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September 28, 2005

Drama Portfolio 1 (5%)

Here are links to every assigned writing from 8/31 to 9/30.


Hill, "Heart in the Ground"
Glaspell, "Trifles"
Ramsey, "Traction"
Byron, William J. ''Ten building blocks of Catholic Social Teaching''
Ibsen, A Doll House (Act 1)
Ibsen, A Doll House (Act 2)
Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
Treadwell, Machinal (Scenes 1-5)
Treadwell, Machinal (Finish)
Wojtyla, The Jeweller's Shop
Robbins and Prejean, Dead Man Walking: The Shooting Script
Sophocles, Oedipus the King (Up to Scene III)
Sophocles, Oedipus the King (Finish)

Other Reading:
Jacko, "Catholic Social Teaching"
Foster, How to Read Literature Like a Professor Intro through p. 22

Oral Presentation:
What I Learned...

Posted by DavidDenninger at 2:14 PM | Comments (0)

September 27, 2005

Greek (s)Wordplay

Sophocles, Oedipus the King (Finish) -- Drama as Literature (EL 250)

Second Messenger: "The full horror of what happened, you can not know, for you did not see it; but I, who did, will tell you as clearly as I can how she met her death."

When the Second Messenger said this, all I could think was back when Dr. Jerz told us that in Greek theater death was only talked about and not acted out. Why did the Greeks fulfill their cultural curiosity of violence with words instead of action? By only talking about it I suppose it kept the whole idea more philosophical-- but still, in a culture that stressed "everything in moderation," wouldn't uncensored violence have a place? I suppose the description of Oedipus' gauging his eyes out is completely uncensored, but then why were they so against acting it out?

I think this play is interesting, but I cannot figure out its message was. Trust your fortune teller? The idea of killing one's father and marrying one's mother is worthy of an episode of Springer... I'm glad our society has reached a level of idealism that rivals the ancient Greeks. I was disturbed by the ending, because I don't think that Oedipus was necessarily "wrong." He definetly illustrated how damaging "hubris" can be, but he wasn't a bad guy.

(Also, I was watching t.v. and some guy alluded to Oedipus marrying his mother when describing his current situation-- I was really excited 'cause I knew what he meant...lol)

Posted by DavidDenninger at 9:43 PM | Comments (5)

The Great Equalizer

Education, as Horace Mann intelligently put it, "Beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, -- the balance-wheel of the social machinery." His argument is sound. According to Mann, educating the common man is the secret to success that progressive societies must understand to remain successful. In fact, almost every political, societal, or economic problem can be resolved by educating more people.

The public must understand politics. In order to thrive in a successful democratic republic, the average person must be able to comprehend the issues they will be voting on. Mann says that, "General intelligence can never exist without general education," and in the same way political intelligence can never exist without political education. Mann specifically addresses how, because of people failing to vote, some wars have been fought that could have been otherwise avoided. In the United States' participation in voting is in steady decline. America: The Book, by Jon Stewart comically gives the reasons for the decline as, "Monetary rewards [are] unsatisfactory", and the, "Game was on." In truth though, people are becoming disconnected with their political system. They don't think their vote counts. Without enough people voting, the precious freedom we to tritely speak of, is not being utilized. Mann says,

"If the responsibleness and value of the elective franchise were duly appreciated, the day of our state and national elections would be among the most solemn and religious days in the calendar. Men would approach them, not only with preparation and solicitude, but with the sobriety and solemnity with which discreet and religious-minded men meet the great crises of life."

Election Day turnout is associated to the number of people who are educated about politics and government.
Societal and economic betterment can only be achieved through education. Mann correctly judged that, "The…prosperity of State--its comfort, its competence, its general intelligence and virtue--is attributable to the education…which all its people have received." Even today, there is a direct correlation between education and starting salary, and the educated are more likely to start businesses and create jobs, thus aiding in the growth of overall economy. Everyone, from the CEO to the super market bag boy, must have a general education. As Mann puts it, "it gives each man the independence and the means by which he can resist the selfishness of other men. It does better than to disarm the poor of their hostility towards the rich: it prevents the poor." Understanding how the systems we live and work in function, is the first step toward achieving, "The greatest of all the arts in political economy," namely, "To change a consumer into a producer."

