Thursday, May 29, 2014

Reading Period 37: May 28 - June 3: W.B. Yeats and T.S. Eliot

READING:

Textbook pages 928-938. ("The Song of Wandering Aengus" "When You Are Old" "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death" "Easter 1916" "The Second Coming" and "Sailing to Byzantium")
Textbook pages 949-954. ("Preludes" and "The Hollow Men")
"Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock" by Eliot (available online)
"The Stolen Child" by Yeats (available online)

ASSIGNMENTS:

Art Connection:

Take a listen to these two versions of Yeats' poem "The Stolen Child," set to music by Loreena McKinnett and The Waterboys:




The Waterboys have done a whole album of Yeats poems, here's a list of them.

Now watch this short interview with Mike Scott of The Waterboys, about setting Yeats to music:




Now try your own hand at setting a Yeats poem to your own tune. You can choose any poem you like, but to keep it simple for a start, why don't you give "When You Are Old" a crack?

OR

Create a comic version of "The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock."

History Connection:

Yeats' goal in writing poems was to bolster the Irish identity and create a heroic ideal that Irish people could identify as their own. He was a senator in the short-lived "Irish Free State," which was formed by treaty after the Irish War of Independence. Do some research on this treaty and on the civil war that preceded it, and answer the following question in a 250 word essay. What was the Easter Rising in 1916? Keep in mind that in April 1916, Britain was also fighting in World War I. Here's a very pro-Irish site to read, here's an analysis of the Easter Rising from the BBC, with witness accounts and visuals. There's also the poem, "Easter 1916," in your textbook.

Writing Connection:

Read "The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock" and then read as much of the Shmoop analysis of this poem as you need to help you get a sense of what it's about. Prufrock is paralyzed by his modern world, afraid to act, afraid to be judged, afraid of all of the "women that come and go." Write your own poem back to Prufrock, kicking him in the rear and challenging him to act, speak, be a part of life, and get over his modernist fears of the 20th century. You could choose to write to Prufrock in the voice of one of the women he mentions, who talk of Michelangelo, or you can write to him as a voice from the future. Your poem should be in the style of T.S. Eliot -- that is, it doesn't have to rhyme or follow any particular form.

QUIZ:

1. What was the name of Yeats' first book of poetry?
2. What was the purpose behind Yeats' writing?
3. How might an Irish airman, as portrayed in the poem on page 930, have felt differently about going to his death than an English airman, fighting against Germany in the same war?
4. What happened to the leaders of the rebellion portrayed in "Easter 1916"?
5. What is meant by the phrase "The falcon cannot hear the falconer" in the poem "The Second Coming"? How does that line relate to the next: "Things fall apart; the center cannot hold."
6. What does the speaker want from the sages in stanza III of "Sailing to Byzantium," and how does it relate to the phrase in stanza II "An aged man is but a paltry thing,/A tattered coat upon a stick, unless/Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing"?
7. Where was T.S. Eliot born and why is he in our textbook of British Literature?
8. What famous poem of T.S. Eliot's expressed the fragmentation of society that England experienced in the early 20th century?
9. Reading the works of what Italian poet lead Eliot closer to the Catholic faith?
10. The literary device "synecdoche" means using a part of something to stand for a whole thing. How does Eliot use this device in Prelude II?
11. What literary allusion comes in the epigraph to "The Hollow Men"?
12. Eliot compares the despairing modern "hollow men" to real men like Kurtz and Guy Fawkes. But those men had awful deaths. Why would modern readers want to be more like them and less like those under the sway of the "Shadow"?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Reading Period 36: May 21-27: George Orwell

READING:

Animal Farm chapters 3-4.
1984 chapter 1.

If you've finished reading Animal Farm, just move right on to 1984 and read as much as you like. It's available for free online here as a nicely formatted PDF. If you want the actual book, I tried this combined volume of the two novels with an intro from Christopher Hitchens and it's a nice hardback. Even if you haven't finished reading Animal Farm, I at least want you to read the first chapter of 1984.

ASSIGNMENTS:
Choose 2.

