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November 30, 2009

EL 266 The Wizard of Oz--- Queer and Gay words

After reading The Wizard of Oz, it was difficult not to compare it to the movie, but looking at the wording closely I have many questions that arose.
The use of the words "gay"(..."and as they walked along he sang 'Tol-de-ri-de-oh!' at every step, he felt so gay") and "queer"(..."as she twisted her long neck and looked sharply at the queer party.") in the novel are not what 21st Century readers define as happy and peculiar. I associate those terms as a homosexual preference. Both derogatory in manner. It is strange how words a few centuries ago meant something completely different from what we, 21st Century society, are accustomed to now.
What I got from the text was, and maybe I'm looking at it too closely, that there were meaning to the different lands that Dorothy entered--Kansas was purgatory, the woods were--Hell, and the land of OZ was Heaven. It sort of made sense to me because I racked my brain trying to figure out what any of the text could have meant. Then I came up with my theory on it. I was sold on my theory with the use of colors used in the text (Kansas was associated with gray. Purgatory is an in-between dimension.) (the woods dark. I would think black. Hell is recognized as being dark with black and red.) (Oz was very bright green. Heaven is known as being very bright.)
"Toto only wagged hi tail; for, strange to say, he could not speak." (Baum)
This question was sort of obvious, but what about Toto? A Scarecrow could speak, the Tin Man spoke, and so did the Lion. Why not the dog?
Last thing I wanted to mention. The poppy field. Is this a reference to the drug culture that was dominant in the early 20TH Century of opium? I know seeds from the poppy plant are extracted from the flowers in order to make opium. "Now it is well known that when there are many of these flowers together their odor is so powerful that anyone who breathes it falls asleep"
The Wizard of Oz, I would have to say, is the strangest read I have encountered this far. I thought that it would be more like the movie.

November 27, 2009

EL 266 Portfolio Three-Summing up specific qualities

-Coverage-

-Depth-

-Interaction-

-Discussions-

-Timeliness-

-Xenoblogging-

-Wildcard-

EL 266 Portfolio Three-Wildcard

The Fall semester proved to be quite tragic and rewarding to me. I suffered through many trials and tribulations. I will not go into detail, but they all led me to depression. Something I could not shake until I grew the strength to be without. And that is very difficult to achieve. I want to go public with my situation because I feel that it may help others in the future to see that they are not alone. I felt alone for a while until talking to a network of professionals, friends, and family.
I just want to personally thank Seton Hill University for sticking by me in these difficult times and extend a warm thank you to Dr. Jerz making sure I was safe and not losing my mind. Depression is hard to shake. When your feeling low, you really hit bottom. I would never know happiness if it were not for hitting rock-bottom several times this semester. I just cannot believe that I got through it. Never thought I would.
Loosing my job, being temporarily disabled, attending a demanding internship and SHU full-time, caring for a pet who is not in the best of health, and worst of all, my significant other leaving me after five years, I came out of the darkness. Wow! I have to pat myself on the back. That was like fighting a war or an uphill battle.
Everyday is a quest for me. I take things one day at a time. I have learned that life is a mystery, leaving me with a lot of unanswered questions. And where better to get some of them answered, SHU. Well, some of them.

EL 266 Portfolio Three-Xenoblogging

After reading Scott's article Reinterpreting Tom and the Evasion in Huckleberry Finn led me to look at my peers' comments before posting my own. Since academic articles were a new concept for me.

Looking over Meagan Gemperlein's entry on Smith, I was compelled to add more to it by using the same quote, looking at what she had to say differently. Here is my entry on Smith.

This entry may seem silly, but it led to an outside discussion between a few course mates and myself. The discussion was on Foster, and how important it is to get the most out of a reading. Heather Mourick left a comment on my blog stating that she and another peer talked about the same subject. I say silly because I wrote that when I read,it is to my dog.

EL 266 portfolio Three-Timeliness

Since I have blogged in a timely manner, I could put all of my entries in this category. I also participate in every class discussion on the blog entries. I will publish two of my favorite blog discussions in here.
John Henry.
Booker T. Washington.

