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.