Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Reading Period 26: April 29 - May 5: Inside the House Lived a Malevolent Phantom

Long Read:

To Kill a Mockingbird, chapters 1-8

Short Read:

"Trifles" by Susan Glaspell, AIAL p. 940-949


California Poets (from 4/28)

Charles Bukowski
"comments on my last book of poesy"
"so you want to be a writer"

Lawrence Ferlinghetti
"Constantly Risking Absurdity #15"

Cultural Poetry (for 5/5)

Gwendolyn Brooks
"a song in the front yard"
"the mother"

Carolyn Kizer

Maya Angelou
"Caged Bird"
"Still I Rise"

For your assignments this week, please choose a #1 and a #2. In other words, one of your assignments must be about the short play "Trifles."

Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Creative Assignment:

Read Lawrence Ferlinghetti's "Autobiography," which we did not get to in class. Also recall Ginnsberg's "Howl" and Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself." Write a poem entitled "Autobiography" in which each line begins with "I have" or "I saw" or "I am" or other verbs. Borrow Ferlinghetti's repetitive style, and write your poem to express who you are, as an individual and as part of a larger group -- of Americans, of teenagers, of students, of Virginians, of women/men, etc. Ferlinghetti defines his autobiography in terms of what he has done, what he has seen, and the things he has. Who are you?


Do the same as above, but from the point of view of Mrs. Wright in the play "Trifles." What things define her? What activities? Who is she? Write her "Autobiography" poem.

Writing Assignment:

Write a 300 word essay about Scout's school experience based on the first 8 chapters of To Kill a Mockingbird. Was school damaging for her? Would she have been better off homeschooled? This time I want you to examine BOTH sides of the question. Use specific examples from the novel to illustrate your arguments. First, how was Scout affected negatively by school? How would things have been better for her, had she stayed at home? Then take the other side of the argument and say what positive effect school had on her, and what experiences and learning opportunities she might have missed if she hadn't gone to school.


From a stage production of "Trifles."
Create two short profiles for the characters of Mr. and Mrs. Wright from the play "Trifles." They never appear on screen, but the other characters give us a lot of information about them nevertheless. Use specific information from the play to create your profiles, which should each be at least 150 words long.


Because we are extending the semester a little bit (we will have our last set of assignments on May 20, due May 25) I am extending the deadline on the paper a little bit. So final drafts will be due May 11, instead of May 4. Enjoy your luxurious extension.


The quiz is over chapters 1-8 of To Kill a Mockingbird.

1. Describe Jem and Scout's father Atticus. What does he do for a living and what is he like?
2. Describe Dill. What is his personality, and how does he affect Jem and Scout?
3. How do the children incorporate books into their play?
4. Why does Scout get into trouble at school?
5. Why is Boo Radley such a mystery to the children?
6. Scout describes Boo Radley's appearance and habits, but she's going on local legend for her facts. Give me three things about Boo Radley that you suspect might be untrue.
7. What transaction is carried out via the hole in the tree?
8. What happens to the hole in the tree and why?
9. What unusual thing happens to Alabama in chapter 8?
10. How does Boo Radley reach out to the children during the fire?

BONUS: Find a Walt Whitman reference in Lawrence Ferlinghetti's poem "Autobiography."

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Reading Period 25: April 15-21: Don't Ever Tell Anybody Anything

Long Read:

The Catcher in the Rye, chapters 21-26.

Short Read: 

"The Lucid Eye in Silver Town" by John Updike, AIAL p 719-727


The New York School

John Ashbery (Oxford Anthology, pages 803-829)
"How Much Longer Will I Be Able to Inhabit the Divine Sepulcher"
"The One Thing That Can Save America"

Frank O'Hara (Oxford Anthology, pages 785-797)
"Autobiographia Literaria"
"To the Film Industry in Crisis"


Since you have to write your rough draft this week, just choose one of the following:

Write a dialogue between Holden Caulfield and the narrator of "The Lucid Eye in Silver Town" about the nature of New York City, about adults, about money, about whatever they might think of to discuss.


Illustrate the poem "Autobiographia Literaria" by Frank O'Hara in whatever way you choose, but your setting must involve New York City in some way.


Read this article about denouement. The Catcher in the Rye is one of the examples used, and the article suggests that chapter 26 is the denouement. Now, after reading the ending of The Catcher in the Rye, choose a point in chapters 21-25 that you feel marks the climax of the story. Often the climax of a story will be where the hero and villain finally battle it out, or when a big reversal happens, a turning point of some kind. Holden Caulfield doesn't battle a villain, get arrested, or marry a princess, but he does experience a reversal. Describe the scene you chose and then make an argument that this moment is the height of the story, so that everything after it is just denouement. Where does Holden peak?


