September 2010 Archives
- Wikipedia on John Henry
- NPR's coverage: John Henry Present at the Creation (9 min)
- John Henry the Steel Driving Man
This page offers several different versions -- some of which may play on your computer, and some which might not. (Feel free to explore and experiment, if you would like more audio, but if you can't hear any particular file, don't worry -- just move on.)
- Read this early version of the song,
- Look also at the four later versions that the site offers.
- From the above selection, choose two versions of the song to study
- Come to class with a one-paragraph statement that characterizes the textual
differences between your chosen texts.
- In what ways is the John Henry story a tall-tale?
- How is it social
- Is it primarily a story about technology, or about race? (Is it too simplistic to say "both"?)
- What else do you find worth discussing?
Write a single blog entry -- I'm not asking for separate responses to each item.
Choose one of:
- Chapter V: Discipline
- Chapter VII: Spirit
Analysis means breaking something down into components.
- In chemistry, components are elements that combine in different ways to form different compounds.
- The components of a literary work include word choice, tone, characterization, setting, theme, historical context (what was going on in history), symbolism, personification, contrast, repetition, and so forth. (Foster is a great source for more on that.)
The word "essay" means "try," to put forth exploratory effort.
Analytical Essay (Close Reading)
- Length: Between 400 and 500 words.
- Subject: Any one work (or no more than two short poems) we have examined in class.
- Goal: Use brief quotations from the work to support a debatable interpretation of a specific passage (a few lines of poetry, a few exchanges of dialogue or no more than a page in prose).
- Submit: Upload to Turnitin.com.
Emerson burst onto the American intellectual scene by more or less inventing that American intellectual scene. Emerson collected around him a group of like-minded intellectuals who played out, in their own careers, this same search for American identity. His first publication, Nature, calls for a distinctly American way of looking at the enduring questions of human existence.American Literature Prediscussion Podcast #8: Emerson and Transcendentalism (about 18 min)
You might expect from the title "Nature" that Emerson is writing about sunsets and butterflies, but you get a better idea when you see that, right away, Emerson divides the universe into The Soul and everything else, and labels the everything else part "Nature." For Emerson, creation was the visible mind of God, and its purpose - the purpose of Nature - is to reveal to us truths about our souls.
- Chapter I: Nature
- Chapter III: Beauty
- Chapter IV: Language
- Create a new, blank, word processor file, formatted according to MLA style.
- Choose just one of the three paragraphs you submitted last week for Ex 2.
- Revise it, keeping my marginal comments and this rubric in mind. (see below)
- Upload only your revised paragraph to Turnitin.com by 5pm today
Every item mentioned has a separate page on the course website. Check those individual pages for full details.
Hawthorne takes a moment to explain that the Puritans in New England weren't all drab and bitter; most were native Englishmen, who back in the old country were merry and joyful, and today's holiday brings back the merriment they must have remembered, even though we don't see it otherwise.Prediscussion Podcast 6.mp3
"Their immediate posterity," Hawthorne tells us, "the generation next to the early emigrants, wore the blackest shade of Puritanism, and so darkened the national visage with it, that all the subsequent years have not sufficed to clear it up. We have yet to learn again the forgotten art of gaiety."
I think the story would be one thing, if Dimmesdale learned that the sea escape was scuttled, and then did the next best thing and confessed himself to death before the whole town. But the procession is going on just when Hester learns from the sea captain that Chilligworth is coming on the ship, too. At this dramatic moment, Hawthorne halts the story to describe the procession - this parade of soldiers, musicians, officials, and of course the ministers, and the tension emphasizes Hester's inability to act.
- Create a new, blank word processor file, formatted according to MLA style. (Because STW is a prerequisite of this class, I am assuming you know this format.)
- Scan this handout: Close Reading. I'm not requiring you to treat it as an "Assigned Text" and blog about it, but if you have any questions about it, if you find it helpful, or if you would like me to expand it, please feel free to post a comment on that page. If you like, you're welcome to blog about it, and post a link to your blog.
Revision and Writing
- Revise the "200-word paragraph" exercise that you completed last week (and uploaded into the "200-word paragraph" slot of Turnitin.com).
