Things a Lit Professor probably shouldn’t say

“Some of Shakespeare is shit.”

And yes, one of my professors said this today. After we watched a horror movie. Based on a book by Stephen King.

Hell yes, university.


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3 responses to “Things a Lit Professor probably shouldn’t say

  1. Matthew

    No, ALL of Skhakespeare is wonderful!

    Of course there’s Titus Andronicus (which was remade as The Texas Chainsaw Massacres), but even his senseless violence and inane dialogue is much better than other people’s.


  2. Jay

    We had an argument in one of my lit courses today as to the relative merits of Stephen King. My professor used him as an example of “literature that is not literary.”

    I promptly, meaning extremely spontaneously, combusted.

    I railed on at length about how “The End of the Whole Mess” is a stirring and genre-topping piece of short fiction, and that the only real weakness of his noveling is that he’s prone to spending great deals of time developing character. So I, while mid-combustion, eloquently and completely defended my boy King.

    Then the professor accuses me of being a “bestseller victim.” He proceeds to use me as an example of why niche market literature and the kind folks who love it will never be truly literary.

    We went back and forth on the whole practical criticism versus new historicism thing, where I again cried out the merits of apocalypse fiction as context-affirming…

    And he brought up Stephen King, and the class laughed. Still on fire, I proclaimed:

    “I am bigger than every one of you. So, like, whatever.”

    And I took my highmindedness and left.

    Do you have my back on this one? Is King canon-worthy?

  3. Leah

    I think I might have to marry you. Nothing personal, of course.

    I think that his more recent books should definitely be considered ‘literature that is literary’, as your prof would have said. I also think his short stories are superior to his novel-length works.

    For the course I was referring to, we read The Shining. It’s a great thriller, and it’s got some wonderfully horrible scenes, but I’d have to say that it isn’t ‘literary’. Mostly due to the ridiculous ending, and Jack’s sudden rapid degeneration and loss of character. Up until the point where he starts trying to kill people, I’d call it a fairly literary study of a mid-life crisis.

    Lisey’s Story, on the other hand, is brilliant. It’s a fantastic depiction of death and how we deal with it. Sure, the in-joke language got annoying at times, but the story was still strong, and it was written deftly.

    From a Buick 8 deals with the same themes, but it’s bold enough not to give the reader closure, mirroring the grieving process that it analyses.

    I could go on. The thing is, most people don’t consider King literary because a, he’s popular, and b, his stories have monsters in. This, of course, is ridiculous. Also, he’s written his fair share of stuff that really does belong in the genre ghetto (hi Tommyknockers). But really, when someone is as prolific as King, what are the odds of them consistently producing great books?

    So, to sum my rambling up, I’m with you. King is ‘proper’ literature. Not all his books qualify, but he’s written some corkers that need to be taken seriously, even by people who wear tweed coats and read Derrida.

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