Welcome to another one of our mapping projects at the English Department at AUB.
This one is assigned in ENGL 207 – Introduction to Literature II.
In this course, we will try to come up with a correlation between the books high school students have read in Lebanon (during their free time or assigned by a professor) through time, space and emotional response.
In order to do so, we were divided in groups of three. I have collaborated with a similar group in another literature course, in a digital project as well. Therefore, I’m not worried about the workflow in a team, as I am used to having the tasks divided upon students from different majors and backgrounds.
We still haven’t figured out how to divide the work; our data isn’t complete yet, and we’d rather assign each group member a task that goes in line with his skills and interests. Needless to say, we will have the tasks assigned equally and will keep submissions and finalization to be done as a team.
It is still too early to say what will come out of this digital project. I’m suspecting a strong contrast between pre-civil war and post-civil war literature assigned in Lebanese High Schools. I also think that certain canonicity in classical literature will appear. Indeed, and with the little amount of data I have gathered for now; traditional authors such as Shakespeare, poets such as Blake and novelists such as George Orwell are recurrent in almost every interviewee’s answers. I’d primarily conclude that the universality concerning politics, social issues and the human condition that are predominant in their works persuade the Educational Institutions into assigning them to future leaders, craftsmen and activists.
Finally, I think that we should add to the interview the language in which their school is based, especially if it’s a French one. The French mandate in Lebanon had a huge impact on Education – most of the assigned literature during/after the mandate was in French, and at some point, speaking the Arabic language was forbidden in High Schools.
Also, given the fact that the amount of students who read (21st Century Graduates) has significantly decreased, it would be interesting to look at what they would read in their free time. What kind of books attracts students in a world where reading is less in vogue than ever? Can we find a pattern? Are those books related to movies that were released, true stories?
Moreover, I think we should add a document of the possible biases/exceptions/obstacles that we might face as researchers, in order for our conclusions to be meticulously narrowed down.
I expect a lot of complications from this research project, and maybe now the whole process isn’t clear enough. However, I have worked on a mapping project in the previous course and the results amazed me; I still read my analysis to scholars and show the maps to friends.