November 30, 2004

Portfolio 2

Since taking American Literature, I have been introduced to many literary pieces in this second half of the semester. Each literary piece, I read were all different, but yet they were all related in some way:

* Believe It or Not: The Devil's Dictionary- This piece by Bierce demonstrates words and definitions society at that time. This blog also discusses my feeling and thoughts about the dictionary.

* Native American Literature- This blog has a different shift, it focuses on the story Crazy Horse and on history about Crazy Horse. It also includes research on how importance of Crazy Horse.

* Thoughts on the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Freedom- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn blog discusses the overall discussion about Huck and Jim freedom. It also focuses on my thoughts about the novel.

Related Link : Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Relationship and Society

* Who Is He? John Henry Legend- In this American Legend, I discussed how there were different versions of the John Henry. I also presented some of my thoughts about the story.

* Br'er Rabbit- Unlike John Henry, this piece discussed how much harder it was for me to understand the story because of the content used. The blog also discusses the history of Br'er Rabbit and the author.

* What A Case?- The blog discusses the literary piece The Yellow Wallpaper. This entry gives my opinion about the lady in the story and presents my thoughts about using different views to tell the story.

* Discussion on Robinson- This discussion focuses on Robinson's piece called Mr. Flood. Mr. Flood was a perfect example of Robinson's work. This blog demonstrates how Mr. Flood was a character who was a loner and alone. It also presents different perspectives I had about Mr. Flood and his jug.

* The Girl of the Golden West- David Belaso entry discusses the play and a brief summary about the play. It also discusses a brief history about the author.

* Wildcard: Arthur Ross Gallery- This entry is about my visit to Arthur Ross Gallery in Philadelphia this summer. It discusses my experience interacting with the deaf community and learning about history in the deaf community.

Posted by Se-AnnWilliams at 05:34 PM | Comments (0)

Wildcard: Arthur Ross Gallery Experience

On June 18, 2004, I attend the Arthur Ross Gallery of University of Pennsylvania. While attending this exhibition, I saw a vast amount of United States history on deaf people and the Deaf community through text, photography and objects, and replicas. However, the information was developed by Gallaudet University with the involvement from members of the deaf community, deaf and hearing individuals, researchers, schools, historians, and museum professionals.

The walls/boards in the gallery also presented major social, economic medical and technological shifts in American society. Some of these events took place were changes that occur within the school settings, changes in segregated schools, home schooling for girls, trade for boys, the struggle between natural and normal oralists, changes in technology (hearing aids, TTYs etc.), and changes in opportunities for deaf individuals.
Although there were many interesting information about the deaf community, I learned more information from the students who were there. There were students from a school for the Deaf at the gallery, while the class was there and we all talked/interact with the students and teachers. The teachers gave us so much information about the student’s interaction with the hearing community. The teacher also interpreted some of the sign for us when we did not understand the students.
This interaction in my opinion was exciting because we also learn more history through the teachers and students that were there. The teachers told us about the different laws for the deaf pertaining to schooling and they also told us about the history if the school the students were representing. The ASL, students and the deaf students went around the gallery together learning about the deaf community together.
All in all, this event to the gallery was very informative and educational. I really did learn a lot about the deaf community and the history that occurred throughout the years. When I first went there, I had no idea about deaf history and the changes that occurs up to present. The deaf community in my opinion like any other community throughout history came a long way the improvement that were made to better the future for the individuals. The information in this gallery has inspired my interest about the deaf community and to learn more about the people in it.

Posted by Se-AnnWilliams at 04:26 PM | Comments (0)

The Girl of the Golden West

The Girl of the Golden West was a very interesting play. The story revolved around three main characters: Rance, Johnson, and The Girl. The play was about a two guys who wanted to be with the Girl. After reading about the author (David Belasco), it was interesting to have found that he was the son of Jewish crown and was born in San Fransico at a time when the city had a growing theatre community following the gold rush. David Belasco received an excellent education at the monastery under the support of one Father Maguire.

