Carissa Liberty Altizer: September 2009 Archives

Truly Alone-Or a Few Feet from Home?

| | Comments (2)
"I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places."

Do these lines mean that Frost has simply walked a few yards or a mile or two away from his home?  I have read this poem several times before and I always imagined that he was far away from all civilization, surrounded by nature and almost enclosed in a bubble of isolation.  Rereading these lines give me a different visual.  I can almost see him taking a break from family on Christmas Eve to go for a walk.  Maybe he wanted to join in with the festivities, but he didn't quite feel like he fit in so he took a walk in the woods to clear his mind.  I know that Christmas is a joyful time to spend with family, but sometimes it can seem very lonely to me.  All of the hype can be exhausting.  I understand that there was absolutely no mention of Christmas or holidays, but winter automatically made me think of Christmas break.  Whether he is a few feet away from his family and home in his backyard woods or in the middle of nowhere-it really makes no difference.  Like Kayla said, you can be lonely no matter where you are.

Kayla's link:
http://blogs.setonhill.edu/KaylaLesko/2009/09/i_cant_seem_to_escape_this.html

Sign up to be a lawyer, you'll make more money.

| | Comments (3)
While I had several very enthusiastic, skilled English teachers in high school and took all higher level courses, the writing focus tended to drift towards creative writing and grammar usage.  By the time I graduated I had only written a total of something like 4, maybe 5 research based papers.  The actual purpose of a research paper (to come up with your own research and not back up what you already think) wasn't addressed. I remember doing one exercise in tenth grade on perfecting thesis statements, but I don't even know if the worksheet was checked or graded.  Needless to say, I came to college a little unprepared for the English program.  I have also never heard of "arguing against possible objections" before SHU.  I always assumed that as a writer, you want to make your point as strong as possible and not even suggest that there are other interpretations or arguments than the one that you're making.  Obviously, I was wrong. 

 My boyfriend, an English major from Wesleyan University says that the main focus at his school was "Writing About a Problem."  I liked what Jessie said about not knowing she was signing up to be a lawyer, because he says that many English majors went onto study law bc they already had many of the skills to do so.  My first serious English class was in Thinking and Writing with Dr. Wansor.  He was the first to introduce the steps to writing a successful paper.  I feel like this is a new way of writing for me.  

I have a difficult time distinguishing between too much summary and not enough details from the story.  After Monday's class, it seems to me that there is an awful lot of summary in Chapter 12's essay, a relatively short paper, but it is well constructed, clear, and concise.  Without the summary, I think it would be a much weaker paper. 




Jessica Orlowski's blog page:

http://blogs.setonhill.edu/JessicaOrlowski/2009/09/oh_i_didnt_realize_that_this_w.html

(Also, if anyone knows what I'm doing wrong with posting links, please let me know. I have no idea
how to make one word a link instead of the whole http:// thing, and even when I copy and past the 
site, it doesn't seem to be letting anyone access the pages I post anyway.)


Feeling Like a Fool...

| | Comments (0)

I had a difficult time getting some of the jokes in Goodnight Desdemona Good Morning Juliet because I didn't understand what a Foolscap was.  I kind of figured it out by using context clues, but I wanted to be sure so I looked up a definition. I'm going to try to clarify this for myself, and I hope that someone will tell me if I'm off base. I know at the end of the play she is considered the fool because she is actually the real author of the story.  There is a play on words with fool and cap which is why she wakes up without the hat.  She is now able to successfully finish her dicertatcion (on foolscap), no longer making her a fool-right?  Did I get the puns, or am I still stuck looking like the fool?  If anyone has answers for me I would appreciate it!  Thanks!


"Foolscap is a size of paper, traditionally 8½ by 13½ inches (216 by 343 mm), though today it may be a bit smaller, and the term may be used loosely to refer to any large format paper. Technically, the measurements listed above define a size known as foolscap folio. Folio simply means half a sheet of paper, and foolscap is traditionally 17 by 13½ inches. Foolscap folio is usually referred to either asfoolscap or as folio paper."

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-foolscap.htm


I think this is a picture of the kind of hat that is referred to in the play...


http://images.arcteryx.com/S09/355W-png/Inga-Toque-W-Belize-Blue.png


And now see what the class has to say...

http://jerz.setonhill.edu/EL237/2009/09/macdonald_goodnight_desdemona/


Quit Your Books and Grab Your Hippi Skirts!

| | Comments (5)

     I constantly feel busy and anxious.  I write numerous notes and post-it reminders...let's not even mention the continuous "list of things to do today" that never quite gets finished.  I'm one of those students who never thinks that I'm prepared for a test.  Even if I know the information up and down and backwards, I feel like I could study for another hour-just to be sure. 

I felt like William Wordsworth was writing directly to me when he penned The Tables Turned.  I know that books and education are important, but sometimes it is necessary to "Up!up! my Friend, and quit your books."  The message to put down your work and studies to spend time in the sunshine isn't a new theory, but it's one that people need to be reminded of constantly. 

