Portfolio 4

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Portfolio 4

Coverage: I chose to not blog about Roberts Ch. 13 because it did not really mean anything significant to me.

Poor Toby (Chekhov "The Bear") Annoying much? Here I vent my frustration with the characters in Chekhov's "The Bear".

Why so Drab? (Roberts Ch 7) In response to Roberts Ch 7, I pitch my idea that "escape literature" should be added to the curriculum. 

Don't be such a Scrooge (Staves 1-3) Here I discuss what makes a story a Christmas story. I make a generalization that there are three types of Christmas stories.

Scared into Submission? (Staves 4-5) The Grim Reaper? I discuss the meaning behind the appearance of the ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

Universality Saves the Day (Roberts Ch 10 and 16) I begin with a basic comparison between the sincerity of symbolism versus allegory which eventually leads to a look at what keeps old literature alive.  

Sickness Prevails (Porphyria's Lover) Here, I compare my initial reaction to Porphyria's Lover to my reaction after our in class discussion.  

We Can Do It (Chace) In response to "The Decline of the English Department" by William Chace, I propose ways to save English both individually and as a group.

Depth: I try to go into depth with most of my blog entries because it helps me dig deeper into the literature. I also find it more helpful when it comes time to write a research paper. It almost acts as a part of the brainstorming process of writing a paper.

Poor Toby (Chekhov "The Bear")

Why so Drab? (Roberts Ch 7)

Don't be such a Scrooge (Staves 1-3)

Universality Saves the Day (Roberts Ch 10 and 16)  

We Can Do It (Chace)

Interaction: Once again, for every entry of mine that someone commented on, I commented on his/her blog for the same piece. I returned to these entries to continue the conversations.

Can You Use That In a Sentence..?- Jessica Orlowski

Jess and I discussed our processes for writing a debatable thesis statement.

Reading for the "Right" Reasons- Josie Rush

Here several members of our class discuss escape literature.


Animal Cruelty at its Finest- Jessica Orlowski

Jess, Josie, and I discuss the role of gender and symbolism in animals in Checkov's "The Bear".


Discussion: Sometimes my choice of writing lengthier blogs means not always getting them done on time. If I had, I probably would have generated more comments because my classmates would have seen my entry as an option to comment on before class.

Poor Toby (Chekhov "The Bear")

Why so Drab? (Roberts Ch 7)


Scared into Submission? (Staves 4-5)

Why so Drab? (Roberts Ch 7)

Universality Saves the Day (Roberts Ch 10)

Poor Toby (Chekhov "The Bear")


The Link Gracious:

·         I mentioned Josie in one of my blogs (Why so Drab?) and linked to hers because our entries were similar. I thought it would be more worthwhile for everyone to read both entries instead of just one.

·         I also mentioned Karyssa in my blog Scared into Submission? and linked to her blog.


The Comment Primo and the Comment Grande:

·         Religion and Forgiveness -Gladys Mares

·         Awakened By Chapter 16 -Karyssa Blair

·         Can You Use That In a Sentence..?- Jessica Orlowski

o   I was the first to comment on this entry. The entry now has 10 comments, 4 of which are mine.

·         Reading for the "Right" Reasons- Josie Rush

o   I returned to continue the conversation.

·         In a Nutshell- Kayla Lesko

·         Love with Just a Snap of the Fingers- Kayla Lesko

·         Animal Cruelty at its Finest- Jessica Orlowski

o   Jess mentioned me in her blog. I was the first to comment, and I returned to continue the conversation.  

The Comment Grande:

·         Religion and Forgiveness -Gladys Mares--I politely disagreed with her statement that Dickens' A Christmas Carol is not a Christmas story by writing a long thoughtful response regarding religion.

·         Animal Cruelty at its Finest- Jessica Orlowski--I left two lengthier comments on this entry.

·         Reading for the "Right" Reasons- Josie Rush--I left two lengthier comments on this entry.