All of the poets we have read in the last few weeks (Black Mountain School, Beat Poets, New York School) appeared in a very famous anthology published in 1960 called The New American Poetry: 1945-1960. Without anthologies like this one to collect important poems, and literary magazines where the poems were first published, where would poetry be? Why choose the bold title The New American Poetry? How confident would an editor have to be in his choice of works to include, to use such a definitive title for his work? Would you ever edit an anthology? Write 300 words about the importance of editors and publishers of anthologies in directing the course of literature. Include a definition of "anthology."

But I think you're brilliant. Really.

Your rough draft is due on Monday at 7pm. Your final draft will be approximately 2000 words long, so your rough draft should be about this long too. You'll be submitting it for peer review, so please don't turn it in late, or your partner will be affected.

Remember to use pathos, logos, and ethos in identifiable ways to persuade your reader. Remember to make your case definitively one way or the other. Either this book should be taught in high school or it should not. If you use sources (And you should! Reliable sources generate good ethos.) you must cite them using parenthetical notation. See this explanation of parenthetical notation, and ask if you have questions. Gerry, I think you're the only one who hasn't written a paper for me before. Let's discuss citations on Friday.

This is the time to work out the kinks. Don't worry if there are mistakes or rough parts. That's why we call it a rough draft! Write freely and without critiquing yourself too much. Open up your brain and let the ideas flow. Use your outline to help you structure your paper, but if you think of something that's not on the outline, that's okay! Throw it in there.

Think I've got an eyelash in my eye...

The quiz is not really a quiz. It's more a chance to strech your Google Fu muscles. It's okay to approximate. We're just trying to put Updike's story into a modern perspective, since its plot hinges on that lousy $5.
After reading "The Lucid Eye in Silver Town" please look up the following.
1. How much would it cost to ride a train to New York from where you are, today?
2. How much would it cost to buy a book about Vermeer, today?
3. What is the tallest building in the world, today?
4. How many flavors of ice cream does the drug store sell, today?
5. How much would a Degas painting of ballet dancers be worth, today?
6. How much would it cost to have a doctor examine your eye, today?
7. When did it become possible to order a book via the internet?
8. What is the most famous painting by Vermeer?
9. What small town in Pennsylvania might the narrator have been from?
10. How many eyelashes grow around the average human eye?
BONUS: What are John Updike's Rabbit novels about?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Reading Period 24: April 7-13: If a Body Catch a Body Coming Through the Rye

Salinger is no phony. OR IS HE?
Long Read: 

The Catcher in the Rye, chapters 16-20

Short Read: 

"Flight" by John Steinbeck, AIAL p. 660-673


Jack Kerouac
On the Road p 1-10

Allen Ginnsberg (Oxford Anthology of American Poetry)
A Supermarket in California
from Kaddish

Creative Assignments:

Draw two illustrations: one of Pepe before his trip to Monterey, throwing the knife into the post, and one after his trip to Monterey, escaping through the mountains carrying his rifle. Show with your pictures the transformation in Pepe between the first and the second pictures. You could use colors to show this change, use a different style of drawing, or emphasize the symbolism of the weapons -- knife and gun. To make it interesting, you could portray Pepe as one of the animals his mother called him.


Kerouac: NOT A PHONY. Or... phony?
After you've read the first chapter of On the Road, Choose someone you know and write a description of them that's in the style of Kerouac's description of Dean. You can talk about the person's attitude, work life, behaviors, how they look, who they are. Don't worry too much about grammar. Kerouac used messed up grammar to communicate, and so can you -- in this 300 words at least -- if you want.

Writing Assignments:

Write a compare/contrast essay about "Flight" by John Steinbeck and "To Build a Fire" by Jack London. In some ways, these stories are very similar. Would you call "Flight" a naturalist story? Would you call "To Build a Fire" a cruel story? How are the central characters similar and different? Write 300 words.


After reading the annotated version of On the Road, write 300 words about how this technology affects your reading experience. Is it an improvement or a distraction? Is the novel as interesting without the notes? More interesting? Do you think someone other than the author should be allowed to provide notation like this? Have you read any other works where there were annotations (Shakespeare, Beowulf, etc)? Is it similar to reading on a tablet, where words can be looked up by clicking on them? Write 300 words about this hypertextual experience. Include the meaning of the word hypertext.


Read this article about J.D. Salinger's war experience. Write 300 words about how the information in the article changes or does not change the way you read The Catcher in the Rye. Does it change your reading of the novel to know it was originally written as short stories? Does it inform your understanding in any way to know that some of it may have been typed under a table under fire from the German army?


By now you have received my comments on your outlines. For the most part, they look really great! I'm very much looking forward to reading your papers. Your due date for your rough draft is April 20 at 7pm. I will be out of town, but I'll still have email. On April 20, you'll email me a copy of your work, and also email a copy to your partner for peer review. Partners will be Sarah and Gerry, Zoe and Benny. We'll use our peer review form and you'll have a week to review your partner's rough draft and give helpful criticism. I'll remind you next week! Your paper should be about 2000 words long, but if your rough draft isn't that long, don't worry. Maybe your partner will have suggestions for where you can expand it.

