bit of a cliche, but Ursula Le Guin?

And not that I've read it (though I want to) but everyone goes on about it: Cold Comfort Farm, or something by Nancy Mitford?

Bernice said...

Tomorrow & Tomorrow is out of print I'm afraid but you could use excerpts - the scene of burning the Art Gallery of NSW...remarkable stuff.
And why Flush? I'd go for To the Lighthouse - sexual politics of post WWI Britain pulled apart with merciless certainty.
Mansfield for short stories?
Carson McCullers too - Mortgaged Heart?
Plath The Bell Jar?

God, how impossibly difficult....

lucy tartan said...

Yes this sort of thing is really incredibly hard. Part of coming to terms is recognising the undeniable truth that people who really read will always find stuff on their own without institutional assistance, anyway.

Why Flush? Because it's gorgeous, it's really short, it's surprising, it's about a companion animal (which ties in with the Doris Lessing book), and because it's such a perfect way of thinking about the crossovers between writing subjectivity and writing literary biography. But, mainly, I just think it's a fantastic, perfect book.

I found out about M. Barnard Eldershaw by the lecturer taking my austlit subject saying she'd wanted to set A House is Built but it was out of print. When I saw a copy in an opshop some time later I bought it because of that. So now I think it's worth saying that sort of thing, just to let people who are on the listen in that way know what's out there.

I discovered today that The Group is only hanging on in print by the very thinnest skin of the teeth. That's really a big shock to me.

The book list is set now: I can probably fit in a few short stories, but basically I settled on what I had here yesterday.

(preliminary reading)
A Room of One's Own

(prescribed reading)
The Getting of Wisdom
Swastika Night
The Group
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
The Memoirs of a Survivor
Baghdad Burning.

Here's the blurb: "This unit examines a range of women’s literary explorations of modernity and its changing forms of gendered selfhood. Topics considered: female education and autonomy, sex and dystopias, mass culture and consumerism, women’s relationships with animals, and women’s experiences of revolution and war. Texts include novellas and short fiction, a bestseller, a graphic novel/memoir, and a blog."

lucy tartan said...

TimT, I would have loved to include Le Guin but she figures in both the units on SF offered in the department already.

Kate H said...

I have no suggestions but I haven't read some of these so I am going to use this as a reading list. (Though I do love Tiptree and would vote for her inclusion).