Portfolio 4

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Timeliness and Coverage: These are all the blogs I've posted for this section of class.  All of my entries were posted on time.

Asking the Obvious

-We know in John Henry Days that the price of progress is blood.  In this blog I question why that is, because it seems to be a constant theme in literature.

More from the Moors

-The comedy "The Bear" has a good deal in common with "Wuthering Heights" which is most definitely not a comedic work.  How do these pieces relate?

Reading for the "Right" Reasons

-Why should we read?  Is it just to decode the meaning of a text?  Roberts doesn't think so, and I stress this point.

Hoorah for Short Hair?

- "Prophyria's Lover" surprised me, despite the fact I've read Browning's work before.  In this blog I share my initial reactions to the text with the class.  Also, Roberts stressed foreshadowing with his readers, using this poem as an example. I point out how subtle this foreshadowing was for me, as I was shocked at the poem's climax.

So What?

-Whether we like it or not, there are some technical things to learn about poetry.  A chapter in Roberts dicusses scansion, and I talk about how to correctly incorporate such observations into a paper.

"Quit your books..." Wait, where are you going?!?

-Why no one wants to be an English major anymore.  OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration.  But the popularity of the English major is declining, and I comment on an article that takes a look at why. 

Movie Adaptations and Benevolent Narrators: God Bless Them, Every One

-Here I talk about why I love the benevolent narrator in A Christmas Carol, and ask my classmates what movie adaptations of the story have fallen short of their expectations. 

Let's do the Time Warp again

-The past obviously plays a big role in A Christmas Carol, here I talk about why that is. 

Staking out the Allegories

-Not only do I get to discuss the problems with interpretations of allegories, but I also get to talk about Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Really.

I think the subtext is rapidly becoming...text.

-Here's a blog about historical context, and how the inferences made by the time period an author writes in can sometimes control interpretation.

 

Depth:  These are some entries I put some extra effort into.

Asking the Obvious

-In this blog I demonstrate my ability to question conventions.  Why is the price of progress life?  Since this is a driving theme of John Henry Days, I decide to take a look at it. 

Reading for the "Right" Reasons

-I don't just disparage interpreting literature; I think that's valuable, and I say so in this blog.  I do, however, encourage everyone to return to the basics every once in a while, and remember why they love to read in the first place.

Hoorah for Short Hair?

-Even though Roberts praises the foreshadowing in "Poryphria's Lover", I admit to missing it completely. By the end of my blog, I praise the foreshadowing as subtle, and opine that it was this subtelty that made the poem work. 

 "Quit your books..." Wait, where are you going?!?

-It would've been easy to just write a blog complaining about people turning away from English.  Instead, I pick some of the reasons the article states, and expand on them, trying to root out myths concerning this topic along the way. 

Staking out the Allegories

-Here I cite a common problem people have with allegories (what if that's not what the author had in mind at all?), and say that that's not as important as some seem to think.  I also relate allegories to an outside source; a favorite television show of mine. 

I think the subtext is rapidly becoming...text.

 -Maybe I'm not a fan of biographical analysis, but there are times when the author's life has to be considered to interpret the text.  I relate historical context to a class discussion about A Christmas Carol.

 

Interaction:

Whitehead's Writing is a River - Karyssa Blair

-Here I comment on Whitehead's writing style, and then return to the conversation to answer a question about freelance writing and some confusion at the begining of the book.

The Hitler in Every Generation - Jessica Orlowski

-We know John Henry was a sacrifice to the age of machines...but for what was J. a sacrifice?  My classmates and I discuss this question, along with some implications of a mini-story in the novel.

Poor Toby - Brook Kuehn

-A discussion about Brooke's blog becomes a discussion on equality.  I add my opinion that "The Bear" represents role reversal for the genders.

Get over it - Jessie Krehlik

-Jessie and some of my classmates comment that Mrs. Popov's behavior at the begining of the play is pathetic at best.  I agree that her actions are a little sad, but give some possible motivations for them.