Educating the masses can solve every dilemma currently facing our country, be it political, social, or economic. The higher the percentage of the general public receiving a general education, the better. By law, children under age 16 must attend public school, but is that enough? As a society we should encourage the attendance of schools of higher education, for the fate of the economy, social standards, and political values rest in the hands of the educated.

Posted by DavidDenninger at 4:42 PM | Comments (1)

September 26, 2005

B1-1: Blogging Portfolio

Below are links to my blogging activity on various News Writing topics. These are my thoughts- from analyzing journalistic literature, to reflecting on actually covering an event. Here is My Blog.


On Journalists Becoming Businessmen...
What It's Like to Cover a Real Story

Interactivity and the News

Interaction and Xenoblogging:
Comment on Katie's Blog
Comment on Jason's Blog

Discussions: What Other People Thought...
About News
About Ideas

Wildcard (Personal Entry)
Thoughts on Education
"Dead Man Walking" Reflection

Posted by DavidDenninger at 4:52 PM | Comments (0)

September 25, 2005

Oral Presentation

The oral presentation taught me that to really compare two of the works we've studied I really needed more examples. More than just the three or four I had, ten might have been better.
When I was listening to other people's presentations, I noticed that their use of examples kept me engaged, and thinking my own thought. Letting the plays comparative points speak for themselves makes an infinitely more powerful statement.
I wish I would have practiced the whole presentation word-for-word before giving it. I knew what I wanted to say, and had major points picked out, but I never really thought about how to transition from one point to the next.
I liked hearing all of my peers arguements, and witnessing the variety of perspectives our small class has to offer.

Posted by DavidDenninger at 5:08 PM | Comments (0)

Ode to Oedipus

Sophocles, Oedipus the King (Up to Scene III) -- Drama as Literature (EL 250)

Teiresias: "You were a great man once at solving riddles."

Oedipus: "Mock me with that if you like; you will find it true."

Teiresias: "It was true enough. It brought about your ruin."

Teiresias always speaks in riddles, and in some ways the whole play does. Details about each character's past and their connections to each other elude Oedipus, and in turn the reader. We only know whatever information Oedipus finds out, step by step revealing the truth, unlike some plays where we know something the main character doesn't.

How did Oedipus' ability to solve riddles bring about his ruin? Wouldn't it be his lack of ability?

Lorin talked about how Oedipus' pride could possibly lead to his downfall. Considering his (Oedipus') interaction with Teiresias, and outright denial of murder, has he grown too accustomed to solving life's riddles? We know that in the past he was able to solve problems, so maybe when this time he can't, he is unable to accept someone else's explanation, and not accepting the truth ruins him.

Posted by DavidDenninger at 4:06 PM | Comments (4)

September 22, 2005

Journalist (and) Businessman?

In "The Elements of Journalism," the authors write, "The bonuses of newsroom executives today are generally based in large part on how much money their companies make in profit." While that doesn't surprise me, "America's journalistic leaders [have] been transformed into business people."
The accuracy of this statement is clearly evident. Dr. Jerz's documentation of the actual amount of News vs. Non-News in a half-hour television news broadcast shows how big a role ratings play. Ratings, that matter not because of, "Journsalism's" first loyalty to citizens," but because of it's newfound relationship with corporate advertising.
It makes sense why people are losing trust in the news.

Posted by DavidDenninger at 10:08 AM | Comments (4)

September 20, 2005

Preordained Cruelty

Robbins and Prejean, Dead Man Walking: The Shooting Script -- Drama as Literature (EL 250)

[The cold, preordained cruelty of it all hits her. Prejean puts both hands against the tiled wall, puts her head down and prays.]

This screenplay's message against the death penalty is clear. By avoiding the happy hollywood ending of Matt being saved by Prejean, we are slapped in the face with the issue of capital punishment. I couldn't help but find myself not just reading the script, but justifying my thoughts against the capital punishment.
I really enjoyed the end. Envisioning Mr. Delacroix finally opening up to Prejean and opening his heart a little bit, enunciated the plays point about the humanity of all people, and their capacity to learn and forgive.

I think that the idea of the death penalty is wrong. Even before reading this screenplay it never seemed right to me. I don't understand how we as a society can set up a legal system that, through its laws, loudly proclaimes the wrongness of murder, and then finds execution an acceptable means of punishment for violating that principle.