After a full day of classes and writing papers, I wonder why I go to bed achy and grouchy.  I know I'm not the only college student who has put off a beautiful walk in the park for an extra hour in the library, and I'm certainly guilty of taking one too many aspirins for sore muscles when I know their due to lack of exercise.  Wordsworth speaks the truth when he writes

 

"She has a world of ready wealth,

Our minds and hearts to bless-

Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,

Truth breathed by cheerfulness. (20)"

 

He continues by saying that a springtime tree (vernal wood-I had to look that one up) can teach you more about good and evil than the wisest professor, and that sometimes it is better to be inspired by the beauty of life, rather than dissecting it and tearing it apart in science and art class.  Overall, the piece has a very bohemian feel to it.  It's a beautiful piece to read aloud, and it's one that may get printed out and posted above my desk.  Wordsworth has inspired me to spend some time outside tomorrow.  It doesn't matter if it's sunny or not.  Any others want to close their "Books! 'tis a dull and endless strife."  Let's go for a walk...

What Would William Think?

| | Comments (0)

On Monday our class spent an awful lot of time talking about whether or not we personally liked Shakespeare's plays and/or sonnets.  As an English major, sometimes I feel like good ol' Will gets talked to death.  However, one question that we never discussed was whether or not Shakespeare would have appreciated Ann-Marie MacDonald's interpretation of both his plays.  I think it is obvious that MacDonald takes a feminists viewpoint with Shakespeare's work.  But wait, wasn't Shakespeare a sexist?  Everyone in this class knows that Shakespeare never had equal male and female roles.  He also created some pretty weak and pathetic female characters.  Juliet kills herself over her love for Romeo and Desdemona is tricked and suffocated...While that may be true, I personally believe that William would have clapped his hands and had a good belly laugh in his tight little spandex pants if he was able to watch the play, just as long as he could hold out his hand to collect the money rolling in. 

Shakespeare was working as a playwright to have enough money to put food on the table and drink some good mead after the show.  He wasn't interested in being-The Great William Shakespeare-he was simply interested in putting on a good performance.

Without prior knowledge of gender differences and societal roles in England during 1500-1600s, it is easy to understand why women may regard Shakespeare as a sexist because of the way he portrays women.  In all thirty-seven of his plays, without exception, women play fewer roles and their lines never exceed their male counterparts.   For example, in Much Ado About Nothing there are fourteen male roles and four females.  A Midsummer Night's Dream stars fifteen men and six women, and Macbeth only has seven female roles compared to 25 male characters.  As David pointed out, women were not allowed to act on a stage, and as a result every female role in Shakespeare's plays was acted by a man.  Often a young boy who had not grown a beard would play the female role.  Ease of costume and thespian accessibility ultimately explains why Shakespeare used fewer female roles and why the cross-dressing humor added to his comedies and lightened the mood of a few tragedies. 

In the context of the Elizabethan Era, Shakespeare's portrayal of women is actually quite forward thinking.  It would have been impossible for him to sell theater tickets while blatantly flaunting equality for women, but he certainly gave women a voice.  I never had the opportunity to read Othello, so I don't know very much about Desmona's character, but there are plenty of examples of strong female roles in many of his other plays.

In a time when men ruled and "Father Knows Best" was not a comedy sitcom, the plot of Romeo and Juliet was scandalous.  In today's society, it does not seem odd or dramatic that Juliet sneaks out at night to meet Romeo.  Most would give her disobedience an excuse because she is young and in love for the first time.  Conversely, the sin of insubordination in 1594 was enough to make any audience viewer gasp.  Their love ends tragically but Juliet's decision to actively disobey her father is romanticized and subsequently brings the Montague and Capulets, two warring families together.

In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Helena also defies her father's authority when she runs away with Lysander. She risks her life and her reputation to follow her heart.  According to Elizabethan era societal rules, Helena should have faced dire consequences.  Not only did she disagree with her father, she compromised her reputation by running away into the woods with him.  At the end of the play, Helena does not get punished; instead, she gets exactly what she wants to the chagrin of her father.

Titania is also an example of a misbehaving woman.  Even though Oberon and Titania are king and queen of the fairies, they are still a married couple.  Oberon says, "Terry, rash wanton.  Am not I thy lord?" (II. ii. 65.). Titania is expected to submit to his authority, yet talks back to Oberon and refuses to submit to him by not giving him the changeling boy.  She has no qualms about rejoining, nor is she concerned with maintaining the "proper role" of a subservient wife.

In Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is certainly not the docile lady that the Shakespearean audience would have expected from nobility.  She is intelligent and calculating.  It can be argued that her manipulation caused Macbeth's previous heroic warrior character to transform into a murderer.  She wanted to be a powerful queen, and in order to achieve her goal, she controlled her husband's emotions and convinced him to commit regicide.  Her character convinces audiences that woman can have a substantial amount of control over men.  Her evil role was powerful in the Elizabethan Era because men were already terrified of the power that the female gender possessed.  Women were constantly told that they were subservient to men and that they were not intelligent enough to attend school or a university.  These facts prove that men were simply scared of what women could do if they were given the power to do it.  The easiest way to control a person is to withhold education.  Lady Macbeth was the perfect example of what an intelligent, if evil woman could do if she set her mind to it.

