Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Kevian -- send me an email from each account you have used in the last year. That will help me search archives.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Although I do not recommend it because I think you should run screaming out of here with your hands up on Friday, you may defer your presentations of the Eliot poetry until one day after our return in January. That would be January 6 (A) and 7 (B).

Monday, December 7, 2009


Ok. A-day can have one more day to prep for WLA. Friday will be your due date. See you Wednesday!


This week, complete revisions of your WLA 1. Begin work on your presentation of an Eliot poem by the end of next week. See format guide in the Dropbox, which includes a title page. Add this: in the header that repeats at the top of each page (the place where you put your last name and the page number at the upper right), center your student number.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Please bring your WLA 1 for in-class review: I will have laptops, so you can revise if you bring the file.
What does it take to be a real man (or a real woman) according the play Macbeth?Find at least one pair of supportive passages that reveals one of the Macbeths contrasted with a foil character and analyze according to at least two literary criteria. Write your thoughts in a well-formed essay that concludes with your own thoughts on the main idea. Shape your essay as if it were a commentary. Both the essay and each internal paragraph should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. To earn an A, your paper must have a WOW factor. I need a little WOW. See today's instructions. Papers are due Thurday/Friday, Dec. 3/4.

Friday, November 20, 2009


See notes in dropbox one more time: I am about to assign credit for them if I can read them.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Look in dropbox at the Shakespeare notes. See how useless it is to write notes no one can read. If your notes are blank, please redo in DARK INK -- neatly.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


There is a copy of the mini-me research project rubric in Dropbox.

Monday, November 9, 2009


I will not be there Tuesday. Work on orals, log notes from Act I (to be scanned in); present little histories.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Scholarship money!

See Optimist Club essay contest below the calendar to the right. Do it! Or I'll be sure my daughter gets it!

A-day did a great job on the recitations today. Look at the calendar and the previous post for deadline clarifications.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Through Wednesday

I've adjusted the calendar a little because it takes so long to share findings:
Friday/Monday: recitations all day; if we finish, then we report research findings until the bell
Tuesday/Wednesday: complete reports on research; turn in notes on Act I (rather than write them on the board). I'll give you a handout for this. Then begin oral commentaries on the parts you memorized.
Thursday/Friday: finish orals; maybe a reading check; begin movie of Macbeth

Monday, November 2, 2009


Prepare for a mini-oral on your memory selection to perform individually on Wednesday/Thursday. Organize as before with clear title, author, context, importance/purpose, and focusing thesis. Prepare for one or two elements or angles. Your commentary should be 4-6 minutes in length. DO NOT WRITE IT OUT. It will be assessed by classmates and me.

We will also go to the library for a little on-the-go research about the background, and we will have a language quiz reviewing the sentence patterns and simple diagrams. We might not get it all done...

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Prepare your individual memory selections and analyze them in the same way you analyzed your assignments from Act I: context, speaker, audience, situation, purpose, imagery, motif, irony -- other elements if you notice them to be more dominant.

By the way, if any of you have one of your old "Who Am I?" powerpoint shows from ninth grade, I could sure use a couple of them for examples for my third and fourth blocks. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


List your top three choices for a memory piece. Read the rest of the play. Be prepared to report on the images, motifs (or possible ones), and ironies in your selection from class Tuesday/Wednesday.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Reminder of fees

>>> Elissa COX 10/26/2009 9:26 AM >>>
If you all do not mind, please remind senior IB students this week that the EXAM FEE is due October 30 along with their signed registration form!!! 

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tuesday-Friday (revised!)

For Tuesday/Wednesday: make your choices for memorization from Macbeth and complete the handout on Act I on a separate piece of notebook paper (or type it). Finish the play entirely by Thursday/Friday.

The memorization choices I gave you do not match the Holt book (thanks Sarah and Maddison). So Row 1 (by the window) gets Act I
Row 2 gets Act II
Row 3 gets Act III
Row 4 gets Act IV
Row 5 gets Act V
Row 6 (by the computers) gets Act III

As you read, choose a passage from your assigned act. The passage should be 10-15 lines in length for one speaker, or if you want to act a little scene with a partner, 20-30 lines. Choose crucial speeches and exchanges, important ones that look as if they could be extracted for an oral commentary. If your individual speech is longer than 20 lines, I will score you with a bonus. Thus, you should read and choose carefully for an important speech or exchange, prioritize two or three passages in case you do not get the one you want, and tell me your choices on Thursday/Friday. You will have one week to prepare for your recitation.

Exceptions to the act assignment are possible if you have a desire to do a famous or important speech from another act, but have good reasons.

