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.