- Complete the 200-word paragraph that you started in class on Wednesday (Or, if you prefer, write a completely different 200-word paragraph. Your goal is to demonstrate your ability to move beyond accurate summary and "safe" observations, in order to use quotations from the novel to defend a debatable interpretation.)
- Create a 200-word close reading of one of the Emily Dickinson poems from the "Nature" sequence. (I suggest that you follow a similar strategy, of choosing a theme, highlighting passages, and formulating your ideas, but you are free to follow whatever strategy helps you.)
- In poetry, the "I" of the poem is traditionally referred to as "the speaker." Because poets can and do create characters who do the speaking in their poems, it would be inaccurate to say that Dickinson and the "I" of the poem are one and the same.
- Dickinson is the poet who created the poem, but the voice that speaks within the world of the poem is the speaker.
- Just as a close reading of a novel should not retell the plot, a close reading of a poem should not rephrase the meaning of the poem in your own words.
- Prefer the risky interpretation... so long as you can back it up with specific words.
- Avoid phrases like "I think" or "In my opinon." (I already assume that the whole paragraph is your opinon.)
- Upload all three paragraphs in the Exercise 2 slot in Turnitin.com, by 5pm Monday. (For every paper that is uploaded on time, I will post feedback to you by 6pm Wednesday.)
- If you like, you are also welcome to post some or all of these paragraphs on your blog.
- There is no separate GriffinGate component.
The first volume edited by Mrs. Todd and Colonel Higginson sold extremely well, with multiple runs selling out and more books being printed out several times in a few months. Within a few years, a second volume of poems, two-volume collection of Emily's letters (presumably the ones Emily had sent to other people, who dug them out of their own drawers and volunteered them to the editors now that their author was famous), and a third volume, with Mabel Loomis Todd now working on her own, without Colonel Higginson's help.
Then something happened that reminds us what life was like in the days before word processors or photocopiers.
Emily's sister Lavnia, and Mabel, the former mistress of Austin, the brother of Emily and Lavinia, had a falling out. Before Austin died, he asked Lavinia to will a tract of land to Mabel. After Austin died, Lavinia went to court, to undo that action, and the court ruled in Lavinia's favor.
But what matters for us is that the pile of Emily Dickinson's hand-written poems, many of which were still unpublished - hundreds had been published by now, but she wrote over a thousand - this physical stack of unpublished poems got split up, with Lavinia (Emily's sister) taking some, and Mabel (the mistress of Emily's dead brother) taking the other. For the next sixty years or so, these separate stacks were sorted and edited and cataloged and treated in different ways, by different editors.
Read 31 short poems, numbered I ("New feet within my garden go") to XXXI ("There's a certain slant of light").
Dickinson, Poems by Emily Dickinson, Three Series, Complete (There are four collections of Emily Dickinson poems from Project Gutenberg in iBooks. The one called "Three Series, Complete" actually contains the full text of the other three.)
Probably the easiest way to find the right place to begin is to search your iBook for "new feet within my garden". (The Table of Contents is not terribly useful in this bare-bones, free edition.)
You may also read these poems in Project Gutenberg
As with every "Assigned Text"
1) read the whole thing
2) quote a brief passage on your blog (and include a link back to this page)
3) on this page, post a comment that includes a link to your specific blog entry
4) post 2-4 comments on peer blogs
You may choose to focus on a single poem, or if you would like to post additional quotes and go into more depth, be my guest. (The minimum I'm asking for is simply to post about one of these poems. I am not asking you to write about all 31.)
Weekly Update Sep 20.mp3
If you have any questions, please feel free to post comments on this page, e-mail me, or arrange an office visit.
Literary questions aren't really worth exploring if there's an obviously "right" answer, so let's explore a thorny question. Near the end of Chapter 13, in the third paragraph from the end.Prediscussion Podcast 5.mp3
Hawthorne tells us of Hester, "At times a fearful doubt strove to possess her soul, whether it were not better to send Pearl at once to Heaven, and go herself to such futurity as Eternal Justice should provide."
