Brooke Kuehn: December 2009 Archives

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.

December 2009

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Recent Comments

Kayla Lesko on Universality Saves the Day: I think it's perfectly fine to
Dave on We Can Do It: The decline in English as a st
Kayla Lesko on Scared into Submission?: You know, I never really check
Melissa Schwenk on Universality Saves the Day: I agree with you, Brooke. I'm
Josie Rush on Poor Toby: Mm, I'm not going to to into m
Jessica Orlowski on Poor Toby: I agree, Brooke. I believe tha
Brooke Kuehn on Poor Toby: Intereting point jess. it's li
Brooke Kuehn on Why so Drab? : If we ever get there. I agree
Jessica Orlowski on Poor Toby: Yes... it's always better, to
Jessica Orlowski on Why so Drab? : About Maus: At first, I was co