The Merchant of Venice's Portia is arguably one of Shakespeare's strongest female characters.  Even after his death, her father wrote his will so that he maintained control over his daughter.  Portia was a wealthy heiress, but she did not have the power to choose her husband because of the casket game stipulation he set forth in his will.  At first she felt like a prisoner to her father's wishes, but after she meets Bassanio, she falls in love and finds the motivation to discover loopholes in the will.  Portia disguises herself as a man and acts like a lawyer to defend Antonio.  Her quick wit and intelligence prove to be unmatchable even for Shylock.  Her confidence was unchallenged and as a result, Antonio went free.  Portia was a heroine because of her intelligence, an asset that Elizabethan society adamantly tried to suppress in women.

Shakespeare was an incredible artist.  Even under strict societal rules of the time period, he was able to create daring characters that a modern reader like Constance can easily relate to and admire.  Desdemona's strength, Juliet and Helena's passionate love, Titania's power struggle within her marriage, Macbeth's manipulation, and Portia's quick wit continue to give women a powerful voice upon the stage.  

Carissa Liberty Altizer

Dr. Jerz

Writing About Literature, EL 237

September 20, 2008

 

Profile 1: "You have not ...really learned something until you talk or write about it" (Roberts 1). 

 

            This semester has been my first blogging experience.  It was difficult for me to understand the technology involved, but I'm learning how to post urls in their proper places so others will read my work.  I admit that I struggle to post blogs ahead of time, but that is something that I will work to improve for my next portfolio.   

As a future teacher, I am always looking for new ways to introduce technology into the classroom.  Blogging gives students a chance to analyze a work of literature before class even begins.  It cultivates discussions and debates, raises questions, and helps students read more closely.  As a result of the crash course in blogging in EL 237, I can see myself using it as a tool in my own classroom one day!

 

 

Coverage: I wrote a response for every article, poem, and work of literature that we have read thus far.

·         In this entry, I explained my interpretation of Sylvia Plath's poem, "Metaphors." 

o   http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/sylvia_plath_metaphors_spoiler.html

 

·         This entry is a little less formal than others.  "Sonnet 73" left me with a lot of questions which we addressed in class.  I realize my brief summary of the poem seemed correct after the classroom discussion, but I certainly understand it more clearly now.

o   http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/sonnet_73still_a_mystery_to_me.html

·          In this entry, I created an argument for why most modern readers prefer Bierce's Owl Creek Bridge to Hardy's The Three Strangers.  If I created a strong thesis statement and researched the ideas I began on this blog, I may be able to use it to write a paper.

o   http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/twenty-first_century_storytell.html.

·         For this response, I chose to complete a writing exercise at the end of the chapter.

o   http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/chap_5_q7_kat-naughty_or_nice.html

·         The quote I chose from Chapter one is about rewriting and revising your work.  I don't believe a written piece of work is ever quite finished, and I demonstrated this theory by using a passage from a previous class that explains my relationship with literature and a few of my experiences as an English major.  Before I typed it into my blog entry, I corrected several mistakes and clarified several lines. 

o   http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/chapter_1_rewrite.html

·         I responded to this poem by writing my own interpretational description of the narrator. 

o   http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/hardy_the_man_he_killed_after.html

·         I responded to Luck after we discussed the short story in class.  On my first reading I didn't catch the double meaning, but I understood after my classmates talked about the possibilities of an unreliable narrator.  I blogged about my first reaction to the reading and I compared Scoresby's character to former President Bush.     

o   http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/twain_luck_we_got_issue_in_ame.html

·         In this entry, I responded to Jessica Orlowski's article which stated that she would write her own eulogy.  I had a high school teacher who would assign this task to her class as a writing exercise.  The idea of writing your own eulogy sparked questions and comments during the class discussion the next day.  After I posted this blog, Jessica responded to my posts and thanked me for helping her see the depth of the challenging statement she made. 

o   http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/ch_4_point_of_view_what_would.html

§  http://blogs.setonhill.edu/JessicaOrlowski/2009/09/i_will_write_my_own_eulogy.html

·         I wrote this entry as a response to the class blogging debate on Aja Hannah's "Go Gentlemen...Go Confederate?" article.  I originally thought that I found a quote to disprove Farquhar's perceived prejudice.  After a classroom discussion, I realized that I did not have enough proof to back up my theory.