Now wait a minute... we learned from the meeting with the governor that Pearl is the only thing that keeps Hester from chucking it all and heading to the midnight meeting in the forest. Why does Hawthorne choose to tell us this detail?
If you have any questions, please feel free to post them at the bottom of this page. (That will generate an e-mail to me.) You are also welcome to come by during my office hours, or make an appointment.1) Read Chapters 13-18 of The Scarlet Letter.
2) Post a quotation and comment on your own blog, as usual.
3) Submit that blog entry by posting a link from the course web page to your new blog entry. (You can either paste the web address in the box labeled "URL" -- which will turn your name into a link that points to that address; or, you can just paste the web address into your comment, and when the comment is published, it will be a hyperlink. Either procedure is fine.)
(The previous steps are nothing special... I ask you to do this for all readings. If you haven't done so, remember to catch up and post comments for all the other readings listed as "texts" -- except for the poems we looked at in class on the first day.)
4) Do some pre-writing. (For what exactly goes here, see the "Prewriting Activity" section, below.)
5) A 200-word paragraph, using evidence from the novel to defend a debatable interpretation of some issue that arises in chapters 13-18. (You are welcome to quote from other chapters to support your point, but the main idea should focus on something that is prominent at this stage in the book.)
6) Bring your pre-writing activity to class (in whatever form it took), and upload your 200-word paragraph to Turnitin.com ("200-word paragraph"). Deadline: 9am Tuesday.
This is the section of the book where the relationships between the characters start to take solid shape, and Hawthorne makes these points numerous times.Prediscussion Podcast 4.mp3
When we aim to interpret a literary work, our task has to go beyond listing our emotional reactions, our gut reactions, to the events of the plot or the setting.
Well, of course. But Hawthorne created this whole scenario - the strict society - in order to test the character of his sympathetic heroine.
- "The authorities should not have been so harsh with Hester."
- "The townspeople are slow to appreciate Hester's charity; they should have recognized and appreciated her charity."
Afraid? Of whom am I afraid?
Not death; for who is he?
The porter of my father's lodge
As much abasheth me.
Of life? 'T were odd I fear a thing
That comprehendeth me
In one or more existences
At Deity's decree.
Of resurrection? Is the east
Afraid to trust the morn
With her fastidious forehead?
As soon impeach my crown!
What is the assignment?
Create a single word processor file to hold all your answers, and when you are finished, upload that single file to Turnitin.com. The Course ID is 3449398, and the class password is "nosummary" (reminding you that literary analysis is not the same thing as plot summary).
Prepare your file with standard MLA headings, a give it the title "Exercise 1: Close Reading Practice"
To prepare, read Chapters 1-6 of The Scarlet Letter. (Note that there is a long introduction before Chapter 1... I am not assigning that introduction.)
Last week, there was a GriffinGate component to this assignment. This time, there won't be. All you need to know is right here, on this page.
So what's going on?
In addition to these 15 minutes of video, notice that for today I've also posted a 30-minute audio lecture. I might have delivered both during class, but instead I'm assigning them for you to listen to and watch outside of class. My intention is to put move as much as possible of the one-way "info dump" out of the classroom, so that during our limited class time, we spend more time doing face-to-face work.
You're welcome to play these files while folding your laundry or during your commute. The idea is that when you come to class on Wednesday, you'll be ready to talk (and write) about this material. (Hint... there's a four-letter word that starts with Q.)
These are very short chapters. You've already heard me say in class that I'm not asking to see any plot summary in the papers that you write. Each chapter in this book suggests one way to think about (and write about) literature, other than restating the plot in your own words.
In the comments at the bottom of this page, post a quotation from the reading that you think is worth talking about in class, and briefly explain why.
Listen to this podcast in order to prepare for today's class discussion.
Prediscussion Podcast 2.mp3
About 13 minutes. (Listen to it to help you read The Wife.)
EL266 Pre-discussion Podcast 1.mp3
The Wife is part of The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, which is available free in the iBooks iPad app, or in numerous formats from Project Gutenberg.
We did not get to this in class last week (Aug 25), so I've pushed this reading back to today. How does this selection relate to Young Goodman Brown?