Monday, February 26, 2007
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Friday, February 23, 2007
As you know, the objective of compulsory Writing Intensive Courses like ours is to provide an excellent opportunity for improved student writing ability. To that end, this first version of your essay is worth only five percent of the twenty percent that the Mid-Term represents in the ultimate course grade. Accordingly, your TAs have a mandate of marking to strict criteria for your greatest benefit.
Expect, then, this five percent grade to be an effective and accurate guidepost for you to improve your writing -- and, one hopes, your grade -- on the final version worth the remaining fifteen percent of the assignment grade.
So, for example, first versions which ignore the criteria set in the Mid-Term Topics -- say, failing to ground the essay in textual quotation, and using mere personal reflection instead following the instruction to argue -- can receive a first-version grade of less than 50%.
Study the first version carefully when it is returned to you, as it is a practical means of, for one, becoming a much better writer, and, for another, getting a significantly higher grade on your heavily-weighted final version.
Here's to good writing!
Thursday, February 22, 2007
The Victorian Web is a reliable internet resource in contrast to the Wikipedia website which is an un-reliable -- and, here, unacceptable -- internet resource for academic purposes.
A literary rephrasing of the term 'bildungsroman' (if my word 'development' is already not a re-phrasing of the German 'formation') could be "novel of apprenticeship": apprenticeship, i.e., to Life.)
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
The violence seen in the video obtained by this newspaper has echoes of the extreme violence portrayed in Stanley Kubrick's 1971 film, A Clockwork Orange. In the film, a gang of youths travels the country to commit violent acts, including rapes and murders, for fun. Jan Harlan, the late director's brother-in-law, who helped to make the Oscar-nominated film, said that such violence was "beginning to make A Clockwork Orange seem like Bambi".
He said: "Violence is on a totally different level than it used to be. We do not realise how violent the whole world has become in the last few decades. The danger is that in the next 30 or 40 years there will be a huge crowd of uneducated young men with nothing to do except become more violent and anti-social."
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Monday, February 19, 2007
Nielsen Media Research figures from 2003 show NASCAR led the NFL and major league baseball in percentage of female viewers on broadcast networks. Women were 35% of the total audience for NASCAR, two percentage points more female viewers than for the NFL and MLB.
The percentage is of a stunning seventy-five million total NASCAR viewers. So consider this to have been our class' brush with literary celebrity....and with signed copies to prove it.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
I'd gratefully blog the writer's picture, but I found none on-line so far.
However, English literature and the Sciences are both academic fields of study and share a rational approach and a scholarly analysis with an empirical component that differs between the two faculties primarily by degree.
To exemplify this, it is possible to translate a Topic on an English Mid-Term assignment into a Problem in the mathematical form of an Equation.
Here is Topic #5 from our current Mid-Term, first in its English Literature form and then, second, expressed in the form of an Equation.
5. Imagine that you have been commissioned to write a satire of Elizabeth Gaskell in the way that Stella Gibbons satirised certain other types of authors in Cold Comfort Farm. What aspects of Cranford's cultural view do you think should be satirised and why? You are free to sketch the character outline of a Flora Poste equivalent who would feature in your Gaskell satire.
Left Side of the Equation. (Empirical.)
Text: Cold Comfort Farm
Literary aspect: Satire: (the emendation of folly)
Target: Various Modern authors
Method: A central character embodying the virtues implicitly affirmed.
Specific value: "Flora Poste"
Right Side of the Equation. (Hypothetical.)
Text : Cranford
Literary aspect: Satire: (the emendation of folly.)
Target: Elizabeth Gaskell
Method: A central character embodying the virtues implicitly affirmed.
Specific value: "X"
SOLVE FOR VALUE "X".
Friday, February 16, 2007
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Click the diagramme below for a full-size version of the author's matrix of some of the possible uses of blogs in education.
[This is my cellphone camera shot from her talk here last week. Click on the image for a larger version. Also remember that many blog-post titles are also hotlinks - this one, to Ms. Warren's website.]
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Many social commentators have lamented the "lost" generation of American boys, growing up in a time in which girls have garnered a lot of attention in the public mind. Although teenage boys are considered a hard sell for fiction writers, guys probably stand in greater need of the vicarious experience offered in novels than do girls, since boys often find their life experience in riskier behaviors and since they are thought to be less comfortable with sharing personal events and feelings with each other.Article via Instapundit.com
PS: The blog also has this post on girls' reading -- here, the 'princess' reading craze (e.g. Ella Enchanted.) Note how the heroine's character is written in the "Flora Poste" mould....
Another Plucky Princess.... Here's another royal romp to add to my earlier list of "Princess Stories That Won't Shrink Ze Brain." It's Kate Coombs' 2006 title The Runaway Princess. This one really is a romp, as fifteen-year-old princess no-wannabe Meg refuses to be the bait her slightly greedy father King Stromgard dangles before a gaggle of princes who fill the Kingdom of Greve to win her hand The princes straggle forth to slay a dragon, return his hoard, banish a witch, and capture a bandit, while the unwilling Meg is sequestered in a tower complete with embroidery kits. Meg, of course, readily escapes the tower, befriends the witch (with her own army of bewitched frog princes), adopts the dragon (he's just a baby), and captures the aid of the Bandit Queen (and the romantic interest of her brother "Prince" Bain.) Meg is no Ella, but she's a fun gal to spend a few hours with.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
This is breathtakingly deft, and only literary genius could do this without the artistic whole becoming a mushy muddle, without losing any sense of ground or stability to support the satire, or without turning into the sneering, denunciatory, censorious fulminator so effectively characterised in Amos Starkadder.
