In which John Green teaches you about Chinua Achebe’s 1958 novel, Things Fall Apart. You’ll learn about Igboland, a region in modern day Nigeria, prior to the arrival of the British Empire. Achebe tells the story of Okonkwo, an Igbo villager who has worked his way up from life as a sharecropped and become a respected leader in his community. Okonkwo has a tragic fall, and is exiled. And then the trouble starts. British missionaries arrive, and change everything. Things Fall Apart has a lot to say about colonization, and even something to say about decolonization.
In which John Green teaches you about Charlotte Brontë’s classic coming of age novel, Jane Eyre. Look, we don’t like to make judgement values here, but Jane Eyre is awesome. By which we mean the book is great, and the character is amazing. When Jane Eyre was published in 1847, it was a huge hit. It really hit the controversial balance beautifully, being edgy enough to make news, but still mainstream enough to be widely popular. It was sort of like the Fight Club of it’s day, but not quite as testosterone-fueled. You’ll learn a little about the story, learn about Jane as a feminist heroine, and even get some critical analysis on how Bertha might just be a dark mirror that acts out Jane’s emotional reactions.
In which John Green continues to teach you about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. You’ll learn about romantic vs Romantic, the latter of which is a literary movement. John will also look at a few different critical readings of Frankenstein, and you’ll learn about Victor’s motivations. We’ll also look a little bit at the moral limitations of science, if there are any.
In which John Green teaches you about Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein. Sure, you know Frankenstein the cultural phenomenon, but how much do you know about the novel that started it all? You’ll learn about the Romantic movement in English lit, of which Frankenstein is a GREAT example, and you’ll learn that Frankenstein might just be the first SciFi novel. Once again, literature comes down to just what it means to be human. John will review the plot, and take you through a couple of different critical readings of the novel, and will discuss the final disposition of Percy Shelley’s heart.
Ophelia’s in a pretty tight spot too (X)
In which John Green teaches you MORE about Bill Shakespeare’s Hamlet. John talks about gender roles in Hamlet, and what kind of power and agency Ophelia and Gertrude had, if they had any at all (spoiler alert: we think they did). You’ll also learn about regicide, Ophelia’s flowers, and Hamlet’s potential motivations. Also, Oedipus comes up again, but we don’t buy it.
In which John Green teaches you about Hamlet, William Shakespeare’s longest and most-performed play. People love Hamlet. The play that is, not necessarily the character. Hamlet is a Tragedy with a capital T (I guess I don’t have to point that out, since you can see clearly in the text that the T was capitalized). By Tragedy, I mean virtually everyone dies at the end. John will talk a little bit about the history of the play and the different versions of it that have appeared in the centuries since it was written. You’ll also learn about some of the big themes in the play, get a brief plot overview, and the all important connections between Prince Hamlet and Simba, the Lion King. Seriously though, The Lion King is totally just a Hamlet musical with animals instead of people.
In which John Green teaches you about one of the least family-friendly family dramas in the history of family dramas, Oedipus Rex. Sophocles’ most famous play sees it’s main character, who seems like he’s got it all together, find out that he’s killed his father, married his mother, had a bunch of incest children, and brought a plague down on his adopted hometown. He doesn’t take this news well. John touches on all the classic Oedipus themes, including hamartia, fate, and the wrath of the gods, and even gets into some Freud, although Oedipus was notably not a sufferer of an Oedipus complex. In any case get ready for mystery, incest, bird entrails, and self-inflicted blindness. Very dramatic.
John Green and Maureen Johnson.
Maureen is a truly eccentric person and when I met her […] it was immediately clear to me that, like, Maureen was very strange, like, legitimately - not performed strange the way some people are, where they’re, you know, consciously trying to be quirky. Maureen does not try to be quirky because she is so profoundly strange, it would be silly to pretend. And it just fascinated me to meet, like, an actual eccentric, to meet someone who, when you look into their eyes, you don’t really know who’s driving the bus on some level.