November 2010 Archives

Due Today:

Podcast Reflection

While you are here, take a moment to look at the Dec 1 class meeting page. Note that I'm giving everyone the option of bringing a 3x5 index card of notes to the final exam -- but I'm asking that you submit the card at the beginning of class on Dec 1. I will return the card to you at the beginning of the final exam. Otherwise, the final exam is not open book or open notes.

Here are links to EL266 podcasts (Ex 5).

Assignment: Listen to and blog about two podcasts -- the ones above and below your names. (Valerie and Alexi, please listen to each other's podcasts.)

You can create a single blog entry. Submit it by posting the URL in a comment from this page.

Assigned Text:

How To Read Literature…

Envoi (pp. 278-81)
A 6-minute audio recording, that includes about 3 minutes of you reading from literary works (2-3 poems, OR 300-500 words from a prose passage), and about 3 minutes of a literary argument. Rather than reciting for 3 solid minutes and then talking for 3 solid minutes, consider different ways to break up the structure in creative and useful ways.

Depending on your speaking rate, 3 minutes will be about 500 words, or about two double-spaced pages. That could mean a scene from a work of fiction, part of a longer poem, or several short poems.

Submit your file by e-mailing it to me. (I suggest that you practice sending me a file sooner, so that we can be sure I can open it.)

Audio recording

You may use any tool, including Evernote on your iPad, Garage Band on your Mac, or Sound Recorder on a Windows machine. (If you bring your own laptop to my office hour, I will do what I can to help you, but the IT department has a small podcasting studio, that you can reserve in order to record your podcast with the help of a CIT work-study student.)

General microphone tips:
  • The microphone in your iPad has been good enough for in-class activities, but I encourage you to use better equipment. (The SHU laptops have an excellent microphone, and I have a few I can loan you.)
  • Rather than shout into the microphone, get your mouth a few inches away from it and speak clearly but normally.
  • Avoid blowing into the microphone when you say words with "p" or "t," or you'll get a distracting popping sound. 

Audio quality:
  • Excellent: speaker's voice is clear; no dead space before or after the recording; no distracting background noises (papers shuffling, chairs squeaking) or static; volume levels are steady (and strong) throughout; no distortions or "popping" (which comes from blowing on the microphone when you say a word like "pop").
  • Acceptable: speaker's voice is audible; minimal dead spaces (no more than what anyone would tolerate in a conversation); any distortions, background noises or volume changes don't detract from the ability to hear the speaker
  • Weak: dead time (longer than we would ordinarily tolerate in a conversation); distracting background noises; voice is distorted (from speaking too loud, too close to the microphone) or too quiet (from speaking too far away from the microphone).
If you do choose to add any background sound or music -- and doing so is completely optional -- make sure that the speaker's voice is always dominant. (Strumming a guitar live can drown out your voice if you aren't careful... make sure the mic is close to your mouth, and far from your guitar.)
Reading from literary works

How can you use your voice to convey meaning? You can get louder or softer; you can speed up or slow down. If you listen closely, you can tell over the phone when someone is smiling, and if someone you're talking to suddenly stops talking, even a brief silence can be effective.

Literary argument

Apply what you learned from writing the 200-word paragraphs. Refer also to the "Academic Tone" handout, for tips on how to move from personal statements like "I like Hester better than Dimmesdale" to an analytical argument, such as "Hawthorne uses Dimmesdale's many weaknesses in order to highlight Hester's strengths. In fact, if Hawthorne had made Dimmesdale had been a stronger man, he would have not created the trials that made Hester such a believably strong character."

An interpretation offers an opinion, supported by evidence.

Monday: Analyze an Academic Source (your academic source is your assigned text; please blog about it.)

About 150 words, uploaded to by 5pm.

Where do you see FACTS, OPINIONS, and JUDGMENTS in your academic source?

How does your author use sources? (How long are the quotes, to what extent do they summarize, what purpose do they serve?)
Assigned Text:


(An argument that relies upon academic sources.)
Assigned Text:

How To Read Literature…

Chapters 22-24
Assigned Text:

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Aiken's popular dramatization of Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel.

Please note: I am not assigning the novel. Instead, I am assigning a script of a theatrical adaptation. Reading a play script really requires you to play the role of the director and the actor. The playwright will sometimes throw in a stage direction such as "bitterly" to explain how the actor should deliver the line, but each speech is written to be spoken aloud, with the benefit of costumes, sound effects, and scenery.

Reading a Play Script

One entire act of this play is taken up with nothing but the following stage direction.
[The entire depth of stage, representing the Ohio River filled with Floating Ice. Set bank on right and in front. Eliza appears, with Harry, on a cake of ice, and floats slowly across to left. Haley, Loker, and Marks, on bank right, observing. Phineas on opposite shore.]
When you read that, you might think, "big deal."

Here's a brief bit of business from the script of Star Wars.


VADER: The Force is strong with this one!


Vader follows Luke's X-wing down the trench.


Luke looks to the targeting device, then away as he hears
Ben's voice.

BEN'S VOICE: Luke, trust me.
A whole team of technical and creative people put a lot of effort into turning those few lines into an intense character-defining moment, in the middle of a heart-stopping action sequence.

Your job, as you read a play script, is to try to supply mental images of the scenery, costumes, facial expressions, tone of voice, and actions of the performers, turning a few lines of dialogue into a visual and kinetic experience.

If you've ever seen a live production of Peter Pan, even though you can see the wires, the sight of actors flying around on stage right in front of you is very powerful.  And even though you know the actors aren't really hurting each other, watching people punch each other and roll around on the floor, slamming into furniture or pulling hair is a very different experience from reading "A fight breaks out." 