For Thursday/Friday: finish reading the play

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

For Thursday/Monday

Complete this assignment for Thursday/Monday:
1. Perambulate about the premises until you find the perfect subject: an object or person you can observe minutely. As an exercise in PAYING ATTENTION, write 150-200 words describing your chosen object or person in perfectly objective language -- but with a theme.
2. In a second paragraph, write your thoughts and develop the theme overtly. Make it explicit -- clear to any moron -- what you implied in the first paragraph.
3. Effectively clench the piece with a final short paragraph that shows what you can do. I'd like to have the breath knocked out of me. (Wouldn't you?)

Be prepared to read your piece to your classmates when you return. The final step will be to reflect on the experience. Grading will be on observed effort and not on close reading on my part.

The model text:

MARRAKECH (1939) by George Orwell
As the corpse went past the flies left the restaurant table in a cloud and rushed after it, but they came back a few minutes later. The little crowd of mourners-all men and boys, no womenthreaded their way across the market-place between the piles of pomegranates and the taxis and the camels, wailing a short chant over and over again. What really appeals to the flies is that the corpses here are never put into coffins, they are merely wrapped in a piece of rag and carried on a rough wooden bier on the shoulders of four friends. When the friends get to the burying-ground they hack an oblong hole a foot or two deep, dump the body in it and fling over it a little of the dried-up, lumpy earth, which is like broken brick. No gravestone, no name, no identifying mark of any kind. The burying-ground is merely a huge waste of hummocky earth, like a derelict building-lot. After a month or two no one can even be certain where his own relatives are buried.

When you walk through a town like this-two hundred thousand inhabitants, of whom at least twenty thousand own literally nothing except the rags they stand up in-when you see how the people live, and still more how easily they die, it is always difficult to believe that you are walking among human beings. All colonial empires are in reality founded upon that fact.The people have brown faces-besides, there are so many of them! Are they really the same flesh as yourself? Do they even have names? Or are they merely a kind of undifferentiated brown stuff, about as individual as bees or coral insects? They rise out of the earth, they sweat and starve for a few years, and then they sink back into the nameless mounds of the graveyard and nobody notices that they are gone. And even the graves themselves soon fade back into the soil.

Sometimes, out for a walk, as you break your way through the prickly pear, you notice that it is rather bumpy underfoot, and only a certain regularity in the bumps tells you that you are walking over skeletons.

Monday, October 19, 2009

for Tuesday/Wednesday

1. Wear shoes you can walk outside in and enough clothes to stay warm. We'll go for a nature walk.
2. Bring in your written conclusions about style in either Conrad or Orwell. See Dropbox for handouts.
3. Late reminder: quiz on language notes

Thursday, October 15, 2009

For Friday/Monday

Your video projects are due! Also, reread "Down the Mine" by Orwell and bring in a copy of it if you have it printed. The Friday class will be observed, so show up with what you need!

Monday, October 12, 2009


There is some sort of meeting for seniors tomorrow at 8:45 with Jostens about ordering graduation supplies. Do not let this get in the way of your assignments!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Retest opportunity

You may review notes and retake Language Quiz 2 on Tuesday morning before class or Tuesday afternoon IMMEDIATELY after school if you made below 80. The highest grade awarded on this retest will be an 80. It will concern Patterns 1-5 and will NOT be the same quiz. You will need to recognize patterns and diagram five sentences. See me before then if you have difficulties. I also recommend that you tutor each other on this material.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


1. Read all Orwell essays by Friday/Monday.
2. Due next week –
Orwell and Conrad: Pinhead or Patriot?
Create a video with your group that shows each author to be either

*Video must be between 2-3 minutes. (-5 for each 10 secs)
*Team must be of 3-5 members who act, direct, and edit.
*Formatted like the O'Reilly Factor segment (0 or 10)
*Talking head asserts and evaluates (unlike O'Reilly did here) in a way that clearly demonstrates why each man is either a PINHEAD or a PATRIOT. (0, 10, 20, or 30)
*Clips demonstrate evidence with direct quotes from assigned texts spoken by actors portraying authors (0, 15, or 30)
* Video:
Editing clean, professional, done till done right (0, 5, or 10)
Audio clearly understandable; music appropriate (0, 5, or 10)
Visual quality and appeal (0, 5, or 10)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


For tomorrow and Thursday, read "The Spike" and prepare for the language test on notes from days 1-10.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

For Thursday/Friday

Check updated calendar.

Read "You and the Atomic Bomb" by George Orwell.

Complete this preparation for commentaries -- Keep this work very neat and orderly:
As you did for homework with symbol, do also with situational and verbal irony. Find and list four examples from "Shooting an Elephant" with at least one representative example for each type of irony.

Do the same for tone, and extract three passages that prove what you say. See board for adjectives describing tone.

On a comparative T-chart, describe the narrative stance of each story, the novella Heart of Darkness and the essay “Shooting an Elephant.” (Note punctuation AND genre.)

Continuing this chart, describe the similarities and differences in each author’s purpose.

On the chart, describe the similarities and/or differences in tone.

