Continue the discussion from class (which was our most popular so far) using the comments below.
Consider the following questions which came up, and try to provide links in your responses:
-What is privilege? What is racism? We talk about
-What does it mean to blame individuals vs. "systems" for social problems?
-How much responsibility do citizens have to obey authority figures?
-Everyone agreed we should, ideally, take everyone as individuals. But is that possible? Why/why not?
-To what extent is the history of slavery/segregation still with us?
-Does political correctness have ANY value? If so, what? If not, how has it become so prominent?
-Are all group treated equally in America today? Most racial minorities say no in surveys. Don't simply agree or disagree; consider where these perceptions come from. If you tend to disagree, try to see their point of view; if you tend to agree, try to see the point of view of white Americans who do not perceive things the same way.
Also, please remember to be respectful! We all have different social and political views, but we are all part of the same class, community and country, and we need to remember that. If you really want to develop intellectually, you'll try to understand the mindset of those with whom you disagree, and always look for the bigger picture.
Read and complete SOAPSTONE analysis for this non-fiction piece about the slave trade:
-Excerpt from The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano (1798) - On the Middle Passage
Then do the same SOAPSTONE analysis for this modern-day Washington Post article on race relations:
-"America's Racial Divides are So Deep, We Can't Even Agree on what the Civil War was About"
On the first day, I told everyone we would spend the year developing three crucial skills:
CRITICAL THINKING – Using Literary Criticism and making Real-World Connections to today
CLOSE READING – Finding specific examples in the text and analyzing diction/syntax
IMPACTFUL WRITING – Translating your ideas into clear, concise, and classy prose that
Since then, we have used the first few classes to explore a number of works using three literally theories, practicing closely reading and then critically thinking about literary works to develop original theses:
Psychoanalytic Lens (Internal Power Struggles)
-F451; “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock”; Emily Dickinson’s “Much Madness,” “Wild Nights!,”; Whitman's "Learned Astronomer," Rilke's "The Grown Up," Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find"
Feminist Lens (Power Struggle between Genders)
-A Streetcar Named Desire; Emily Dickinson's "It Was Not Death; Updike's "A&P", Adrienne Rich's "Aunt Jennifer's Tigers," The Crucible
Post-Colonial Lens (Struggles of the DIsempowered)
-One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest; Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing”/ Hughes’s “I Too Sing America”; Maya Angelou’s “Africa”; Ursula K. Leguin LeGuin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”]
Now you will be writing an analysis of one of short story and one poem, bringing in the skill of Impactful Writing to add express the ideas we’ve developed through Critical Thinking and Close Reading. Each will be a single paragraph with two pieces of textual evidence. The short length of the assignment means that you will be able to edit these into Perfect Paragraphs, following the rubric I will distribute and using some of the techniques we discuss. For Homework (9/21-A, 22-B), write your draft of the POEM paragraph, using a certain lens throughout.
Download the Editing PowerPoint here
Here is Willow, Ash and Arianna's Feminist Lens analysis of Dickinson's poem, "It Was Not Death," for you to respond to. Read their thesis and question, then their explanation. After that, reply to their question in the comments. You can challenge their thesis or question using ideas from the Psychoanalytic lens, but you can't simply reject it - you have to produce an alternative interpretation and relate it back to theirs.
Thesis: The poem, “It was not Death, for I stood up,” by Emily Dickinson, when viewed through a feminist lens, depicts the noxious circle, masked by the euphoria of romance, that traps women in the confines of the patriarchy.
Question: Is the narrator’s fate truly final? Can she still escape the patriarchy, and if she can, why has she given up?