Posted by DavidDenninger at 10:59 AM | Comments (6)

September 18, 2005

Jeweller's Shop

Wojtyla, The Jeweller's Shop -- Drama as Literature (EL 250)

"The thing is not to go away, and wander for days, months, even years -- the thing is to return and in the old place to find oneself."

The jeweller's shop is that place. Teresa always returns to the jewelry shop window and sees how her life has changed, from one reflection to the next. It is her time portal to remember things how they used to be, and then see how they've changed. As Anna says, "Love is... a synthesis of two people's existence, which converges as it were at a certain point and makes them into one." For Teresa, that certain point can forever be redeemed by standing in front of the jeweller's shop. As comforting a place it can be, it's decline into closure is representative of her love life. The less emotion she has about love, the less sparkle is seen in the jeweller's eyes.
She externalizes "love," only seeing how, "Monica and Christopher...reflect in some way the absolute Existence and Love." I think it's interesting that Wojtyla chooses to capitalize words like Love and Existence. In doing so she makes them into more of an ideal, instead of just human emotion-- something people should strive for.
Rachel found herself really touched by some of the quotes on love and relationships and I agree with her. After all, "Man's eternity passes through it."
I also liked the layout of the play. giving characters individual monologues instead of just short lines made the play more meaningful. It gave the characters depth and showed their introspective side.

Posted by DavidDenninger at 11:42 AM | Comments (10)

September 15, 2005

Reflection: Reporting on a Real Story

Actually covering an event like the Honor's Convocation is far different from writing a news article in an excercise. I had to be far more careful about accurately relating the events that happened and the things people said. Quotes in particular were important to capture word for word, so as to not change their intended message. I see now the value of a handheld recording device. My focus had to remain steady throughout the event, something that wouldn't have otherwise happened, because I had to be the eyes and ears of people unable to attend. It was a good to learn what the stresses and pressures of real life journalism coverage and deadlines feels like.

Posted by DavidDenninger at 8:55 PM | Comments (0)

September 14, 2005

Foreshadow, Fastforward

Treadwell, Machinal (Finish) -- Drama as Literature (EL 250)

Judge: "You confess you killed your husband?.. Why?

Young Woman: "To be free."

This play is about the importance of right motives. Had Helen not married for status or money, her life could have been longer and better. I feel somewhat sympathetic for her, and my personal beliefs about the wrongness of the death penalty definitely influence my opinion. Nonetheless, she is still guilty of murder.
There is an interesting pattern involving foreshadowing throughout the play that Amanda touched on, using the example...

HUSBAND: What are you reading?
HUSBAND: You must be reading something.
YOUNG WOMAN: Woman finds husband dead.

"Wow, that line is awesome! Talk about major foreshadowing!"

Many of the events that happen in the play are recognizably foreshadowed, but also interestingly, assumed or skipped. For Example, Helen's marriage happens in between scenes. One scene it is talked about and foreshadowed, and in the next it's old news.
Again, this trend of foreshadowing an event and then immediatly fast-forwarding past it, happens between scenes seven and eight. Helen is merely suggesting her husband's murder in seven, and in eight she's on trial for it.

I dislike the end of the play, not because I wanted a happy ending, but Helen can't possible learn how to be happy when she's dead... Is the message the play is trying to send that love is something to die for? It seemed too emotionally overwrought, and I think it was a poor conclusion.

Posted by DavidDenninger at 4:04 PM | Comments (8)

September 13, 2005

Marriage should be for love!

Treadwell, Machinal (Scenes 1-5) -- Drama as Literature (EL 250)

MOTHER: "Love! -what does that amount to? Will it clothe you? Will it feed you? Will it pay the bills?

YOUNG WOMAN: "No! But it's real just the same!


MOTHER: "So you're going to marry him now!?"

YOUNG WOMAN: "I suppose so."

"Machinal" shares some similar themes with "A Doll's House." The Young Woman is marrying for the same reason Mrs. Linde did- for money instead of love. Though she does so in her daughter's future interest, it is kind of disgusting that the Young Woman's mother supports this ideal. While Mrs. Linde's story has a happier ending, this play promises murder.
The men in both plays, while not necessarily innocent, are victimized. Nora keeps Torvald in the dark about her true capabilities and actions, and the Young Woman by marrying Mr. J sends him a false message of love. She even bears him a child! It is predicatable that this kind of dishonest behavior, in the interest of financial security, will hurt more people than it intended to help, as in "A Doll's House."
Hopefully, the Young Woman will realize that all of the soon-to-happen unraveling of her life, is mostly her fault. In "A Doll's House," Nora decides to start over, but she doesn't commit murder. What happens differently in this play to cause such dramatic action?

