Mercredi 11 juin 3 11 /06 /Juin 22:40

WEEK 1 - WHO IS AN AMERICAN ?

June 9 - Introduction to the course and to literary analysis: what does it mean to close read a text of American literature? What symbols, metaphors, techniques should we look for in a text?

June 11: Defining the New Nation.
Today, we had to read Crevecoeur (309-324), Winthrop (75-86), John Smith (43-57). Studying the images found in each one of these texts, we tried to better understand what Crevecoeur meant by: "He is an American, who, leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, the new rank he holds.  He becomes an American by being received in the broad lap of our great Alma Mater.  Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labors and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world."—St. John de Crevecoeur.
Winthrop: "For we must consider that we shall be as a citie upon a hill." John Winthrop, "A Model of Christian Charitie"


The discussion involved a definition of characteristic American traits, behaviors, and beliefs. Also, an analysis of what individual could best serve as the image of the "representative American." We discussed some of the complexities and tensions inherent in the American identity; we also considered the significance of our national symbols.

 

Par emmeline - Publié dans : American Literature - Summer 08
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Jeudi 1 mai 4 01 /05 /Mai 22:33
The last day of class (sad!!!) has arrived . Since Mid-April, I have asked my students to come for individual conferences: I have noticed that working one-to-one on papers was reaping more results that any other peer review session. Time to grade now !!!
Par emmeline - Publié dans : English 1102 - Spring 2008
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Jeudi 10 avril 4 10 /04 /Avr 16:50
In-class presentation of the students' research on Theme 4.
Par emmeline - Publié dans : English 1102 - Spring 2008
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Vendredi 4 avril 5 04 /04 /Avr 16:49
Today: No class. Students are at the library, doing research for their in-class presentation on Theme 4: Justice, Revenge, Authority, etc.
Par emmeline - Publié dans : English 1102 - Spring 2008
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Mardi 1 avril 2 01 /04 /Avr 16:40
Today, I was observed by two of my peers. It was also the last "real" day of class; therefore, I decided to criticize the way Hollywood looked at Justice and also ask my students one important question: from all the models of manhood or womanhood that we have read this semester, which one do you prefer? From all the systems of Justice or authority that you have read, which one do you prefer? I thus asked them to make a claim of value, which gave place to a very interesting debate, since no one (not even the males in the class) wanted to be any of the men we have read this semester and no one wanted to follow the examples of womanhood. They all agreed that, in the end, the strong models of womanhood that were depicted in the book were the grandmas in A Worn Path or in Foundations of the Earth.

Par emmeline - Publié dans : English 1102 - Spring 2008
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Vendredi 28 mars 5 28 /03 /Mars 16:52
Since Paper 2 asks my students to answer the question, "why get married?" and to give me grounds to defend marriage  I have decided to read a few stories that may help them get started on the subject:

1. Kate Chopin, The Storm: woman, at home; man, outside. woman cheating on her husband when a stranger comes in the house, during the storm. We analyzed the location of each character, questioning the myth of the fall of Adam and Eve (Calixta lets the snake in). Then, we used the theory of faculties (balancing will/emotion/intellect) to see who was lacking what and if that may explain why a marriage fails...

2. Hills Like White Elephants: The couple is unable to talk about the "it" -i.e. the child and possible abortion. We looked at the problems of communication, in the text and in the couple... looking at what is not said and who gets the last word

3. Break It Down: A guy reflects on the reason why he broke up with his girlfriend...analyzing (over-analyzing) the aspects of love. We concluded that he imposed upon himself the burden of LOVE, while trying to abide by all the rules of love. When he discovers that, with time, the rule of "thinking about her 20 times a day" weakens (to 15 times a day) he is no longer sure of his love and runs away... How is love transformed over time? Do we love with ideas of love, making us forget what love is all about? Can't we bear the pain that will always come with love (the pain of passion transforming itself in tenderness and caring, the pain of questions unanswered when faced with the mystery of the other...) what about the emotions? who is the emotional one in this story? The guy does all the thinking, feeling, questionning, etc while the girl does all the talking...Again, in this couple, big problem of communication

Great class.
Par emmeline - Publié dans : English 1102 - Spring 2008
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Mardi 25 mars 2 25 /03 /Mars 22:00
Today, we studied three texts dealing with the theme of Personal Justice:

Spanish Roulette
:

“Spanish Roulette” by Ed Vega is the short story of a young, ‘spic’ poet named Sixto whose sister has recently been raped by a local gang member and dealer. Sixto vows revenge, loading his revolver but struggling greatly with the idea, and in a way he snaps, leaving thought and reason behind in favor of drastic action. This abandonment of caution seems to be story’s central idea, as with every generation, new and certain afflictions that must be acted upon are wreaked upon humanity. Thought, poetry, and community become obsolete in light of real disaster. All in all, we cannot help but to avenge our sufferings because violence will always win out over philosophy. Near the end, after Sixto has calmed down and decided to take his time exacting vengeance on his sister’s tormentor, his composure suddenly shatters and he rushes to execute his ordained undertaking, signaling the victory of his own aggression.

The use of the term "loss" in the text is particularly important. The analysis of the homoerotic relations between the two men, in the story (The brother and the rapist) is particularly interesting, especially if we consider the raped sister as being located at the center of a triangle, uniting or dividing the two men in a sort of power/rivalry contest. A later manifestation of this theory, according to Paul Hammond in his book Love Between Men in English Literature is the idea of the erotic triangle or the Oedipal triangle. The males usually rival each other for the female's affection, when in reality, the female is simply an object used to disguise the latent or forbidden sexual feelings between the men. These men cannot openly express their erotic feelings, so a fierce Oedipal competition develops.

