The thug and the author : two guides to the classics

Youtube has become a really interesting project in the last year or so. It’s moved past its origin as a place where everyone both made and watched videos, and now it has a series of educational channels which have, if not a large, then a non-hobbyist budget. Two of these channels have insightful material about classic works, and I’d like to highlight them to you, so that you can consider reading the works reviewed.

Thug notes has a single narratorial character,  comedian Greg Edwards as Sparky Sweets PhD, who reviews books in African American Vernacular English.  By using the colloquial forms most familiar to Australians through Black music, the writers of Thug Notes try to break out of the formality of conventional criticism. This gives the writing greater emotional weight, and at the same time allows the narrator to make direct, humorous statements about the genre conventions of the books reviewed. I enjoy the channel very much, although I don’t see community forming around it in the same way as some other Youtube channels.

Crash Couse Literature is hosted by John Green, a young adult novelist of some distinction. He does some of the scriptwriting, but has a support team.  This group try to break out of conventional criticism by framing their discussions through more modern frameworks of thought. This often includes feminist analysis of work, which has led to an unfortunate amount of trolling in the comments. The followers of this series are often part of Nerfighteria (the community of fans which cluster about the work of Hank and John Green) and so there are many pre-existing for a in which deeper discussion can occur.

Each group keeps its channel open by selling things. Thug notes sells merchandise, while Crash Course uses both merchandise and a subscription model.

Below, I’m going to link the videos from each channel for Jane Eyre, so that you can compare.