Toni Morrison’s Opus About Confronting a Terrible Past
S2 E31 - 9m 41s
Beloved is the magnum opus of the late, great Toni Morrison. It has become a key piece of literature taught in schools and is considered one of the great pieces of American literature. To understand Beloved, we must first look at the woman behind the pages: Nobel Prize Winner Toni Morrison.
Why Magical Realism is a Global Phenomenon
S2 E30 - 10m 3s
Blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, magical realism in literature and other media combines fantasy elements with concrete realities to make statements about the world we live in. In this episode, we explore its roots, lay out the tenets of the genre, and discuss how it has flourished in Latin American Literature.
Why Edgar Allan Poe Isn't Just a Sad Boy
S2 E29 - 11m 3s
We remember Edgar Allan Poe for his tales of horror and the macabre as well as inventing the entire Detective Fiction Genre. But unlike many of the great authors of Western classic literature, he has become an icon unto himself, recognized to this day by name and face almost more than the titles of his stories and poems.
Inside the Absurdist Mind of Kurt Vonnegut
S2 E28 - 15m 11s
It can be said that there are two types of fiction writers - those who take a backseat and let their work take the spotlight, and those who are as iconic as their work, sometimes even more so. But maybe there’s a third type - a type of writer whose complex persona is so intertwined with their fiction - that to ignore them as a person would be to ignore their work entirely.
The Women of Jane Austen
S2 E27 - 18m 33s
Elizabeth Bennet. Emma Woodhouse. Marianne Dashwood. Jane Austen has been responsible for creating some of the most frequently adapted and analyzed women in the English literary language. These women reveal to us Jane Austen's insight into her growth as an author her politics, and just how she feels about what makes a girlboss and #girlboss.
Why We Keep Retelling the Classics
S2 E26 - 12m 30s
From James Joyce’s Ulysses to Bridget Jones’s Diary, you’ve probably read a book that was just a modern retelling of a well-established story. Which is to say nothing of other forms of media and their own obsessions with retellings. Sometimes a story is just so dang good, it bears repeating. Sometimes more than once. Sometimes multiple times. I’m looking at you, Jane Austen.
What We Don’t Know About The Father of Sci-Fi
S2 E25 - 17m 12s
H.G. Wells is a name that is synonymous with the creation of what we now know as science fiction. But his career as an SF author was pretty short. Wells wrote dozens of novels, most of which weren’t science fiction. Wells was an influential thinker - not just for the genre of science fiction, for science’s relationship to the culture at large.
Why Do People Think Huck Finn Is Racist?
S2 E24 - 13m 34s
Is Huckleberry Finn an anti-racist work? Or is it just plain ol’ racist? The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by American author Mark Twain is both considered one of the great American novels and one of the most frequently banned and contested novels due to its use of the N-word and racial stereotypes. This has launched many debates as to if the work should even be taught in schools.
Don’t Know Much About BEOWULF? Nobody Does!
S2 E22 - 12m 56s
Today we’re going to take a look at one particular Epic Poem and follow its long, winding journey from way, way, way long ago allllll the way to the present day, and we’ll interrogate its relevance to our lives in the here and now. Come now, Geats and Danes, to the violent, bloody, mythic, mysterious world of BEOWULF.
The Life behind To Kill a Mockingbird
S2 E23 - 12m 31s
For decades it has been widely read in high schools and middle schools as a key anti-racist text. But how did this novel, with its Southern Gothic and Bildungsroman elements become a book that in 2006 the British said “every adult should read before they die” ahead of the Bible. To Kill a Mockingbird was written by Harper Lee and was loosely based on Lee’s real-life experiences.
The Female Writers Who Dominated Amatory Fiction
S2 E21 - 11m 52s
Men are typically credited with inventing what we know as the modern novel was Miguel de Cervantes for Don Quixote. But the real antecedent for the modern novel was created by… women. Amatory fiction is preoccupied with sexual love and romance. Most of its works were short stories, it was dominated by women, and women were the ones responsible for sharing and promoting their own work.
Octavia Butler, The Grand Dame of Science Fiction
S2 E20 - 14m 34s
If you are a fan of science fiction a name you should be familiar with is Octavia E. Butler (cough especially if you watched our telly award-winning Afro-Futurism video cough) One of the most prolific and important Black authors in the genre, Butler’s storytelling pushed the boundaries of what Black people were allowed to be in science fiction. Today we will be highlighting the Grand Dame herself.
Extras + Features
It’s Lit! | Trailer | PBS Digital Studios
It’s Lit! is a series of smart, funny video essays from PBS Digital Studios about our favorite books and why we love to read. Hosted by Lindsay Ellis, the series delves into topics like the evolution of YA, how science fiction mirrors our own anxieties, and why the book is sometimes just a _bit_ better than the movie.
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