Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Reading Period 22: March 24-30: I Was Only Drinking Cokes.

Long Read: 

Catcher in the Rye, chapters 6-10.

Short Read: 

"In Another Country" by Ernest Hemingway (AIAL p 653)


Confessional Poets:

Robert Lowell:
Skunk Hour
Night Sweat

Sylvia Plath:
The Hanging Man
Lady Lazarus

Anne Sexton:
All My Pretty Ones
Wanting to Die

Creative Assignment:

Create a graphic novel version of one of the chapters of The Catcher in the Rye you read for this week. Include real dialogue from the book in your dialogue bubbles, and draw at least six cells on your page.


Write a short journal entry as if from the point of view of the major in "In Another Country." In the journal entry, talk about machines: machines of destruction and war and machines of healing and medicine. Some machines are efficient and capable and some machines can do nothing. Does the major believe the machines can help him or are they to blame? What can a machine do about the hurt that he has experienced?

Writing Assignment:

Hemingway in Red Cross uniform.
Write a short essay comparing Huck Finn as a narrator to Holden Caulfield as a narrator. Which is more engaging and interesting? Which do you trust more? Take a look at this definition of an "unreliable narrator." Which is a more reliable narrator -- Holden or Huck? Which is unreliable? Are both of them unreliable? Is there such a thing as an unreliable narrator or are all first person narrators to some extent unreliable?


Read this essay about Hemingway's experience with WWI and write a short essay about how Hemingway used his own experiences to write the story "In Another Country." Is it necessary for an author to experience the things he is writing about? Do you think Hemingway's story would be different if he had only heard about the war? What elements of the story are taken directly from Hemingway's life?


For next week, please develop three persuasive ideas related to your thesis. You will use three different methods of persuading your audience, to practice making an argument. To get an introduction to these three rhetorical strategies, read this article from the Purdue Writing Lab.




Using these four rhetorical techniques will help you to structure your paper too, although you can use them in any order. Let's take them one by one.

Logos: To create a logical argument, you must start with a premise on which everyone can agree. Then you extend that premise through logical steps until you reach your goal. You may be arguing that all high school students should read the book Ready Player One. Maybe your premise is that teenagers like games. Everyone can agree with that. Then you can argue that because Ready Player One is about a game, that teenagers will like reading this book. Now, you still have to support the idea that books should be chosen for high schoolers based on what they will like!

Ethos: To establish yourself as a credible author with a convincing argument, you will need some facts and figures and credible, reliable sources. Letting your reader know, for example, that 95% of high schoolers do not finish their reading assignments, or that only 20% of high schoolers express enjoyment about reading their assigned novels might support your case. Of course you will need to do your research and document your sources. Find facts, figures, and credible opinions to support your argument. This might include referencing existing syllabi (a syllabus is a list of assigned readings) online, or finding articles that support or attack your chosen novella's inclusion on a syllabus. If you're arguing that The Great Gatsby should be removed from high school curriculum, and can find a figure saying that most high schoolers say they didn't finish it, that would be strong evidence.

Pathos (Emotional Appeal): You can appeal to your reader's emotion in a positive or a negative way. Maybe you are arguing that high schoolers should not have to read Steinbeck's The Red Pony because it's sad. You can talk about how you cried when you read the story, and argue that no one should be put through that at a vulnerable time in their life. Or you could choose to appeal to a positive emotion, and paint an inspiring picture of students learning good lessons from Ethan Frome or being lead to make good life choices by Daisy Miller.

Your next job is to write your outline. The outline is due April 6th at 7pm. It needs to be typed, and it needs to show your structure, your main ideas for logos, ethos, and pathos sections, and the ideas you're working on for your introduction and conclusion. If possible, we will schedule a Google Hangout to talk about the paper.


1. Was Stradlater appreciative of the work that Holden did for him on the essay?
2. Why does Holden attack Stradlater?
3. What does Holden want to do, when he goes to Ackley's room?
4. What phrase does Holden use as a farewell to his dorm at Pencey?
5. What does Holden tell the lady on the train about her son?
6. What lie does Holden tell Mrs. Morrow about himself?
7. Who does Holden call from the phone booth in New York?
8. What does "crumby" mean?
9. What reason does Faith Cavendish give for not inviting Holden to her place?
10. How does Holden feel about his sister?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Reading Period 21: March 10-16: If You Really Want To Hear About It

Long Read:

Catcher in the Rye, chapters 1-5.

Short Reads:

"A Worn Path" by Eudora Welty (AIAL p 690)


Jean Toomer

November Cotton Flower
Georgia Dusk
The Gods are Here

Langston Hughes

Juke Box Love Song
Good Morning
Dream Variations

Countee Cullen

Colored Blues Singer
To John Keats, Poet at Spring Time

Creative Assignment:

Write a letter from the headmaster of Pencey School to Holden Caulfield's parents explaining that he will be expelled. Include a report card and notes from teachers.


Take a look at this discussion of "Ars Poetica" or poems about the art of poetry. The original "Ars Poetica" was written BC. Keeping in mind the poem "Poetry" by Marianne Moore, and taking in "Ars Poetica" by Archibald McLeish, also in your textbook, write your own "Ars Poetica" in which you define what poetry is and isn't, your argument in the form of a poem itself.

Writing Assignment:

Write a compare/contrast essay of at least 300 words about Granny Weatherall from "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall" and Phoenix Jackson from "A Worn Path." Find at least two points of comparison and two points of contrast. Organize your essay either as AABB or ABAB (Do we all know what this means by now?), with an introduction that gives the reader your "handshake" and a conclusion that takes the reader to a new idea about these two stories.