·         Why so Drab? (Roberts Ch 7) I chose this entry because of the conversation that ensued.



We Can Do It

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 "Yet all around them a rich literature exists, extraordinary books to be taught to younger minds" -William M. Chace The Decline of the English Department

                First of all, I have to say that I respect anyone out there who decided to follow their dream of becoming a journalist or author. I have somewhat more comfort in knowing that I will have a teaching certificate along with my English degree when I graduate. I have always wanted to be an author and a teacher, but I don't think I could ever have just focused on writing. I need more stability and options, which is why I respect those of you who decided to defy what society deems difficult and follow your dreams.

            Chace said that part of the decline of the English department is in fact their fault. I think all of us English lovers out there need to do what we can individually as well as in a group. My plan is to become an elementary teacher and show kids just how special reading can be. I believe one problem with kids not enjoying reading is that they can't find the right book. There is a right book out there for everyone and I am determined to help all my future students find it. Reading and writing is a vital part of every subject. In fact, I just wrote a research paper on how literature can be used to teach math lessons. The research proved that the kids loved reading about characters solving math problems rather than copying notes off a board. I think the English department needs to get role models and government involved as well. This may have already been done, but I think mature celebrities and maybe even the president should advertise the importance of reading in television ads and so forth. It seems as though teachers and the education programs do a fairly decent job of stressing the importance of reading in schools, but not outside of school. If we got the community involved (the president and other high profile figures), it might show kids that reading is just as important outside of school as it is inside of school.

Sickness Prevails

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           After our in class discussion, I changed my interpretation of this poem; however, I am first going to blog about what I originally thought of the poem.

"To set its struggling passion free
From pride, and vainer ties dissever,
And give herself to me forever.
But passion sometimes would prevail,
Nor could to-night's gay feast restrain
A sudden thought of one so pale
For love of her, and all in vain:
So, she was come through wind and rain.
Be sure I looked up at her eyes
Happy and proud; at last I knew
Porphyria worshipped me; surprise" (21-33)

            After I read this quote, I thought that the woman had cheated on her lover. It sounded as if she was too weak to control her urges, but she came back to him. This showed the speaker her loyalty to him so he chose to kill her in order to never lose her again. However, after hearing Jess's definition of Porphyria, I changed my mind. I am not sure whether I think the speaker or the woman is sick with Porphyria. It could be the man because he is clearly not right in the head in that he would kill his lover. However, the speaker's description of the woman being weak and pale also describes that of a sick person.

Universality Saves the Day

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This on both Roberts Ch 10 and 16

 "The threat of censorship and the danger of political or economic reprisal have often caused authors to express their views indirectly in the form of allegory rather than to name names and write openly, thereby risking political, accusations of libel, or even bodily harm" (Roberts 151).

            I have always wondered whether authors intentionally use symbols or if people just over analyze the subtext to the point where they think they found symbols. However, I am convinced that authors' uses of allegories are intentional and sincere. A symbol is usually just one object, person, etc. like the symbol of a heart for love or water for life. Also, Roberts mentions that symbols are usually repeated throughout the text. While I am sure some authors do this intentionally, there may be others who simply chose to use a body of water as part of the setting and therefore, its presence is repeated in order to describe the landscape, not to symbolize life.

            Allegories, on the other hand, seem to be too long to have been just mistakenly observed. Usually allegories are a passage or a whole work. Symbols are usually used to emphasize ideas of life, love, death, etc., but from what I have read, symbols never actually taught me a lesson or moral. However, allegories are generally intentionally put into the text by the author to teach a lesson.  Like Roberts said in the above quote, authors used allegories to speak their minds or inform others of important lessons without coming right out and saying it because of oppression.

"Everything written, spoken, painted, or composed reflects the period of its composition--its historical, intellectual, and cultural context, or milieu" (Robert 232).

