Saturday, February 20, 2016

Reading Period 19: February 19-25: France

Class Meetings: February 23, 25
Due dates: 
Paper: Monday Feb 22, 7pm
Writing assignment: Tuesday, Feb 23, in class, on paper
Creative Assignment: Wednesday, Feb 24, 7pm

Long Read: 
The Stranger by Albert Camus, Part 2

Short Read:

"The Imaginary Invalid" by Moliere, Act 1


"The Drunken Boat" by Arthur Rimbaud

Creative Assignment:

The poem "The Drunken Boat" tells what happens to a boat when its crew is killed and it's free to roam on its own. Create a map of the boat's voyage. It can look like a real map with identifiable landmarks, or be as whimsical and ridiculous as the images in the poem itself.


Create an illustrated map of Paris. Use unlined paper! First draw in the Seine river, the islands and the outlines of the city, then use small drawings on your map to mark the following landmarks: The Eiffel Tower, The Arc de Triomphe, Pere Lachaise Cemetery, The Louvre, Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, Jardin du Luxembourg, The Catacombs of Paris, Saint Chappelle, Monteparnasse Cemetery. Your map doesn't have to be exact, but you must put the landmarks in the correct general vicinity. You can trace an actual map to start you off if that helps.


Rimbaud wrote a poem, "Voyelles,"  about vowels in which different vowels are given different colors, an exploration of synesthesia, where letters or numbers have colors or even smells or sounds. Write a poem which uses color for certain letters or words. Since Google+ doesn't let you use color in posts, you'll need to write it in Google Docs and then link to the documennt.

Writing Assignment:

Your writing assignment is your preparation for the mock trial of Meursault. Here are your roles:

Jasper: Dead Arab and dead Madame Meursault
Rachael: Marie
Benny: Meursault
Nicholas: Raymond
Martina: Raymond's mistress
Sarah: Defense attorney
Gerry: Prosecuting attorney

Complete your preparation as detailed on the sheet you received in class. Witnesses, you must decide on your character's objectives and agenda, three things they want to say on the stand and three things they want to keep secrets. You can make up things that aren't explicitly mentioned in the book. Attorneys, you must prepare your opening statement and closing argument. In class on Tuesday you will work together as a defense team and a prosecution team to develop questions.

Read the rest of the novella to inspire you, but don't be limited to the questions and responses given in the book. You can create your own version of these characters, your own arguments, and your own trial. Don't post your assignments -- print it out and bring it with you to class on Tuesday, where it will be graded and then used in class.


You have decided on a broad topic, and now it's time to narrow it. Write a 200 word short essay defining your topic. You can ask questions, you can talk about your own connection to the topic, you can speculate about what sources you will use and what you may find, you can project some conclusions. You don't need to do any research yet, but you may want to poke around and find some sources just to see what emerges. You will post this to the Google+ community. As you read your fellow students' topics, feel free to comment with suggestions for further research, different directions the research might take, or ideas.


No quiz! Easy 10.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Reading Period 18: Feb 12-18: Finland, Sweden, Norway

Albert Camus
Long Read:

The Stranger by Albert Camus, Part 1

Short Read:

"A Doll's House" by Henrik Ibsen, full play. (The audiobook is also in the public domain and free to listen.)

Note: This week the short read is at least as long as the long read. Because The Stranger is so short, reading half of it should not take you very long. Because "A Doll's House" is such an important piece of literature and so frequently shows up on AP tests (and in quiz bowl!), and because we haven't read much drama this year, I decided to assign the whole thing. Enjoy!


"Raudan Synty (The Origin of Iron)" by Veera Voima

This is a rune song from the Kalevala, which is the national saga of Finland, a collection of oral histories, folk tales and mythologies pieced together into one epic poem of fifty songs in the 19th century. If you go to the YouTube page for this song, you can see the English translation and the original Finnish version, in the description of the video.

Creative Assignment:

By John Bauer  
Trolltunga is a massive shard of rock jutting out of a mountain 700 meters above a frosty lake in Norway. It is on many "Places to See Before You Die" lists, although an 4 hour hike (one way) is required to reach it. Kjeragbolten is a massive boulder stuck in a cravasse in the Kjerag mountain, left there by a glacier. Create Trolltunga or Kjeragbolten in Minecraft or by using the free basic version of Terragen 3 or the personal learning edition of Vue.


Watch this movie version of Ibsen's "A Doll's House" with Anthony Hopkins as Torvald Helmer. Now cast the movie in modern day actors and actresses. Try to imagine a modern setting that would make the play work. Who would make a good Torvald and who would play Nora? Can the play work in 2016, given the changes in male and female roles we've experienced since Victorian times? Do the speeches ring true or even possible nowadays? Keep in mind that Ibsen did not mean this to be a feminist play, or for Nora to be some kind of feminist superhero. For him, her role as a human being was more important than her gender.
Cast the five main characters with contemporary actors:
Torvald Helmer
Nora Helmer
Doctor Rank
Mrs Linde
Nils Krogstad
Tell where the action would take place -- what city, what kind of house, what demographic, etc. How old would the characters be?