He eventually ran away to join a traveling circus, where he learned bareback riding and crowding. He took more and more responsibilities for various productions in and around San Francisco. He acted, rewrote plays and wars as the producing manager. All in all, the Girl of the Golden West better illustrates the work of Belasco. As director and producer, he created the visual and aural effect which established the mood of Western America.

Posted by Se-AnnWilliams at 04:07 PM | Comments (0)

Discussion of Robinson

The author Edwin Robinson as a very important poet whose poems are about characters suffering an isolation of some sort. Mr. Flood is a perfect example of his type of work. Mr. Flood is a character whose memories fade and flow just like the tide. Mr. Flood is a loner who is content with the fact that his memories are his most cherished friends. A man, that likes his own company better than the company of others. He only likes himself as the developed through the years. I believe he is alone because he wants to be alone. He has made a choice to remain in solitary and has become alienated with his jug as his only friend.

Through the use of the drinking, Mr. Flood is in the past with friends of other days. These friends seem to be all the company he needs at the moment. Perhaps Mr. Flood is dying and reminiscing that he is old and all his friends have passed away before him. To some other people Mr. Flood might be alone, apparently without family or friends, which might seem depressing. Some might find it hard to understand Mr. Flood’s isolation.
Mr. Flood Party seems to present two worlds, a world of illusion and a world of reality. In my opinion, this poem is about the fleeting passage of out lives and the use of the jug is a symbolic representation of past friends. May be when Mr. Flood was younger, he would eat, drink and be merry with his friends. Now his only friend left to share his life is his jug. With the jug besides him, Mr. Flood re-creates his past world and no longer has need of the presentation. This story has me thinking, that perhaps the jug can also represent Mr. Flood’s life. Once it breaks, he will no longer exist and his life on earth will be over. All in all, I think the jug represents all that is his past, true or broken and the party becomes his future and his life.

Posted by Se-AnnWilliams at 03:25 PM | Comments (2)

What A Case?

The Yellow Wallpaper was about a nervous wife and an over protective husband. The husband’s smothering attention, combined with the isolated environment incites the nervous nature of the wife, causing her to plunge to insanity to the point she sees herself in the wallpaper. The author developed this story in a way that it allows the readers to participate in the woman’s growing insanity.

After reading this literary piece, I decided to do some research about the women in the 1890’s. After doing research, I found that women were often treated as second class citizens. They were dominated by society and controlled by men. The men were the leaders ruling the home or workplace and women were under their authority. The wife in this literary piece reflects this attitude society has towards her because her husband decided what furniture or things that was to be in her room. She submits to these decisions, even to the point of agreeing with him. As readers we can only full appreciate the progress of the wife’s decent into insanity and feel for her because we see the situations from her perspectives. Also because the wife has no name, the reader can put his or herself into the wife’s situation. From this piece we get a vivid description of what it is like to go mad.
In seeing the story through the narrator’s eyes, we saw her mental illness. Between society’s view of women at that time and the husband’s attitudes effective remedies towards her the mental instability can only grow worse. The yellow wallpaper allowed the readers to follow the woman’s regression into insanity as the story progresses. Only through the wife’s view could we have followed this regression of the mind. All in all, this is a different story of a woman struggling for sanity in an indifferent society. Do you believe if this literary piece was told through the husband or the housekeeper it might change? Or the readers would have been able to understand the wife’s insanity? Personally I believe if it was told by another point of view it would have been cluttered and it would have lessened the reader’s sympathy for the wife. It would have also detracted the wife’s growing obsession with the wallpaper and her insanity.

Posted by Se-AnnWilliams at 02:31 PM | Comments (0)

Br’er Rabbit

Unlike John Henry, Br’er Rabbit was much harder for me to understand because of the content (language) used. Br’er Rabbit was a hero of the Uncle Remus stories that derived from African-American folktales. Br’er Rabbit was written by Joel Chandler Harris. He was journalist who wanted to record the folktales of African American slaves. He truly wished to be a folklorist, a recorder of what he heard, rather than an author in the full sense of the word.

