Introduction to Literature

Reading in the Digital Age

Page 2 of 4

The Work for Halloween: Considering the Rhetoric of Terror

You’ve been working hard this semester, and I thought it would be a good break to have a little Halloween fun. Here’s how:

Read the following quotations about how terror works:


There is no terror in a bang, only in the anticipation of it.

–Alfred Hitchcock


All terror is “rhetorical,” for terror tries to be persuasive. It tries to convince a public to think and feel one thing rather than another. But surrounding the rhetoric of terror comes another rhetoric: a rhetoric of response, of process, elaboration and reaction.

–Robert Appelbaum


I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I’ll go for the gross-out. I’m not proud.

–Stephen King


The 3 types of terror: The Gross-out: the sight of a severed head tumbling down a flight of stairs, it’s when the lights go out and something green and slimy splatters against your arm. The Horror: the unnatural, spiders the size of bears, the dead waking up and walking around, it’s when the lights go out and something with claws grabs you by the arm. And the last and worse one: Terror, when you come home and notice everything you own had been taken away and replaced by an exact substitute. It’s when the lights go out and you feel something behind you, you hear it, you feel its breath against your ear, but when you turn around, there’s nothing there…

–Stephen King


According to Aristotle, pity and fear are the natural human response to spectacles of pain and suffering—-especially to the sort of suffering that can strike anybody at any time. Aristotle goes on to say that tragedy effects “the catharsis of these emotions”—-in effect arrousing pity and fear only to purge them, as when we exit a scary movie feeling relieved or exhilarated.

–David L. Simpson


Now, find a video clip from a horror movie and use the ideas quoted above to discuss how terror works in your chosen clip—i.e., what makes it scary. Your exploration should be at least 200 words long. Alternatively, you could find a video clip from a horror movie parody and explain how the parody undermines the terror of the work parodied; again, your exploration should be at least 200 words long.

By midnight Sunday, post a link to the video clip and your ~200 word exploration to the Rhetoric of Terror G+ page.

No weekly reflection this week.

Analyzing Death of a Salesman

In Death of a Salesman Willy Loman refuses to take the job that his friend, Charley, offers him, and (spoiler alert!) he commits suicide at the end of the play. In a microessay of at least 300 words, explain why you think Willy behaves in such a self-destructive manner. Also consider what influence his actions—especially his suicide—have on the rest of the Loman family. Develop your ideas with evidence from the text. Convince us that you’ve read the play carefully and thought deeply about the possible reasons for Willy’s self-destructive actions.

Post your microessay to the Analyzing Death of a Salesman page on G+. No peer responses required on this activity.

(Adapted from this.)

Experiencing Death of a Salesman

After you’ve read Death of a Salesman and watched the film adapted from it, reflect on how watching the movie influenced your understanding of the play and how having first read the play influenced your experience with the movie. Your initial response should be at least 150 words long.

Post your initial response to the Experiencing Death of a Salesman page on G+ Once you’ve made your initial post, comment on and/or ask questions about the experience described by at least three of your peers. Your responses should be at least 50 words long.

The Work for Weeks 8 & 9

Unit Theme: Innocence and Experience

Weeks 8-9 Focus: Drama

PrepareParticipateReflect

My Week 8-9 Rundown


Prepare

ReadingOther

(Terms to Know: Plot and setting)

This Week’s Reading

RequiredSupplemental

The following texts will serve as the basis for this week’s discussion:


  • Supplemental
    • Review the items added to the class’s supplemental texts spreadsheet.


Other Preparation Activities

  • Record two entries in your Reading Notebook.
  • Search the internet for an online resource that supplements one of the texts from this week’s reading (see my list of supplemental texts for examples of what you might find). Once you’ve found your resource, paste a link in this shared Google spreadsheet. Be sure to fill in all the information asked for in the sheet.

Participate

  • By Tuesday (10/21): Using #amreading, write a brief “thus-far” summary of the book you’re reading for your book review (i.e., give us the quick lowdown on what’s happening). Be sure to include the book name in the tweet. Also post two comments about this week’s reading/watching. By Sunday (10/26): Reply to three of your peers’ tweets, responding to the quotation or the reading comments. You can find your classmates on Twitter via the list on the flipside of this link.
  • Initial post by noon Thursday (10/23), three peer responses by Sunday (10/26): Participate in the Experiencing Death of a Salesman G+ Discussion.
  • By Sunday (10/26): Complete the Analyzing Death of a Salesman activity.

Reflect


Note:
*Unless otherwise noted, assignments are due by midnight of the date posted.