The Ultimate Horror (Love) Story - Jessica Orlowski

-Some of my classmates assume the woman in "Poryphia's Lover" was ill because of the speaker's comment on her pale complexion.  I opine that "pale" was just a way of saying she was beautiful at that time, and give examples of many different ways to interpret the work.

Selfishness Prevails - Karyssa Blair

-I share Karyssa's rather jaded view on Scrooge at the end of A Christmas Carol, and give my reasons for agreeing.

How Much Food Does One Ghost Need? - Karyssa Blair

-When Karyssa questions the gluttoness nature of the ghost of Christmas past, I give my opinion that all of the food surrounding the ghost is meant to symbolize the abundance of the season, as opposed to any selfish motive.

Think Again, Scrooge - Melissa Schwenk

-After reading Melissa's blog, I comment on why Scrooge is different than the grinch we sometimes picture him as being.

 

Xenoblogging:

Think Again, Scrooge- Melissa Schwenk

-I'm the first to comment on this blog, and I demonstrate an ability to combine Melissa's ideas and Dickens' ideas with my own thoughts.

Whitehead's Writing is a River - Karyssa Blair

-I am the first to comment on this blog, and I then return to answer a question asked by a classmate.

Poor Toby - Brooke Kuehn

-This comment illustrates my ability to give more than "Yeah, that's what I think, too" or "Good blog."  Here I add a different dimension to the conversation by explaining how the gender roles were reversed in "The Bear" and I support my claims with examples from the text.

"Quit your books..." Wait, where are you going?!?  -Josie Rush

-Here I link to Aja's blog, since she touched upon a point I wanted to make, but not focus on in my own blog.  Aja mentions why many people are English majors.

Let's do the Time Warp again - Josie Rush

-I link to Karyssa's blog, because she makes a point I can't ignore, but can't expand on without writing a novel.

 Staking out the Allegories - Josie Rush

-Here I link to Karyssa again, because she's the one who gave me the idea for my blog entry. 

Discussion:

More from the Moors

-Since I draw from an outside source on this blog, comments come about both texts I discuss.  We also discuss the length of the play and how that affects the decisions of the characters.

Reading for the "Right" Reasons

-This is something most English majors feel passionate about: The reasons we read.  A discussion about books we've liked, hated, and were indifferent to ensued.

Hoorah for Short Hair?

-Just because I missed the foreshadowing of this poem, doesn't mean everyone did.  My classmates respond to my blog with when they first sensed something wasn't right with the speaker, and the clues that helped them hone in.

Movie Adaptations and Benevolent Narrators: God Bless Them, Every One

-Karyssa and I discuss what our storytelling techniques have in common with the benevolent narrator, and Aja and I talk about why we enjoyed the narrator's opening musings.

Wildcard:

Staking out the Allegories

-This was one of my last entries for the semester, so it hasn't gotten a lot of comments as of now.  However, it shows my ability to have fun with a subject by connecting it to something I like, and it also shows how I can knowledgably discuss literary terms.

 

 

 

Portfolio 4

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Coverage and Timeliness:

Lois Lane Minus Superman...and Intrigue

-Even though our own investigative reports may lack the imagined zest we usually picture with this type of news, I predict the ups and downs we have to look forward to when interviewing.

Picture This

-A slideshow on the New York Times website pictures a Caribbean vacation.  I explore why these images are available on the website as opposed to in the paper.

There Must be a Story Here Somewhere

-Haiman tells us that the public finds journalists unfair when they pursue a story that's not really a story.  As we were all begining the investigative part of our articles, I ask what the next step should be if we discover too late that we've been covering a non-story. 

A Multitude of Multimedia

-The pros and cons of a multimedia site from the Arizona Star.  The amount of information on the site was impressive, but some of the features were too time-consuming to be seen as convenient.

Linking Humor and Voice to Web Articles

-After reading a rather sarcastic article, I explored the author's use of links to embellish his voice in the text. 

Ivy League Material?

-Though I initially issued some harsh criticism of the Harvard News page, I realized that I was being unfair, and was unable to list ways to improve the site.  By the conclusion of my blog, I deemed the Harvard site above average, but admitted I'd expected near perfection from the Ivy League school. 

