I was in collge during the early 90's and Bill Clinton was "it". He chose Maya Angelou for his inauguration. All of a sudden, everybody was into her. But I was NOT.
I have nothing against Maya. I simply am not her biggest fan. Yet, I got dissed and criticized for not liking her. My answer? "I do not HAVE to like her".
Has that ever happened to you with any other situation/author/book?
Like post #6 and #9, Victorian literature was a giant sleeping pill for me. Although I appreciate the use of literary devices and stylistic techniques, it was always a little too heavy-handed for my taste. Unfortunately, everyone else in my classes was enamored with Victorian novels--Middlemarch in particular--and I could just never muster the enthusiasm for them--novels or peers!
I had a professor who absolutely idolized Robert Browning. Maybe it was because I didn't care for her too much, but I just do not like Browning. His poems are so smarmy and are not as intellectual as some of the other Romantic poets. I don't care for Wordsworth and his daffodils either. Heck, I really don't "get" poetry!
Also, rather than execution, we need to sentence people on death row to read Billy Budd. That's cruel and unusual punishment!!!
I really never liked Jane Austen either, it just seemed too "girly" for me. I really liked the dad, though, who tried to stay out of the picture and just wanted to read his books alone. I was elated when the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies came out just so I could read about zombies attacking those people.
I never much got into Faulkner much either (Absalom, Absalom! never seemed to end!), but I realize his importance and influence on American literature and culture. I can teach my students about him even if I don't like him, I think.
The Faulkner posts above made my mind jump to Hemingway. I can't stand his novels, but love his short fiction. I think I can only take the macho-man -- weak/evil/distracting woman in small doses. I sometimes try to read For Whom the Bell Tolls or The Sun Also Rises, but I can't stick with it or care enough to finish -- and I have tried several times! I keep thinking that maybe these would be books that would have a reasonable appeal to the boys in class, but I just can't do it.
Jane Austen has always been "trendy" for me. It started in college. When all the English majors were professing love relationships with her, I decided to get into Dostoevsky.
Then, when The Jane Austen Book Club (book and movie) came out, she just went over the edge.
Don't get wrong - I enjoyed her novels and could watch ALL of them that have been turned into movies on cable over and over again - but I just refuse to profess profound love for the woman. Sadly, Jane Austen has become a cliche to me. Isn't that terrible? I mean, it wasn't her fault.
PS: I feel you on Maya Angelou too. Oprah has killed that desire.
When I was in university, I hated Victorian literature. I took my one required class on it and never looked back. Unlike missy575, I did much of my work in ethnic literature and loved it, still do. But I have more of an appreciation now for Victorian lit--I wouldn't say I love it, but there are some titles that I like. As I get older, I think it's interesting to see how my taste changes.
Like #3 & #4, I've never been able to make the commitment to Faulkner. I'll also alienate people with my next choice: Charles Dickens. I know I should....but I just can't. Ever since reading Great Expectations, I just avoided him at every turn. So, guess what 2 authors are never on my lists?
I also agree that teaching what you like certainly helps in the classroom. For example, I'm teaching Wuthering Heights for the first time this year (chosen instead of Jane Eyre), and I have liked the novel since I first read it 10 years ago. Yet it's not something I feel my students will latch onto immediately. But I hope my own enthusiasm and excitement for the text will bring that out in them.
auntlori's post touched a nerve with me--I sincerely disliked reading Faulkner as an undergraduate English major. My classmates thought I was crazy. As a classroom teacher, I ignored any author who I didn't passionately love to read, and Faulkner was at the top of that list for American literature!
Going against the norm is not necessarily a bad thing. Particularly when it comes to classroom teaching, literature selections can make or break a course with regard to engaging reading choices. If the teacher is not herself excited about teaching a particular author or selection, how can it be expected that the students will be?
I've been very blessed to have taught for so many years in many different school systems and been able generally to select what I wanted to teach. One of the authors I've basically chosen to ignore is William Faulkner. I know, I know--how could I do such a thing? Well, it's as you have both said, I just don't feel any connection whatsoever to his novels. There. I said it. I don't have to like his work, and I don't have to teach his novels. So I don't. Thanks for letting me get this off my chest!
I have struggled getting into the migration literature for several years. Chicano/Chicana literature specifically just speaks to a group I feel for, just cannot empathize with. I just didn't have the same experiences and cannot relate! I want to, because it would be right in literary circles to embrace multi-cultural literature to the nth degree, but I don't.
Do you ever notice how hard it is to sell something to your students that is written in the curriculum that you yourself just don't buy into?