EL 266 Portfolio Three- Discussions

In the discussion on Foster Chapters 23,24 that sparked a debate on whether including a background story on a character gives the reader a better opinion on a particularity.

In the case of W.E.B. Du Bois, another classmate and I were confused as to what Du Bois intentions were.

Learning the story on John Henry was educational. But being educated on African Americans can sometimes bring up debate as was seen in the case of Henry. Coming from a "white" man, you never want to say anything that may be construed as racist or form an opinion that comes off as negative about a particular era.

November 26, 2009

EL 266-Portfolio Three- Interaction

-Meagan Gemperlein-

-Heather Mourick-

-Heather Mourick-

-Jamie Grace-

-Jennifer Prex-

EL 266-Depth

Taking an American Literature course, I found it necessary to not only read a text in detail, but do outside research as well. The following texts are ones I researched outside of the text.
In the case of folklore, I only recognized John Henry from when I was young in music class. I remember singing the ballad. I hadn't a clue that it was also recognized as a short story about a folk hero.
Two other men stand out in unfamiliarity, Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois. I researched them because I do not recall much information about the two. All I knew was from elementary school, and that was a long time ago. Refreshing my memory really re-educated me on the affects that African Americans had in the 19th Century on literature and culture.
Now that I am familiar with important pieces of 19th Century literature and the authors who wrote such strong language in their poems and novels, I am more fascinated with learning more about that era.

EL 266 Portfolio Three-Coverage

-Adventures of Huckleberry Finn-(finish)

- "The Baby Boom"- (43-50)

- How to Read Literature Like a Professor- (23,24)

- "There's More Honor': Reinterpreting Tom and the Evasion in Huckleberry Finn"-(Scott)

- "Huck, Jim, and American Racial Discourse"- (Smith)

- How to Read Literature Like a Professor- (25,26)

- John Henry- (late 19th Century)

- "Address of Booker T. Washington..."- (1895)

- "The Souls of Black Folk"- (1903)

- How to Read Literature Like a Professor- (Envoi)

-

November 8, 2009

EL 266 Du Bois Giving human like qualities to human beings

"Hence arises a new human unity, pulling the ends of earth nearer, and all men, black, yellow, and white." (Du Bois)

So what I thought disregarded racism, really wasn't. It still is about overcoming, overall. Making a name for a race. But fighting to be a human being. I assumed all the readings linked to early industrialization. Guess I was sort of stumped as well.
I think how Washington and Du Bois differed was one (Washington) wanted blacks to integrate with all races in the educational field while Du Bois sought to segregate blacks by educating them.
Maybe in-class discussions will further educate me on the differences.

November 6, 2009

EL 266 Address of Booker T. Washington- Academia at night

"Any one who is willing to work ten hours a day at the brick-yard, or in the laundry, through one or two years, in order that he or she may have the privilege of studying academic branches for two hours in the evening, has enough bottom to warrant being further educated." (Booker T. Washington)

I think that it's great, the invent of night school. It gives those a chance to learn who work all day.
As far as Booker T. goes, well he was a martyr of his time. Way ahead of the rest. And to think of it, he was an African American. What a concept for a man of color to construct an educational institution, and to let women enter into it as well.
The one thing that caught my eye in the readings was Washington's establishment of a night school. I feel that modern society has overlooked the hardships and endurance of people in that era suffered, black and white. Those people worked hard. It wasn't like they served the public by waiting tables or selling cheap merchandise. They helped build railroads and other hard labors. They overcame so much more. Modern society is based on convenience. Everything is about getting something quick rather it is a certificate in a study or food. No one has to really work for much. I blame most of that on technology. But it is early technology helped build America. Academia is such a wonderful thing. I feel that it separates ditch diggers from scientists. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Society needs all types of people to survive.
I thought I had it rough as I work full-time and attend college full-time. People in the late nineteenth century attended night school worked more than ten hours a day, and then went to school. How we, modern society, take that for granted.