Steinbeck: Totally so not phony or phony.

We have two presentations next week: Gerry and Benny. So far the scope of your projects has been very interesting! Really enjoying hearing about how you're taking literature out of the classroom. Well done!


Your quiz this week is on chapters 16-20 of The Catcher in the Rye. Please use complete sentences and give full answers. One word answers will be frowned upon with a stern frowning.

1. In chapter 16 we finally get a reference to the title. Where does the title come in?
2. Tell me something kind that Holden does in chapter 16.
3. What annoys Holden about the play he sees with Sally?
4. What does the word "phony" mean, to Holden?
5. Do you believe Holden when he says he's not screaming or Sally when she says he is?
6. What was strange about the person sitting next to Holden at the movies?
7. What does Holden think of The Great Gatsby?
8. Old Luce worries that he's about to have a "typical Caulfield conversation." What do you think a typical Caulfield conversation would be like, based on what you've heard? What is a "typical Caulfield question"?
9. What does Luce recommend that Holden do, to improve his understanding of himself?
10. What does Holden tell Sally he will do on Christmas Eve?

BONUS: Give me a link where I can read more about the fabulous Lunts.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Reading Period 23: March 31 - April 6: Let's Go, Chief

Long Read:

Catcher in the Rye, chapters 11-15

Short Read: 

"The Bear" by William Faulkner


Charles Olson
The Kingfishers

Robert Duncan
Poetry, a Natural Thing

Denise Levertov
The Mutes

Robert Creeley
The Dishonest Mailmen

Creative Assignments:

Take a photograph of yourself holding the book The Catcher in the Rye, with your facial expression giving a confession of how you feel about the novel so far. Post it to the Google+ Community. On your classmates' photos, try to interpret their facial expressions and figure out how they feel about reading this novel.


Write a confessional poem from the point of view of the boy in the story "The Bear." Set your poem at the end of the story, when the boy is grown. What would he have to confess? What darkness can he reveal, what truth? Use a first person speaker in your poem, and try to express what the boy would want to communicate to his father, to a reader, to the bear itself. How can he say... "This is what it's like to be me."

Writing Assignments:

Take a stab at writing the introductory paragraph for your persuasive paper, but take a really argumentative tone. You might want to start with, "Look here, jerky!" or something similarly confrontational. Write 300 words in this tone. It doesn't have to cover any of your outline or even make sense, just be really snarly and aggressive about whether or not this novella should be taught in
high school. The idea here is to try on an "ethos" that is not very convincing. No one wants to be shouted at, and people don't like to be called names. So an authorial tone that seems really nasty and confrontational might not be a strong "ethos" for an author writing a persuasive essay. Or maybe you will come up with some interesting ideas in freewriting this way, and can include some in your final essay! Try it out.


Take a stab at writing the introductory paragraph for your persuasive paper, but take a really apologetic, cringing tone. You might want to start with, "I am so, so sorry!" or something similarly weak. Be accommodating. Be understanding. Really appreciate the opposing point of view. Apologize for your opinions. Write 300 words in this tone. It doesn't have to cover any of your outline or even make sense, just be really sorry and humble about whether or not this novella should be taught in high school.
Sorry baby.
The idea here is to try on an "ethos" that is not very convincing. Maybe no one will believe you if you come across as too understanding of the opposing view, and too weak in your own opinions. People want to listen to a strong voice with solid reasoning and confident tone. Right? Maybe an authorial tone that seems really apologetic and embarrassed might not be a strong "ethos" for an author writing a persuasive essay. Or maybe you will come up with some interesting ideas in freewriting this way, and can include some in your final essay! Try it out.


Your outline is due Monday, April 6th, at 7pm. You can email it to me or post it on the Google+ Community if you want feedback from your classmates. Make sure it's typed! If you have any questions, ask me in email or pose them on the community page.


Your quiz is over The Catcher in the Rye chapters 11-15. Please use complete sentences in your answers. :) Let's be civilized. Punctuate and everything.

1. Give a detail from Holden's description of Jane that makes you think he's telling the truth about knowing her really well. Or, do you think he's lying, and doesn't know her very well? Based on what?
2. What question about nature keeps on bothering Holden?
3. How do fish eat, in winter, according to Horwitz?
4. What kills Holden about his interaction with the Navy guy, Lillian Simmons' date?
5. How far did Holden walk from Ernie's to the hotel, and why?
6. What does Holden mean when he talks about being "yellow"?
7. How does Holden prepare himself for the visit from the prostitute?
8. What is Holden's explanation to the reader for not wanting to take advantage of his time with the prostitute? And how is it different from what he tells the prostitute herself?
9.  What reason does Holden give for hating ministers?
10. Why do Maurice and Sunny come back to Holden's room?

BONUS: Has there been a time in the book so far where you suspected Holden of lying? If so, when?
BONUS BONUS: Think over what we learned from reading the confessional poets. Would you say that The Catcher in the Rye is a confessional novel? In what way?