He Becomes Deeply and Famously Drunk:

Much like “Spanish Roulette,” Brady Udall’s “He Becomes Deeply and Famously Drunk” deals with the concept of revenge. Archie, the tale’s focal character, is a handsome, loud, and blunt seventeen year old who has spent much of his recent life working, at his mother’s earnest request, on what used to be his father’s ranch in Arizona. He appears as a bit of a delinquent, having been so since his father’s death at the age of five. Archie yearns deeply to exact vengeance upon his father’s old friend, Calfred Pulsipher, who killed him in a drunken stupor. Most of the story is spent helping the reader identify with Archie- his every day, his companions, and his every thought- so that when he does eventually go after Calfred, the reader understands what he goes through when he, indeed, cannot kill him. Archie had held pain inside of him from a very young age, and when he discovers his soon-to-be victim is nothing more than a helpless old geezer he is able to let go of his anger and finally revel in his father’s beautiful legacy. Revenge is not the best answer, for another justice has been at work in this story: God's Justice or the justice of fate that we will all face one day: that of growing old, weak, and ultimately faced by death and eternal redemption.

Of Revenge:a short declaration written by Francis Bacon that explores the injustices and self-destructions of revenge and points out the glories and overcoming nature of forgiveness. He asserts that revenge benefits no man. It ‘putteth’ the law out of office and ‘keeps (a man’s) own wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well.’ Essentially, it undermines law by ensuring the second committal of a crime and preserves hatred in a man, a sensation that only manages to worsen tears. More righteous men declare their vengeance before they exact it, in hopes that their enemy might realize their wrong and learn from it, while dishonorable offenses lie inside those who execute revenge ‘like the arrow that flieth in the dark.’ Interestingly, Bacon believes that no man does evil for it’s own sake, but rather to profit from it, and those that do, regardless of intention will be gravely punished in life or after.

For each texte, we looked at the different types of justice at play here:
1) Personal Justice/revenge - How it is played out? and carried out? (the value of the gun)
2) Official Justice/ society/penitentiary - What type of justice is played out? by whom? against whom?
3) God's justice/fate/life - How life turns out, to make us all losers in front of a larger system of justice: death/fate/old age...

 

I  think students really liked this class..

Par emmeline - Publié dans : English 1102 - Spring 2008
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Samedi 22 mars 6 22 /03 /Mars 18:49

Today, I met with students in a computer room (for the class that is not held in a computer lab). We used wiki as a space where students could read each other's paper and comment on it. This avoids the hard copy issue (some students forget to bring a hard copy for peer review) or the "I lost the comments" issue. Now, comments are stored on the individual spaces on wiki and students can access it later from home, and even question the "commenter" on the quality of his/her remarks. Paper 2 is an argumentative paper: "Why Get married?"

Par emmeline
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Mardi 18 mars 2 18 /03 /Mars 18:52

Today, students used Powerpoint to present a topic and make a claim about an issue on Theme 3: Gender and Marriage. I had very constructive remarks on topics like Gay Adoption rights, Gay marriages, Stereotypes about Men and Women in today's society, etc...

Par emmeline
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Samedi 15 mars 6 15 /03 /Mars 16:34

Today, we started working on the idea of marriage and the social conventions associated with the idea of marriage. Students will have to answer the question Why Get Married in their second paper. Therefore, I have tried to use the following stories as starting points for reflection:

1) Anne Sexton’s poem, “Cinderella” pokes enormous fun at the traditional fairy tale and wishful happily-ever-after endings in a mix of grotesque story-telling and blunt mockery. At the beginning of the poem, the reader sees a grouping of altogether unlikely ‘rags to riches’ clichés, from the milkman who becomes a realtor to the poverty-stricken woman who wins the lottery, that prepare him to hesitate at the existence of the truly fantastic. A gruesome twist on the classic Cinderella story, including images of pecked-out eyes and lacerated feet, then commandeers the work. Needless to say, it is not the spic and span fairytale that children are raised on. With the tale’s end however, Sexton sarcastically crafts a yet perfect ending. Cinderella marries the Prince, and they do indeed live happily ever after, never encountering age, mistake, or even frowns. Her jaded poem draws serious doubt towards the things of miracles, fantasies, or even true love.


2)
“The Men We Carry in Our Minds” seems to me to be a sort of contemplation of the modern man and of the history of the masculine figure as it compares to women. It appears largely to be a white flag to women and a sign of equality in a contemporary world as well. We are all just members of the human race and are mostly only familiar with what we are brought up around, so to the women author Sanders met at his university, men had life easy, enjoying magnificent spoils from sweat-less professions, but to him men were cursed with unending labor and toil. They struck him as worn out shells of what he felt like as a child, and he feared for his own adulthood. Now, however, after experiencing life as both a poor and a privileged man, he knows better than to watch so jealously the opposite sex. Men have born as many burdens as have women, and we all live this life together, regardless of our own, sometimes one-sided perspectives.

3) With Western air and flowing wordage, Stephen Crane’s “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky” tells the story of the Marshall of a characteristic southwestern town, Yellow Sky, and of his bride, and his antagonist. It perhaps presents the influence of a woman in the lives of two childish, relatively immature men. For as long as anyone in Yellow Sky can remember, Jack Potter has always kept Scratchy Wilson, a normally kind man but a ferocious drunk, at bay, and some might say that over the years their clash has become a sort of game to Scratchy. The reader sees this in his demeanor and in words such as “play,” which are used to par his actions. However, when Jack Potter brings his wife to live in Yellow Sky he runs into his nemesis, who then ends years of drunken tirades throughout the town due to the fact that Jack is now married. Women appear to be the great catalyst for maturation.

Par emmeline - Publié dans : English 1102 - Spring 2008
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