A Solid Meh

-While I thought the Cavalier Daily was less overwhelming than the Harvard News page, I also thought that the website wasn't anything spectacular.  Here I address some formatting issues that caused confusion. 

Slowly but Surely

-Here I list some links I found useful in my investigative report.   

Some comic-book wisdom for the ages

-Does the press have too much freedom?  53% of America thinks so, but I am not in that majority.  I argue my points in this entry.

 

Depth:

Lois Lane Minus Superman...and Intrigue

-This entry outlines the idealistic view of investigative reporting, and then debunks some of the myths of perpetual intrigue surrounding the field.  I also name some reasons I find this type of journalism exciting and frustrating.

There Must be a Story Here Somewhere

-Though I agree with Haiman when he says that journalists should admit when they don't have a story, I point out some difficulties of letting go.  This blog encourages discussions over the next steps a person should take when they have a deadline to meet, all the footwork done for a story, and no real story. 

Linking Humor and Voice to Web Articles

-Here I not only note the use of links to enrich voice, but the trend of humor I've noticed in internet articles.  I practice what I preach, and use the author's links in my own entry.  

Ivy League Material?

-Instead of just criticizing Harvard's website, I question the reason behind my initial criticism.  This blog contains some soul-searching in which I discover that my expectations were unreasonably high.  I also use many links to pack some information in and make my point. 

Some comic-book wisdom for the ages

-I defend my belief that freedom of the press is sacred, and taking away even a little of that freedom will lead to nothing good.  I also challenge readers to take responsibility for their own news-watching/reading activities, and reward fair sources with their attention.

 

Interaction:

The Backbone of Investigative Journalism--Contacts -Greta Carroll

-Greta discusses the importance of contacts in journalism, and the difficulty of attaining them.  In my comment, I agree whole-heartedly, and give my own thoughts of the problems of finding sources.

Pleasing to the Eye - Angela Palumbo

-Angela talks about an internet article in which Megan Fox is featured.  In my comment, I expand on how the multimedia on the site helped to humanize Fox after a less-than-flattering textual interview.

Pay Attention Please - Michelle Tantlinger

-Michelle links to a site that will help others check the facts of their news sources.  In response to this, I comment on social responsibility regarding the news.

The Press: Non-Essential for Our Lives - Jeanine O'Neal

-Jeanine claims that the press is non-essential, and while I agree with some of the points she makes, I politely disagree with the idea that the news is worthless.

Tokyo Drift - Aja Hannah 

-Aja points out that the press lacks a system of checks and balances, so it should take extreme caution to maintain responsibility.  I agree with her, but say that in some ways the consequences of poor reporting could act as a system of checks and balances, and this would happen if the public would start to reward exemplary journalism.

Integrity Wins Out in the End - Matthew Henderson

-Matt mentions that the public is the force that holds the press accountable, and I agree with him.  I also reply to Jeanine's comment that poor journalism may not fade out in time (she mentions the National Enquirer).  I point out that the Enquirer targets a more specific audience than a regular newspaper, and it has been giving its readers what they want for a long time, so there is no reason to expect it to disappear.

Xenoblogging

A Multitude of Multimedia

-I link to Greta's blog, since she thoroughly discusses the use of videos on a site; an aspect that I merely mention.

Linking Humor and Voice to Web Articles

-Since my entry was about the use of links in an article, I add the links from an internet article to my blog so my readers can appreciate the effect.

Ivy League Material?

-I link to a little bit of everything in this blog: my old high school website, the Harvard news page, Harvard's homepage, the mulitmedia programs I learned to use in high school, my last blog, and I also give Angela a shout-out.

Some comic-book wisdom for the ages

-Here I link to Greta and Michelle's blogs.  Greta also referenced Spiderman's "With great power comes great responsibility" quote, and Michelle gave some ideas on how to check out the reliability of one's news source.

 

Discussion:

There Must be a Story Here Somewhere

-I ended my blog with a question, "What should we do when we dont' have a story, but need to meet a deadline?"  My classmates and I discuss some options, and why we as writers should take the ethical path and just let it go.

Ivy League Material?