Here is the old post on tone:
Tone describes the attitude of the writer, narrator, or speaker toward his subject or audience. Tone can only be demonstrated through diction and phrasing that reveal attitude, preferably examples with more than one possible meaning. It helps if you define "attitude toward WHAT" -- the subject, character, or audience? The context determining the meaning, and the meaning so determined, demonstrate tone. The author or narrator's tone will not be "dark." That's way too ill-defined. It will be bitter, callous, condescending, contemplative, contemptuous, critical, cynical, defensive, defiant, desperate, detached, determined, didactic, diplomatic, disdainful, dramatic, formal, friendly, enthusiastic, humorous, indignant, informal, intimate, ironic, judgmental, lighthearted, malicious, mocking, nostalgic, objective, persuasive, reflective, reverent, sarcastic, sardonic, satirical, sincere, sympathetic, tragic, urgent, or vindictive. Those adjectives describe a very specific attitude. And then you have to take individual words, sentences, and relationships within the text and convince me that you are right about it.)

Prepare your paired oral commentaries, which have been moved to Monday/Tuesday. (I just changed this: I am calendar deficient.)

Friday, September 25, 2009

For Monday/Tuesday

Read "A Hanging" by George Orwell. It's in the dropbox Orwell pack.

Pick one of these questions to focus on as you read:
1. Discuss the role of these details: the dog, the puddle, the dialogue at the end.

2. What three sense details struck you most forcefully? Choose specific details, not type of sense appealed to.

3. Find two metaphors in "A Hanging." Are they decorative for simple visual appeal (many are) or do they convey and idea or meaning beyond the picture? Explain.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

for Thursday/Friday

1. Neatly, on a piece of lined paper, with reference to a dictionary or literature book, define symbol in its literary sense.
2. Determine what might be symbolic in Orwell's "Shooting an Elephant."
3. Write a paragraph with a topic that states what the item from Orwell's essay symbolizes -- that is, what it stands for -- and explain how you know it symbolizes what you say it does.

Friday, September 18, 2009

for Tuesday/Wednesday

Read "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell. See what similarities it has with Marlow's narrative. 
I have placed it in Dropbox in a .pdf file called "OrwellEssays08.pdf"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

For Friday/Monday

Prepare for an oral commentary on the extract you received last class. This commentary is to be done individually, not in pairs, and assessed by one-two classmates.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

for Wednesday/Thursday

Communicate with your partner and create outlines for your extracts. The aim is to find certain literary elements and critical approaches that you can apply to a variety of extracts from Conrad. Present orally and visually (with outline) on Wednesday/Thursday.
Outline should have 1. Focused intro, 2. Thesis that can work for either passage, 3. At least three topic sentences that directly apply the thesis. You should be able to detail your plan in your presentation: what parts of the text will you focus on?
Language quiz today and tomorrow.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

for Monday/Tuesday

You have now read both "The Journey Within" by Albert Guerard and "An Unreadable Report" by Peter Brooks. Again, post a 100+ word blog response that involves 1.a peer's comments, 2. either Brooks' or Guerard's comments, 3. some textual evidence, 4. a consideration of at least one of the topics below, and 5. something original of your own. You might start by considering: What was Conrad's central problem in telling this story?

topics to consider
psychology (inner journey)
grave imagery
truth and transmissability
intentions and reality
the limits of language

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

For Thursday/Friday

Read the extract below and post a comment beneath it. Bring all your thinking to bear on it, whether from criticism, discussion, or whatever. Acknowledge your borrowed ideas informally (as in "Achebe even implies that Conrad sustains the imperialist presence in the Congo.") This elements are required: 1. involve a peer's comment, 2. involve a critic's comment, 3. consider symbolism, and 4. extend with something original of your own. Your response should be at least a hundred words.

She must have had the value of several elephant tusks upon her. She was savage and superb, wild-eyed and magnificent; there was something ominous and stately in her deliberate progress. And in the hush that had fallen suddenly upon the whole sorrowful land, the immense wilderness, the colossal body of the fecund and mysterious life seemed to look at her, pensive, as though it had been looking at the image of its own tenebrous and passionate soul.
"She came abreast of the steamer, stood still, and faced us. Her long shadow fell to the water's edge. Her face had a tragic and fierce aspect of wild sorrow and of dumb pain mingled with the fear of some struggling, half- shaped resolve. She stood looking at us without a stir, and like the wilderness itself, with an air of brooding over an inscrutable purpose. A whole minute passed, and then she made a step forward. There was a low jingle, a glint of yellow metal, a sway of fringed draperies, and she stopped as if her heart had failed her...
"She turned away slowly, walked on, following the bank, and passed into the bushes to the left. Once only her eyes gleamed back at us in the dusk of the thickets before she disappeared.

