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February 23, 2009

Week 6: Dubliners

Hey, I realize we've been looking at Dubliners for a while now, so I'll give you some options:

1) Look at the last story of Dubliners, "The Dead," and try and look in detail at the theme of past and memory. If you need some direction, the speech that Gabriel gives at the dinner party is full of big ideas to explore.

2) Now might be a good time to write an entry outside of the book. For example, Joyce has said that he's trying to make a portrait of Dublin as he knew it in this book: how does the way he presents the city help to show us the history and culture of the time? How is this similar/different to the way we learn in a history course? Which is more interesting/accurate?

3) As always, any other subject is fair game.

February 9, 2009

Week 4: The Beggar Maid

The Beggar Maid

1. Unlike the last two books, The Beggar Maid can be considered a collection of connected short stories. Does this change the way you read the book? Do you think this style is more or less effective than the continuous narratives found in The Road and Waiting for the Barbarians?

2. We’re seeing a lot of big subjects in these stories, including beating a man to death, multiple cases of rape, incest, and other violent acts. With that said, it seems as if this violence isn’t the point of the book. Why do you think Munro includes this type of material in her stories? Do you think it’s an effective technique?

3. This book seems really interested in place. By that, I mean that the town itself seems like a strong, changing character as we proceed through the book. If you want, build off this idea: what do we learn from the town as a character, how do you see it changing throughout the stories?

4. What do you make of the later stories of the book? In particular, how does adult Rose connect to childhood Rose? Why is such emphasis put on the conflict between people who study history and artists/musicians/actors? Do you think the last story effectively wraps up the book?

5. Other thoughts, questions, things you’d like to address in class?

February 1, 2009

Week 3: Waiting for the Barbarians

Please write a brief response to the ending of this book(150-200 words). Below are a few sample questions to get you started:

1. What are your thoughts on the magistrate at the end of the book? Do you see him as more sympathetic? Did he learn anything at all from these experiences? Did you see him deserving the things that happened to him?

2. The inside cover of the book calls it “a startling allegory of the war between oppressor and oppressed.? If we’re defining allegory as an extended metaphor (an image that draws a parallel with something in reality), what do you think this novel is meant to represent?

3. Did you see any similarities between this book and The Road? Surely, we can see both of them as forms of the cautionary tale, but how are they both able to achieve this in different ways?

4. Other thoughts, questions you’d like to address in class?