 

The Four Loves and Literature

The Greeks have four words that can be translated into the English word loveagapeerosphilia, and storge. For this discussion, track down a definition for each term; then find a story, essay, or poem from this unit’s reading that you feel represents each type of love. Once you’ve defined and found literary examples of the terms, defend your choices in a paragraph of at least 50 words for each term, using specific examples from each text as support. Since you’ll be defining and illustrating four types of love, your initial post will have four parts that ought to look something like this:

Type of love: your definition of this type of love. Title of the essay, story, or poem you’ve chosen to illustrate this type of love. A 50 word (at least) paragraph in which you defend your choice using specific examples from your chosen text.

Post your four-part list as your initial post to the Four Loves & Literature page in G+. Once you’ve made your initial post, comment on and/or ask questions about the choices and the means of support provided by at least three of your peers. Your responses should be at least 50 words long. 

Literary Images of Love and Hate

All the texts in the Love and Hate section of LHE address these deep human emotions in slightly different ways and using slightly different images and/or figurative language (i.e., metaphors, simile, etc.). For this discussion, pick three texts from this unit’s reading and consider the images and/or figurative language that each writers use to characterize love and hate. For instance, in his poem “Fire and Ice” Robert Frost compares love (desire) to fire and hate to ice. (FYI: Frost’s comparison is off limits now. :-p )

Once you’ve settled on your images/figurative language, pick one that most interests you or that you find most effective and discuss in a micro-essay of at least 150 words how this image/figurative language functions in its particular text. In your essay, remember to use specific examples from each text. As you consider the image’s/figurative language’s function, think about the following questions: what does the image/figurative language suggest about the nature of love and/or hate? How often does it appear in the text? What role does it play in the text—i.e., is it an object that characters interact with and/or share or is it something constructed by the speaker/narrator to help readers better grasp what the narrative has to say about love and/or hate?

Post your micro-essay as your initial post to this discussion board. Once you’ve made your initial post to the Images of Love & Hate page in G+, comment on and/or ask questions about the choices provided by at least three of your peers. Your responses should be at least 50 words long.

The Work for Week 7

Unit Theme: Love and Hate

Week 7 Focus: Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry

PrepareParticipateReflect

My Week 7 Rundown


Prepare

ReadingOther

(Terms to Know: Metaphor and simile)

This Week’s Reading

RequiredSupplemental

Before you begin this week’s reading, review the discussion prompts for this week’s G+ Conversations. The following texts will serve as the basis for this week’s discussion:

  • Required:
    • (Fiction) “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, LHE 729-40.
    • (Fiction) “Jealous Husband Returns in the Form of Parrot” by Robert Olen Butler, LHE 766-70.
    • (Fiction) Individual choice: Read at least one of the remaining stories in the “Fiction” section of “Love and Hate” in LHE. This could include Chinua Achebe’s “Marriage is a Private Affair” (LHE 946-51) and Nahid Rachlin’s “Departures” (LHE 951-57).
    • (Nonfiction) “Is Love an Art?” by Eric Fromm, LHE 932-34.
    • (Nonfiction) Individual choice: Read at least one of the remaining essays in the “Essays” section of “Love and Hate” in LHE.
    • (Poetry) “With His Venom” by Sappho, LHE 772.
    • (Poetry) Sonnet 130 “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” William Shakespeare, LHE 787.
    • (Poetry) “The Flea” by John Donne, LHE 788.
    • (Poetry) “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden, LHE 802-3.
    • (Poetry) “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath, LHE 808-10.
    • (Poetry) “Infidelities” by Moyra Donaldson, LHE 823.
    • (Poetry) Individual choice: Read at least two of the remaining poems in the “Poetry” section of “Love and Hate” in LHE. This could include Abbas Saffari’s “Our Story” (LHE 957-61).


Other Preparation Activities

  • Record two entries in your Reading Notebook.
  • Search the internet for an online resource that supplements one of the texts from this week’s reading (see my list of supplemental texts for examples of what you might find). Once you’ve found your resource, paste a link in this shared Google spreadsheet. Be sure to fill in all the information asked for in the sheet.

Participate


Reflect


Note:
*Unless otherwise noted, assignments are due by midnight of the date posted.

 

Midterm Composition

This course is designed to provide you with an environment in which you can 1) actively and critically read, analyze, and interpret diverse works of literature and 2) begin to understand and practice diverse ways of responding to those literary texts. One of the main ways you’ll show and be assessed on how you’re moving through this course environment and engaging with the texts you read is through a midterm composition. This will consist of a longer text–critical, creative, or performance–that you develop using the course methodology as discussed during the Introduction Unit.

Assignment Deadline

Midnight, October 19.

