Crash Course Literature


  • Slaughterhouse-Five Part 2 | Crash Course Literature #213

    In which John Green continues to teach you about Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (video two of two). This week, John is going to talk about Slaughterhouse-Five's status as an anti-war novel, and what exactly anti-war novels are good for. He'll also get into the idea of free will, and to what degree Billy Pilgrim's time-travel and abduction by aliens were hallucinations induced by posttraumatic stress disorder.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Slavery, Ghosts, and Beloved | Crash Course Literature #214

    In which John Green teaches you about Beloved by Toni Morrison. John will talk about Beloved in relation to slavery and how that terrible institution affected individuals, families, and all of American culture in the years surrounding the Civil War. We will also not be getting into whether or not Beloved was a ghost, because it really has no bearing on what the book has to say. Also, as usual, spoilers abound, so we recommend you read the book before you watch this video!

    Grades: 9-12
  • Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance | Crash Course Literature #215

    In which John Green teaches you about the poetry of Langston Hughes. Langston Hughes was a poet and playwright in the first half of the 20th century, and he was involved in the Harlem Renaissance, which was a cultural movement among African Americans of the time that produced all kinds of great works in literature, poetry, painting, sculpture, music, and other areas. The Harlem Renaissance mainly happened in Harlem, the traditionally black neighborhood in upper Manhattan in New York City. Langston Hughes was primarily known as a poet, but he was involved deeply in the movement itself as well. John will teach you a bit about Hughes's background, and he'll examine a few of his best known poems.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Sula | Crash Course Literature

    This week, John is talking about Toni Morrison's novel of friendship, betrayal, and loss, Sula. Sula tells the story of two African American girls, the town where they grew up, the tragic even that was central to their youth, and the very different people they became.

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Poetry of Sylvia Plath | Crash Course Literature #216

    In which John Green teaches you about the poetry of Sylvia Plath. When a lot of people think about Sylvia Plath, they think about her struggles with mental illness and her eventual suicide. Her actual work can get lost in the shuffle a bit, so this video really tries to focus on the poetry. You'll learn about Sylvia Plath's role as a feminist poet, and you'll also learn about her extraordinary ability to recreate the experiences of real life in beautiful and relatable way.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Invisible Man | Crash Course Literature

    This week, we’re on to reading Ralph Ellison’s great novel about the black experience in America after World War II, Invisible Man. John will teach you about Ellison’s nameless narrator, and his attempts to find his way in a social order that dehumanizes him and renders him invisible at every turn. Ellison’s novel follows its hero from his childhood in the south to his many attempts to make sense of the world in New York City, and it takes him through, explosions, activism, and riots.

    Grades: 9-12
  • 100 Years of Solitude, Part 2 | Crash Course Literature

    In which we continue our exhaustive look at One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

    Grades: 9-12
  • 100 Years of Solitude, Part 1 | Crash Course Literature

    Our first of two episodes about Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novel, 100 Years of Solitude. This week, we're looking at the Buendia family, and their many generations of people with the same names. We'll also look at the fascinating way the author thinks about time, and how time is represented in the book. Later, we'll get into the genre that Garcia Marquez worked in, which is called magical realism. Years later, we will have talked about all of this before.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Lord of the Flies | Crash Course Literature

    This week, John is talking about one of his least favorite novels, The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. The Lord of the Flies is a novel of ideas, and John doesn't agree with the central idea of the novel, which diminished his enjoyment of the book. The central idea of the book is that everyone has evil in their hearts. Which we don't necessarily agree with. That said, it's a good read, and worth reading.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Shakespeare's Sonnets | Crash Course Literature

    This week, we're learning about sonnets, and English Literature's best-known purveyor of those fourteen-line paeans, William Shakespeare. We'll look at a few of Willy Shakes's biggest hits, including Sonnet 18, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day," Sonnet 116, "Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediment," and Sonnet 130, "My mistresses's eyes are nothing like the sun." We'll talk about what makes a sonnet, a little bit about their history, and even a little bit about how reading poetry helps us understand how to be human beings.

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Raft, the River, and the Weird Ending of Huckleberry Finn | Crash Course Literature

    This week, we're continuing our discussion of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. This is part two of our talk about Huck Finn, and this time we're looking at the metaphors in the book, a little bit about what the metaphors like the Island and the River and the Raft might mean, and why you should pay attention to said metaphors. We'll also look at the ending of the book, which a lot of people (including us) believe isn't up to the standards of the rest of the novel.

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Part 1 | Crash Course Literature

    In which John Green teaches you about Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. This week, we'll talk a little bit about Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who wrote under the name Mark Twain, and how he mined his early life to produce his well-loved body of work. By far the best of Twain's novels, Huckleberry Finn has a lot to say about life in America around the Civil War, and it resonates today with its messages on race, class, and what exactly freedom is.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God | Crash Course Literature

    In which John Green reads Zora Neale Hurston's novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and talks to you about it. You'll learn about Zora Neale Hurston's life, and we'll also look at how the interpretations of the book have changed over time. Also, this book will give you a healthy appreciation for the rabies vaccine, and the terrible dilemmas you've avoided thanks to that modern development.

    Grades: 9-12

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