Monthly Archives: January 2017

Monday, 23 Jan 2017


Student Roster

Remember that your blog is public.

  • Robert Brown
  • Laramie Cowen
  • Dennis Jerz (instructor)
  • Karly Krisovensky
  • Anitha Kunnath
  • Paige Lamberson
  • Andrea Meyers
  • Julia Natalia
  • Joshua Reardon
  • Madeline Robbins
  • Abby Skeulich
  • Angela Shirane
  • Alexander Soutiere
  • Mallory Trainer
  • Shane Watson
  • Eboni Wilson



Welcome to the Course Reading Blog

The syllabus and complete list of assignments are available in Canvas. This blog is the focal point for our online discussions of reading assignments.

In class, I will walk you through the process of starting your own blog at

As part of that process, I am asking you to practice using your blog by clicking the “Login/Blog Me” button to create a response to this post.


Trifles (Susan Glaspell)

Trifles — full text

  1. Find a passage from this literary work that you feel is worth discussing in class.
  2. Click the “Login/Blog Me” button you see on this page. If your blog is set up properly, clicking the button will create a new post on your blog. Edit the placeholder text so that it presents the passage you want to discuss, and also explains why you chose it.
  3. Submit your post by pasting a permalink to the blog post you just created.
    1. X
      (Above is the link to the home page of a blog  — it’s not a permanent link that points to a specific post on the blog.)
    2. X
      (Above is the URL of the editing screen where you work on your blog posts; anyone who visits that URL will have to log in with your user name and password in order to read what you wrote.)
      (It doesn’t actually matter to me whether your URL includes a date, but above is an example of a permalink to a specific blog entry.) 
  4. Along with the URL, add a comment that gives your classmates a reason to visit your page. (Try to be more substantial than “Hey guys, come see what I wrote!” or “Here is my assignment.”)
  5. After your classmates have had the chance to post their comments, follow some of the links your classmates have left on this page. Leave comments on the posts written by 3-5 classmates.


Thursday, 26 Jan 2017


Foster (Intro & Ch 1)

Read and respond to this text, applying some detail from this portion of the text to a literary work on the syllabus.

Remember to avoid summary. Demonstrate your ability to use the techniques described in these readings.


The Proposal (Chekhov)

The Proposal (text)

The assignment for this response is the same as for “Trifles.”


Context for RUR

Background material on Rossum’s Universal Robots.

A few years ago (when I was growing my hair long so I could portray John Adams at a history event), I was invited to give a speech on Rossum’s Universal Robots for the Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.

The afternoon before I gave that speech, I was editing it for time, and I stupidly dropped out the slide that defined the word “robot” — I never actually defined robots. The word comes from the Czech word for “drudge, lowly worker, serf.” Before the play RUR, nobody used the word “robot” to describe a mechanical person — they used terms like “automaton” or “mechanical man.”

You already know the plot of RUR — mechanical servants become sentient, learn how to hate by observing humans fighting with each other, and rise up against their creators.

But the reason you know that plot is because this play, which presented that plot for the very first time, gained worldwide popularity in the 1920s.



RUR (Čapek)

Read and respond to Act 1 and Act 2.

RUR (Rossum’s Universal Robots) (full text)


Monday, 30 Jan 2017


Foster (Ch 2 & 3)


RUR, Continued

Read and respond to Act 3 and the Epilogue.



Literary Close Reading

This video uses a poem to demonstrate the technique of literary close reading.

After you have watched the video, demonstrate your ability to perform a literary close reading on a passage from a dramatic work.

  1. Choose a brief passage (about 50-200 words long) from Trifles or The Proposal — a passage you have not already written about. Your passage may include one or more people speaking, and it may include stage directions. Paste this new passage your new blog entry.
  2. Apply what you have learned about literary close reading by presenting an interpretation of the words you chose to write about. (I am not asking you to demonstrate your ability to paraphrase, or list what various symbols “could mean”, or to use details from the literary work to support a point about marriage, or women’s rights, or class, or how life back then was different than it is now, or anything else in the real world.)
  3. You are welcome to refer to and quote from other parts of the play, or from Foster’s How to Read Literature Like a Professor; however, if you do, your goal should be to illustrate some point about the specific words you have chosen to analyze.
  4. Write an academic paragraph (about 200 words) that demonstrates your ability to use brief quotations from the literary source in order to support a non-obvious, evidence-supported interpretive claim about the literary text.
  5. Use the “Login/Blog Me” button, submit the permalink, and engage with your peers by leaving thoughtful comments. (That is the standard formula for any reading response.)