Summer Humanities Reading
Summer Reading: To be completed in the latter part of summer, before school starts.
Over the summer, all Metro-Arts high school students are required to read the summer reading selection assigned to their incoming grade. When school begins on August 1st, 2016, students must have completed the reading selection and be prepared to discuss the novel in class. The summer reading provides a starting point for our curriculum when we resume school, and having read the summer reading book allows us to delve right into discussion and meaningful assignments. Please plan to bring the book to school with you in the first week.
You do not need to worry about understanding all the nuances of the novel or all the themes and literary elements; we will be discussing that in class in August. You just need to read for comprehension and be ready to discuss the story plot. Particularly with Beowulf, if you are having trouble following the story, you can listen to an online audiobook and follow along in your text (in which case, make sure you are listening to the Seamus Heaney version and that it is not abridged!). Make notes in your book where it is helpful in order to assist you in remembering thoughts or ideas you had while reading.
If you have any questions regarding the summer reading assignment, please contact Humanities Department Head Tara Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Incoming Freshmen - Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos
Becoming a writer the hard way In the summer of 1971, Jack Gantos was an aspiring writer looking for adventure, cash for college tuition, and a way out of a dead-end job. For ten thousand dollars, he recklessly agreed to help sail a sixty-foot yacht loaded with a ton of hashish from the Virgin Islands to New York City, where he and his partners sold the drug until federal agents caught up with them. For his part in the conspiracy, Gantos was sentenced to serve up to six years in prison. In Hole in My Life, this prizewinning author of over thirty books for young people confronts the period of struggle and confinement that marked the end of his own youth. On the surface, the narrative tumbles from one crazed moment to the next as Gantos pieces together the story of his restless final year of high school, his short-lived career as a criminal, and his time in prison. But running just beneath the action is the story of how Gantos - once he was locked up in a small, yellow-walled cell - moved from wanting to be a writer to writing, and how dedicating himself more fully to the thing he most wanted to do helped him endure and ultimately overcome the worst experience of his life. Hole in My Life is a 2003 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.
Incoming Sophomores - Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney
Composed toward the end of the first millennium, Beowulf is the elegiac narrative of the adventures of Beowulf, a Scandinavian hero who saves the Danes from the seemingly invincible monster Grendel and, later, from Grendel's mother. He then returns to his own country and dies in old age in a vivid fight against a dragon. The poem is about encountering the monstrous, defeating it, and then having to live on in the exhausted aftermath. In the contours of this story, at once remote and uncannily familiar at the beginning of the twenty-first century, Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney finds a resonance that summons power to the poetry from deep beneath its surface. Drawn to what he has called the "four-squareness of the utterance" in Beowulf and its immense emotional credibility, Heaney gives these epic qualities new and convincing reality for the contemporary reader.
**Kindle versions are not recommended, as they are reportedly abridged and do not contain the original language, which we will be comparing to Modern English in class.
Incoming Juniors - Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
Thirty years since its original publication, Ceremony remains one of the
most profound and moving works of Native American literature, a novel
that is itself a ceremony of healing. Tayo, a World War II veteran of
mixed ancestry, returns to the Laguna Pueblo Reservation. He is deeply
scarred by his experience as a prisoner of the Japanese and further
wounded by the rejection he encounters from his people. Only by
immersing himself in the Indian past can he begin to regain the peace
that was taken from him. Masterfully written, filled with the somber
majesty of Pueblo myth, Ceremony is a work of enduring power.
Incoming Seniors - 1984 by George Orwell
Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell's chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, Orwell's narrative is more timely that ever. 1984 presents a "negative utopia," that is at once a startling and haunting vision of the world—so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of entire generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions—a legacy that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.