Friday, April 28, 2017

Reading Period 26: April 28 - May 4: Heart of Darkness

Long Read: 

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Part II

Short Read:
Textbook pages 826 - 836, "The Celestial Omnibus" by E.M. Forster


Textbook pages 928 - 938, poems by William Butler Yeats.

Creative Assignments:

In "Sailing to Byzantium," Yeats imagined being made part of a Byzantine gold mosaic. Take a look at the gold mosaics below, and then create a piece of art in this style recreating a scene from your life. You can use a marker to make dots on a page to represent mosaic tiles, you can use a hole punch to make paper dots to use, or you could draw what you want to portray and then use Photoshop or an artistic photo filter to make a mosaic of your drawing. You must do a drawing first and use a filter on it, though. Don't just filter a selfie. If you feel incapable of doing a representational image, you can do a design like the first one. However it would be much more amusing if you did a gold mosaic of yourself playing soccer, or cooking at the stove, or working on a computer, in the Byzantine style.


Read the sonnet, "To Homer" by John Keats, that is referenced in part III of "The Celestial Omnibus." Now write a poem addressed to one of the authors we have read in class. It doesn't have to be a very serious poem, but it should demonstrate that you've read the work you're praising. For extra magicalness, make it a sonnet. 

Writing Assignments:

Read the poem, "When You Are Old" by William Butler Yeats. Write a well-organized essay in which you analyze the literary techniques that Yeats used to show the speaker's attitude toward the "you" in the poem. You may choose to discuss the imagery, point of view, and personification, or any other device you notice.


Read the poem, "Sailing to Byzantium" by William Butler Yeats. Write a well-organized essay in which you analyze the literary techniques that Yeats used to show the speaker's attitude toward the aging. You may choose to discuss metonymy, symbolism, and apostrophe, or any other device you notice.

E.M. Forster

This quiz is over the story "The Celestial Omnibus," but do make sure you keep reading Heart of Darkness.

1. How do the boy's parents explain the signpost?
2. The boy gave up and went home before seeing the sunrise omnibus, but then rushed back -- why?
3. What is nonsensical about the appearance of the sunrise omnibus?
4. Give an example of the "ornate prose" of Sir Thomas Browne.
5. Give an example of something the boy experiences at the end of his first journey.
6. What punishment do the parents give the boy when he returns?
7. What did the people in heaven predict about Mr. Brons?
8. Who is the driver of the sunset omnibus?
9. Mr. Bons is disappointed in the way the boy spent his first trip to heaven. Why?
10. What do you think this line means? "For poetry is a spirit; and they that would worship it must worship in spirit and in truth."

Friday, April 21, 2017

Reading Period 25: April 21-27: Heart of Darkness

Due Dates:
Quiz: Monday, April 24
Assignments: Wednesday, April 26
History: Friday, April 28

Long Read: 

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Section I. If you haven't already got a copy, I highly recommend this illustrated version

Short Read: 

"The Twentieth Century" in your textbook, pages 759-773


"Dulce Et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen, page 955-957

Creative Assignments: 

Artist Matt Kish undertook the illustration of Heart of Darkness, page by page, in an abstract style. Selections from his edition of the book can be seen on his blog, along with the quotes that inspired each piece. I'll also bring my copy to class. Please choose one scene in the section that you read, and illustrate it using an abstraction, in the style of Matt Kish. 


Read the short story by Joseph Conrad, "The Secret Sharer." The story The Secret Sharer is told from the point of view of the captain of the ship, who rescues and hides the murderer Leggatt, chief mate of the Sephora. Write a 250 word diary entry from the point of view of Leggatt. How would he see the captain? Does he have any further secrets that he does not reveal in the story? What tone would his state of mind cause him to take on in his diary? What diction? 

Writing Assignments: 

By Matt Kish
Conrad wrote about a time when European colonization of Africa was in full swing. What was the "Scramble for Africa"? What happened in Berlin in 1884? What were the factors that caused this grab for territory and who were the main players on the African continent? Write a 250 word essay about the events of this period, particularly in the 1880s. Take a look at this article, from St. John's college at Cambridge, and this article in The Economist. You can also check out the Wikipedia page to inform you. Read your source material and then write in your own words, referring back to your sources for facts. 


Write a 250 word essay about "Dulce Et Decorum Est" based on the "Evaluating Techniques of Persuasion" prompt on page 957. How does this poem function as persuasion in a way that an essay or article might not? 


