Main | October 2008 »

September 29, 2008

Joe Reutiman

The Passing of Grandison

In the story we see Dick Owens attempt to free one of his father's slaves for the purpose of impressing a woman. What is the significance of the fact that he is attempting to woo a woman named "Charity?" How does his motivation compare to that of 19th-century Abolitionists in general? Were Abolitionists driven solely by the belief that the inherent rights of all men should be upheld or did other factors play a more prominent role in shaping their motivation?

Linh Nguyen

The Goophered Grapevine

What is the significant of the metaphor that Henry embodies? The passing of the seasons correlating to the seasons of life, does this give us insight into the worth of a slave? The story paints the image of a slave in winter as one wasting his/her life away for the pre-Civil war south, how does the post-Civil war north address this question/problem The second to last paragraph states that the vineyard is “a striking illustration of the opportunities open to Northern capital in the development of the Southern industries,� where does the story stands on this point of view?

John Pollack

In The Wife of His Youth Mr. Ryder is confronted with multiple issues regarding his personal identity. As a man of “mixed blood� he is caught between the white world and the colored world and must try to find his place among the two. Along the same lines, he also struggles to determine his social place in the world. Ultimately, he debates whether his past defines who he will be for the rest of his life or whether he is free to walk away from his past in an effort to carve out a new place and a new future for himself. These are just three of the many questions of identity the story raises. What role does the search for the self play in this story and how could it relate to other stories from this class? What could Chesnutt be trying to communicate about identity (in all forms) through this story?

September 25, 2008

Tony Morimoto

Throughout the novel, we are presented with a protagonist that behaves standoffish. She ignores her husband, she ignores Robert, and she ignores Arobin. Why do we feel this way? Is Edna presented to us in the same fashion Meursault is in Camus’ The Stranger; where the protagonist expresses no positive emotion and we are forced to care about all of the supporting characters? Or, should we care about Edna because the narrator’s perspective is not imitating Edna’s thoughts or feelings (from the 3rd person), but rather it is coming from another the view (of someone whom she has wronged)?

September 24, 2008

American Literary Realism

Notes Week 4: American Literary Realism

Course Schedule

You will find the schedule for the course here.

September 23, 2008

Carley Miller

How can Edna's "awakening" be quantified- ie, what is her awakening? ALSO, what is the significance of the sea in relation to Edna's "awakening" and what implications does it have thematically?

Paper #1

You will find the assignment sheet for Paper #1 here.

Reading Journal #2

Reading Journal #2: Due Tuesday, 9/30
1-2 pages, typed, double-spaced

Why is death the only option available to the heroine of The Awakening? Bear in mind that she had already effected a separation from her husband and resolved to live life on her own terms. Why was life on her own terms ultimately impossible for her?

September 22, 2008

Alex Michaelson

Moving off Cara's question of the narrator's indefinite confinement, how does the narrator cope with the daily suppression of her own imagination? What role, if any, does her bedroom, more especially the yellow wallpaper, play? What relationship does the narrator have with the woman/women she sees creeping around both behind the wallpaper and outside?

Cara McDonald

The theme of illness is key throughout the text. What kind of illness does the narrator believe herself to have? Why is it important her physician husband, and her physician brother, think she only has “a temporary nervous depression -- a slight hysterical tendency�? What is to be made of the supposed cure, confinement in the bedroom?

More so, how does the yellow wallpaper relate to this theme?

September 18, 2008

The Yellow Wallpaper

The full-text of Charlotte Perkins Gilmore's "The Yellow Wallpaper" is available here.

September 17, 2008

Robert Kipp

"Song of Myself" is assembled in 52 sections, each of which seems as if it could pass as a poem in its own right. What is Whitman's purpose in organizing the work as he has? Does the reader experience some cumulative effect upon finishing? In other words, how does the poem's form contribute to its function? Also in respect to form, how do the mechanics of Whitman's poetry, particularly in respect to line length, differ from other poetry you may have read?

September 16, 2008

Joanna Hubbard

Throughout the poem, Whitman shows his admiration and deep love for all of nature - of the earth and of man - by loving everything with an equal passion. He loves what most recognize as "good" and "bad" equally, thus almost giving a slight wash of indifference or detachment due to this lack of favor. This lack of favor is made provacative when he mingles it with his passion for all life. With this provacative juxtapostion, what is Whitman saying about man's ability or call to love; especially when the only thing he seems to denounce is a pure faith in a holy morality? What is deemed the more in tuned or natural way to love, and what seems to be the consequences?

