Monday, November 19, 2012

Pugh Family Cannon

When I was in New York, Kat and I were talking about the concept of a literacy Canon. One of the really nice things about Waterford was that there was a well-established canon. References to The Sound and The Fury or The God of Small Things or Hamlet or The Razor's Edge were always understood. It wasn't pretentious to do so, because we'd all read them, so it was totally okay to bring them up in discussions. Which was rather nice.

But at college - and particularly in freshman courses - there is no canon. We all have different backgrounds, different passions, and we're all studying different things. In some ways, this is really nice. I love that I only take classes I am really interested in, that I can follow what I love. But it also makes it more difficult to have discussions, particularly in-class. Someone will start talking about Nietzsche  and I have to be like "wait, I haven't studied him. Explain more of what you're talking about." Sometimes, people just like to name-drop and prove they're soooooo smart by referencing philosophers in discussions (which is infuriating), but sometimes it's just hard to not have a common canon.

My family has our own little canon. It's not law. Just things that we've all read. It's really Lorin's canon, but it's getting perpetuated through the family. I mean, not all of us have read all of it (Sam hasn't read anything that Lorin didn't read to him when he was little), but most of us have. I guess, Lorin, the boys and I have. And now the grandkids are starting in on the kids' portions.

Our canon primarily consists of:

  • The entire Chronicles of Narnia series - read in chronological order. None of that starting with The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe bullshit. This is the series that parents read to their children. Eventually most kids choose to reread on their own. 
  • The Hobbit. Again, it's one that's read to kids. It's a fun read. And I have it in my heart to forgive Tolkein for not bothering to write a single female character. Also, funny enough, the Lord of the Rings trilogy is supplemental material, but definitely doesn't make the list. 
  • The Screwtape Letters. Have you noticed that we love C.S. Lewis?
  • A River Runs Through It - I might add that I'm probably the only one in the family who cried reading this, but it's still an essential. 
  • Honorary Mention: Harry Potter. It doesn't really make the list, but I think it's a good supplement to Chronicles of Narnia. 
  • Honorary Mention: The River Why. It's not quite as essential as A River Runs Through It, but it has definitely been read by lots of us.
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Day 18: I am super grateful for the movie Lincoln. I don't even care if that's a dumb thing to be grateful for, because it was incredibly awesome and made me week. 
Day 19: Yesterday, I texted Josh, my eight-year-old cousin, for a while. It was kinda darling. I love that I can hear from my family. 

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