 

o   http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/white_hands.html

§  http://blogs.setonhill.edu/AjaHannah/2009/09/go_gentleman_goconferedate.html#comment-746730

·         In this entry, I compared "On Turning Ten" to my Classroom Management and Behavior Disorders class discussion on developmental childhood depression. 

o   http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/on_turning_ten_and_childhood_d.html

·         In this entry, I compared the cast of Everybody Loves Raymond to a list of stock characters that has been around since the time of the ancient Greeks.

o   http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/everybody_loves_raymond.html

·         I hypothesized why Minnie chose to hide the canary corpse in her sewing basket.

o   http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/needleworka_dying_art.html

·         I wrote about the importance breaking large projects into smaller steps and remembering the basics of writing when you start to panic after being given a long assignment.

o   http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/08/ch_2_close_reading_more_planni.html

Depth: These are what I believe to be my best blogging samples.

·         http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/sylvia_plath_metaphors_spoiler.html

·         http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/twenty-first_century_storytell.html

·         http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/on_turning_ten_and_childhood_d.html

·         http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/hardy_the_man_he_killed_after.html

 

Discussion: These articles have sparked comments or discussions from my peers.  They range from three to one comment.

·         http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/sylvia_plath_metaphors_spoiler.html

·         http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/08/ch_2_close_reading_more_planni.html

·         http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/twain_luck_we_got_issue_in_ame.html

·         http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/ch_4_point_of_view_what_would.html

·         http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/needleworka_dying_art.html

·         http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/everybody_loves_raymond.html

·         http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/hardy_the_man_he_killed_after.html

 

Interaction: These articles are examples of blogs where I either disagreed with the opinions of my fellow classmates or added a meaningful comment to their blog discussion.

·         I wrote this entry as a response to the class blogging debate on Aja Hannah's "Go Gentlemen...Go Confederate?" article.  I originally thought that I found a quote to disprove Farquhar's perceived prejudice.  After a classroom discussion, I realized that I did not have enough proof to back up my theory.

 

o   http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/white_hands.html

§  http://blogs.setonhill.edu/AjaHannah/2009/09/go_gentleman_goconferedate.html#comment-746730

·         After reading Sylvia Plath's poetry, everyone in the class worked to decipher what the deeper meaning to her words could mean.  I politely leaned more towards Josie than Brooke's interpretation.

o    http://blogs.setonhill.edu/JessicaOrlowski/2009/09/ladies_and_gentlemen_sylvia_pl.html#comment-747305

·         In this comment, Brooke made a suggestion for a possible interpretation of "Lady Lazarus."  While I think the background information that she used was very helpful, I felt Brooke's conclusion for why Plath lost her innocence at ten years old included not only the fact that she moved, but her father's death as well.

o    http://blogs.setonhill.edu/BrookeKuehn/2009/09/those_sticky_pearls_just_wont.html#comment-747306

·         While the rest of the conversation revolved around Mathilde, I commented on her husband's role in the story.

o    http://blogs.setonhill.edu/AjaHannah/2009/08/the_necklace.html#comment-746779

·         I added my own personal experiences to a discussion sparked by "On Turning Ten."

o    http://blogs.setonhill.edu/AjaHannah/2009/08/the_necklace.html#comment-746779

·         Karyssa helped me understand "Lady Lazarus "better.

o    http://blogs.setonhill.edu/KaryssaBlair/2009/09/shes_a_maneater.html#comment-747308

·         I explained my own interpretation for part of Plath's "Daddy" and Brooke found it helpful.

o    http://blogs.setonhill.edu/KaryssaBlair/2009/09/shes_a_maneater.html#comment-747308

o     

Xenoblogging:

·         The Link Gracious: Jess Orlowski's piece on writing her own eulogy sparked my article for the chapter.

o    http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/ch_4_point_of_view_what_would.html

·         The Link Gracious: Aja Hannah's article inspired my entry for the story.

o    http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/white_hands.html

§   http://blogs.setonhill.edu/AjaHannah/2009/09/go_gentleman_goconferedate.html#comment-746730

·         The Link Gracious: Dr. Tarnai's lecture inspired my entry.

o    http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/on_turning_ten_and_childhood_d.html

·         The Link Gracious: The editor's notes in Kelly's Seagull Reader Poems helped me to better understand the poem.

o    http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/sylvia_plath_metaphors_spoiler.html

·          The Comment Primo: I was the first to respond to Brooke and Cody's entries.

o    http://blogs.setonhill.edu/BrookeKuehn/2009/09/life_costs_money_people_die_pa.html#comment-746788

o    http://jerz.setonhill.edu/EL237/2009/08/hardy_the_man_he_killed/#comment-15745

Wildcard: I chose this article because I used my blog as a rough draft for a close reading of Metaphors by Sylvia Plath.  It generated several comments, and I used the editor's notes in Kelly's Seagull Reader Poems to help me better understand the piece.  I also added outside links for anyone interested in further reading.

·         http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/sylvia_plath_metaphors_spoiler.html

Timely: I never submitted an article a full 24-48 hours in advance, but several of my articles ignited classroom discussions.