Amber Johnson

In the sixth section of the poem the child asks the narrator "What is the grass?" It is then up to the narrator to give his own interpretation of the grass. What makes the grass significan in symbolizing democracy in the United States?

Fredericka Kampmeier

Whitman seems to feel that he is, always has been, and always will be part of every person and thing in the universe, and that he is just as good and not any better than anyone else. That every person seems to be a product of the environment in which he was placed and is part of that world. And that everything and everyone is basically good and deserving of the respect of everyone else. Why does he seem to believe this, and what does this say about American identity?

September 15, 2008

Alex Dorman

1)How does the setting in each scene reflect some of the themes found throughout the text? (Wall Street, the "view" from the office, the gloomy Tombs, etc). Also, 'Bartleby' is often entitled 'Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street'. Outside of the fact that it is set there, what makes Bartleby a 'story of Wall Street'?

2) Bartleby is described as 'pallidly neat', and having a 'cadaverously gentlemanly nonchalance'. How do the deathly descriptions of Bartleby influence our impression of him? Do you think he would have been described thus before he worked at the dead letter office?

Mariah Helgeson

How does Bartleby's ability to be both productive and unproductive challenge the Enlightenment ideals of industry and productivity? What is the significance of Melville's description of Bartleby as a "ghost," an "intolerable incubus" and an "apparition"? How does the narrator reconcile his "conviction that the easiest way of life is the best" with Bartleby's passivity? Does Bartleby's inability to participate fully in industrial society ultimately change the narrator and subsequently, the Capitalist society?

September 9, 2008

Full Text of "Bartleby"

"Bartleby, The Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street"

Reading Journal #1

Reading Journal #1: Due Tuesday, 9/16
1-2 pages, typed, double-spaced

Why is the Puritan community of The Scarlet Letter so concerned with the problem of adultery? What is the nature of the threat that Hester poses to community values, and how does the community attempt to contain that threat?

Citizen Hester

For Thursday (9/11) read Brook Thomas's "Citizen Hester: The Scarlet Letter as Civic Myth." The article can be found in American Literary History, Volume 13, Number 2, Summer 2001 (181-211). You can access this article through Project Muse, available through the library's website.

Reinterpreting The Text

Sacvan Bercovitch's "The Scarlet Letter: A Twice Told Tale" makes use of the differences between the novel and the film version of The Scarlet Letter in order to challenge prevailing interpretations of the novel, particularly with respect to the novel's presentation of the Puritan community.

Jessica Carlson

What is the significance of the forest?

Why does Hester decide to return and put the scarlet letter back on?

Has the meaning of the scarlet letter changed for Hester?

September 8, 2008

Josh Capodarco

From the very beginning of the novel, Hawthorne seems to ask the question: How do we look at beauty? The first chapter presents the reader with the juxtaposed images of a rose-bush and a prison. Hawthorne sets the seen with a jail that possessed a "beetle-browed and gloomy front." Even further, Hawthorne suggest a relationship between the aesthetic quality of the prison and its nature: "like all that pertains to crime, it seemed never to have known a youthful era." Juxtaposed in front of this image is a rose-bush "which might be imagined to offer their fragrance and fragile beauty to the prisoner as he went in."
The rest of the novel is rich in these juxtapositions. These juxtapositions appear to beg the question: What does beauty mean in the novel? Are there intrinsic qualities to beauty, namely, qualities that betray moral qualities, or is beauty merely a shade over the moral qualities? Also, how does the society view beauty? Does beauty always suggest purity? Does the novel suggest a dichotomy between beauty and ugliness? Finally, how do these aesthetic descriptors change the identity of each character?

Danny Clark Jr.


Why does Hester Prynne lay her infant child on her bosom? Why does she lay the Scarlet Letter on

her breast? What is the primary reason for her actions? What is the importance? What is the signifance?

Do her actions make her feel well? Do they make her cope with how she is judged and treated by the

Puritan community?

September 4, 2008

Discussion Question Schedule

Discussion Question Schedule

September 3, 2008

American Renaissance & Romanticism

Lecture Notes Week 1: American Renaissance & Romanticism

September 2, 2008

MLA Citation Format

Below are some good links concerning MLA citation format. Definitely give these a look if you're unfamiliar with the rules for MLA citation and style.

The Owl at Purdue
Diana Hacker's Humanities Page
MLA Style Manual FAQs
U of MN Library Tutorial

September 1, 2008

3006W Syllabus

You will find the syllabus for the course here.