Discussion Questions for Challenger Deep

Hi everyone, I am looking forward to talking about this text with all of you. I hope we get to play with the text in all sorts of ways, but for now, here are some more focused questions:

  1. Can we draw for a minute? So much of what Caden teaches the text is the failure of language to completely capture cognition and other brain related activities. For that reason, I thought I’d put his teaching into practice by drawing on a page of the text. My goal was just to draw what I was feeling as I read the page. Might you try this as well and let me know about the experience? Of course, I totally get the whole “Aren’t we too grown to be doodling in our textbook” angle, so I’ll pose it as a grownup question as well: What did you think of the drawings in the text? What value did they have for you as a scholar? What value might they have for a YA audience?
  2. Form: In what ways does Shusterman use form to illustrate the inner workings of a young boy with Schizophrenia? (I’m thinking about the slippery use of first person and second person point of view)
  3. Communities: I’ve learned from this class about the value of community building in disability theory and disability literature. I wondered what types of communities were being built in this text for a person with a mental illness. I am especially interested in your impressions of the different parents here. How do they compare to the other parents we’ve seen (I’m thinking of our conversation on “violence” and Ari’s parents).
  4. Language: This novel messed me up OR this novel rattled my sense of reality OR this novel was a ship full of cognitive navigators– Sorry, I’m being annoyingly meta, but the point there was this text is about language and its excess and lack. What do you think the text is saying about language? Any specific moments when we’re on Caden’s voyage that you felt were especially important commentaries on language?
  5. Time: Where are we really though? Just kidding. But also, what was your reaction to the collapsing of time. I mean clearly, there’s some elasticity here since his delusions include people we know he met later on in the narrative when he’s in the hospital. Did you find that purposefully confusing? A commentary on time and mental illness?
  6. Mental Illness and Art: What did you think of the intersection Caden makes between artists and mental illness? Also– how impressive is his tale of seeking Challenger Deep & how impressive is that ship!



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