Art Connection:

1948, the year the novel 1984 was published, was also an Olympic year. At the 1948 Olympics, there were medals awarded for arts as well as sports in competition categories such as architecture, graphic design, and sculpture. Take a look at this page documenting this now-defunct competition, and do a bit more research via Wikipedia and other internet sources. Then write 250 words answering any or all of the following questions: Did the topic or subject matter of these artistic works have to be sports-related? Why was no gold medal awarded in so many events in 1948? Were any of the winning works recognized as artistically valuable outside the Olympic games? Why was the artistic competition removed from the Olympics? Should there be a country vs. country competition in the arts?

History Connection:

The events in the animals' rebellion in Animal Farm are meant to connect to the real life events of the Russian Revolution. Take a look at this comparative timeline and do a bit of research into the main players: Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin. Then write your own short essay comparing the characters in Animal Farm to these historical figures, and focus on this question: Do you think Orwell means to suggest that the animals should have never rebelled? Should they have stayed in servitude to Farmer Jones? Was the revolution worth it? And what does this say about his opinion of the Russian Revolution? Do you think Orwell would have said the Russians were better off under Czar Nicholas? Here's another video to help you:



Writing Connection: 

You have just received word that all electronic screens, in addition to providing information, playing audio, and displaying pictures, have also been collecting information, recording audio, and taking pictures. Every time you have been near a screen, you have been watched and your words and interactions have been monitored. Write a 250 word message to your fellow citizens revealing this fact, calling them to action or giving advice as to what to do next. How will you distribute your message? How will you break your friends and family free from their connection to the screens that we all use every day?

QUIZ:

From chapter 1, 1984:

1. What is the function of the telescreen?
2. Where does Winston work?
3. Which do you think is the most damaging of the three slogans of the party?
4. How is the Ministry of Truth different from its surroundings in London?
5. What expression were you supposed to wear when you faced the telescreen?
6. Why is nothing any longer illegal?
7. What does Winston write about when he first begins his diary?
8. Who is the regular target of the Two Minutes of Hate, and what characters does this remind you of in Animal Farm?
9. Why does Winston find himself hating the girl sitting behind him?
10. Why is Winston so worried about what he has written in his diary?

What a cliff-hanger, eh? I dare you not to read chapter 2. :)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Reading Period 35: May 14-20: Samuel Beckett

READING:

Waiting for Godot (Read online here: Act I and Act II)
Fizzle 1 and the biographical notes on Beckett in your textbook (p 898-902)
Animal Farm Chapters 1 and 2 (by George Orwell)


ASSIGNMENTS:
Choose two assignments this week!

Art Connection:

Create an illustration for the short story "Fizzle 1." Convey the theme and the idea of the story by adding words into your illustration, working them into the art. Choose words or phrases from the story itself that reflect the feeling you get from reading.

History Connection:

Beckett's plays are perhaps the most famous examples of minimalism in all of drama. The word minimalism can mean several different things, however. Search for information on "literary minimalism" and "lifestyle minimalism" and write a short essay disambiguating these two ideas. This means you'll need to define each one and say how they are different from each other.

Writing Connection:

Take a look at these still shots from various stagings of Beckett's play "Happy Days." Based only on the title and these photos, write a 250 word synopsis of the play as you imagine it. Who are the characters? What is the theme? What is the action? The resolution?

QUIZ:

On chapters 1 and 2 of Animal Farm.

1. What is the first thing we find out about Farmer Jones?
2. What is special about Benjamin the donkey?
3. What friendly term does Major the boar use to address the other animals?
4. Which animals were the cleverest?
5. How does Orwell characterize Napoleon and Snowball?
6. What kinds of things is Molly the mare worried about?
7. What does the story of "Sugar Candy Mountain" remind you of?
8. What situation pushes the animals to launch the rebellion?
9. What is the most important rule in Animalism?
10. What do you think happened to the milk?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Reading Period 34: May 7-13: D.H. Lawrence

Hey kid, listen to this!
READING:

"Rocking Horse Winner" in your textbook.
Illustrated timeline of D.H. Lawrence
The Rainbow Chapter 8, "The Child"
The Rainbow Chapter 9, "The Marsh and the Flood."