(As a side note: some parts of the play where many people are shouting out one-line responses to their environment is like trying to read spam. These instances were primarily in the office scene. Did anyone else find this annoying?)

Posted by DavidDenninger at 11:47 AM | Comments (5)

September 10, 2005

Induced Schizophrenia

Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest -- Drama as Literature (EL 250)

Lady Bracknell: "I dare not even suspect, Dr. Chasuble. I need hardly tell you that in families of high position strange coincidences are not supposed to occur. They are hardly considered the thing."

Lady Bracknell and her desire to live by high society "supposed to's" constantly aggravate everyone else's situation. While it is her duty to make sure Gwendolyn finds a good man, she cares far too much about how Jack measures up to this intangible societal standard.

Lady Bracknell: "The line is immaterial. Mr. Worthing, I confess I feel somewhat bewildered by what you have just told me. To be born, or at any rate bred, in a hand-bag, whether it had handles or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life that reminds one of the worst excesses of the French Revolution. And I presume you know what that unfortunate movement led to? As for the particular locality in which the hand-bag was found, a cloak-room at a railway station might serve to conceal a social indiscretion—has probably, indeed, been used for that purpose before now-but it could hardly be regarded as an assured basis for a recognised position in good society."

Jack may have mysterious beginnings, but isn't his refined speech and sophisticated thought process enough to prove at least some level of education and potential? After all, when Lady B. finds out about Jack's true origins she immediately accepts him. It's as if his character is completely unimportant as long as his father was a general.
Also, her lack of respect for Gwendolyn's emotions is appalling. To Lady Bracknell love, "is hardly a matter that [one] could be allowed to arrange for [one]self."

Lastly, what is the meaning of the play's closing line?
Earnest, by defenition, means "marked by or showing deep sincerity or seriousness." Does Jack mean that he is finished "Bunburying" and has decided to live just one life? Or is it referring to his finally being engaged to Gwendolyn, after having been trying earnest to be so?

Posted by DavidDenninger at 10:40 AM | Comments (1)

September 8, 2005

Feminism vs. Dishonest Women

Ibsen, A Doll House (Act 2) -- Drama as Literature (EL 250)

Nora is not a feminist ahead of her time, nor a woman on a quest of self-discovery. She is simply a dishonest woman. Granted, she lives in a time period where women don't have rights, but her breaking the "rules" to suit her needs is not an indication of progressive or independent thought. A true feminist would be unafraid of showing her capable self to the world, let alone the man she claims to love. Everything she does is out of selfishness, and if the play is trying to develop in the audience some kind of empathy for feminism, it fails. Nora, if nothing else, illustrates how not to live life and be happy.

After all, she is a walking contradiction. She claims to be self-sufficient and capable, and desires to feel, "like a man." However, at the plays culmination she is most disappointed to find that Torvald doesn't intend to, "come forward and take everything upon [him]self, and say: [He] is the guilty one." {cue: males in audience draw knives and storm stage}

Everything that happens to Nora is a direct result of her actions, and she doesn't have the gumption to accept it.
The reason her husband thinks of her as incapable is because she plays stupid. She breaks the law, and forges a signature for money she can't repay, and then is surprised to find the debt collector knocking. Worst of all though, she pretends to be a victim, telling Torvald, "You and papa have committed a great sin against me. It is your fault that I have made nothing of my life." This is the most disturbing line in the play. When faced with the consequences of her actions, all she can do is blame someone else.

Posted by DavidDenninger at 3:17 PM | Comments (9)

A Fostered Opinion

Foster, How to Read Literature Like a Professor Intro through p. 22 -- Drama as Literature (EL 250)

"Ghosts and Vampires are never only about ghosts and vampires."

Mr. Foster makes an interesting point about how vampires and ghosts are less literally blood-sucking and more metaphorically. On this basis, "A Doll's House," by Ibsen is a vampire story.

Krogstad is, "an older figure representing corrupt, outworn values," and Nora is a, "young...female" experiencing, "a stripping away of her youth, energy, [and virtue." The only necessary component left to complete Foster's vampirical model is for Krogstad to grow stronger through the sapping of Nora's strength, or in this case money.

