Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Reading Period 1: Aug 27 - Sep 2: Plymouth and Puritans


I'm so happy you will be studying American Literature with me this year. It's my favorite kind of literature, I think because it is mine -- and your too, of course, and all of ours, here in the USA. American fiction, poetry, and drama -- this is the art that defines who we are as a country, who we have been and who we hope to become. Learning about the literature of your own country is one of the most important things you can do as a student, so let's get to it.

Please take a moment to read the Overview page, and reflect on all that information until you understand it. If you have questions, please ask on the Google+ Community and I'll be happy to answer, or you can send me an email.

Here are your assignments for this week:


The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, chapters 1-5. Note: You DO NOT need to read Hawthorne's long introduction, The Custom-House, unless you really really want to. And then still, don't.


Almanack for 1647 by Samuel Danforth.

"Of Plymouth Plantation" by William Bradford, AIAL p 23-31


After reading at least one year's worth of Danforth's almanac, write a series of short poems for the twelve months of the year, starting in March and ending in February as Danforth did. Each poem should have at least six lines.


Create a "graphic novel" version of at least two specific episodes mentioned in the section "The Starving Time" from "Of Plymouth Plantation."

Post your assignment to the Google+ Community using the category "Creative Assignments."


I would like to know more about the Indian named "Squanto," mentioned in "Of Plymouth Plantation." If I were going to research this person online, suggest three possible links that I might find useful. Post your suggestions to the Google+ Community using the category "Google Fu."


This year we will be practicing taking notes on all types of different materials, using lots of different strategies and techniques. To start us off, let's read this selection, a funeral sermon written by Samuel Danforth (who wrote the almanac). Take notes in whatever way you want. If you need to photograph them and post them, or scan and post, that's fine, or you can type in what you wrote. We'll talk about what you came up with and begin our study of effective note-taking from this point. Post your notes on this selection to the Google+ Community using the category "Note-Taking." There is no way to do this wrong unless you don't do it.

A Letter Out of Grief by Samuel Danforth


Here's your quiz over this week's long read. Email your responses to me. You can get a possible 10 points if all your answers are correct.

1. What is the approximate date of the scene that opens chapter 2, The Marketplace?
2. Describe the physical appearance of the scarlet letter A on Hester Prynne's dress.
3. Who had created the letter for her, and how?
4. What is a pillory, and how does it feature in this story?
5. What does the townsman tell the stranger of Hester's history and how she came to Boston?
6. What does the Reverend Wilson want Hester to reveal? And what does she tell him?
7. What name does the stranger go by, and what is his relationship to Hester, as revealed in chapter 4?
8. Where did Hester go, when she was released from jail?
9. What place does Hester have in the community, and what does she do for work?
10. How does the scarlet letter affect Hester's view of others she sees in the town, especially women?
BONUS: Describe Reverend Dimmesdale, and tell me what you think of this character.


After reading the overview, you may be wondering about the paper, the presentation, the "Real Literature" project, and more. Don't worry about this stuff yet -- let's get into the rhythm of the weekly assignments and figure out the Google+ Community and the Hangouts and how this all works. Then we'll dig into the bigger projects. Have fun, ask lots of questions, enjoy your reading, and we're off!