Read "The Point of the Story" by Eudora Welty on page 697. Do you think it's important for us to read this essay about the story "A Worn Path"? Does it help you understand the story, and do you value the insight into the author's intention? Should every story be followed by a little explanation from the author? Or do you feel the story should stand on its own, without explanation or further discussion from the author? Welty says that readers often asked her questions about her work. Do you think this means that the work is not effective in itself? Or are we as readers always driven to know more? I'm asking you to take a position on the question we've been discussing in class: Does the meaning of the story reside in the mind of the author, in the mind of the reader, or in the words of the work itself?


Please make sure you post in the Google+ community and declare your choice of novella. You don't have to choose one of the four I listed -- you could pick, for example, The Call of the Wild by Jack London. You're going to need to have it read by March 24.


This week in class we'll begin our presentations. Don't leave your Real Literature Project to the last minute! Remember you have to do your project and also write the presentation about it and create the visual aids. You will be filling out peer review worksheets when your peers are presenting.


The quiz covers chapters 1-5 of The Catcher in the Rye.

J.D. Salinger says, "Don't be a phony."
1. How much did Holden's hat cost?
2. What tragic mishap kept the fencing team from competing on their trip?
3. Name two things that disgust Holden about his teacher, when he visits him.
4. What does Holden write an essay about, as a favor to his roommate?
5. Why is Holden getting kicked out of Pencey?
6. Name one thing about Holden that you could say is a very positive quality.
7. Who is Jane Gallagher?
8. Why do the boys get steak on Saturday nights?
9. What's one difference between Ackley and Stradlater?
10. What does Holden mean when he says, "That killed me" or "That knocks me out"?

BONUS: Prove that Holden has a negative opinion of himself with three examples from the text. You can just list the quotes.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Reading Period 20: March 3-9: Boats Against the Current

Long Read: 

The Great Gatsby, Chapter 9

See you later, old sport.
Short Read:

"The Jilting of Granny Weatherall" by Katherine Anne Porter (AIAL p. 590-599)


Marianne Moore:
What are years?

Edna St. Vincent Millay:
If I should learn, in some quite casual way
What my lips have kissed, and where, and why

Elizabeth Bishop:
One Art
Creative Assignment: 

After reading "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall," and the "Literary Elements" and "Language and Vocabulary" sections that follow in your textbook, write your own example of stream of consciousness prose. You may recall last year reading the final chapter of James Joyce's Ulysses as an example of this same literary technique, and writing an exercise in the style of Finnegan's Wake. Here in American Literature, stream of consciousness writing is popping up around the same time. In your scene, you should mix past and present, as Katherine Anne Porter does. Pay close attention to your verb tense, however. You can shift between past and past perfect, or you can shift between present and past -- whatever you do, make it intentional. The experience you describe in stream of consciousness should last no more than a minute.


Create your own "Schedule" and "General Resolves" as Gatsby did as a child, evidenced by the book his father found and showed to Nick in chapter 9. You can be whimsical if you want, but consider what Gatsby was trying to do, and how he transformed himself, what he made of himself. What are your resolves? Do you feel that making lists like this helps to transform a person?

Writing Assignment:

Who is "everyman"? In modern fiction, writers were less interested in exceptional people having exciting adventures, and more interested in regular people leading real lives. Instead of exotic rich people, or amazing events, we find ourselves meeting average folks, and witnessing normal stuff. There is meaning and significance to be found in the every day world. Why might literature have shifted focus from exceptional people to regular people, in the 20th century? Write a short essay in which you explain how "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall" is an example of a story about "everyman" and why her story is important.


Watch the movie, "The Great Gatsby," the 2013 version directed by Baz Luhrman starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Write a short essay comparing the movie to the book, in which you give your personal opinions about both the book and the adaptation. It may help you to read this article in the New Yorker, which talks about some of the themes of the book and how they played out in the movie.


Please work on developing an idea for your Real Literature Project! We will start hearing presentations in class according to the schedule, on March 17. Take a look at the Presentations tab, above, to see what is required of your presentation, according to the Virginia Standards of Learning. Hint: Visual aids.


Time to start thinking about our paper for this semester!

Choosing which material to include in a syllabus is one of the hardest things about being a teacher, and you will find strong opinions about almost every novel and short story -- whether it should be included or not. This semester, you will be writing a persuasive essay about a novella from the American Literature canon. From the point of view of a student, you will either take the position that the novella should definitely be taught in high school classrooms, or that it should be skipped. Here is a list of novellas that students frequently read in high school, from which you can choose:

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Daisy Miller by Henry James (in your textbook)
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

For this week, take a look at plot synopses and descriptions of these four novellas, and decide which one you would like to read. Yes, you will be reading the novel you write about. Yes, on top of all your other reading. This is madness! No, this is America. Please take a look at all these and submit your novella of choice by next Tuesday.


Read this article: "Why I Despise The Great Gatsby"
For each word below, give a definition, and then find where the word appears in the article and rewrite the sentence to say the same thing without using the vocabulary word.

1. beatific
2. sacrosanct
3. recrudescence
4. definitive
5. shagreen
6. pedagogical perennial
7. scrupulously
8. officious gendarmes
9. aloofness
10. pious oppobrium

BONUS: Do you agree with the author of this article? Why?
BONUS BONUS: What link shows up for you as a "Related" article?