            I wonder why Aesop chose to use animals to represent characters in his allegories. Did he use allegories to teach lessons because he was a slave? I also remember reading in the past that Aesop never actually recorded any of his allegories, but rather they were passed down through the generations verbally. I also remember hearing that Aesop taught his lessons to adults. However, today they are used to teach children. I remember being given a book of Aesop's fables as a gift when I was seven. I think allegories like Aesop's fables are so universal that they can teach adults and children alike. In fact, universal themes and messages seem to be what makes literature. Why has Shakespeare's pieces lasted so long? In my opinion, it is because we can still relate to his messages. For instance, Shakespeare's Sonnet 30 approaches the concept of negative versus positive thought. We have all had the experience of thinking one negative thought and then thinking more and more negative thoughts until we think a positive one. Sonnet 30 seems like it could have been written in modern times because the idea is so universal. I think what keeps old pieces alive is when we can learn about a different time or place while still being able to relate to the characters.


Scared into Submission?

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"It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its head, its face, its form, and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand. But for this it would have been difficult to detach its figure from the night, and separate it from the darkness by which it was surrounded"

--Dickens, A Christmas Carol

            I was surprised by the Grim Reaper like appearance of the Ghost of Christmas future. In fact, I was surprised by the appearance of all three spirits. I expected them to look like angels because of their mission to change a man's life for the better. However, these spirits almost seemed to act as though they were being forced to help Scrooge. The ghost of Christmas future never even spoke a word. Could this be because he really couldn't talk or because he chose not to? The ghost of Christmas future seemed to use fear to persuade Scrooge to change his lifestyle: "Although well used to ghostly company by this time, Scrooge feared the silent shape so much that his legs trembled beneath him, and he found that he could hardly stand when he prepared to follow it" (Dickens). Of course, this spirit showed Scrooge kindness by giving Scrooge a moment to get his bearings back before moving on. This is where Karyssa's blog comes in to play. Karyssa mentions in her blog that Scrooge's charity is not to help others but rather to save himself. This could be true in that the ghost of Christmas future as well as the scenes shown to Scrooge of the future could have scared him into charity. However, I still like to think that Scrooge's charity at the end was heartfelt.

Don't be such a Scrooge

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"But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round -- apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that -- as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.  And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"

--Dickens, A Christmas Carol

I decided to write this blog in response to our in-class discussion. Is Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" a Christmas story?

            Well to answer this we have to ask ourselves what makes a story a Christmas story? I am going to make a generalization based on the Christmas stories I have read throughout the years. I think there are three types of Christmas stories. First, there is the story of Christ's birth. Second is the story of Santa Claus. Finally, the third type is stories that teach lessons about morality, virtue, and the importance of family and community through Christmas. The third type is more complicated and is usually included somewhat in the first and second type.

            I definitely think that "A Christmas Carol" fits into the third type. During Christmas time, people tend to be more giving and more family oriented. This makes Christmas the perfect time frame to teach lessons on charity, family, and values. During Christmas, these morals are heightened; therefore, to see someone like Scrooge even more miserable than usual clearly shows that there is a problem. This is outside of the point, but I wonder how miserable Scrooge was when it wasn't Christmas time. Was he more miserable around Christmas because everyone else was happier than usual? If so, this would add to the fact that Christmas is a good time to teach these lessons because the idea that Scrooge could be happy at Christmas time shows just how big of a change he has made.

Why so Drab?

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"Because writers of poems, plays, and stories are usually not systematic philosophers, it is not appropriate to go 'message hunting' as though their works contained nothing but ideas" (Roberts 120).

            Eh hem... this quote definitely stopped me in my tracks. Have we not been taught since middle school to look for symbolism, imagery, metaphors, similes, and so on and on and on and on in everything we read? I guess I have to give our teachers the benefit of the doubt. These texts were given to us knowing that they were literary pieces and therefore, must have reason to be close read. I just found it so strange to read this quote in a school "text book" when we are usually taught how to close read not that we should not always do it.