Writing Assignment:

What do you think will happen after the ending of "A Doll's House"? Will Nora really leave, and take on all the societal blame of being an outcast in her world? Will Torvald really let her go? Think about the fact that Nora isn't the only one in the "doll's house" and Torvald is not the one moving the pieces around -- maybe he's just another doll. Can he have a realization about the "wonderful thing" that Nora references? Answer this questions as completely as you can, with quotes from the play to back up your ideas, in 200 words.


Camus was French but he's from Algiers, a city in Africa. Carthage, Rome, Vandals, and Muslims have all ruled the region now known as Algeria at different points in history. Study the history of Algeria and write 200 words on what you find, giving a summary of the history of this region up through the French occupation (through about 1870.)  Make sure you cite your sources and include any quotations in quotation marks.


1. Where is Mersault living when he hears of his mother's death?
2. Describe in one word Mersault's conversation with the caretaker.
3. What does Mersault notice about his mother's friends?
4. During the funeral procession, what does the man from the undertaker ask Mersault about his mother, and what does he answer?
5. How old is your mother? (Don't ask! If you don't know for sure, admit it.)
6. What does Mersault do all day on Sunday, after the funeral of his mother.
7. What does Salamano say to explain his anger at his dog?
8. What does the neighbor Raymond ask Meursault to do for him? He asks for two different things -- give either one.
9. What is Salamano's reaction when the dog disappears?
10. What is Mersault's opinion of Paris?
11. What punishment was Raymond given by the police for battering his girlfriend?
12. What is the result of the first interaction that Raymond, Meursault and Masson have with the two Arabs?
13. What is the result of Mersault's second interaction with the Arab who has a knife, when he meets him again on the beach?

Friday, February 5, 2016

Reading Period 17: February 5-11: Poland and Latvia

Birches, Latvia
Long Read: 

Night by Elie Wiesel, through the end.

Short Read:

"Chocolate" by Michal Olszewski


"The Black Time" by Vizma Belševica
"I Carry my Love" by Vizma Belševica

Here are more poems by her, if you like her.

Creative Assignment:

Choose one of Vizma Belševica's poems and illustrate it using any medium you choose. Pencil and paper, markers, paint, etc. Please use color and unlined paper. If you have mostly chosen the creative assignments that involves writing, today I challenge you to choose this one that involves art. Your work doesn't have to be realistic or representative -- can be thoroughly abstract.


Read "Bird Cherry Trinity" on this page. You'll have to scroll down. Now write a poem in three parts that involves a tree as a central image or symbol. Look out your window, go on a walk, think about the season of the year, and the place where you live, and whatever you're feeling, and write about that. If you have mostly chosen the creative assignment that involves art, I challenge you to choose this one that involves writing.


Pretend you are a lawyer, and your client is Dudek from the story "Chocolate." Write your opening statement to the jury, defending his actions. You can make up whatever details you want to about Dudek's life, as long as your details don't conflict with what we know in the story. 200 words.

Writing Assignment:

Think back a long time ago, to September, when we first talked about why we read "world literature" and how ultimately we can't ever truly know what it's like to write in another language, or live in another country, or another time, under circumstances vastly different from ours, but that it's important to try, and to reach, and to get partially there. Sometimes this reach is a long one, and sometimes the experience we are trying to understand is upsetting to us.

Night is a book often assigned in high school and even middle school, but this is controversial, because some parents believe the book is too violent and upsetting, or causes their children to feel unnecessary guilt. Some teachers have decided to write permission slips to send home to the parents, so that they are aware of what's coming, and can help and prepare the children, or can opt out of the book altogether.

Pretend you are a teacher, and write a permission slip to be signed by the parents of your students. Make an argument why you want your students to read Night, but make the parents aware of the challenges involved and suggest how they can help their children get through it. 200 words.


Read the assignment above. Write a letter to the teacher, as the parents of a student who will be opting out of reading Night, explaining your decision. 200 words.


You're going to write a research paper! This is exciting! Choose a topic, broad or narrow, strange or familiar -- anything at all that interests you in the history or geography studies we've encountered in the last year. Bring your idea with you to class. That is all. You will have the opportunity to change course if you want to, later, but the next step will more likely be to narrow this initial idea. Make good choices!

Riga: Historical town square

Read "A Note About Vizma Belševica, A Latvian Poetess" by Astrid Stahnke and answer the following questions:

1. What is the author of the article's relationship to Belsevica?
2. Into what language does Belsevica herself translate English work?
3. What is the capital of Latvia?
4. During Belsevica's life, Latvia was under the control of what government?
5. What particular word did Stahnke have trouble translating?
6. Why does Stahnke believe that Belsevica needs to be read in English?
7. According to the article, what do Belsevica's poems show us about the landscape she's writing in?
8. What did Stahnke's own family do in 1944?
9. Why does Stahnke compare contemporary Riga to a birthday cake?
10. Why does Stahnke worry about contemporary Latvian poets and poetry?

Riga: Soviet era apartment buildings.
11. Bonus: Read the poems under the article until you find an example of this: "Belševica's poems are like hidden photographs of the country." Give the title of the poem and a few lines.