In this piece, the narrator, a woman, comes to realize how, through romantic relationships, mankind entraps women in the prison of the patriarchy, just as her lover has just done to her in the poem. The narrator describes her wedding day, and as her lover kisses her, sealing their marriage, she “taste[s]” something like death. This “death” is not literal, for she “stood up,” alive. Instead, this this “death” is symbolic of the that of her independence and individuality. By letting this man marry her, she has allowed him to assert his superiority over her. While she had initially believed that their roles would be equal in their marriage, she now realizes that her role as the wife is inferior to that of the husband, at least in the society she lives in. As a wife, she will be forced to submit to her husband’s will, relinquishing her freedoms as an individual in order to conform to the criteria of wifehood. Instead of living her own life, following her own pursuits and personal will, she will act purely to fit the social standard of what a wife should be. However, this realization came too late for in her relationship for her to escape it. As her lover courted her, she was swept up in the hot passion of love, the “Siroccos,” and failed to note the precursors of the patriarchy’s looming triumph over her. And now, according to the narrator, her fate is as sealed and final as the permanency of death. Another depiction of the patriarchy’s cycle in literature can be found in Tennessee William’s play A Streetcar Named Desire. Stella DuBois, a victim of the patriarchy, once was a strong, young woman, who even prided herself in her independence, as she had stuck out on her own, leaving the family estate to make her own life. However, after this display of the strength of her personal will, Stella falls for a man named Stanley Kowalski. He woos Stella, especially through sexual pleasure, and through love blinds her into ignorance. With love clouding her mind and logic, Stella allows herself to become the submissive partner in an abusive relationship. She later in the play even gives birth to the child of this male chauvinist, conforming to the social belief of what women are meant to be, wives and mothers.
We have now introduced three theories or "lenses" for analyzing literature, each of which looks emphasizes a type of power struggle which can occur within individuals, relationships or societies:
I. PSYCHOANALYTIC LENS: Inner Conflicts between Desire (ID) and Law (SUPEREGO)
II. FEMINIST LENS: Interpersonal Conflicts between Male Power ("Patriarchy") and Women's Freedoms
III. POST-COLONIAL LENS: Social and Political Conflicts between Oppressors and Oppressed Groups.
Your job is to take these three lenses and apply each of them to a literary work. So, you'll be reading three works, and then finding a quotable example from each. Type it up, then write write a 2-3 sentence analysis of each quote, applying one of the literary lenses to each. Here are the links and prompts to get you thinking::
1. Flannery O'Connor's Short Story "A Good Man is Hard to Find"
-Psychoanalytic Lens: How does the Misfit exemplify the Id? The Grandmother sees herself as a defender of proper behavior, and so the representative of the Superego, but is she? And why does the story focus so strongly on these two characters? (This is a really good story to bring in the unconscious archetypes of Jung).
2.Walt Whitman's poem "I Hear America Singing"
-Feminist Lens: Women appear near the end of the poem. How are they portrayed in relation to the men? Should a poem about America be equally divided between men and women? Or, on the other hand, is including women in the scene a powerful defense of their equality (considering this was written at a time when they could not vote and therefore were not considered "citizens")?
3.. Langston Hughes's "I ,Too Sing America."
-Post Colonial Lens: Hughes, an African-American poet and playwright, wrote this almost 100 years after Whitman's poem as a response to it. Why do you think he did that? How does he present his position in society as a member of a colonized and devalued race? How does he try to take back his identity and define himself through the language and imagery in the poem?
Post your quotes/analyses in the comments section as a single comment (please number them 1,2 and 3).
If you have any questions, let me know via email and I can help. I'll also post replies to one or two comments
Hello, 2A and 2B classes! Here are your syllabus and assigned reading in a Word document Make sure you print the whole thing and bring it to your next class:
Your assignment is to read and blog T.S. Eliot's long narrative poem, "Love-Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." Think of it a story told through a sometimes-vague poem that you have to interpret for yourself. An "interpretation" doesn't have a right or wrong answer, so don't look one up online - I already know what it says about the poem on Sparknotes and Shmoop and GradeSaver. I want to know what you think: who is Mr. J. Alfred Prufrock, the speaker? Why does he use such weird images and metaphors (anesthesia, lobster claws, hair, Michelangelo)? He keeps saying he can't say what he's trying to say - but can you? What's on his mind?
Your post doesn't need to be very long, as long as it's quality. You can build off others' comments as long as you give them credit by name.
Mr. Justin Biggs