·         http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/on_turning_ten_and_childhood_d.html

·         http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/ch_4_point_of_view_what_would.html

·         http://blogs.setonhill.edu/CarissaAltizer/2009/09/white_hands.html

 

 

 

 

 

Sylvia Plath: Metaphors Spoiler

| | Comments (4)

The editor's notes before "Metaphors" felt like a spoiler.  After reading "Daddy" and "Lady Lazarus" several times, I can easily see several different interpretations.  However, most of the lines in "Metaphors" jumped right out at me with crystal clear imagery after I read that Sylvia Plath thought she was pregnant when she wrote the poem.

 "I'm a riddle in nine syllables" means that she is due in nine months.  "Elephant" and "Ponderous house" refer to her size, or the weight she expects to gain in the next nine months.  During pregnancy, women become very aware of their changing body size.  I imagine that she felt bloated or was visualizing what it would feel like to carry around so much extra weight.

  "A melon strolling on two tendrils" provides the perfect picture of a woman about to go into labor.  Her belly is overbearing like a watermelon balancing on two small tendrils (legs).  The fourth line caught me off guard.  I think "red fruit" may be referring to her seed growing into a baby.  I have no explanations for "ivory," but I think "fine timbers!" may refer to Plath building a home and a life for her child.

 The yeast rising to make a loaf of bread clearly refers to a baby growing inside her womb, as does the "calf in cow" reference.  "I'm a means" could be a way of saying that her life has purpose and direction now that she is about to have a child.  "A stage" may refer to all of the attention she expects to receive during her pregnancy until the big show-the day she gives birth.

The eighth line eludes me.  "I've eaten a bag of green apples" does not seem to fit the pregnancy theme.  When I think of green apples I think sour.  Maybe she is hesitant about the pregnancy?  Perhaps she is scared and still hasn't fully accepted it?  The final line makes a clear point.  No matter whether she wants the baby or not, she has no other options.  The choice has been made for her and she can't turn back now. 

*In order to understand my interpretation of the poem better, check out page 237 in Kelly's Seagull Reader Poems! 

http://jerz.setonhill.edu/EL237/2009/09/plath_in_kelly_237-243/


Sonnet 73...Still a Mystery to Me!

| | Comments (1)

I took Shakespeare over the summer with an amazing professor at Westmoreland County Community College.  We covered five novels in five weeks and class was four hours a day twice a week.  (The class transfers, and I suggest it to anyone who hasn't taken Shakespeare yet.  Dr. Kissler is hysterical and it will save you lots of money!)  At first I dreaded it, but it ended up being my favorite summer class.  Shakespeare's plays don't scare me like they used to do in the past, but his poetry is still a bit of a mystery to me.  I have read, reread, and then quadruple read Sonnet 73 (not to mention the fact that I read almost everyone's blogs about it).  When it was written, I'm sure all of the metaphors and descriptions were fresh.  "Sweet birds sang," "glowing of such fire," "ashes of his youth."  Yeah, ok, I get it... I think?  The speaker is looking back over his life and comparing it to different seasons.  He is getting ready to die and his youth is fading.  He tells his beloved one that this will only make their love stronger.  Perhaps he is kind of saying that they will meet in the afterlife and both still love each other?  I can also see the very dramatic break up interpretation if I squint when I read it.  What should I really be taking from this piece?  I feel like I'm missing something when I read it...or perhaps this particular poem just doesn't strike me.

Twenty-First Century Storytelling

| | Comments (0)

"A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below (317)." 

VS.

"Among the few features of agricultural England which retain and appearance but little modified by the lapse of centuries may be reckoned the high, grassy and furzy downs combs, or ewe-leases, as they are indifferently called, that fill a large area of certain countries  in the south and southwest."

 

Bierce's Owl Creek Bridge is more popular with modern readers than Hardy's Three Strangers because Bierce's writing techniques and story structure are more common in twenty-first century storytelling.  Three Strangers begins in the traditional manner.  It introduces the reader to the scenery and the people at the party for the first several pages.  Owl Creek Bridge took the more dramatic approach, it jumped right into the action by showing a man waiting to be hanged.  The reader immediately knew what the story was going to be about, and the striking first few paragraphs draw the reader into the story.  Owl Creek Bridge introduced a new writing technique in 1891-the flashback.  Today the flashback is a common way to give readers background information that is necessary to the story but may not be as dramatic to read.  Both stories have hints leading to surprise endings; however, Owl Creek Bridge is more successful with modern readers because the hints are buried within the text.  Today, average readers notice character oddities that lead to surprise endings faster than background or scenery hints.  Television and movies have conditioned young people to focus more on who is doing the action rather than the scenery to create surprise endings, therefore, readers are able to pick up these hints faster in order to predict the story outcome.

http://jerz.setonhill.edu/EL237/2009/09/hardy_the_three_strangers_in_r/

Chap 5: Q.7: Kat-Naughty or Nice?

| | Comments (0)

Instead of responding to a quote in chapter 5, I answered number 7 under "Special Topics for Studying and Discussing Plot and Structure." 

 

Positive

Mrs. Foster leaned forward in the hospital bed and smiled at Katherine.  Her grey eyes lit up and she reached for Kat's hand.  "You know, this is my favorite part of the story..."