-My comments on the Harvard site get a little attention, as my classmates respond to what could've been done to make the site better.

A Solid Meh

-This entry only provoked a brief discussion, but in a comment Derek links to a reflection that my entry inspired. 

Some comic-book wisdom for the ages

-Since many people in this class are either Journalism majors or English majors, freedom of the press is something we are all rather passionate about.  My blog disagreeing with the majority of America that feels the press has too much freedom initiates a conversation among my classmates.

 

Wildcard:

Some comic-book wisdom for the ages

-This blog demonstrates my ability to think beyond statistics, and give reasons for my opinion.  It also shows my understanding of the news and the power of the public in regards to the news.  I feel that this blog really shows my growth throughout the course.

 

 

 

 

 

I think the subtext is rapidly becoming...text.

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"Analyzing literary work as a product of cultural and intellectual history is the task, first, of determining what can be clearly deducible as coming directly out of the major issues existing at the time it was written, and, second, of deciding what is new and permanent--that is, of determining what as hbeen created by the author of the work from ideas prevalent at the time of composition" (Roberts 234).

Apologies for the long quote, but I think this is an important one, and I was loathe to trim it.  OK, so I feel that historical context was something that came up for our class a lot when reading A Christmas Carol.  We were all in tune with Dickens enough to understand some commentary that he'd made about the economy of his time.  I believe that one reason we were all so quick to grasp this is because today our economy is not in much better shape.  It's funny (in a very depressing, poverty-inducing way) how things circle back and become relevant again.

Something that Dr. Jerz pointed out in class when we questioned the reliability of the benevolent Victorian narrator was that it would be unconventional for the narrator to lie to the reader.  Now, I won't say that the benevolent narrator has "fallen out of style," because I'm not well-read enough to make such a claim, but I will say that other types of narration are flourishing, and I don't believe our class is as familair with the conventions of the benevolent narrator as a reader of Dickens' time would be.  This ignorance of convention could be seen as a type of historical context as well. 

Without knowledge of historical context, it becomes increasingly difficult to gauge the meaning of a work.  While I am not generally a fan of biographical analysis, there are some facts about the author's life that need to be considered in order to fully appreciate the work.  Not acknowledging that a work about a corrupt government was written during a war, for example, is like driving with blinders on: you may eventually reach your destination, but you'll miss a lot of obvious exits on your way.

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Staking out the Allegories

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"To the degree that literary works are true not only because of the lives of their main characters but also because of life generally, one might maintain that much literature may be considered allegorical even though the authors did not plan their works as allegories" (Roberts 151).

I think that we've all considered this at one point or another, when passionately debating the interpretation of a particular work.  Somewhere in the back of your mind, as you prepare your next argument, you wonder, "Did the author mean anything at all by that sentence/linebreak/image?  Or are we all just reading way too much into this?"  I know that I personally have hoped aloud to one day be a writer whose carelessly-penned thought would be construed as ingenious, and I would be able to just smile at all the interpretations of my work and refuse to say what I really meant (because I would never take away my reader's right of interpretation. Psh.).  

However, this type of freedom is one of the greatest things about literature.  I definitely don't think the perpetual uncertainty that surrounds interpretation is a reason to cease interpreting.  If a reader can get something more out of a story than the author intended, then I'd say everyone wins.

Now, an abrupt slant of topic.  Allegories are something we are all familair with, whether we know it or not.  Television, in my opinion, is co-owner of the market on allegories.  Literature ties, but let's not forget our favorite tv shows.  One instance where allegories are popular on television is in the "monster of the week" episodes of horror shows.  For example, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, especially early in the series when monster of the week episodes basically comprised the series, allegories were immense.  In one episode in season two, Buffy is invited to a frat party, and she lies and sneaks out in order to go.  By the end of the episode, Buffy discovers that the boys of the frat house all worship a giant monster snake.  Yes, Freud would be proud.  In this very feminist show, the male antagonists are worshipping a snake....and I'll let you puzzle out the allegorical meaning of that one. 

-Thanks to Karyssa, who, knowing of my love for Buffy, suggested this mini-topic, which gave me a chance to geek out on one of my last blogs of the semester.