Assignment Description

One objective of this course is to give you experience with the diverse ways there are to write about and in response to literature. Such writing runs on a continuum from informal to formal responses. Your annotations and notes are on the informal end of the scale, while your midterm composition and your book review will be on the formal end. This composition should be at least 500 words long and can take one of the following forms: a critical text, a creative text, and/or a performance text (see below for explanations). You can choose which forms you would like to use

  • The critical text could be (but need not be limited to) any of the following:  
    • A critical or interpretive analysis of one of the course readings, in which you analyze a component or components of the text (e.g., theme, plot, character, tone, imagery, etc.) and show how those components and their interactions contribute to and/or expand your understanding of the text.
    • An interpretive argument, in which you make a claim about a literary text or literary texts or assert a particular interpretation of a text or texts and support that claim or interpretation with specific evidence drawn from the text(s). 
    • A compare/contrast essay, in which you compare and/or contrast the form and/or content (e.g., theme, plot, character, tone, imagery, etc.) of at least two literary texts. 
  • The creative text could be a poem, a personal essay, a short story, a short play, etc. (If you choose to compose a poem, it need not be 500 words long.) Any creative text you submit should be accompanied by a preface of at least 300 words in which you discuss how your text developed in response to the unit readings and/or takes up the unit theme.
  • In the performance text you would perform (i.e., read aloud/orally present) a shorter text (like a poem, a short essay, a brief short story, or a short play) or a portion of longer text. If you choose to submit a performance text, follow these simple steps:
    • Step 1: Read and reread the text and, if needed, do some simple research to familiarize yourself with the narrative’s timing, flow, language, tone, symbolism, characters and their personalities, setting, dialogue, etc.
    • Step 2: Practice presenting the narrative aloud until you’re comfortable enough with the narrative’s language, timing, and flow that you don’t stumble while you’re recording your performance and so it doesn’t sound like you’re simply reading from the text. If you’re game, you could practice reading in front of friends and/or family members and ask them to help you fine tune your performance to make it more compelling.
    • Step 3: Record your performance of the poem using audio or video recording software; begin your performance by stating the title of the poem and the poet’s name so your audience knows what text you’ll be sharing. If you have access to your own software, you’re free to use that; just be sure you save the file in a widely-accessible format (like .mp3). If you don’t have access to your own software, you can use some that’s freely available online, including VocarooRecord MP3, and SoundCloud.

Your performance text should be accompanied by a preface of at least 300 words in which you discuss a) why you chose this particular text to perform and b) how preparing to perform the text–then how performing the text–influenced your understanding of and interaction with the narrative.

Submit your composition by emailing it to me by midnight, October 19. Use this wording in the subject line of your email: “[YourLastName] Midterm Composition.” Easy enough, right?

Of Marriage and Wiving and Othello

It’s easy to reduce Othello and Desdemona’s failed marriage to Iago’s scheming and Othello’s jealousy. But the rules of choosing and keeping a wife were slightly different in the late 16th/early 17th centuries. Alexander Niccholes outlines many of these rules in his 1615 book, A Discourse of Marriage and Wiving, and of the Greatest Mystery therein contained: How to Choose a Good Wife from a Bad. In this discussion board we’ll examine the marriage relationships in Othello, which was written around 1603, with an eye toward these standards.

To begin, read this chapter from Niccholes’ book: “Certain Precepts to be Observed either in Wiving or Marriage.” As you do, circle or make note of at least two rules that apply to Othello and Desdemona’s relationship and at least one that applies to Iago and Emilia’s relationship. Once you’ve done this, turn to Othello and record specific evidence of each precept in the play and a brief (at least 50 word) explanation of how that precept seems to influence each marriage relationship. 

For your initial post in this discussion, list each precept, the evidence you found to illustrate its presence in the play, and your explanation of how that precept influences each marriage. (It’s fine to do this in a numbered list.) Once you’ve made your initial post on the Marriage, Wiving, Othello page on G+, comment on at least three other posts with replies of at least 50 words, asking questions of your peers and/or seeking to make connections among what they’ve said, your experience, and the unit reading.


(Adapted from “How to choose a good Wife from a bad…”: Were Othello and Desdemona doomed from the start? by Annmarie Kelly Harbaugh.)

Shakespeare’s Source Material

Shakespeare’s stories were often derived from folk tales and myths. Adapting these materials for his own use, however, he never hesitated to alter or elaborate on the details so he could tell the story he wanted to tell. Such is the case with Othello, which Shakespeare adapted from a tale in Giraldi Cinthio’s 1565 collection of stories, Hecatommithi. While many aspects of Cinthio’s tale made it into Othello, Shakespeare freely added details of his own and changed others in light of Elizabethan social conditions and so he could make the story work on the stage.

After reading both Othello and Cinthio’s tale, write a micro-essay of at least 150 words in which you compare and/or contrast one similarity or one difference between the narratives. Post your micro-essay to the Shakespeare’s Source Material page on G+ as your initial post to this discussion. Once you’ve made your initial post, comment on at least three other posts with replies of at least 50 words, asking questions of your peers and/or seeking to make connections among what they’ve written, your own experience, and the week’s reading.

« Older posts Newer posts »