This assignment is worth 50 points, and is due MONDAY for Block 2A and TUESDAY for Block 2B:
Choose a poem....
1. Paraphrase it,
2. SOAPSTone it,
3. Write a lens-based thematic thesis statement about it.
4. Then write a thesis about a second poem using the same lens.
5. Make a Venn Diagram contrasting the two poems.
So like we discussed at the end of class, one member of each group should post a tentative thesis statement (even if it isn't yet compacted into one sentence - and by the way, it's not against the law to have a two-sentence thesis in a more extensive analysis like this). Add roughly a paragraph of context explaining where you're going with this.
A few things to consider:
-You'll need some kind of opening example, which could serve as an opening for your essay too
-Presentations must be 10-15 minutes.
I urge you to share as much information as you can - you can describe the thought process that led up to your idea, quote relevant examples from The Crucible or other texts (including the Bible), share concepts from the literary theories/lenses that you're using, and so on. Remember, this counts as a goup quiz raid (35 pts)
By Monday, everyone must comment on a different group's post, offering some kind of opinion or suggestion. That will count for a classwork grade (15 pts), which is one of the last grades of the marking period!
If you're wondering what the others are:
-There will be a quiz on Act II of the play next week,
-There will be a take-home test (50 pts) to complete over next weekend (apply two different lenses to three poems chosen from a list and outline two paragraph-length analyses - this would have been last week but I wanted to get to The Crucible so I decided on the take-home thing, which is probably easier anyhow).
-We will read through next week into the short one after, and after the short break, you will deliver your presentations. These are worth 100 points, and they provide an excellent opportunity to demonstrate and integrate your critical thinking and close reading skills, as well as your new-found content knowledge in literary theory (psychoanalysis, postcolonialism, etc.) If you wish, you can do your presentation in the form of a video or critical article that classmates watch/read outside class - don't worry. I won't assign any extra work on any night students are assigned a classmates presentations as HW.
As for your Crucible essays, in which member of the group will develop their own specific thesis on the general ideas in the presentation, this will be our first MP2 activity.
(In addition to this post, remember to print the Crucible Organizer under Downloads above, and fill in as much as you can for Abigail Williams, Betty Parris, Reverend Parris, Tituba, and John Proctor.)
One person in your group should post a comment explain your group's initial ideas about the play. Then each individual in the class should post on at least one of the group explanations with a comment or suggestion.
Block 2A: Sorry I was absent today - I asked you guys to blog, and here's what I want you to discuss in your post:
Below I'm going to explain the ideas of our final critic, cultural theorist Rene Girard, who relates to all the lenses, but has a special resonance with the Theological analysis of literature. His theory will guide our reading of The Crucible because it resonates with the events that inspired it: the Salem Witch Trials, and the 1950's "Red Scare."
After reading the explanations/watching the videos below and taking notes, please post the following:
a. Explain how Girard's theory is reflected in the story "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment."
b. Identify a connection between this theory and the "Red Scare" described in the videos.
c. Give another example from life, history or fiction that reflects Girard's theory.
(Examples - Bullying, The Holocaust, Clarisse from F451 . Now you can't use any of those!)
Girard's basic idea is this:
Human beings are imitative creatures, which lets us form groups, but also makes us hate and fight each other.
(Read the summary linked above first, then my explanation below - links there are helpful videos/images)
You read "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment," a story in which three men compete for the same woman, each made jealous by the previous one's flirtation with her. Eventually, their rivalry turns into a fistfight, which destroys the pitcher full of precious magic water. Rene Girard thinks this is essentially how humans are - competitive, violent and self-destructive. Most of us feel a nagging sense of lack (psychoanalytic influence of Lacan) and think if we had what someone else had, it would make us "whole" like them. So we desire what we see those we wish to be like desire, which means we end up wanting and fighting over the same things (which can be objects, or lovers, or positions of status - anything that we think will make us as cool, special and popular as that person).
Sometimes this jealousy becomes contagious, because everyone starts to want the same thing (Mean Girls), or everyone lines up on two sides of a rivalry (World War I). This can only be solved by "sacrificing" a scapegoat figure who everyone can agree to blame (Cady in Mean Girls, Germany after WWI). That is the "hidden" truth of every society: the sacrifice of some Other to maintain social cohesion, either in the past (like Oedipus in Greek tragedy) or in an ongoing way (like the child in the basement of Omelas).
Notice that this relates to...
-PSYCHOANALYSIS: Girard is describing the human id as fundamentally imitative ("mimetic desire"), and therefore competitive/violent - hence he agrees with Freud that humans will always need a superego. He thinks societies' superegoes are structured to prevent the outbreak of id-driven rivalry that can tear a society apart.
-FEMINIST/POSTCOLONIALIST: Girard describes how the murder of a scapegoat is justified through some kind of social construction or "cultural narrative" that makes them into a dangerous Other. In The Crucible, Tituba is the first scapegoated, and the vast majority of the accused are women.
-STRUCTURALIST (SEMIOTIC): This NEW lens sort of does to a text what Freud did to the mind: creates a unique, structured framework of elements to analyze it. The Archetypes, though based in Psychoanalysis, represent an early Structuralist approach to lit-crit. Structuralists are especially concerned with lanuage and patterns, possibly across a genre (ex. the short-story plot triangle approach) or within a text (deciphering the "logic" of symbols or repetition of certain words). Girard offers the structure of Triangular Desire (desiring subject-desired object "mediating" model). He also looks into myth for examples of the "scapegoat mechanism," which recur throughout traditional literature ("motif"). In most cultures, such sacrifices are woven into religion, like the murders of Salem Witches. Of course in our recent history, scapegoats have been mostly political. One such situation led Arthur Miller to write The Crucible in 1952: the infamous "Red Scare," aka "McCarthyism"...