Katherine squeezed Mrs. Foster's hand and quietly laughed. 

"Of course I know!  You remind me every time I read the chapter."

Nurse Jan walked into the room to give Mrs. Foster her medications.  She said, "Oh, hello, Kat!  You know, you remind me so much of my granddaughter.  You both have such pretty blond hair and bright white smiles.  It's good to see that you're keeping Mrs. Foster company again today."

 

Negative

Kat rolled her eyes when she turned the page.  "Here we go," she thought.  Like clockwork, Mrs. Foster leaned forward in her hospital bed and smiled at Katherine.  

"You know, this is my favorite part of the story..."  Kat wanted to put the woman out of her misery.  She cut her off and hissed, "Of course I know!  You remind me every time I read the chapter."

Nurse Jan walked into the room to give Mrs. Foster her medications.  Jan started talking to her and Kat nodded and smiled just like she was supposed to.  The only thing she could think about was how perfect it would be if she could administer Mrs. Foster's medication.  An extra dose or two might just give her a free ticket out if Ethel finally kicked the bucket.

In order to show Katherine in contrasting positive and negative ways I used different points of view.  In response number one I focused on the scene like I was holding a video camera in the corner of the room.  I wanted to show that the elderly woman was happy, a pretty, young blond was reading to her, and that Nurse Jan seemed to approve and appreciate the time Kat spent with the elderly woman. 

In the second response I showed the exact same scene but I used first person point of view to let the reader know what Kat was actually thinking.  The "camera" also zoomed in when Mrs. Foster and Kat spoke directly to each other.  This way, the reader knows that she wasn't laughing quietly in a sweet, "isn't grandma cute?" kind of way.  Kat actually does not like Mrs. Foster at all and feels hostility and contempt towards her. 

http://jerz.setonhill.edu/EL237/2009/09/roberts_ch5/

 

 

 

Chapter 1: Rewrite

| | Comments (0)

"Writing Does Not Come Easily-For Anyone (16)"  

I may be cheating for this blog entry, but I think an excerpt from my self-evaluation after Dr. Arnzen's class last year still says exactly how I feel about this quote.  Perhaps it's not "cheating."  It's been several months since I read this piece and there were quite a few errors that I fixed before I blogged it.  Actually, I change my mind.  This is a piece that I wrote earlier, but I revised.  A work of writing is never really "done."  I think there is always room for improvement and rewrites.  Oh, hey, this quote covers it, "They reconsider their ideas and try to restate them, discard some details, add others, chop paragraphs in half and reassemble them, the parts elsewhere, throw out much (and then maybe recover some of it), revise or completely rewrite sentences, change words, correct misspellings, sharpen expressions, and add new material to tie all the parts together in a smooth, natural flow (16)."

 Self Evaluation: Spring Semester 2009

"I am not going to sit here and tell you that I took this class because I always dreamed of being a writer.  I never spent hours of my youth writing fan fiction or reading tattered copies of Hamlet for fun.  I wrote angsty poetry when I was thirteen, a couple of award-winning essays (always for the $300.00 award), and a witty "children's" opossum porn during my senior year of high school.  I always kept everything I wrote.  It was as sacred to me as my family photo album, but that was more or less because everything I wrote was work.  It's not easy for me to write.  I feel stress and anxiety over writing assignments, and I do not foresee these feelings going away anytime soon.  Still, I get some kind of a thrill out of finishing an assignment.  Writing a paper is like bungee jumping and waiting for criticism is the part where I hope I land without pissing my pants. 

Lemire's comparison between the English major and boot camp were completely accurate.  Weekends before our journal entries were due; I would compare "assignments" with my military friends.  I remember one text conversation in particular; DJ wrote, "Hey how's your weekend?"

I said, "About 20 pages of writing due Monday, you?"

He responded, "I have to run six miles tomorrow."

I said, "Ha!  That sucks..."

DJ replied, "I'd take the six miles over twenty pages any day."

I am learning that when you are an English major, twenty pages is nothing to whine about.  It's a power write session with a couple cups of coffee and Pandora radio.  I am still not there yet, but I hope to be someday.

It is not difficult to see how my writing and critical thinking skills have improved since my first writing assignment in Seminar in Thinking and Writing.  I barely knew how to write a thesis statement during my first semester of college.  Now, I have a black binder stuffed with a prolific amount of writing compared to anything I have done in the past.  It may be riddled with errors, but even so, it is obvious to me that I have made huge improvements in learning how to communicate clearly and effectively.  I am also able to reread my work a few days after I have written it and correct many of my own mistakes.  I struggle against passive voice, but it is a battle I will conquer in time.  I also think nothing you write is ever finished.  There is always room for improvement, and even though it is difficult to delete the "perfect witty sentence" because the rest of the world thinks it cheesy, I understand that it is necessary to improve my writing."