Monday, August 31, 2009

For Tuesday/Wednesday

For Tuesday/Wednesday, finish Heart of Darkness. Expect some sort of reading check. Bring in a one-page, evidence-filled written piece on one of the following ideas:

  • the nature, use, and consequences of Marlow's reply to the Intended
  • the function of women as symbols
  • the effect of Marlow's story on the frame narrator
  • Marlow's choice of nightmares
  • the inner journey and the outer journey
  • Or, extract a dense, rich passage and comment on it

Remember to include HOW YOU KNOW: SHOW THE EVIDENCE!

ALSO, read two of the criticisms at the back of the book, excerpt two short passages from each that best capture the key thought, and be prepared to speak to the class and/or to me about them.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Impressionism in Conrad

See the posting below for your assignment. Here, I've excerpted a portion of HofD to show how Marlow tells his story in an impressionist style. Remember the Seurat painting we viewed in class? See how Marlow's perceptions change from his first apprehensions through intermediate stages to final comprehension (or, as AM wrote in his paper: "He begins with the heat of the moment, then he follows up by reanalyzing the situation, and then there is the aftershock." Add to that, finally, an evaluation and judgement of the situation and his own reaction to it. See how he finally comprehends the "fence":
     "Through my glasses I saw the slope of a hill interspersed with rare trees and perfectly free from under- growth. A long decaying building on the summit was half buried in the high grass; the large holes in the peaked roof gaped black from afar; the jungle and the woods made a background. There was no enclosure or fence of any kind; but there had been one apparently, for near the house half-a-dozen slim posts remained in a row, roughly trimmed, and with their upper ends ornamented with round carved balls. The rails, or whatever there had been between, had disappeared. Of course the forest surrounded all that..."
Much later, in Part 3, Marlow picks up the same thread after conversation with the Russian:
"I directed my glass to the house. There were no signs of life, but there was the ruined roof, the long mud wall peeping above the grass, with three little square window-holes, no two of the same size; all this brought within reach of my hand, as it were. And then I made a brusque movement, and one of the remaining posts of that vanished fence leaped up in the field of my glass. You remember I told you I had been struck at the distance by certain attempts at ornamentation, rather remarkable in the ruinous aspect of the place. Now I had suddenly a nearer view, and its first result was to make me throw my head back as if before a blow. Then I went carefully from post to post with my glass, and I saw my mistake. These round knobs were not ornamental but symbolic; they were expressive and puzzling, striking and disturbing -- food for thought and also for vultures if there had been any looking down from the sky; but at all events for such ants as were industrious enough to ascend the pole. They would have been even more impressive, those heads on the stakes, if their faces had not been turned to the house. Only one, the first I had made out, was facing my way. I was not so shocked as you may think. The start back I had given was really nothing but a movement of surprise. I had expected to see a knob of wood there, you know. I returned deliberately to the first I had seen -- and there it was, black, dried, sunken, with closed eyelids -- a head that seemed to sleep at the top of that pole, and, with the shrunken dry lips showing a narrow white line of the teeth, was smiling, too, smiling continuously at some endless and jocose dream of that eternal slumber."
Marlow's story is the story of Africa's effect on him, and he tries to communicate the way he perceives. You can see here how first he seems to see one thing (fence posts) but eventually recognizes that those carved balls are actually human heads. His description, of course, is embedded in a tale Marlow has lived with for some time before he recalls it for the listeners on the Nellie.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

For Monday/Tuesday

Read all of Part 2. Find a scene that intrigues you and illustrate it. You may be as abstract, symbolic, or realistic as you like in your depiction. Be prepared to demonstrate your close reading and to present your illustration in class on Monday/Tuesday. Be able to explain why you chose this particular scene, what the scene contributes to the book as a whole, and why you illustrated it as you did.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

First day assignment

For those who struggle with the Dropbox...
Go to this link:


and you can get the file directly.

Friday, August 21, 2009

for Tuesday/Wednesday

Read the remainder of Part 1.
*Pick one passage to analyze in depth, as you did today, on your own.
*Keep the passage short, concise, and rich.
*Consider tone and purpose, and USE EVIDENCE to support your analysis. Why do you think Marlow has a cynical tone? Based on what evidence?
*Write between one and two pages. Type it and bring in a printed copy to share, discuss, and turn in. I will open the gradebook and enter your scores as "Classwork."
*Also, again bring in your WLA 1, on disk and on paper, as I try to schedule the lab.
*Make sure you can get into Dropbox.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

For Friday/Monday

Log into Dropbox and get the .pdf file called "First Day Assignment." It is the flipchart we looked at in class. Determine a thoughtful, concise (one-three words?) title for each extract from the philosophers.

Read pages 1-13. Stop where you read, "I felt as though, instead of going to the centre of a continent, I were about to set off for the centre of the earth."

AND (oh, geez, is this too late?) bring an electronic copy of your WLA daily for the next two weeks.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Checkout item!

