Late Notice! No Class Tuesday, Nov 13

My apologies for being so late. I have a meeting at EWU that I thought was tomorrow, Wednesday. Take the time to read at least through Act III of Hamlet and/or to do some work on the poetry essay that is due this coming Friday.

Remember that on Thursday we will take class time to listen to poet Robert Wrigley. His reading will be held in room 110 of our classroom building.

Journal Six: Staging Oedipus

Your assignment for this week's journal is to describe how you would stage Oedipus for a contemporary audience. What would the time and place of setting be? How would you costume your characters? What might you cut or emphasize? Whatever your choices, explain both your rationale for them and some assurance that the tragedy of the play would not be diluted. As always, this is due by midnight Saturday and at least two responses are due by midnight this coming Tuesday. Additionally, at least one response to a response to you is expected.

Bradley out sick on Monday, Nov 5

I'll see you on Tuesday. Don't forget to bring your presentation grading sheets for your groups so I can assign grades for the midterm book club presentations.

Journal Five: Poetry as an Expression of the World

It has been said, though I can't remember who said it, that "literature is an expression of a political philosophy, a reflection of the ideal standard for society and government." Using the poetry that we have read, describe how you see this "ideal society" or this "ideal government," as expressed by our readings, changing over the course of our readings. Though you may not be aware, we started reading poetry from the early 17th century and concluded with poems from the middle to later stages of the 20th century. Based on those readings, how have things changed? How, perhaps, have they remained the same? Come up with at least one observation of change or the lack thereof and illustrate it with examples from each week of poetry. That means using three poems or poets to show how this expression of a political philosophy or the ideal standard for society and government has changed over the centuries and how we can see it expressed in one genre of art.

As always, post your journal by midnight Saturday. Respond by midnight Tuesday. Be sure to respond to at least two other journals and to at least one response to your journal. These are to be interactive responses. No "awesome!" responses. Engage your classmate(s) in a discussion of the issues, topics and concerns related to our readings.

Journal Four: Seeing the World

In lines 103-112 (see below) Wordsworth expresses an important Romantic conception: the mind not only receives sensations from outside world, but also half creates—through memory, imagination and perception—the scene before its eyes.

Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye and ear, both what they half-create,
And what perceive;
well pleased to recognize
In nature and the language of the sense,
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being.

For this week's journal take any two of the poems and describe how this process applies to your reading of the poem. For instance, you might be studying,or have studied, anatomy and physiology or biology in another class. If this is the case, how is your reading of Emily Dickinson's "The Brain" influenced by what you know, imagine or perceive about the brain? How is your view of the human organ that is the human brain changed by reading and pondering the poem? What about love/lust as seen in "Wild Nights"? Revolution and Poetry or the role of celebrity in "London, 1802"? And so on for any of the poems we have read. Even Tintern Abbey as a reflection of cherished spots in nature and the role of nature in our lives (or even the love of the city if that's the case).

As always, provide specific examples from the poems being examined to illustrate your views. These are due by Midnight Sunday. Respond to at least two other journals, and to one response to your journal, by Midnight this coming Tuesday.

Journal Three: What do these poems tell us?

New Historicism is an approach to literary analysis that asks readers to look into the time and place in which a text was produced/written to better understand that text while at the same time digging through the text to see what it can tell today's reader about the time in which the text (poems in this case) were produced/written. For this week's journal, I'd like you to look at two notions that come from New Historicism and describe how you see them at work in this weeks poems from Shakespeare, Ralegh (sometimes spelled Raleigh) and Marlowe.

  • First, understand (if only for the sake of this journal) that every expressive act is embedded in a network of material practices; loosely translated, the poems for this week result from the time and place, the politics, religion, social structure, economics and so on that were in existence in Elizabethan England.
  • Second, that no discourse (teacher talk for poems, essays, novels paintings or whatever), imaginative or archival, gives access to unchanging truths, nor expresses inalterable human nature. In short, there are no universal truths that remain unchanging and unchanging over time and space.

As with previous journals, be sure to illustrate your discussion with particular passages from the poems being discussed. You do not need to include passages from ALL of the poems, but I would like to see some discussion of each of the three poets and their works. Journals should be posted by Midnight Sunday. Also as usual, be sure to respond to at least two other journals and to one response to your journal by Midnight Tuesday. Remember that we are looking for interactive responses (click on the "how to respond" link to your left if that doesn't make sense to you).

Journal Two: Looking for Systems

For your second journal, look at two stories from this week (and feel free to include the last two stories for Monday) and describe what sort of a system you see them fitting within. For instance, both O'Connor and Faulkner can be looked at within notions of the Southern Gothic, but also within the politics of Reconstruction and the "decline" of the South as an institution. Ellison and Baldwin could be looked at through the lens of racial or social class politics, and so on.

In doing so, your job is to explore the text and to probe for ideas. You do this by pointing to particular passages within the reading that illustrate the point you are developing, providing enough of this passage so the reader of your journal need not look it up. Describe the passage in your own words, and then explain why you think it is important, why it matters, within the context of the point you are developing. This is the format for each journal.

Journals must be posted by midnight Sunday. Responses, of which there should be two that touch on stories you did not write about and one that is a response to a response to your journal, are due by midnight the following Tuesday.

Your brain on literature (and then some)

In Mental Exercise, Variety Matters

In my (Alan Jacobs) book The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, I argue that scholars like N. Katherine Hayles, who distinguish between hyper and deep attention, are making things too simple. Instead, there are, I believe, at least two kinds of deep attention: the kind that we seek to have when we're reading to master information, and the kind that we have (often without really seeking it) when we are totally caught up in a story, "lost in a book."

Some recent research conducted at Stanford seems to confirm this argument:

In an innovative interdisciplinary study, neurobiological experts, radiologists and humanities scholars are working together to explore the relationship between reading, attention and distraction -- by reading Jane Austen. Read More

Sherman Alexie interview on NPR's Morning Edition.

A Poem that seems to follow from "The Hunger Artist"

The Panther
In the Jardin des Plantes, Paris

His vision, from the constantly passing bars,
has grown so weary that it cannot hold
anything else. It seems to him there are
a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.

As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
the movement of his powerful soft strides
is like a ritual dance around a center
in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.

Only at times, the curtain of the pupils
lifts, quietly--. An image enters in,
rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
plunges into the heart and is gone.

Der Panther
Im Jardin des Plantes, Paris

Sein Blick ist von Vorübergehen der Stäbe
so müd geworden, daß er nichts mehr hält.
Ihm ist, als ob es tausend Stäbe gäbe
und hinter tausend Stäben keine Welt.

Der weiche Gang geschmeidig starker Schritte,
der sich im allerkleinsten Kreise dreht,
ist wie ein Tanz von Kraft um eine Mitte,
in der betäubt ein großer Wille steht.

Nur manchmal schiebt der Vorhang der Pupille
sich lautlos auf—. Dann geht ein Bild hinein,
geht durch der Glieder angespannte Stille—
und hört im Herzen auf zu sein.

Book Clubs

Colors of the Mountain The Woman Who Walked into Doors Pride and Prejudice Saints at the River
Brandon S
Brandon C
Brandon W
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