December 8, 2007

Topic for discussion: Reading over break

Are any of you planning to read for pleasure over winter break? If so, what?

As usual, the stack of books I have by my bed is much too ambitious for the limited amount of time I have. Here are a couple of books that have been recommended to me this past semester; I'm hoping to get to them when not researching for my thesis.

Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin. An Irish burglar breaks into a mansion on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and finds a young girl who is dying of consumption.

The Brief History of the Dead
by Kevin Brockmeier. I've been meaning to read this one for quite a while. The premise is that after you die, you live in a City populated by other souls. You only exist there as long as someone still alive on Earth remembers you. And now people are disappearing from the City at an alarming rate...

I'm also hoping to finish Confederates in the Attic, a nonfiction book by Tony Horwitz. The author goes on a personal journey through the South to try and determine why the Civil War is still so important to people today.

Another book I'm hoping to finish is A Moveable Feast by Hemingway.

Apart from that, it's going to be All Beatles All The Time as I research for my thesis.

Anyone else? If you're looking for recommendations, maybe we can help each other out.

December 5, 2007

Reading Response #12

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This the final reading response assignment, which you should email to me by the end of the day on Wed., 12/12/07.

December 4, 2007

Tragedy, as per Aristotle

In the course of our Friday discussion on the definition of the tragic hero, the subject of the true literary/dramatic definition of "tragedy" came up. Tragedy has a very specific definition in this context and (as one theatre professor of mine was fond of ranting), the term is constantly being over- and mis-used on the evening news.

In case anyone's interested and has some time to spare, here's a site that outlines all the elements of a dramatic tragedy as defined by Aristotle:

http://www.cnr.edu/home/bmcmanus/poetics.html

Topic for discussion: Waiting for the Barbarians

Why do you think none of the characters in this book (with the exception of Colonel Joll and Mandel) have names?

For fun! (And for discussion, if you wish.)

"The Calculus of Modernism" Midterm Exam:

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This is courtesy of my fellow TA, Sara, who is taking a calculus class for fun. It made me laugh, even if I didn't understand all the formulas.

Enjoy, and by all means tackle it if you want to!

(ETA: Ack! Apparently the formulas don't show up when opening it through this link. I'll try to make copies and bring them to class this week.)

November 29, 2007

Still more LotF

Can you tell I love talking about this book?

Imagine you're on the island. Who would you have been more likely to follow, Jack or Ralph? Or someone else?

More LotF

Which character did you find most interesting or compelling, and why?

I liked Simon, myself. I thought he was just fascinating.

Topic for discussion: Lord of the Flies

I love this book. It can be read on so many levels, from a captivating and compelling adventure, to a psychological study of human nature, to an allegory of all the elements of civilization.

I like to think of the fire as a symbol for education, creative pursuits, even--if you want to go that route--spirituality. In the case of education, it's an activity that you engage in for the long-term benefits of it. You don't always see the payoff immediately, but it has value.

I can also see it as representing the arts in civilization, in that arts funding is typically the first thing to be sacrificed to budgetary cutbacks. Art or creativity may not put food on the table or money in people's pockets--which would be Jack's argument (i.e. that hunting is more necessary for survival than keeping the fire lit)--but what would life be without it? Creative pursuits set us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom, and how can civilization be salvaged without them? In the same way, humans are unique in building fires, and without the smoke, there is no hope for the rescue of the boys in the book.

Finally, if you want to look at it from a religious (specifically Christian) perspective, keeping the fire lit at the expense of hunting could be a metaphor for rejecting worldly or carnal activities to lead a holy life, which will pay off in being "saved" at the end of your earthly experience. Think about it: sending up smoke to signal ships that may or may not be there could be compared with prayer. The irony is that Jack is the one who was a choirboy, but he is the one who views keeping the fire lit as a waste of time.

What do you think? How did you view some of the symbols in the book?

Reading Response #11

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November 24, 2007

Reading Response #10

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Due Friday, Nov. 30.

November 19, 2007

Reading Response #9--corrected

For some reason, UThink has the wrong file associated with the name RR9, and keeps opening RR8. I've re-uploaded the correct file repeatedly and it's not working.

Therefore, I'll include the assignment in the body of this post, instead of as a downloadable file.

READING RESPONSE PAPER #9

(week of 11/12-11/16)

The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa

***We are not meeting next week due to the Thanksgiving Holiday; therefore, please E-MAIL THIS PAPER TO ME by the time of our usual section meeting (i.e. Wednesday the 21st at 11:15 or Friday the 23rd at 11:15).***

My e-mail address is vande629@umn.edu


Choose one of the following options and write 1-2 typed, double-spaced pages.

1. Reread Chapter 7, “Death of a Prince,? especially pages 288-91. Now speculate about the “future you? at 73, the age Fabrizio is as he lies dying. Write your own version of this chapter, reflecting on your life and the changes you have seen in yourself and in the world around you.

OR

2. Compare and contrast The Leopard with one of the other books or short stories we’ve read this semester.


November 13, 2007

Topic for discussion: Week 10

In what ways do you think The Leopard is similar to To the Lighthouse? In what ways is it different?

Extra credit opportunity

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I have decided to offer an opportunity to earn some extra credit if you’re worried about your attendance and/or class participation.

Anyone who is interested may give a presentation (solo or group) in discussion section the last full week of classes. (12/5 for Wed. and 12/7 for Fri.)

You can perform a skit, give an informative presentation, have a debate, design an exercise for the class, or lead a discussion. This can be on any of the books we’ve read this semester, with the exception of To the Lighthouse.

In exchange, I will drop one of your unexcused absences OR raise your participation grade for the semester, your choice.

Please notify me by e-mail NO LATER THAN Wed. 11/28 if you want to take advantage of this opportunity, for scheduling purposes.

November 8, 2007

Presentation paper guidelines

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November 7, 2007

Reading Response #8

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Due this week in class. I apologize for not getting it up here over the weekend.