http://jerz.setonhill.edu/EL237/2009/08/roberts_ch1/

Hardy, "The Man He Killed": After the War

| | Comments (1)

After reading Hardy's "The Man He Killed," I picture a sweet old man sitting in a lonely bar.  His eyes are downcast and he's been milking a single scotch all night.  He's approachable, yet not needy or asking for attention.  He's only at the bar to ease his mind; perhaps it gives him a break from the stillness of a quiet home.  I imagine he likes country music, and his best friend is a golden retriever named Buddy.  He never felt the need to hang up his war medals and he never joined the VFW.  After the war was over he came home, hugged his mom, shook his dad's hand, told his younger brother to go to college instead of enlisting, and then took a job working at Lowes.  He doesn't severely regret his time in the military because everyone was so proud of him for serving his country.  Nobody forgot to tell him thank you.  He just wasn't the same when came back.  He didn't laugh quite as often and the youthful sparkle had faded from his eyes.  He never became an alcoholic and never contemplated suicide.  Once he even brought his old uniform and told stories about the military for his little niece's elementary class.  It was hard on him because one of the kids asked him if he ever killed a man.  He didn't know what to say, so he told the truth.  When the boy persisted and asked, "Why?" he didn't really have an answer.  All he could think of was "Because-because he was my foe." 

http://jerz.setonhill.edu/EL237/2009/08/hardy_the_man_he_killed/

Twain, "Luck": "We got issue in America..."

| | Comments (2)

I feel lame admitting this, but the first time I read this piece I never even questioned the Reverend.  I read the entire thing, chuckled when appropriate, and never realized that the entire story had a double meaning.  In my mind I kept comparing Scoresby to former President Bush.  Does anyone remember, "We got issue in America.  Too many good docs are getting out of business, too many OBGYNs aren't able to practice their...their love with women all across this country."  My comparison between the two relates to the comment that Dr. Jerz made in class when we discussed "Luck."  He said that a person does need to be exceptionally smart in order to be in a position of power; he just needs to be surrounded by intelligent people.  If nothing else, George W. Bush made some very wise decisions when he chose his campaign managers and his handlers.  I don't know any teachers who encouraged their students to model their speeches after the former president, but I definitely know a few Communications professors who were impressed by his marketing skills!  Perhaps I missed the point of the story the first time around, but there is always a slim chance that the unreliable narrator was at least partially correct.  Maybe Bush and Scoresby do have something in common?

http://jerz.setonhill.edu/EL237/2009/08/twain_luck/

Ch. 4: Point of View: What Would a First Person Eulogy Sound Like?

| | Comments (2)

Jessica Orlowski's entry inspired me to contemplate the idea of writing my own eulogy.  It's not really something that I've put much thought into before now, but I had a teacher in high school who gave her English class an assignment to write their own eulogies.  Mrs. Scott prided herself on her ability to push her students, and she bragged that this particular assignment was the most difficult.  Some students took the assignment as a joke, but most took it very seriously.  Unfortunately, I never had her for that particular class or I would have more perspective on the idea. 

Hearing the story of someone's life from their own point of view does seem like it would be more interesting.  However, the point of a funeral isn't to be interesting, it's for the family to find closure.  I suppose it may be easier for your family to find a more intimate closure in your own final words rather than somebody else's reiteration of your life, but is that still considered a eulogy?

I would find it considerably difficult to write a story about my life without boring people to death with my "resume" and attempting to shy away from Beowulf-like boasts.  I feel like eulogies are meant to glorify a person after they have die.  It may sound cheesy, but it's nice to hear someone else talk about how caring or funny or kind a person was in their life.  There is a good chance a first person eulogy would be witty or funny.  "Well, I always tried to be caring to kids because I was a teacher...but sometimes I just wanted to..."

I think you need to be very comfortable with the idea of death in order to write such a difficult thing.  I wish I had been in Mrs. Scott's class to hear the class discussions about the assignment.  Perhaps I'll make this a writing assignment in my own classroom someday as an experiment.  Good luck writing your own eulogy; it might be harder than you think...   

http://jerz.setonhill.edu/EL237/2009/09/roberts_ch4/ 

To read Jess' entry, click here!

http://blogs.setonhill.edu/JessicaOrlowski/2009/09/i_will_write_my_own_eulogy.html 

White Hands

| | Comments (1)

 "Mrs. Farquhar was only too happy to serve him with her own white hands (319)." 

I was surprised and upset by the responses I read for An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.  I don't believe the author ever intended the reader to question Peyton Farquhar's soul.  Farquhar's family may have owned slaves and fought for the Confederate army, but the background information was not meant to convince the reader he deserved to hang.  The author makes it clear that he is a good man when he writes, "The liberal military code makes provisions for hanging many kinds of persons, and gentlemen are not excluded.  In part II, the author shows that Mrs. Farquhar is not an evil, prejudice woman when he writes, "Mrs. Farquhar was only too happy to serve him with her own white hands."  The descriptive statement shows readers that the gray clad soldier was African-American.  Farquhar's wife did not hesitate to be generous and courteous to him because of his skin color.  The author goes onto describe his good features, kindly expression, loyalty to his homeland, and love for his wife and children.  Jumping to the conclusion that Farquhar felt such pain in his last moments because the devil was tormenting him for his sins insults the beauty of the prose piece and American history.