1. What time period was Marlow remembering out loud, as the Nellie is waiting for the tide to turn on the Thames?
2. According to Marlow, what is the difference between a conqueror and a colonist?
3. On what river was Marlow desperate to get appointed as captain of a steamer?
4. When Marlow goes to Brussels to sign up for the voyage, what two strange people does he meet in the company office and what are they doing? 
5. What strange measurement does the doctor take of Marlow when he examines him for the voyage?
6. What are two tasks Marlow’s ship carries out on the way to the river where he will get his own steamer?
7. Marlow disagrees with a word that’s used to describe the natives when they’re being shelled from the French ship. What is that word? 
8. What is the first evidence Marlow witnesses up close that the whites are mistreating the blacks?
9. After almost falling into a ravine and discovering the broken drainage pipes, Marlow finds a group of people lying in the shade. What are they doing?
10. Why does Marlow call the Company’s chief accountant a “miracle”? 
11. What precious substance is the Company extracting from the African interior?
12. Who is Kurtz? 
13. Why did the fainting white man who accompanied Marlow to the central station say he had come to Africa? 
14. What had happened to the steamer that Marlow was supposed to command?
15. Marlow meets an aristocrat whose job it is to make bricks. Why is it sarcastic when Marlow calls him the Brickmaker of Central Station? 
16. What do the rivets represent? Why is Marlow fixated on rivets? 

Art by Matt Kish from his illustrated version of Heart of Darkness.


From the "Review" questions in your book on page 773:

1. What have been some of the social and economic gains in British life during this century? Name two.
2. Why has Britain's position in world politics declined?
3. Which poet is most closely associated with literary symbolism?
4. Why did many young writers turn from public affairs in the years following World War I?
5. What was the most significant idea of the modernist movement?
6. What were the immediate causes for the rise of fascism between the two world wars?
7. What severe economic problems has Britain faced since World War II?
8. What has replaced the Empire?
9. Why were certain writers of the 1950s called "Angry Young Men"? 
10. What name was given to the group of post-war poets who responded to the modern world with order and clarity? 

BONUS: Based on this reading selection, do you think the author of this section is American or British? Now check the masthead of the textbook, under "Curriculum and Writing." Now check the list of "Critical Readers" (just before the Contents). Was this book brought to us by Americans or Brits?

Friday, April 14, 2017

Reading Period 24: April 14-20: 1984

Long Read: 

1984 by George Orwell, Part 3

Matchbox Minute Movie: 

In class we have been working on creating a matchbox that contains all the props and sets to film a one minute movie version of any book or narrative poem we've read in class this year. Your writing assignment is to write the script for your movie. Your movie can be from 50 to 70 seconds long, so your script will have to be extremely condensed! Post your script to Google+ to get feedback from your classmates. Your creative assignment is to finish up all your props, characters, and backdrops for your movie. You may find, as you write your script, that you need more props. You're welcome to use Lego, Sculpey, folded paper, other other tiny materials, but keep in mind that in order for your piece to meet the requirements of the assignment and be displayed in the Matchbox Museum on May 2, everything has to fit into the matchbox. When your script is written, post it. When your props and characters are all created, photograph them. If you do this, this counts as your writing assignment and creative assignment. It will also be what you use as your presentation for the year.


Creative Assignment:

Create an illustration of room 101. You could use the visual elements from the book, or you could use imaginary elements that might appear if room 101 was used on you. You could illustrate it in the abstract, with all the fears and dreads of humans in nebulous form inside it. Or you could show it as an empty space inside someone's mind. Think before you begin, and show your most creative interpretation of room 101.

Writing Assignment:

Chekhov's gun is a name for a certain type of foreshadowing. According to the playwright Chekhov, "If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired." But the idea is more than just foreshadowing -- it also means that non-essential items don't belong in the story. So if a reader sees something in the story, the reader should be able to trust that it does have a purpose. If you see a gun on the stage, you should have the expectation that it will go off, and if a gun goes off, you should have the expectation that you would have already seen it before the scene where it fires. Plot elements don't fizzle into nothing, and they also don't come out of nowhere. Looking at the plot of 1984, do you notice any elements that are like "Chekhov's gun"? For example, the rat in the baseboard, or the spying children in the neighbors' apartment? Write a 250 word essay in which you explain what is meant by Chekhov's gun, identify one or two examples of it from the book, and say how they contribute to the plot.


