Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Reading Period 1: July 31-Aug 6: Kilhwch and Olwen


This week we're reading KILHWCH AND OLWEN from The Mabinogion, a collection of Old Welsh tales. This is sort of a "practice round" to get ourselves up to speed on the way the class will work, how to do assignments, and all the different working pieces of our virtual classroom. 

The structure and language of the story can seem pretty foreign and strange to a modern audience. My question to kick off our discussion is this: What did you find most odd about Kilhwch and Olwen, and what elements did you see in the story that you felt were recognizable and familiar from a modern perspective? Answer the question by commenting on this post on the Google+ Community. If you agree with a previous commenter, you can +1 their comment.

I'll be posting each day with a little discussion prompt, a link to follow, a picture to ponder, or some other tidbit to keep us engaged. Make sure to check the Google+ Community and participate each weekday. 


Choose one:

ART CONNECTION: Create an illustration of the king who was a boar, or the hunt for Twrch Trwyth. Take a picture of it or scan it (or create it digitally) and post it to this community, using the tag "Student Assignments" or email it to me. 

HISTORY CONNECTION: Go to this link and listen to the audio passage in Old Welsh. Study the transcription and list three words that you can find a connection, phonetic or spelling, between the Old Welsh and the English. Create a video of yourself reading one of the stanzas in Old Welsh. Post it to this community, using the tag "Student Assignments" or email it to me. 

WRITING CONNECTION: Develop a monster profile for Twrch Trwyth if he appeared in an RPG. What special attacks would he have and how would be be described by a DM? Post it to this community, using the tag "Student Assignments" or email it to me. 

Assignments are due next Tuesday, August 6.


This quiz will be very easy! As I said, this is a practice week, so we can all get used to the format of the class. Read this entry on the Red Book of Hergest and then take the quiz on QuizStar. You can always use your materials to help you take your quiz, as long as you're taking the quiz yourself. It's "open book" as we used to say in school. There is a post on the Google+ Community explaining how to log in to QuizStar, so look for that. If you have trouble with your login credentials, let me know. 

1.What is the Red Book of Hergest?   

A. A physical object made of vellum and leather.
B. A collection of stories from Welsh lore.
C. A list of the medieval kings of Wales .
D. An herbalist's guide to curing mild ailments.

2. How do you say Red Book of Hergest in Welsh?   
A. Mabinogion
B. Llyfr Coch Hergest
C. Hergest Hywel Fychan
D. Rhiwallon Hergest Feddy

3. Who wrote the Red Book of Hergest?   
A. It had many authors, one scribe.
B. It had many scribes, one author.
C. It had one author, one scribe.
D. It had one donkey, one glass of beet juice.

4. What is the Mabinogion?   
A. A physical object made of vellum and leather.
B. A collection of stories from Welsh lore.
C. A revered traveling wizard who recorded history.
D. A secret society of Welsh dentists.

5. Who is Lady Charlotte Guest?   
A. She was a scholar of ancient Welsh, who translated the Mabinogion into English in the 19th century.
B. She was a fierce opponent of the arts in Wales, and tried to have the Red Book of Hergest burned.
C. She was the actress who played Olwen in the first theatrical production of Culhwch ac Olwen.

6. Which statement is correct?   
A. The Mabinogion wrote the Red Book of Hergest.
B. The Red Book of Hergest is one volume of the Mabinogion.
C. The Mabinogion is where the Red Book of Hergest is kept.
D. The Mabinogion are a set of stories recorded in the Red Book of Hergest, as well as other places.

7. What color is the cover of the Red Book of Hergest?   
A. White
B. Brown
C. Red
D. Grey

8. When was manuscript of The Red Book of Hergest written?   
A. In Roman Britain.
B. In the dark ages.
C. Between 1066 and 1200.
D. Between about 1382 and 1410

9. When did the stories found in the Red Book of Hergest originate?   
A. They were written as the manuscript was being written, by the person writing down the words in the manuscript.
B. They were written around the time the manuscript was being written, as the scribe was writing down stories he heard.
C. They came down through folklore and oral history from as long ago as the iron age in pre-Christian Celtic culture.

10. Where is the Red Book of Hergest now kept?   
A. In The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University in Connecticut.
B. In the Special Collections Library at Stanford University in California.
C. In the Bodleian Library at Oxford University in England.
D. In your face.


Take a look at this list of longer works and begin deciding which two works you'd like to read in full, besides Pride and Prejudice and MacBeth. One of these will be the material for your presentation, so be sure to choose one that interests you. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Hello Parents!

We are less than three weeks from the start of class, and there are a few arrangements that we need to take care of before we begin.

1. Buy the textbook. We will be using Adventures in Literature, Pegasus Edition. There are many copies available used on Amazon at the link provided.

2. Sign your child up for Google+ and email me a link to the profile. When I have a link to a profile I can invite him or her to be a member of our Google+ Community for the class. Only students and I will be members of this community -- parents may look over shoulders or communicate with me via email.

3. Log your child in to QuizStar with his or her login and password as instructed in my email or on the Google+ Community.

4. Read through the pages of this blog at the links above and email me with any questions.

Class begins on July 31. Parents are my co-teachers. Each student will have an individual page with grades and record-keeping that only he or she and his or her parent and I can see. This should appear in your Google Drive -- please let me know if you cannot find it. If your student needs to miss a week because of travel, camp, illness, or just a particularly busy week, he or she will get an automatic A on the weekly assignments for that reading period. The parents will be the judge of when this is necessary, but I would advise giving no more than 4 during the 20 weeks of the semester. Let me know if there are extenuating circumstances and let me know in advance if possible when weeks will be missed.