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Some comic-book wisdom for the ages

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"In a 1999 survey sponsored by the First Amendment Center, 53% of Americans

said they believed the press has too much freedom" (Haiman 73)

I disagree with 53% of America.  But I agree with Thomas Jefferson:

"Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being

lost. To the sacrifice of time, labor, fortune, a public servant must count upon adding

that of peace of mind and even reputation" (Jefferson, qtd in Haiman 73).

I don't feel like I know enough about all the loopholes and difficulties of journalism to get overly opinionated about the state of the press.  Things tend to get askew concerning journalism.  For example, I know for sure that lying is wrong.  Yet is misrepresenting a topic also lying?  I'd say yes.  But what if "the other side" refuses to comment or, as I feel is often the case, it's simply impossible to incorporate every viewpoint in an article?  Is that misrepresentation still lying? 

When these lines are blurred, as they often are, the public sharpens their pitchforks, heats up the tar, and gathers the feathers for some reporter hunting.  Hey, I've been misquoted in the paper before, I know how frustrating that can be.  And I agree with everyone who says reporters need to take heed not to abuse their power. 

With great power comes great responsibility.  In case anyone missed  the Spiderman movie.

What bothered me about the aforementioned poll taken regarding freedom of the press is that it made me wonder what freedom would that 53% of America want taken away from reporters?  What a slippery slope to stumble down.  The public needs to also take responsibility for the news, because the public is what gives the news its power.  Reward what's "good" news and watch discriminately. 

*I'm not the only one whose spidey-sense went off at this message.  For some more super-hero references check out Greta's blog.  Michelle also talks about reader responsibility in her blog, and gives some ways to fact check our sources. 

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Let's do the Time Warp again

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"Who are you?"

"Ask me who I was." (Dickens 20)

I enjoyed this exchange, and found Marley's retort to Scrooge to be fitting.  I can stand in front of a group and tell them about the person I am, and they may or may not find what I have to say worth their time.  However, the chances of them caring increase if I can tell them a little about the person I was before this point in time. 

Really, the destination means very little without mention of the journey.

Marley wasn't so lucky as to be able to show off his destination and journey.  Instead of a congenial, "So, who are you, buddy?"  from Scrooge, Marley got a stricken, doubtful, "Who are you??"  And instead of being able to reassure Scrooge with, "OK, this looks bad, but think about where I was before," Marley had to say, "If you think this seems horrible, just consider what I did with my life pre-chains."

-A more pessimistic sidenote: At this point wasn't Scrooge's journey about over?  I have to agree with Karyssa on this point, the guy seems pretty old.  Maybe that's because of all the movie adaptations, but he's going to redeem himself of a lifetime of miserly actions with a few years penance? Ah, well, people get attached to their Christmas tales, so I'll let it ibe.

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"Mind! I don't mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail.  I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of iron-mongery in the trade" (Dickens 9).

I'm a fan of the benevolent narrator, and it always excites me to read a story where we have one guiding us through a plot.  Part of why I enjoy it is that it adds a new layer to the story, and it provides new opportunities for humor, like we just see above when the narrator wonders why a door-nail is deader than any other nail.  When there's a benevolent narrator, the author gets a chance to direclty address reader concerns the way he/she couldn't straight-forwardly do if the pov was different.  The asides throughout A Christmas Carol are enjoyable, and made the well-worn story slightly newer. 

Well, that was my "hallo, whoop hallo" for the benevolent narrator.

I was surprised that, first of all, that the story was so short (yeah, this was the first time I've read it, sorry), and second of all, that out of all of the adaptations I've seen, many have actually been fairly accurate representations of the novel.  I'm not saying there's not a lot going on throughout this story, but the plot is not one that major storylines need to be dropped in order to make it a watchable movie.  Has anyone ever seen an adaptation of A Christmas Carol that has been waaaay off the mark?  Just curious. 

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"Quit your books..." Wait, where are you going?!?