If you like Lawrence, the other famous short story he wrote that you frequently see popping up in anthologies is called "The Odour of Chrysanthemums." But it's not assigned.

ASSIGNMENTS:

Choose ONE from the following:

Art Connection:

Make a doll out of a table leg, like Brangwen does in The Rainbow. No, just kidding!! Create a graphic novel style portrayal of the drowning scene in chapter 9 of The Rainbow. Your project should have at least ten cells, and should show Tom Brangwen coming home from Nottingham, the drowning, and the search. Use the dialogue from the book in your speech bubbles when you can. Use a ruler to divide your paper into cells.

History Connection:

Read this direct evidence that the Mines Commission collected in 1842 from people who worked in the mines. Then read D.H. Lawrence's essay on mining in Nottingham, based on his childhood memories. What strikes you as you compare and contrast these two essays? Was D.H. Lawrence just romanticizing the life of the miner? (A miner is a "collier.") Or is it that we see things differently, looking back from our modern time, when labor unions and government oversight have become commonplace? Write 250 words discussing the difference between the vision of the mines in the commission and the vision D.H. Lawrence gives us of a miner's life.

Futurist writer or Mumford & Sons bass player?
Writing Connection:

Look at E.M. Forster's essay, "What I Believe." Then read only the foreward to D.H. Lawrence's work of non-fiction, Fantasia of the Unconscious. Now write your own manifesto in the style of "What I Believe." You could choose to respond to something controversial, disturbing, or satisfying in either Forster's or Lawrence's ideas, or take off on your own tangent.

QUIZ:

No quiz this week. Read as many "First Chapter Challenge" chapters as you can and fill in the form. The winner of this challenge will be rewarded on Tuesday. Also please take the extra time to develop your assignment of choice.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Reading Period 33: April 30 - May 6: James Joyce and Virginia Woolf

READING:

1. Textbook: 837-850. (Virginia Woolf bio, Excerpt from "A Room of One's Own," James Joyce bio, "Araby," Excerpt from "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.")
2. Take a look at this annotated e-version of Finnegan's Wake, and read as much as you can bear to read. At least two pages.
3. Read Virginia Woolf's suicide note on Wikisource.
4. Take a look at Ulysses online. Using your browser's "Find" function, find the phrase "He went out through the backdoor into the garden." Read from this point to where the bells toll. Then read the last huge paragraph.

ASSIGNMENTS:

Art Connection:

Create a floor plan for a house to suit a family of artists, writers, musicians and poets. Give each fictional member of your family their own creative space, and access to common areas. Would the ideal house for artists have separate buildings for everyone? Or is a separate room enough? Name each family member and depict them using the space you define for them in your sketch.

History Connection:

Using this article from the American Library Association as a jumping off place, learn more about banned books. James Joyce's Ulysses has been widely banned in America and the UK. Given what you know about banned books, and relating your points to the sections of the novel that you read for this week, create a balanced short essay giving the pros and cons of banning this particular novel.

Writing Connection:

Write your own nonsense stream-of-consciousness in the style of Joyce's Finnegan's Wake. Have fun with it, and see if you can turn out 250 words that makes sense to you, read as a whole, even if certain words sound completely bonkers.

QUIZ:

1. What advantages enjoyed by Shakespeare would have been denied to his sister, if he had had one?
2. Why does Woolf agree with the bishop that no woman in Shakespeare's day could have had his genius?
3. According to Woolf, how did the repressed genius of women show itself?
4. What does Woolf believe would have happened to a highly gifted girl in Shakespeare's time?
5. Why is Mangan's sister unable to go to the bazaar?
6. Why is it important for the narrator to go to the bazaar?
7. Why is he delayed?
8. What does he find when he arrives at the bazaar?
9. What happens in the section of Ulysses that begins with "He went out through the back door into the garden"?
10. What happens in the last paragraph of Ulysses?
BONUS: Give 10 examples of made-up words from Finnegan's Wake and guess what meaning Joyce might have intended.
BONUS +1: Using your Google Fu, figure out what person Virginia Woolf was addressing in her suicide note, and the circumstances of her death.