Videos on the Red Scare (they are short - watch all three)
-Overview (words/images, no narration)
-Footage of Hearings (with narration)
-Arthur Miller discussing the Red Scare (from 1971)
-Simpsons Parody of Salem Witch Trials (similarities?)
-I will check your notes on this next class. I'd also like to see that you have basic notes on the Puritan religion.
There are clear connections between these circumstances and Girard's ideas, which I will leave you to explicate. But first, there is one more twist to his theory: Girard, a Catholic, explicitly moves into THEOLOGICAL territory and upholds Jesus as the solution to our problem. This is not meant in the Protestant sense, where simply having faith in Jesus is enough to save your soul. Instead, Girard upholds Jesus as a model of nonviolence. If we are going to imitate someone by nature, then we should imitate His refusal to resent, be rivals with, or pursue revenge against others (meaning, He made no other person into "the Other"). This is why some Catholic Saints described Christian ethics as "the imitation of Christ" (imitatio Dei). Do any characters in the Crucible do this?
"History, you might say, is a test for mankind. But we know very well that mankind is failing that test... We must face our neighbors and declare unconditional peace. Even if we are provoked, challenged, we must give up violence once and for all" - Rene Girard (quote links to summary F.A.Q.)
ALSO: We'll be starting The Crucible next class, so think about whether you'd be willing to play a part!
Ministers - Reverend Parris, Reverend Hale
Powerful Men - Putnam, Gov. Danforth, Judge Hathorne
Lower-Class Men - John Proctor, Giles Corey, Francis Nurse, Cheever/Herrick
Girls - Abigail Williams, Betty Parris, Mary Warren
Women - Mrs. Putnam, Elizabeth Proctor, Rebecca Nurse, Tituba
PREVIOUS NOTE: Last class, I forgot to add that the 5 Sentence Patterns sheet I handed out at the end of class requires you to come up with a simple sentence and then write it in the style of the sentence patterns here. So come up with a simple subject/verb statement, and then write it in each of the 5 styles on the front, then with the variations on the back. This shouldn't take very long at all, and if it is and is confusing you, then just do the front and you can fix the back part in class. So, in addition to the two Puritan pieces to SOAPSTone ("Sinner in the Hands..." and "Wonders of the..."), please complete those sentences. If you didn't hand them in today, please drop them off anytime tomorrow.
Our next unit studies Arthur Miller's 1952 play The Crucible, a semi-fictionalized account of the Salem Witch Trials. Miller wrote it during the "Red Scare," a period when Senator Joe McCarthy led a modern-day "witch hunt" through Hollywood and the U.S. Government in search of "Communist spies" (a fantasy which seemed all too believable during the terror of the Cold War). Miller intended the play as a protest against McCarthy's policies, and it proved effective, helping bring him down. As always, our goal is to closely read this work, critically think about it, and produce a piece of carefully-constructed writing defending an original PSYCHOANALYTIC, FEMINIST, THEOLOGICAL or POST-COLONIAL interpretation (in the form of a 4-6 paragraph essay with a secondary source). In the process, we'll learn a bit about Puritanism and theology.
Anne Bradstreet: "Dear Loving Husband"/"Burning of our House"
Governor John Winthrop: "City on a Hill" Rallying Speech
Jonathan Edwards: "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" Sermon
Excerpt from Cotton Mather's Wonders of the Invisible World
"Are You Now or Were You Ever?" by Arthur Miller
"The Disadvantages of an Elite Education" by William Deresiewicz
Modern-Day McCarthyism Pieces from Politico, Inquistr and Business Insider
The Crucible Critical Analysis Essay (Choice)
In her interview with the New York Times, philosopher Judith Butler responds to some Americans' concerns about the Black Lives Matter movement using an argument similar to W.E.B. DuBois's criticism of the American "color line." Dubois wrote that "the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line,—the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea."
DuBois thought that the color-line persisted even after slavery was abolished, because black Americans were still perceived as Other in some fundamental way (and so experienced themselves as Other, too, in the "peculiar" sensation DuBois called "double consciousness"). In the same vein, Butler says, "When we are talking about [the history of] anti-black racism in the U.S., we have to remember that under slavery black lives were considered only a fraction of a human life, so the prevailing way of valuing lives assumed that some lives mattered more, were more human, more worthy... But when and where did black lives ever really get free of coercive [violence]? One reason is that it states the obvious, but the obvious has not yet been historically realized. So it is a statement of outrage and a demand for equality, for the right to live free of constraint. [It] also links the the history of slavery, of debt peonage, and a prison system geared toward the containment, neutralization and degradation of black lives, [plus] a police system that more and more easily and often can take away a black life in a flash, all because some officer perceives a threat..."
Before you give your opinion on Butler's statement, you might want to re-watch these videos from class:
-DuBois Biography (3 minutes - consider his debate with Booker T. Washington's "accomodationist" ideas)
-Butler's Philosophy of Gender (4 minutes - is her point about "social constructs" a. true? b. applicable to race?)
You might also want to check out any of these videos which provide additional background on the issue:
-An interview with the Black Lives Matter movement's co-founder
-Report on the Tamir Rice shooting that Butler mentions - is the forensic expert
And here are two pieces of commentary, one against and one defending Butler's view:
-Black Seahawks player Richard Sherman criticizes the BLM movement
-ESPN's "His and Hers" hosts criticize Sherman's comments as harmful to black Americans
Mr. Justin Biggs