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"First, an obvious external cause [for the drop of English majors]: money." - William M. Chace The Decline of the English Department

Yeah, my choice of majors earns sometimes earns looks of mixed amusement and sympathy, and the immediate follow-up question, "So what're you going to do with that degree?  Teach?"

As Aja points out on her blog, many people majoring in English do so with the hopes of becoming teachers.  Great, the world needs teachers.  Sincere kudos to you aspiring teachers out there, because God knows I do not have the patience or the skill for it.  When I laugh a little and shake my head at the "will you teach?" question, the interrigators then say, "Oh, so you want to be a journalist?"

"Uh, not really.  I don't really know what I want to do.  I want to write?"  This last sentence always comes out as a question, a request for approval.

The questioners sigh sadly.  "You're not going to make any money."  And then they walk away, leaving me to my inevitable financial demise.

While the English major is technically versatile, it still has the two main doors people tend to walk through: Teaching and Journalism.  I do not want to pursue a career in either field, and yet here I am, and the question I sometimes have to ask myself (when begging for loans or writing my final papers) is why.  Well, the truth of the matter is I became an English major not because of any great talent I have for the field, but because of a profound lack of talent I have in all other areas of life.  It's true, I am "less worse" at English. heh.  So I was not originally as romantic about the field as those naturally talented people, however I found my respect and passion for English as inevitable as the bankruptcy I'm apparently going to suffer because of it.  

Even though I was driven to this path paved with poverty, I can't think of anything else I'd rather do.  It definitely saddens me that people are turning away from this major and demeaning its worth.  Maybe the study of English is hard to defend, because its best attributes must be worded in a slightly philosophical way, and our world has become less appreciative and trusting of anything not purely factual.  I can write until my hands fall off about how literature reveals common ground for us to walk upon, allows hard-won truths to blossom, and makes the aches and pains of life bearable, but people want dollar signs.  Hey, I can relate, if for no other reason than the fact I've grown used to eating over the past 20 years.  And yet, I can't help falling back on that old cliche, money isn't everything. 

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So What?

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"The analysis of even a short poem, however, can grow long because of the need to descibe word positions and stresses and also to determine the various effects" (Roberts 197).

All the more reason to make sure your prosody explanation passes the tried and true "So What?" test.  As with everything in literature, have a reason for what you write.  For example, stating a poem has an A B A B rhyme scheme and leaving it at that does not further your thesis.  Even if your professor specifically asks you to right about prosody, it still should be tied into a greater theme.  What does the poet accomplish by applying those techniques?  What mood is enhanced?  Do the practices add to or detract from the tone?

Just make sure when you're refering to prosody, you're not just going through the motions.  It's great to be skilled in scansion, but always make sure your observations are encompassed by your thesis.

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Hoorah for Short Hair?

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I'm going to quote this poem and my reactions while reading this poem, just to see if anyone was on a similar wave-length.  Begining from line 33:

"Prophyria worshipped me; surprise

Made my heart swell, and still it grew..."

Aww.  The speaker's god complex is a little annoying, but they loooove each other.

"While I debated what to do.

That moment she was mine, mine, fair,

Perfectly pure and good..."

Well, he appreciates her.  How nice.

"I found

A thing to do...

He's going to buy her a gift? That'd be a thing to do.  Kind of lame, but there might be a metaphor there somewhere.   

"and all her hair

In one long yellow string I wound

Three times her little throat

And strangled her..."

Aw, how...wait...(rereads)  Holy unexpected violent tendencies, Batman!

Despite Roberts' claims to the contrary in the essay on pages 201-204, I didn't see much foreshadowing in this poem, at least the first time through.  The language at the begining, "The Rain set early in to-night/The sullen wind was soon awake..." etc.  just served as a a type of juxtaposition for the atmosphere when Porphyria entered the house.  That contrast did not strike me as odd, because how often in literature is love seen as the only bright spot in a dark world?

I truly think that in this poem the foreshadowing is interwoven so minutely into the poem that it needs to be examined on the second or third reading.  Once I knew what happened, I could go back and find foreshadowing, but I didn't immediately recognize the weather or prosody for what it was.  In this case, the subtle foreshadowing was clearly a good way to have that literal twist as the climax.

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