I need a copy of your WLA 1, and NOW! They are checkout items for me!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Out of class performers!
Jess, Jas, Shaw: please try to be here before school or during first, or present during second. Otherwise, you will need to schedule about 90 minutes later because I will be out for a long lunch planned on my behalf.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Just say no! Unless it is text quoted from one of the books -- very specific and well-chosen text -- do not read your presentation from the slides. You may use note cards. Avoid big sloppy notebook paper. It's part of the "register" of the communication.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Remember that you must pass a reading check on the books you intend to do your oral presentation on. It would be awful to have a zero on the exam because of that...

Remember that you must pass a reading check on the books you intend to do your oral presentation on. It would be awful to have a zero on the exam because of that...
I will check the gradebook even for The Merchant of Venice and The Metamorphosis.


Please remember to bring your books and all materials you may need to work on your oral presentations.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Bring any materials and books you may need for your oral presentation along with the assignment listed below. The majority of your classtime will be devoted to developing a very shiny oral presentation.

Friday, May 1, 2009


Today in B-day we regrouped to brainstorm ideas for oral presentations. Finish The Things They Carried by Thursday and have these things done:
  • Prepare your critical concept with five essential questions to help develop it.
  • Prepare, from the concept and your initial thoughts, a starting thesis (this thesis is flexible!)
  • Decide what form your presentation will take.
  • Schedule for any class day after May 18 to do your oral presentation. Class time will largely be devoted to working on this presentation from now until then. Some after school and school day presentations will be fine as well if you do not need the class.

See the posts below to make project suggestions for the oral presentation. Do not repeat previous posts. Bonus of five points in the language category for all who contribute.

The Things They Carried

Place project ideas as comments here. Here is the starter list:
Narrative point-of-view; situation of narrator; narrator’s stance toward narrative
Nature of truth as revealed (may be combined with above)
Transmissibility of experience
Fantastic, magical, or eerie elements within realistic novel
Juxtaposition of kindness and civility with savagery
War friends vs. home friends; the bond
Metafictive techniques
Nature of fiction as revealed in the novel
Meaning and suggestiveness of names
Nature of nature
Richly detailed scenes for comparison
Use of language in specific scenes compared (figures of speech, comparisons, imagery, style, tone)
Appreciation of life when near death
This novel as a "true war story"
Physical versus emotional weight of burdens
Burdens in Things and Beloved

The Merchant of Venice

Place project ideas as comments here. Here is the starter list:

Pertains to play’s stance (“The play’s the thing…): Point-of-view; narrative stance
Nature of truth (focus on reported events, not seen first-hand; transmissibility of truth)
Juxtaposition of kindness and civility with savagery (other juxtapositions possible)
Parent-child relations
Play’s comment on human nature
Nature of justice
Richly detailed scenes for comparison
Use of language in specific scenes compared (figures of speech, comparisons, imagery, style, tone)

The Metamorphosis

Place project ideas as comments here.

Narrative point-of-view; situation of narrator; narrator’s stance toward narrative
Nature of truth
Transmissibility of experience
Fantastic, magical, or eerie elements within realistic novel
Parent-child relations
Richly detailed scenes for comparison
Use of language in specific scenes compared (figures of speech, comparisons, imagery, style, tone)

Ideas for Beloved

Place project ideas as comments here. Here is the starter list:

Narrative point-of-view; situation of narrator; narrator’s stance toward narrative
Nature of truth as revealed in the novel
Transmissibility of the truth of an experience
Fantastic, magical, or eerie elements within realistic novel
Juxtaposition of kindness and civility with savagery (other juxtapositions possible)
Parent-child relations
Nature of nature
Richly detailed scenes for comparison
Use of language in specific scenes compared (figures of speech, comparisons, imagery, style, tone)
Different kinds of love
Isolation and community
Embarrassment and pride
War scars
Deaths of Beloved and Kiowa
Guilt from things that have happened to characters
Family relations

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Pre-reading The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

The things you can't leave behind...

1. Think as a poet for a few minutes. Then make three columns on a sheet of paper and head them "Things," "Abstractions," and "People."
2. In the first column, write a list of the most important things (actual physical things) to you -- the things you cannot leave behind. These things can have sentimental, superstitious, or symbolic value, such as a Christmas card from your grandmother or a special sock you wear during big games if yoiu like.
3. Next, make a list of the abstract, intangible things that are most important to you: freedom, happiness, loyalty -- and put these abstractions in the second column.
4. Next, make a list of the people who are most important to you in the third column.
5. Next, try to match the physical list to the abstract list and the people list.
6. Finally, combine these lists in an artful and creative way. This assignment is due on Tuesday/Wednesday.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Today's A-day took reading checks or fleshed out some ideas from the rest of the book. All graciousness is off on Wednesday!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I'm on page 255!
(Sunday )I can now post from my phone! Get some reading done.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Break week

Think about scars, trees, stumps, water; how Paul D's idea of Sethe's scar changes, and how the dead skin of a scar can become a living tree; how a clearing among the trees has anything to do with anything.