1. Why is Ampleforth in prison?
2. Why is Parsons in prison?
3. What place in the prison do all the prisoners most want to avoid?
4. What does Winston find out about O'Brien?
5. How many fingers is O'Brien holding up during interrogation?
6. The book taught Winston how the party maintains power. O'Brien tells him *why* it maintains power. Why?
7. What is crimestop?
8. What is in room 101?
9. What would be in room 101 for you?
10. What is 2+2?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Reading Period 23: April 7 - 13: 1984

Rudyard Kipling: Spin master?
Long Read: 

1984 by George Orwell, Part 2, chapters 8-10.

Short Read: 

"Miss Youghal's Sais" by Rudyard Kipling, pages 705-710


"If" by Rudyard Kipling
"Gunga Din" by Rudyard Kipling
"The White Man's Burden" by Rudyard Kipling

Creative Assignments:

Create an illustration for one of the following quotes. You must incorporate the words of the quote into the picture you're making -- not all the words, but some significant ones:

"In war, physical facts cannot be ignored. In philosophy, or religion, or ethics, or politics, two and two might make five, but when one was designing a gun or an airplane, they had to make four."

"When war is continuous, it ceases to be dangerous."

"No advance in wealth, no softening of manners, no reform or revolution has ever brought human equality a millimeter nearer."


Kipling's poem "Gunga Din" has been made into a movie. Three movie posters are below. Based on the contents of the poem and the way these movie posters look, can you take a stab at summarizing this movie? Write a 250 word summary of the plot -- what happens in this movie, do you think?

Writing Assignments: 

In our textbook are the following lines: "Afterward, [Kipling] was criticized as a defender of British Imperialism.  Such criticism has to be taken seriously and should enter into our evaluation of Kipling as a master storyteller." To understand why Kipling is characterized as defending British imperialism with his stories, we must first understand the British empire in India.

Use these three articles to inform you:

A collection of primary sources related to British rule in India from the National Archive of the UK. (Make sure you also click on and read the "Background" to this collection.)
"The Benefits of British Rule" by Dadabhai Naoroji (1871)
"British Atrocities Against Indians" by  Adnan Karsewak (2010)

Write 250 words addressing these questions: What does it mean that Kipling's defense of the British Empire in India has to "enter our evaluation" of him? Should we not read Kipling because he documented the British rule in India, without evaluating whether he defended or critiqued it? How does your modern perspective on the atrocities of the British or the long term benefits of British occupation affect your reading of Kipling? Does it prejudice you against him or make you think of him more favorably?


The East India Company was responsible for the first incursion of Britain into India. They were not only a trading company, but fought wars, built factories, minted their own money, and eventually conquered local rulers. They illegally traded opium to China, allowed locals to starve while exporting grain to Europe -- oh, and they were the people whose tea the Americans threw into Boston Harbor, because they were exempt from taxes that colonial merchants had to pay. They paved the way for India to become an actual part of the British Empire, and for Victoria to be crowned Empress of India, thereby foregoing the need to "trade" and allowing Britain to just take what they needed. The East India Company is a symbol of imperialism and exploitation. AND YET, it still exists and operates in England, selling tea and exotic foods.

The modern East India Company web site is a brilliant example of "spin," a rhetorical method in which writers take inconvenient realities and twist them into positives (or negatives) for their organization. Read more about spin here. Then find three examples of "spin" on the East India Company web site. Specifically, take a look at "Our Heritage," "Gunpowder and Health," and the movie in "Historical Views." Or maybe you find that this web site is accurately representing the history of the East India Company, and they have nothing to cover up or "spin"? Does this remind you of anything in 1984? Can the East India Company really rewrite history with a slick web site?

Write a 250 word letter to the East India Company either criticizing their use of a name that is historically connected with exploitation and suffering, or commending them for owning their history and creating something positive for the future.


1. What beverage do Winston and Julia drink at O'Brien's house?
2. Who is the leader of the Brotherhood?
3. Where will Winston and O'Brien meet again?
4. Why, according to Goldstein, is it impossible for war to be decisive?
5. What then is the purpose of war, according to Goldstein?
6. What does Goldstein say the scientists of Oceania are busy doing?
7. What are the aims of the three divisions of people, according to Goldstein?
8. What made it unnecessary for people to live at different social/economic levels?
9. How does the Thought Police handle gifted proles who might aspire to be in the party?
10. What are the laws of Ingsoc?

Bonus: What does blackwhite mean? What does doublethink mean?