            Of course, it is common sense that we do not usually close read the books we read for fun. These books are meant to be an escape or as Roberts terms it, "escape literature" (123). In my opinion, "escape literature" should be added at least once into the curriculum. I know that there have been books I have read in high school and college that I really enjoyed and would have probably read by choice outside of class. These "works do embody ideas" (Roberts 123). Any idea can be analyzed; therefore, I think a book that is known to be popular amongst society, aka us college or high school students, could be added into the curriculum. I think it is important to refresh students with the reason why they truly love reading. I believe we can take something from almost everything we read. A lot of us found John Henry Days and The Quick and the Dead quite challenging and sometimes painful to read. Don't get me wrong though, I did enjoy parts of each novel. I just think it would be nice to see how books that we read for fun can also teach us something. Maybe then we will think twice when we read for fun and read between the lines a little bit more. We may be surprised by what we find.

Check out Josie's blog for more on the importance of reading literature for fun

Portfolio 3

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Portfolio 3


A Coping Method?(Maus) a discussion on how upfront Vladik is about his history of hardships in Maus.

My Thoughts are Haunting Me (Shakespeare Sonnet 30) an analysis of the speaker's train of thought in Shakespeare's Sonnet 30--negative versus positive thoughts .

Just like Blogging (Keats) a comparison between Keats' poetic response to Chapman's Homer and our class blog entries.

One Order of Imagery, Coming Right Up (Roberts Ch. 8) Is there really imagery in everything we read? Here I discuss the possibility while also analyzing the imagery in Masefield's "Cargoes".

You are What You Hear. You are What You See. (Hughes "Theme") Do we learn to be mean or is it a quality we are born with? This entry discusses possible answers to the question and also the concept that "we are what we learn" as shown in Hughes' "Theme". 

Sulk or Recover (Mansfield "Miss Brill") a look at the possible outcomes of Miss Brill being made fun of in Mansfield's "Miss Brill". Will she or wont she "people watch again"?

It's Common Sense People (Editorial) an analysis of "Texting Ban: Budgeting Fiasco", an editorial from the Patriot News Editorial Board. Why is the issue of texting while driving so overlooked?

You Reap What You Sow (Poe) an analysis of the figurative and metaphorical meanings in Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death".

Factual vs. Flowery (Roberts Ch 9) a look at the use of metaphors in news writing and the concept of getting straight to the point.

Just Like Hughes (Roberts Ch 6) a comparison between "real life" people and literary characters in response to the idea that people are sculpted by their surroundings.

We All Die Alone (John Henry Prologue and Part1) An analysis of J.'s most overwhelming emotion before death: loneliness.

Not Respected? (John Henry 2 and 3) a brief look at how Whitehead's novel has instilled a new form of respect from me for freelance journalists.

From the Perspective of a People Watcher (John Henry 4) Here I vent my frustration with needless pages of descriptions in John Henry.


Depth: I generally write rather lengthy blogs; however, my last few were short due to time crunch. I find it helpful to write longer blogs because the further I get into the entry, the deeper I get into the piece. Basically, longer blogs help me close read more efficiently.

My Thoughts are Haunting Me (Shakespeare Sonnet 30)

One Order of Imagery, Coming Right Up (Roberts Ch. 8)

You are What You Hear. You are What You See. (Hughes "Theme")

It's Common Sense People (Editorial)


Interaction: For every entry of mine that someone commented on, I commented on his/her blog for the same piece. This was something new that I tried for this portfolio and I found it quite helpful in carrying on conversations with others. I think it is common courtesy to comment on a person's blog who took the time to comment on mine.

Simple Questioning? -Melissa Schwenk

Melissa and I discuss the emotions of the speaker in Hughes' "Theme for English B". We analyze the overall feeling of anger, loneliness, and lack of confidence.


The Self-Pity Sonnet -Josie Rush

Josie, Aja, and I discuss the shift of thought at the end of Shakespeare's Sonnet 30 as well as whether or not the friend mentioned at the end was dead or alive.