What does Beloved do FOR Sethe? How does she HARM Sethe? What is her effect on Denver?

Some images

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Read. Finish the book by the time you return on Monday, April 20.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Monday (Part Deux)

Look at the article linked at right on the growing possibility that medicine could "edit" your memory. What if Sethe had access to such a science?


Here are the questions for classwork/homework. I will not credit work that shows no thought!

Chapter One (3-23)
1. Look at the imagery surrounding the pink marble. What activities are combined in the image?
2. What is the most beautiful memory Sethe has of the landscape of Sweet Home? How is this memory related to the scars on Sethe's back?
3. Garner calls his slaves "men," but find at least two important ways that Garner or his representatives create an animal existence for them.
4. What is the chief function of Chapter One: what does it establish?

Chapter Two (24-33)
1. In this section, the omniscient third-person narration enters Paul D's consciousness. Examine the importance of trees to him and explain.
2. How does the behavior of Sixo, Halle, and the Pauls establish that they are, in fact, strong, moral men -- despite Halle's wedding bed of corn stalks because Mr. Garner thought corn "was a crop animals could use as well as humans" (31), and despite the calves?
3. In what ways is Sixo distinctly different from the other Sweet Home men?
4. What does Baby Suggs's experience reveal about a mother's best chance to survive slavery and the nature of slave family life? (Stick to the first two chapters).
5. How does Chapter Two clear the way for Paul D to consider the future?
6. (No response necessary) Note that Chapter One, in its immediate present, has the following characters: Sethe, Paul D, and Denver. Chapter Two has only Paul D and Sethe. Note the first sentence of Chapter Three. Read Chapter Three (34-51) for next class, then speed up!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Friday (Saturday, really)

Read through Chapter Two of Beloved. Expect a reading check on your progress so far. Look at the links to the right to find articles on the historical Margaret Garner, the runaway slave whose story inspired Morrison's first concept of her novel.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Bring in all books! I am sending them down on Monday and turning in a hold list, so after Monday, all deals will have to go through Mr. Henthorn.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Bring your Beloveds and your webs or charts. You should have read through Chapter 1 by class time.

Monday, March 30, 2009


Read Chapter 1 of Beloved and make a web or chart showing all significant relations among characters.
Determine what the main purpose of chapter one is, and how is it communicated?

Friday, March 27, 2009

A sestina

The Magician Suspends the Children by Carole Oles

With this charm I keep the boy at six
and the girl fast at five
almost safe behind the four
walls of family. We three
are a feathery totem I tattoo
against time: I’ll be one

again. Joy here is hard-won
but possible. Protector of six
found toads, son, you feel too
much, my Halloween mouse. Your five
finger exercises predict no three
quarter time gliding for

you. Symphonic storms are the fore-
cast, nothing unruffled for my wun-
derkind. Have two children: make three
journeys upstream. Son, at six
you run into angles where five
let you curve, let me hold onto

your fingers in drugstores. Too
intent on them, you’re before
or behind me five
paces at least. Let no one
tie the sturdy boat of your six
years to me the grotesque, the three

headed mother. More than three
times you’ll deny me. And my cockatoo,
my crested girl, how you cry to be six.
Age gathers on your fore-
head with that striving. Everyone
draws your lines and five

breaks out like a rash, five
crouches, pariah of the three
o’clock male rendezvous. Oh won-
derful girl, my impromptu
rainbow, believe it: you’ll be four-
teen before you’re six.

This is the one abracadabra I know to
keep us three, keep you five and six.
Grow now. Sing. Fly. Do what you’re here for.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Later Wednesday

Beloved preread

Your piece of writing must be serious in tone, and the sentences must make sense. OCCASIONAL fragments in a poem are acceptable if they work.

Compose a poem or a short, haunting descriptive piece of prose using at least ten words from the following list:

Pink marble
Ghost milk
Sweet home

Or, if you are awesome, compose a sestina with six of the words above used as end words. That will earn you, if it makes sense and is an actual sestina, an additional 100 on a test score as well as the score for this pre-reading assignment.


Look here a little later tonight for the poem assignment -- which is a pre-reading task for Beloved.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Remember those two entire class days we spent with the laptops reviewing world lit papers? Remember I told you about three steps?
1. Remove passive voice verbs.
2. Be sure all verbs are in the simple present unless logic demands otherwise.
3. Read backwards sentence-by-sentence to be sure each sentence has its own sense.

I also told you to remove these tired (and passive) circumlocutions:
can be viewed
is seen
is portrayed

Finally, go get a drink of water and come back. Read your paper from beginning to end.

I just read a paper with EVERY ONE of the above problems unaddressed. What were those class days for? DO WHAT YOU ARE TAUGHT! AND KEEP DOING IT!

I can just imagine Psycho T driving for the hoop only to pull up and say, "This basket can be seen as a dunk by Dick Vitale." Well, is it a jam, or ain't it? JUST GET THE POINTS!