Nevertheless, the story of Uncle Remus the tales to a young boy Harris invention, and it obviously affected the way in which Harris retold the stories he collected. Although reading the story over and over again, I found this folklore the hardest story we were required to read. Personally, I did not have a problem with the other readings. I believe if Joel Harris had wrote Br’er in everyday language it would have made it easier to understand. Even though that was how the individuals spoke back then, I think it would have been a better folktale if individuals did not have difficulty reading it.

Posted by Se-AnnWilliams at 12:22 PM | Comments (1)

Who Is He?

The John Henry Legend is one of the American legends and tall tale with super human strength attributed to the hero. Some legends tell that he is African American who wielded a hammer moved from Tennessee to West Virginia where he helped build the Big Bend railway tunnel in Summer County in the late 19 century. He died after winning a contest with a steel-driving machine, a noble attempt to show that the coming of stronger machines would not displace human worker.

However, some legends also state that John Henry is sometimes a white man, a worker in the docks instead of the railroads. In Katie’s presentations, she discussed that some websites were not really accurate about whether John Henry existed because I also cam across different information. I also agree with Nabila’s blog that individuals had different perspectives of John Henry. Hearing all these different legends made me question, whether John Henry was real or not. So why would one man, one among hundred years of other men and other stories emerge as such a central figure in folklore and song?
Having these questions in mind, I did some research and felt like Paul Bunyan. John Henry’s life was about power and weakness. To the thousands of people working on the railroad, he was an inspiration and an example. He was a man just like those who worked in a deplorable unforgiving atmosphere but managed to make his mark. However, the songs reflect many faces and many lives. It might have probably been a protest anthem, an attempt by the laborers to denounce without facing punishment or dismissal by their superiors.
All in all to some people John Henry may or may not be a real character. Henry became an important symbol of the working man. To me the basic claim or concept of this legend is that, even if you are the greatest worker that ever lived, management remains ambivalent to our health and well being. In my opinion, John Henry is not a real person. I think it was a tale that was told from one generation to the next to help motivate workers. However, I also feel that some of the information in the tale might be true and false so it could be one large tale.

Posted by Se-AnnWilliams at 10:11 AM | Comments (0)

November 19, 2004

Thoughts on the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Freedom

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was overall a very interesting novel that discussed hypocrisy, greed and freedom etc. Freedom is a wonderful thing it is a quality of life that many people cannot describe. According to the Webster's Dictionary the word freedom is defined as the state of being at liberty, rather than in confinement or under physical restraint. Unfortunately almost everyone today takes his or her freedom for granted. In the novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Jim and Huck set out on a journey, up the Mississippi to find precious freedom. Huck an adolescent from the south is an impolite orphan taken in by a strict widow named Mrs. Douglas. The widow tried relentlessly to improve Huck's behavior. I however, agree with Nabulia that this book is about how Huck goes as an individual. I also enjoyed reading the other blogs she had on the novel. In the beginning Jim and Huck seemed to have nothing in common, but when they met, it looked like they were trying to find the same thing.