To read Aja's article, click here!

http://blogs.setonhill.edu/AjaHannah/2009/09/go_gentleman_goconferedate.html#comment-746730

 

 

 

"On Turning Ten" and Childhood Develpment

| | Comments (1)

Response to Billy Collins: "On Turning Ten"

In Edu 340, Characteristics and Strategies of Childhood Behavior, my class recently discussed stages of childhood development that included mild childhood depression.  Children experience sadness and loneliness when they understand there is a world outside of their comfort "bubble." Recognizing that parents cannot automatically fix or understand every emotion and feeling pushes a child into independence and maturity, but it is a difficult struggle. 

"On Turning Ten" is a detailed description of childhood nostalgia when a young boy "turns the first big number."  He compares his pain to numerous childhood illnesses, including chicken pox, mumps, measles, and stomach aches.  The boy sees his tree house differently when he looks out the window.  It used to be a magical getaway land and his bike used to feel like an escape. Now the light from the window falls solemnly on his childhood toys.  They don't bring him joy anymore.  He knows he must say goodbye to his imaginary friends, and he is also losing the ability to "play."  When he falls down he knows that mom's kisses don't make the pain go away.  He is beginning to feel his own mortality, realizing that those around him are mortal too.  At this stage of life, children understand death.  Grandparents appear fragile; perhaps he has even lost a pet.  Life is becoming "real."  

Adults quickly forget the simplicity of childhood.  Instead, they look back to the good old days in high school or college because they are easier to remember. However, the loneliness the boy is feeling is comparable to a college student moving out of their parent's house for the first time.  It may not seem very dramatic to adults because the separation is not physical, but the emotional separation he feels is a very real and scary time in a child's life. 

http://jerz.setonhill.edu/EL237/2009/09/poetry/   

 

Ch. 3: Roberts: Everybody Loves Raymond

| | Comments (2)
"The term stock character is often used to describe characters in these repeating situations...Such characters, with variations in names, ages, and sexes, have been constant in literature since the ancient Greeks.  Some regular stock or representative characters are the insensitive father, the interfering mother, the sassy younger sister or brother, the greedy politician, the harassed boss, the resourceful cowboy or detective, the overbearing or henpecked husband, the submissive or nagging wife, the absent-minded professor, the angry police captain, the lovable drunk, and the town do-gooder."

Yes, that was a long quote, but I challenge a single one of you to think of a box office hit or T.V. show that doesn't contain a single one of these stock characters.  Roberts gives the impression that the list continues, but even if it stopped there... I'm either drawing a complete  blank, or he has proven his point. My family loves to watch "Everybody Loves Raymond" after dinner.  Of course the show is predictable, but it always makes us laugh.  I never realized that the character combination of the show, the insensitive father-in-law, the interfering mother-in-law, a nagging wife, hen pecked husband, and sassy younger brother, have been making audiences laugh over the last several hundred years.  I imagine the writers of that show laugh chuckle at the audience and think, "what an easy job" every time they collect their paycheck.

Needlework...A Dying Art

| | Comments (2)

I picked up a new hobby this summer, I learned how to embroidery.  Every woman in my family has embroidered for as far back as my grandma can remember.  Today it's a dying art, but I certainly understand what Minnie's sewing meant to her.  She lived in a world of strict social rules, drab colors, and a cold, demanding husband.  Sewing was her outlet, creativity, and stress relief.  Even when the entire world seemed dark, she could rifle through her sewing to immerse herself in color.  The cabin she created was her escape, and every stitch was a chance to allow her mind to drift to a happier place than the chair she was sitting in at that very moment.  Like a man's toolbox, a woman's sewing basket was her own place.  The women knew Minnie Foster and they recognized that she would use the only creative outlet available to her (sewing) to create the murder weapon and the only space that was truly hers (the sewing basket) to hide the motivation evidence.

My life is nothing like Minnie's, but my sewing box is something I treasure and a place that I consider very private.  Like generations of women before me, I've already begun hiding Christmas lists and personal notes at the bottom beneath my needles and thread.  Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters knew where to look for evidence that Minnie committed the murder because "We live so close and we live so far apart.  We all go through the same things-it's all just a different kind of the same thing (135)."

Both women knew that if their roles with Minnie were reversed, they may have been capable of murder if they felt "trapped" for 30 years. Women clearly had few options and divorce was not one of them. The women knew that there was a good chance Minnie would be convicted of murder, but they chose to help her in the only way they could...Relying on the fact that the men would not think that they were capable of hiding evidence or disobeying, especially since Mrs. Peters was " married to the law (143)."

http://jerz.setonhill.edu/EL237/2009/09/glaspell_trifles_in_roberts/