But returning to what is implied by this self-reference; for the satire to work -- for it to have been worth bothering about -- the type of confident, modern, self-assured, accomplished and superior woman must have been notable in the literature in and before the year Cold Comfort Farm was published: 1932. I offered C. Bronte's Jane Eyre, several of Marie Corelli's leading characters, Jane Austen's Elizabeth Bennett, several Agatha Christie heroines (notably Prudence Cowley); and among male novelists, Gissing's Rhoda Nunn (one of several) and (probably Gibbons' direct model) the great P.G. Wodehouse's Bobbie Wickham.
Update: how could I forget the perfect exemplar that I gave in lecture? Pamela Lyndon Travers' Mary Poppins.
PS: Here is a contemporary satire of the type: the "Scary Mary" viral.
Do we have a theme song for English 105? As you were talking about Bridget Jones's Diary in class today it occurred to me that what we're talking about is pretty much summed up with in the immortal lines of Shania Twain's "Any Man Of Mine."
Any man of mine better be proud of me
Even when I'm ugly he still better love me
And I can be late for a date that's fine
But he better be on time...
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Drop in to discuss any issues at all related to course material. If the scheduled hours are otherwise booked for you, contact me by e-mail for a time by appointment.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Paglia has been and continues to be a strong booster of the internet's benefits for scholarship & effective polity, so her caution has weight.
UPDATE: Here is her article version.
Thursday, February 8, 2007
The cover of the book is a reinvocation of the "Boys Own" papers that Kipling's Stalky & Co. directly inspired, and this list from the book's authors of what every boy should have on hand makes the stalkiness unmistakable (especially if you read between the lines of the explanations, as I did & noted in just a couple of the places):
- Compass - your trusty guide
- Swiss Army knife - removes splinters
- Handkerchief - doubles as a sling [& sling-shot, SO.]
- Magnifying glass - look at small things, start a campfire
- A marble - big one, for luck [& slingshot, SO.]
- Needle and thread - to sew up wounds, mend torn shirt
- Pencil and paper - note down criminals' car numbers
- Torch - read secret plans by night
- Fish-hook and thread - add stick and worm and you won't starve
- Box of matches - dip the tips in wax (it waterproofs them)
1. In the “Regulus” chapter of Stalky & Co., Mr. King is teaching a Latin ode to the Fifth Form. Analyse how his character interacts with individual boys in terms of what this reveals about Kipling’s view of performative masculine culture.
2. Detail some of the main values that Cranford and Cranford represent in fiction, and make an argument either for or against the claim that these values are designed to express a female view of culture superior to traditional male culture.
3. Do you agree or disagree with the claim that Peter Jenkyns’ attitude toward violence would exclude him from membership in Stalky’s “company” of performative males? Use quotations from both Gaskell’s & Kipling’s texts in support of your argument.
4. The NOTE at the reverse of the title-page of Cold Comfort Farm reads "The action of the story takes place in the near future." This in mind, what do you think is the significance of the following paragraph for the literary technique in Stella Gibbon's masterpiece?
Claud twisted the television dial and amused himself by studying Flora's fair, pensive face. Her eyes were lowered and her mouth compressed over the serious business of arranging Elfine's future. He fancied she was tracing a pattern with the tip of her shoe. She did not look at him, because public telephones were not fitted with television dials. (p.128)5. Imagine that you have been commissioned to write a satire of Elizabeth Gaskell in the way that Stella Gibbons satirised certain other types of authors in Cold Comfort Farm. What aspects of Cranford's cultural view do you think should be satirised and why? You are free to sketch the character outline of a Flora Poste equivalent who would feature in your Gaskell satire.
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
Sunday, February 4, 2007
Symbolic discourse (language, in various contexts) is another means through which man objectifies the world, reduces it to his terms, speaks in place of everything and everyone else--including women." Jones explains that women historically, reduced to mere sexual objects by the dominant male voice, "....have been prevented from expressing their sexuality in itself or for themselves." Finding a female form of expression would succeed in revealing the phallocentricity Western language. As I understand it, feminine expression appears de-centralized. Women experience the world sensually with their entire bodies whereas men tend to transmit and receive from their 'antenae' located just below the belt. Male language = logical, linear, even. Female language = contradictory, ambiguous, inconclusive. Theorist Luce Irigaray contends "'She' is infinitely other in herself. That is undoubtedly the reason she is called temperamental, incomprehensible, perturbed, capricious-not to mention her language in which 'she' goes off in all directions and in which 'he' is unable to discern the coherence of any meaning."
His article on Cold Comfort Farm, here, is extremely helpful.
Friday, February 2, 2007
Here are a couple that I have found, relating to lecture.
An essential article for our course in today's online Guardian, here. I wanted to excerpt the pith, but it seems to be all pith. Certainly it addresses concisely and vigorously some of the genre issues with which we have been engaging.
It follows on this earlier piece sub-titled "Research shows men mainly read works by other men."