Thursday, March 12, 2009


See below for assignments. Please bring in all books for check in on (A: March 16; B: March 17). I will keep them close for recheck if necessary.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Projects for The Merchant of Venice. Writing projects should be between 300-500 words and go through the complete writing process. This limit means they must be well-written, efficient, and concise. Essays will be assessed for organization, content, and voice. Process will assure good conventions.
Provide the evidence of
 First draft
 Peer feedback
 Feedback given
 Typed revision
 Peer edit
 Editing provided
 Typed revision
 My edit
 Typed final

1. Write a character sketch for one character in the play. Provide context and quotes to show how you reach your conclusions. Consider the following about your character:
 gender, age and name
 appearance
 physical and personal strengths and weaknesses
 likes and dislikes
 feelings and behaviors towards other characters
 feelings of other characters towards the character
 feelings of character towards himself/herself
 personality at the beginning of the novel
 changes in personality as story progresses
 you opinion about the character
 It is important to include proof from the story to support what you are writing in the character sketch. If you can’t support it with something from the story, then it doesn’t belong.

2. Compare the oaths of at least two Christian characters other than Antonio to the oaths of Shylock. (Provide a little context and quote the most pertinent lines.) What can you infer about each character's attitude toward promise-making and promise- breaking? What comment do you think Shakespeare makes about each culture?

3. Explain, with clearly contextualized quotes from the play, how The Merchant of Venice is a Christian allegory. Describe the play's view of human nature; then identify the demonic elements, the redemptive elements, and the heavenly elements. (That would be the devil, the Christ-figure, the Everyman, and the God-figure. This presumes you have some knowledge, or are willing to find out, about Christian views of the Trinity -- Father/Son/Holy Ghost).

4. In a well-written essay, examine the themes of law and passion in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. Be sure to use precise quotes and contextualize them adequately. Explain fully what you are showing with each one.

5. Find another motif of the play, such as music, wealth and penury, flesh and meat, deceptive appearances, male/female roles, male/female love, second-hand knowledge (concerning the way we learn of certain events: Shylock's raging heard from the mouth of Solanio, for instance). In a well-written essay, examine this motif and the purpose it serves in developing key themes of the play.

6. Choose one of the following ideas and write a great essay that proves Shakespeare was or was not
a. a typical English anti-Semite of the Elizabethan Age
b. tolerant or supportive of same-sex love
c. more critical of Christian behavior than of Jewish behavior

7. For three people: Perform a scene from the play with an alternative interpretation. Find a passage that is rich with ambiguity and possibility and interpret it in an very unusual way, say with extreme sympathy for Shylock and antipathy for Antonio. The language should be unchanged; the scene should have few characters, be intense, and last for five minutes or so. Write a 300-500 word statement of intent delineating exactly what you intend to do, what your interpretation will be, and what ONE IDEA -- a coherent sentence! -- your interpretation will clearly communicate. Costuming should not be a factor; read or memorize. One small group only.

8. For four people: Debate the character of Portia. Is she good, or is she a manipulative hypocrite, worse even than Shylock? Use the cx debate format.

9. Do an investigative 60 Minutes-style report on the trial that looks into the deceptions and betrayals and miscarriages of justice in the trial of Shylock. Script it, tape it, edit it, and show it. The spot should be exactly five minutes long (with maybe a single 30-second ad) and full of exciting, revealing, supported, and true reportage.

So, get started. All work is due, stapled in order and formatted correctly, on OR BEFORE March 18. I then proofread it and return for finalizing.

Monday, March 9, 2009


A-day will finish recitations Tuesday.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wednesday and Thursday

Read the play -- expect a reading check next class meeting. Work on your recitation and its introduction.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday and Tuesday

A- and B-day: Finish reading the play. Choose a top choice and an alternate passage for your recitation. Only five recitations can come from Act I, five from Act II, and so on.

Recitations must include
author and title
act and scene
speaker and audience
a brief summary to provide context for the passage
the reason you think this passage is particularly important to the play
a beautiful recitation in the king's best English, acted like Olivier

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A note on comprehension

Look at previous post below for assignment. This post is to answer some classroom questions that were left hanging on Thursday and Friday. Some students asked if Portia knows which casket is the right one. These lines from III.2.9-10 reveal several things. One, she does know the correct box. Two, she is TRUE to her father and to her word. This constancy on her part makes her all the more valued as a wife. (Contrast her behavior with Jessica's behavior toward her father's will). Portia's lines to Bassanio:

Portia: I would detain you here some month or two
Before you venture for me. I could teach you
How to choose right, but I am then forsworn.
So will I never be.

Further, she gets all a-flutter when Bassanio picks the lead box but has not yet opened it. She prays in an aside for love to lighten up a little because she is feeling overwhelmed by her passions:

O love, be moderate, allay thy ecstasy,
In measure rain thy joy, scant this excess.
I feel too much thy blessing. Make it less,
For fear I surfeit!

