Journal Four: A Narrative Arc

One of the benefits of looking at works of art, not just literature, over an extended period of time (what we might refer to as a longitudinal study) is that we can see trends emerge. Although our readings were almost exclusively American (and exclusively western) they can still be seen to show a trend or an arc or two or three, maybe more. For this journal, look back on what we've read these past few weeks and see what sort of thread you can find that ties the stories together in a way that demonstrates something we might consider "progress." What has changed? Remained the same? What should change but didn't? Did change but shouldn't have? As always, be sure to illustrate the points you touch on with specific examples from the readings.

Having posted your thoughts, respond to at least two other journals and one response to your journal, for a minimum of three responses. Due date for the journal is midnight Sunday. Responses are due by midnight Tuesday.

Sample Response Paragraph

With Herman Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener,” the relationship between Bartleby and the Narrator is difficult to understand and Norman sheds some light on it. The Narrator seems often to be more concerned with what benefits his actions bring his way, as opposed to Bartleby, who, while not being particular, would prefer not to no matter what. Each man seems to have some goal in mind, though not a goal that jumps off the page in any obvious way. Readers see this when the Narrator tells the reader that by humoring Bartleby he may “purchase a delicious self-approval. To befriend Bartleby; to humor him in his strange willfulness, will cost me little or nothing, while I lay up in my soul what will eventually prove a sweet morsel for my conscience” (110). While Norman may not be speaking directly to this view of the Narrator, she writes that

The relationship between Bartleby and the Lawyer is the conflict of society, assured by common practice and precedent, that its habits and beliefs are not only right, but inevitable, with an individual who refuses to participate either in the daily round or the beliefs of that society. It is an old story, in which a man must be recognized and dealt with not in terms of his value to a particular enterprise, but because he exists. (24)

What this would seem to indicate is that the Narrator may be going about things all wrong, viewing Bartleby as something of a religious commodity and not a man whose soul is of concern, simply because he exists. Although the Narrator is seen to be well within his rights as an employer, it would seem to be less so in terms of being humane, negating whatever sweet morsel he thinks himself able to purchase.

Summary Sample

Based on what was shown in class on Monday.

In “The ‘Reader Fallacy’ and ‘Bartleby the Scrivener’,” David Shusterman writes that Liane Norman’s essay “Bartleby and the Reader” engages in a variation of Wimsatt and Beardsley’s Affective Fallacy where she confuses the story with its results. The story is not difficult because it is too demanding when it comes to understanding human interactions, but because it’s difficult to know what Melville is doing with the Lawyer trying to understand Bartleby. Melville wrote with the intention of being understood and Norman provides no evidence that he’s writing to some idealized reader. . Shusterman writes that the flaws in Norman’s essay include . . .

Journal Three: (In)validating Social Norms

Each of these readings, viewed through the lens of Cultural Materialism, should give us something to ponder regarding race, war, gender roles. As I noted in class, Cultural Materialism asks us to consider how readings validate or inscribe social values. This is probably about as tip of the iceberg as this definition can get, so feel free to dig deeper into it if you like, but you need not. What I'm asking for in this week's journal is a discussion of the social values you see either being inscribed, as in they are teaching us to behave a certain way, or challenged, as they are asking us to challenge certain notions. Discuss each of the readings from this week and pull a value you see in each, perhaps on that covers all four readings, or two or more. In looking at the cultural values they do or don't validate or inscribe, be sure to illustrate your examination with specific examples from those readings and some explanation indicating how they are doing what you say they are doing.

Having posted your thoughts, respond to at least two other journals and one response to your journal, for a minimum of three responses. Due date for the journal is midnight Sunday. Responses are due by midnight Tuesday.

Journal Two: Learning from Literature

The readings for this past week, not really by design, give us a glimpse into an America that is, I think anyway, no longer with us. For this week, look at each of the four stories, see what you can draw from them that is applicable to life today. What can these stories tell us about the culture we were and have become? Do they indicate progress? Are we socially and culturally stagnant? Illustrate your thoughts with examples not just from the readings, but from contemporary events, either those in the news or those you are aware of through friends or family. For instance, we can look at Mrs Mallard and her plight as something belonging to women of the distant past, of having to marry the first man who asks because that's what women do. Without going into too much detail, I can illustrate why many women have continued to do this in the not so distant past, how some men and women will marry because they think it is what should be done as all their friends are married and they feel left behind. These are often the marriages that end in divorce when the kids are gone. These men, and more so the women, have more choices than did Mrs Mallard, but they went into marriage with fundamentally the same reason, because it's something that should be done. Be sure to address each of the readings and to illustrate each with specific examples from the reading, as well as from the world today, followed by some explanation, discussion of the value you see in the ambiguity.

Having posted your thoughts, respond to at least two other journals and one response to your journal, for a minimum of three responses. Due date for the journal is midnight Sunday. Responses are due by midnight Tuesday.

Marilynn Robinson (of Housekeeping) on Edgar Allan Poe

An interesting confluence that just happens to tie into our readings.

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2015/feb/05/edgar-allan-poe/

Prelimiary Book Clubs

So far, everyone has their first choice. Except for Housekeeping (a surprise to me as the front runner, but clearly, what do I Housekeeping is closed unless one of those in the group is willing to trade.

Monkey Northanger Abbey Housekeeping
Joshua
Mikhael
Zach
Rachel
Daniel
Michelle
Marissa
Andi
Vivian
Victoria
Alyssa
Richard
Skylar
Lacey
Ruth
Quincey
Jessica

Journal One: On Ambiguity

In class this week, I mentioned at least once, and probably more than that, that when it comes to reading, enjoying and appreciating literature, it's important to embrace ambiguity. To that end, this week's journal is asking that you examine what you find to be ambiguous in each of the three readings and why you think that ambiguity adds to the literary/reading experience. Be sure to address each of the readings and to illustrate each with specific examples from the reading, followed by some explanation, discussion of the value you see in the ambiguity.

Having posted your thoughts, respond to at least two other journals and one response to your journal, for a minimum of three responses. Due date for the journal is midnight Sunday. Responses are due by midnight Tuesday.

Final Study Guide

Attached, in two formats: rich text and .pdf!

Journal Nine: Wrap it Up!

I hope you all enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday. Here is the final journal for the class.

I believe in American Exceptionalism. This can mean just about anything someone wants it to mean. For me, it's about our initial national motto: E Pluribus Unum, which translates from the Latin to "Out of many, one." Similarly, I believe in Jefferson's "all men are created equal," and the meaning of "men" back then to mean everyone, man or woman or anything in between or beyond, of any and every color. Never mind that it didn't pan out that way then, or yet. Similarly, I believe in the poet Emma Lazarus' words at the base of the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, /The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: /I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” You, of course, may, and probably should, see things differently, if only because you are not me.

For your ninth and final journal, write about the way in which you see American Exceptionalism in our readings from the last 10 weeks. Do what you can to find a thread that runs through the readings from the early explorers/colonizers/conquerors up until the days before the Civil War. Illustrate your discussion with specific passages from the readings and explanation making clear how they fit with your views on American Exceptionalism.

as always, having posted your thoughts, respond to at least two other journals and one response to your journal, for a minimum of three responses. Due date for the journal is midnight Sunday. Responses are due by midnight Tuesday.

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