November 5, 2009

EL 266 John Henry The mighty force of manual labor

"John Henry was a railroad man,
He worked from six 'till five" (Ballad of John Henry)

I think that the ballad of John Henry was propaganda for late Nineteenth Century industrialization. After slavery was abolished in the late Nineteenth Century, as we know from history, industrialization boomed. This brought jobs to America and a dream. I feel that the legend of John Henry is all about the American dream.
Giving the mythological character super-human like qualities in my opinion was a sales pitch for the United States. Basically saying that America is tough. It is built on hard work, sweat, and muscle. That is the framework for our country.
Take for instance, Pittsburgh. Our beloved city. It was built on steel and iron. In the late 1960s-1970s, the industry progressed at such a high rate. This employed many people. Steel and iron were icons for the local sport's teams. Making their mascots reflect the thriving ores.
Of course it's a tall tale.The story of the ballad could have never happened. That just seems to far-fetched. I feel it was more symbolic than anything.
As far as the different versions of the song. They are, in my opinion, coming from different perspectives. Who originally wrote the song? As I took a look at all the different songwriters who mention John Henry, I see that white men (Bruce Springsteen and Johnny Cash) they were well known for songs about America and the hardships to be endured. But a blues singer like Led Belly sang about blacks and the hardships they endured. Overall, I feel that the ballad describes overcoming hardships entering the American dream.
I really do not see racism as an issue in John Henry.

EL 266 Foster (envoi)...In summary

"What this book represents is not a database of all the cultural codes by which writers create and readers understand the products of that creation, but a template, a pattern, a grammar, of sorts from which you can learn to look for those codes on your own." (Foster) p.280

I like the fact that Foster is saying that How to Read Literature Like a Professor is not a dictionary to look facts up nor is it a bible by literary law, but rather a book to further understand what we have been reading. At first, I thought that Foster came off as a pompous know-it-all. Then after I read the chapters, I realized that he is giving his opinions on literature as we do every Wednesday evening. This comes from a professor's point-of-view rather than a students, which is interesting, and informative.

November 1, 2009

EL 266 Smith The many hats of Jim

"By becoming, in effect, an author, Jim writes himself a new destiny." (Smith 364)

Jim is an underestimated character in the book. This comes from the era, I feel. Southern slaves were not, as we have learned, treated all that bad. They were, in essence, part of the white family. The children of masters and slaves all played together, among other activities. So racism did not play a major role.
I have to admit, when the term "nigger" is used I automatically think of the era that AHF is placed. That eases the term a bit as that is what black Americans were referred to then. I did not match the term to racism automatically. There are instances of it throughout the book though.
Jim had a huge impact on the novel. If it were not for Jim, there would not have been Huck. And if the story only contained Huck, it would have been really boring. Jim was the adhesive between Huck and the adventure. Clemens even went as far as to add a family for Jim. That gave Jim a lead role in the book. Although Jim was a slave who was imprisoned, he still had a voice in the novel. There are several chapters where Jim plays a major role. So in fact, he does write a new destiny.
The ending is one that probably shocked many readers. The whole town wants to hang Jim, but the doctor basically says, hey! this man helped me when I thought Tom was going to die. The town then gains a new outlook on him. Jim becomes free at the end. The whole time he was free but didn't know it. Jim's destiny has finally been reached.

EL 266 Foster (25,26) Eyes wide closed

"It seems to me that if we want to get the most out of our reading, as far as reasonable, we have to try to take the works as they were intended to be taken." (Foster) p.228

Anyone can read a book and be able to repeat back what has happened or tell what a character has done, but to be able to read between the lines takes a bit more to do.
The eyes are not the only organ to use when reading. The author has intentionally written a character in or added an environment to use as a background or a main theme. Using one's mind to look at what something means takes a certain focus.
This may sound weird, but when I read ADH, I read it aloud to my dog. I know, sounds really silly, but it worked. I used the voice of a southerner and a southern slave. This made ADH more understandable. It was like I was trying out for a play. And the book was more like a script.
So, I do agree with Foster in that the eyes are not the only thing to bring to a page when reading. There are so many more things, like I have mentioned above, to make reading more understandable. Think of the era, character, and demographic. I really taught myself a new way of learning by doing so.