She clearly knows the right answer, and Bassanio is clearly the man she most prefers -- so her father was right, in this sense. Note that she gives him a ring with a deal attached to it, too.

Another question concerns the suitors that are present in the introduction to Portia in I.2. Remember the Neapolitan Prince, the County Palatine, Monsieur Le Bon, Falconbridge of England, the Scot, and the German Duke of Saxony? They did not choose a casket at all. Nerissa informs the worried Portia,

"You need not fear, lady, the having any of these lords. They have acquainted me with their determinations, which is, indeed, to return to their home and to trouble you with no more suit unless you may be won by some other sort than your father's imposition, depending on the caskets" (I.2.109 approximately).

Some students were surprised to learn that the men are bound by the deal too. It is a CONTRACT, which is a thematic element and thus informs the subplots as well as the main plot. Here Portia speaks to the Prince of Morocco, the first man to risk the casket game:

You must take your chance,
And either not attempt to choose at all
Or swear before you choose, if you choose wrong,
Never to speak to lady afterward
In way of marriage. Therefore be advised

This contract appears voided for the Prince of Aragon (the idiot with the spit cup) by the note inside the casket, which reads, in the words of the "portrait of a blinking idiot," as follows:

Take what wife you will to bed,
I will ever be your head.
So be gone. You are sped.

I hope that makes some things a little more clear.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


B-day, you are to do this assignment too after reading Act II:

1. How does the parade of suitors reflect on the play's theme of cultural difference? See Nerissa's reaction to Gratiano. What does each woman's instant reaction to these local boys say of cultural difference?

2. Look at the little affair between Lorenzo and Jessica. What do you think of this? Of Shylock's reaction? Who has been wronged? Who is the wrongdoer? What role do you anticipate this storyline will play in the outcome of the play?

Monday, February 16, 2009


B-day: Make it YOUR business to turn in double entry journals on The Metamorphosis.

A-day meets again on Tuesday. A-day's assignment: Choose one of the following, and, after reading Act II, respond in about a page:

1. How does the parade of suitors reflect on the play's theme of cultural difference? See Nerissa's reaction to Gratiano. What does each woman's instant reaction to these local boys say of cultural difference?
2. Look at the little affair between Lorenzo and Jessica. What do you think of this? Of Shylock's reaction? Who has been wronged? Who is the wrongdoer? What role do you anticipate this storyline will play in the outcome of the play?

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Come to work on Act I skits. Due on Monday for B-day, Tuesday for A-day.

To clarify: All characters should appear in the skits, but NOT their every spoken line. You can cut as many lines as necessary as long as you keep the narrative intact. Just let everybody say something and reveal a little of their character.

Friday, February 6, 2009


A-day comes to class, and we will work on Act I of The Merchant of Venice.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


The Merchant of Venice: a little background and a little playwrighting.

Monday, February 2, 2009


Bring in books that you have used and will not need again. Be ready to
tackle a little Shakespeare.

Friday, January 30, 2009


B-day: complete the Shakespeare

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Journals due tomorrow. Bring electronic copies of your WLA 1 to class with you. We will work with them in class on the laptops.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Bring in electronic copy of your world lit paper. We will have computers available for guided revisions.

Also, bring your completed Metamorphosis double-entry journals and the books you have finished using -- That means the two you have written about in WLA 1.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Still be ready for reading check!

Friday, January 23, 2009


Bring your bad selves in here ready to work.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Enjoy your weekend, but remember your journal and handout assignments. Be ready for a reading check on the novella as well -- the whole thing!

Monday, January 12, 2009


A and B days: Bring in your surveys about Mr. Henthorn's Declaration of Independence project.

Due next time you come to class AFTER Tuesday: Compose a journal entry on one of the following - or think of your own approach:

Chapter 1

1. Re-imagine the first two pages of The Metamorphosis: create a new beginning for the novel in which the facts remain the same but Gregor's reactions and thoughts differ. Use a style of your own choosing.
2. How would life change for you if you were to undergo a total physical transformation? Describe a day in your life in your new form.
3. In what ways do you see the perception of others influencing you? Have the pressures of school and work and family shaped you in ways that you do not necessarily like?
4. Are the expectations of your parents (and of others in your life) fair to you? Explain with some detail.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


B-day, simply see "Tuesday" posts for your assignments. Your double-entry journal is due Friday and your revised paper is due Tuesday. Also, finish reading the book.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Here is a link to a .pdf version of The Metamorphosis. If you use this text, you should document it properly so we know what version and translation you are using.



Revise your papers for Monday(A)/Tuesday (B). This paper is your exam.

Read, for A-Thursday, the first chapter of The Metamorphosis. In a double-entry journal, log five extracts from the text -- with their page numbers -- on the left and annotations and reasons for your selections on the right. Have at least five entries from the first chapter.