I Sigh My Lack of Brain... -Carissa Altizer

Carissa, Klaryssa, and I discuss how we can relate to the feeling of regret in Hughes' "Theme for English B".


Roses are red, violets are blue, all my metaphors have been said, so what should I do? Josie Rush

I found Josie's entry on "Miss Brill" rather thought provoking so I shared my thoughts in a rather lengthy comment.


What is True? -Jessie Krehlik

This conversation involved several members of our class. I was the first to comment, adding that the mentioning of the age 22 in Hughes' piece helped me further relate to the piece.



You are What You Hear. You are What You See. (Hughes "Theme")

It's Common Sense People (Editorial)

Just like Blogging (Keats)

Factual vs. Flowery (Roberts Ch 9)

A Coping Method? (Maus)

My Thoughts are Haunting Me (Shakespeare Sonnet 30)


Timeliness: Because I try to write lengthier blogs, I sometimes find it difficult to blog on time. However, the following pieces were all written in a timely manner. Also, compared to my last two portfolios I wrote many more piece on time for this portfolio.

My Thoughts are Haunting Me (Shakespeare Sonnet 30)

Factual vs. Flowery (Roberts Ch 9)

Just like Blogging (Keats)

You are What You Hear. You are What You See. (Hughes "Theme")

Poor Toby (Chekhov "The Bear")



1.      I was the first to comment on the following entries:

What a Fancy Way to Say You Like Reading Kayla Lesko  

I Sigh My Lack of Brain... Carissa Altizer

Catching the Swine Flu Dianna Griffin

What is True? Jessie Krehlik


Mind Your Tone Karyssa


2.      I was the first to comment on these entries and I returned to carry on the conversations:

The Self-Pity Sonnet Josie Rush

Josie's entry ended up receiving six comments. I returned to her entry and added a second comment later on to continue our conversation.

Simple Questioning? Melissa Schwenk

Melissa's entry now has six comments, three of which are my comments.


3.      Roses are red, violets are blue, all my metaphors have been said, so what should I do? Josie Rush

I replied to Josie's blog with a very lengthy comment. Her blog entry caused me to think of many different ideas on Mansfield's "Miss Brill" which I decided to share in my comment.



You are What You Hear. You are What You See. (Hughes "Theme") I chose this blog for my wildcard piece because it generated the most comments out of all my blogs.


From the Perspective of a People Watcher

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"There's almost a fistfight.Cooler heads prevail. A man arguesd with his wife over who had the keys last, they're in his back pocket where he never puts them. The baby won't fall asleep and that little song that always works isn't today" (Whitehead 246).

            I felt like I was reading the observations of Miss Brill in the beginning of part four. Seriously, is it really necessary to spend five pages describing pointless activities going on at a festival. I think most people know what a festival is and if they don't, they could look up a simple definition and that would be enough. I remember reading that every word in writing has meaning, but I can't grasp the reason for writing such pointless descriptions. I want action not a people watcher's notes on the day's observations.

We All Die Alone

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"All these crackers looking up at me, looking up at the tree. Nobody doing nothing, just staring. They know how to watch a nigger die" (Whitehead 79).

            I found it interesting that for the majority of the prologue and part one, I didn't realize that J. was African American. It almost seemed to not be a big deal until the life or death moment at the end of part one. In the midst of fear and panic, J.'s true anger and frustration over race comes out. Everyone has an underlying sense of pride in their race and some may even have anger or resentment for others. Perhaps being in such a moment of crisis, J. looked for someone to blame, someone to be mad at to take his mind of his suffering. Also, maybe this is foreshadowing of a possible loneliness inside J. So far J. has his fellow colleagues from the list, but we have not yet heard of any family or true friends. Even the members of the list seem to be hoping J. will fail at his attempt to break the record of writing a piece a day for a year. It seems appropriate that in the moment of death, loneliness would be an overwhelming emotion, especially for a man who is lonely on a daily basis. We all die alone.

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