CLEARVUE/eav's: Universal Themes in Literature (School Edition). (Educator's Evaluation)

Article excerpt

This CD-ROM by CLEARVUE is about common themes that have been observed in literature over the ages. It starts with stories of ancient civilizations carried through to modern times. After a brief introduction, the material of the CD compares Odysseus and the epochal tale of the Odyssey to Arthur C. Clark's modern 2001: A Space Odyssey, pointing to similarities between Odysseus' strange journey and the strange world of Clark's science-fiction story. The narrative includes QuickTime movies in small windows that illustrate each point. The flow of the narrative and the quality of the overall seamless presentation are impressive.

Several story plots are offered by a number of different authors, with a QuickTime movie sequence or other graphic highlighting each. There are nine different topics covered: introduction; individual as hero; individual and cosmos; individual and nature; individual and society; individual and family; individual and individual; individual and self; and a summary. Whether you agree with the divisional topics or not, each topic is duly covered with quotations from poems, readings from novels, excerpts from plays in QuickTime and plenty of graphics. In the topic "individual and cosmos," the concept of creation was mentioned as a common thread among all human cultures. This is true, of course, but this topic sometimes offends members of our society today. Be assured that the topic is tactfully presented and should offend no one. However, be warned that the oppression of blacks and the topic of war is covered. Concerning war, the early notion of war as noble fighting between brave warriors is contrasted with the darker side of war, the senselessness of killing, the fear of death and the horror of combat.

The material presented is brief in its duration but rich with quotations from literary figures, such as William Shakespeare, Alfred Lloyd Tennyson, Henry David Thoreau and Edgar Allan Poe. The CD is easy to navigate; a VCR tool made stopping, starting and repeating segments easy; and a complete navigation menu is also offered, making the different topics easy to find. …