Throughout the book both Huck and Jim search for a beacon of light to guide them in their lives. While doing some research, I found it interesting to have found that Huckleberry Finn was first considered adult fiction. Before I thought the author intended for it to be both adults and children literature. While researching, I also better understood that Samuel consciousness and awareness is larger than that of any of the characters in the novel. What made the book so effective is the fact that Huck is too innocent and ignorant to understand what is wrong with his society and what is right about his behavior.
In my opinion, Huck is a symbol of the adolescence of today. He was looking for the answers of life while on the river. Huck learned how to make intelligent decisions and to trust his instinct because of all the different temptations and bad influences he came across. Many teens learn how to make the correct decisions in life by going with their gut instinct. They learned how to do this because of experience. One of the most important things Huck discovered on the journey up the river was himself. Before his adventure he could not speak for himself, he did not know what he wanted. This too is another important secret of life that teens discover “themselves”. After Huck's adventures on the river Aunt Sally adopts him because he was still in need of guidance and still did not fully understand life. Teens are still taken care of by parents because they too need guidance and knowledge about life.
Although I believe Huck is a symbol of adolescents, Jim is a symbol of some of the adults of today. Jim cannot move up in the stepladder of life because he is bounded by his slavery. The only way for Jim to break free from slavery is to escape from his owner. Today slavery does not exist; but there are still adults wanting to strive for more than what they have. Some of them do not have the skills or the money to move upward in the standard of life, but still find other ways to get there.
The Mississippi River was the place where Huck and Jim's adventures took place. This was where they had the best times of their lives. On the river neither Jim nor Huck was held down by anything, they were free. The Mississippi River symbolized the freedom both of them were looking for. Huck was free in the sense that he found out some of the secrets of life and Jim was free because he no longer was a slave. The Mississippi also led them to where they needed to be in that point in their lives. Jim was brought to free land and Huck was brought to Aunt Sally for more guidance in life.
Today the Mississippi River would not represent freedom, but something that all individuals strive and desire for, success. Everyone today wants to succeed in their lives by studying, working hard, and becoming the influential people of the world. Yes, freedom is wonderful thing but since a majority of people take this priceless gift for granted, they think success is better. Both freedom and success are important elements in life that go hand in hand. If one has no freedom how will they succeed? This is a question that people should consider the next time they take freedom for granted.

Posted by Se-AnnWilliams at 04:15 PM | Comments (3)

Native Americans

While reading the Native American stories, I found plenty of the stories interesting and some also hard to understand. This might be due to how stories were interpreted from generation to generation. As today when individuals are told stories, they tend to add or remove some of the facts of the story.

Some of the stories I found interesting was Crazy Horse and the Flood. Crazy Horse was a fighting machine of the great warrior tribe, Oglala Sioux. I also agree with both Melissa and Nabila blogs that Crazy Horse personal life was not that great. I found the history about Crazy Horse interesting. According to some research, I found that Crazy Horse family were all warriors, but some say Crazy Horse was the son of a medicine man and his mother died when he was a very young age. I also found it shocking that after his mother died, the father took his sister as wife. Why would a father want to marry his own daughter? When I saw this, I taught the father was crazy, but then I told myself, who am I to judge, the father. It was also interesting to have read that he was fighting from a early age.
Evidently, to the tribe Crazy Horse was the strange one because he had spiritual powers. In many of his battles, he fought with sitting bulls. Some of these battles/wars were the Lakota War, which was big between the Indians and white men. Crazy Horse was famous for standing up for the Sioux Indians against the white men. His heart for Indians will never disappear from their minds. From reading Crazy Horse, it seemed that he loved his people. He can even be considered a great leader for individuals. In my opinion, he would be considered an ablest, truest and honorable American Indian.

Posted by Se-AnnWilliams at 03:42 PM | Comments (1)

November 18, 2004

Believe It or Not

The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce was something I would have never really seen myself reading, if we weren’t required to read it. I struggled to remember some of the definitions that I did not find interesting. The only words that I remembered were the ones that stood out for me and the definitions that were funny. After reading the Devil’s Dictionary, I wondered why Ambrose wrote it. Perhaps it was, because of the things that were happening in society at the time. It might have also been because he wanted society to realize the meaning of words that were used in society. Some words could have also displayed how society/men looked at females back then.
All in all, I found it interesting to have found out that Ambrose Bierce did not want the name the Devil’s Dictionary he wanted to title The Cynic’s Word Book. However, I agreed with Amanda’s presentation that Bierce “poked” fun at women. Some of the words in her presentation that she found negative, I also found negative. When reading the text, I thought Bierce was going to continue making fun towards women. After reading this text for a long time, the humor started getting boring and not interesting. I then started saying to myself, how in the world I’m going to remember all these words and I am getting so bored. However, I tried my best and I think that is all we can do.

Posted by Se-AnnWilliams at 09:58 PM | Comments (1)