Typically, audiences would applaud sudden scene changes, or stage effects such as snowstorms, gun battles, people jumping down great distances or climbing up great heights, pieces of scenery being raised or lowered dramatically, and so forth.

As you read, look for long stage directions, and really slow down and imagine how a live production would make that sequence emotionally interesting for the audience.

You can find the full text here:

Aiken's adaptation of Uncle Tom's Cabin (Full Text)   | Table of Contents



Compare last week's text (the essay by Charlotte Perkins Gilman) to the poem assigned for this week. Write about 150 words, comparing the attitude the speaker of this poem to an attitude expressed in "The Yellow Wallpaper." (The story is about madness, the poem is about death, but are they similar in some other respect?) 

Upload your response to the Nov 8 slot in, by 5pm Friday. Demonstrate your ability to support a thesis by quoting from primary sources (the assigned literary works).  No outside research is necessary for this activity.

(The poem is in the handout I distributed during class Wednesday.)
Assigned Text:


I will introduce this work during class Wednesday, Nov 3.

Follow up: This is the poem I handed out as a printout, with an extra page of prompts.
Bring annotated texts (2-3 poems, OR 300-500 words from a prose passage) that explain and support your interpretation.

This is advance work for Ex 5, due Nov 15.
Present 3-4 minutes of poetry for the class (you don't need to memorize any of it)
Share 1-2 pages of notes, as part of a 3-4 minute class discussion. 

You may choose
  • any Emily Dickinson poem that we have not already read in class (that means, please do not choose any poems from the "Nature" section that was assigned earlier in the term), or
Update: You may choose several short poems, from one or both authors, or you may choose an excerpt from a longer poem. However you end up with between 3 and 4 minutes of reading time is fine with me.


Bring to Class
  • Printout of the poems (to project as you read; this will greatly help the class focus on the content of the poem)
  • Printout of 1-2 pages of notes (for you to hand to me when you finish your presentation)
  • Sample close reading demonstration (demonstrate your ability to make a point by calling our attention to a specific passage in one or more poems)
  • Discussion question (what do you feel is worth discussing?)
In Class
  • Be engaging. You don't have to memorize the poem. You may prepare a recording, or you may recite your selection(s) live.
  • Choose unlikely poems. (I'm banning Poe's "The Raven" and Dickinson's "The Chariot".)
  • Don't worry about being "right."  Just focus on how your oral presentation follows from the poems themselves. (You might, for instance, look at style, word choice, imagery, symbolism, genre, and/or anything covered in any chapter of Foster's How To Read Literature...

I plan to be generous. Think of this activity as a dry run for Ex 5.  Here are the areas where I will give you feedback.

  • Excellent: Complete and legible
  • Weak/unacceptable: Incomplete or hard-to-read
  • Excellent: Clear, insightful, deep, organized;
  • Acceptable: careful, varied, thoughtful
  • Weak: disorganized, random, spotty
Update: More about the content of the "notes" section.  The notes can include lists or an outline of taking points; I would prefer a list of brief statements, rather than a full-blown essay. You can write it informally, just as you would a blog entry. Your notes should demonstrate the breadth of ideas you have found when you analyzed the words.  If you find interesting cultural or historical references, or you find possible connections to the poet's life, make sure any such details are there to serve and support the ideas you find in the writing itself.

(You do not need to answer every one of these questions, but here are some questions to consider: What do you want to say about the poetry you chose? What do you hope the class will comment on? To what details will you direct the attention of the class, and how will you encourage them to think about the issues you want to discuss? What direct questions will you ask the class, and what variety of answers do you think you might get? Do the questions you want to ask the class have an obvious answer? Will the class think you are fishing for a specific "correct" answer, or will the class think you are actually interested in their own interpretations? How will you react if the class offers an interpretation that differs from the one you chose? What do you hope the class will take away from the experience?)
Sample Close Reading
  • Excellent: Insightfully and unexpectedly linked to your main point
  • Acceptable: Clearly and productively connected to your main point
  • Weak: Loosely connected, with a focus on summary, personal opinions, praising or scolding the author or characters, etc.
Discussion Question (see also the prompts in the "notes" section, above)
  • Excellent: Generates debate. Provides the class with new information to apply to the work(s) you chose.
  • Acceptable: Encourages the class to return to the text for evidence.
  • Weak: May be an obvious or limited ("yes/no") answer; may invite personal feelings or plot summary rather than literary analysis
  • Excellent: Clear voice, good use of space (including eye contact, physical motions, interaction with classmates), and an insightful, challenging, well-supported main point
  • Acceptable: Audible voice; not reading word-for-word from a page; evidence of personal commitment to this project
  • Weak: Hard to hear (I may have to ask you to speak up more than once); little or no interaction with class

A list of sources for Paper 2. At least 6 sources, including at least 1 primary source (the literary work you are studying), and at least 4 peer-reviewed academic sources.

You may post the list on your blog, in a comment on this page, or just bring a printout to class.

Use proper MLA style for bibliography entries.

Poetry Slam

First, we'll do an in-class writing activity, and discuss "Why I Wrote 'The Yellow Wallpaper.'"

We'll discuss the bibliography assignment, and we'll have our poetry slam.

After the break, we will work on Ex 5 (due online, Nov 15).  Bring your laptops. (If you don't have a SHU laptop, but you do have a laptop, bring it... I'll do what I can to get you set up.)
By 5pm Monday, simply read and comment on "Why I Wrote..."  There is no other activity today.

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