Krogstad is corrupt. Characters in the play constantly refer to his moral blunders, and one can assume he has given up on business ethics. While Nora is none too virtuous, she is young at heart and full of entrepreneurial energy. He "act[s] toward [her] in exploitative and selfish ways," and cares not about her well being. Out of necessity or not, he intends to blackmail Nora until every shilling of interest is paid. Thus Krogstad is a vampire.

Posted by DavidDenninger at 10:18 AM | Comments (5)

September 4, 2005

Ibsen, A Doll House (Act 1)

A Doll's House has so far included some themes similar to those in "Trifles." Foremost, is the obvious sexism against women by the men. Helmer expects Nora to be needy and incapable, and interestingly Nora plays the part, even though she is capable of independent action. Saying things to Helmer like, "I should not think of going against your wishes," and, "I can't get along a bit without your help" doesn't lead him at all in the direction of acknowledging her cognitive ability. Also, as in "Trifles," is the notion that women are in fact able to think and act independently, even in the face of such sexism. Interestingly though, Nora characterizes her feeling of accomplishment as "like being a man." Lastly, it is important to note that the instant Helmer finds out that Mrs. Linde is searching for work, he "Presume[s she is] a widow."

Katie suggests, "...she acting to get her way in life? I believe Nora knows she can catch more bees with honey..."

I realize that as easy as it is to dishonor Nora for her actions, she may be just trying even the gender playing field. She might just want to prove she is capable of all the same things as a man, and apparently the same mistakes.

Posted by DavidDenninger at 2:47 PM | Comments (1)

Byron, William J. ''Ten building blocks of Catholic Social Teaching''

"How to bring the social portion of the doctrine of the faith to the attention of believers is the challenge the bishops have now put once again before Catholic pastors and educators at every level."

(This explains why we students at Seton Hill are being barraged with the principles of Catholic Social Teaching...)

"Principles, once internalized...prompt activity, impel motion, direct choices."

This document, like Jacko's introduction to CST, influences Catholics' political opinions. The bishops, "by including CST among the essentials of the faith…are affirming the existence of credenda (things to be believed)." The principles they espouse inevitably lead to certain political standpoints. For example, they dictate adherence to Pro-life ideals (Principle of Respect for Human Life) and other conservative views, such as limited government (Principle of Subsidiarity).
This idea about the Principle of Subsidiarity has been argued in past discussions of CST, but it is undeniable that this principle "puts a proper limit on government." This is not to say that it is forcing Republicanism, but it clearly states its belief that, "overactive governments frequently violate [its] principle." It is also ironic that Catholic bishops idealize this principle, when the Catholic hierarchical system has played a very active role in government, both inside the church and out.
Dr. Jerz said to this, "When you consider that CST is written for the whole world, it's easier to see that the Republican/Democrat debates are friendly disagreements, as compared to, say, governments that mount genocidal attacks against ethnic subgroups, governments that support or harbor terrorism, and governments that dictate what religions are legal, whether citizens can leave the country, what jobs women can or cannot hold, or what newspapers are permitted to print."
Once you step back and look at it as a means to achieve global good, it serves it's purpose well. In countries experiencing mass moral degradation, this kind of structure could provide some standard for living. Regardless, CST within the United States affects the balance of liberalism and conservatism.

Posted by DavidDenninger at 2:39 PM | Comments (2)

September 3, 2005

The Man of Integrity

The man of integrity is one who makes it his constant rule to follow the road of duty, according as truth and the voice of his conscience point it out to him. He is not guided merely by affections which may some time give the color of virtue to a loose and unstable character.
The upright man is guided by a fixed principle, which destines him to do nothing but what is honorable, and to abhor whatever is base or unworthy, hence we find him ever the same, - at all times the trusty friend, the affectionate relative, the conscientious man of business, the pious worker, the public-spirited citizen.
He assumes no borrowed appearance. He seeks no mask to cover him, for he acts no studied part; but he is indeed what he appears to be, - full of truth, candor, and humanity. In all his pursuits, he knows no path but the fair, open, and direct one, and would much rather fail of success than attain if by reproachable means. He never shows us a smiling countenance while he meditates evil against us in his heart. We shall never find one part of his character at variance with another.

Posted by DavidDenninger at 8:05 PM | Comments (5)

September 2, 2005

Jacko, "Catholic Social Teaching"

"...Its broad humanistic strains can resonate with people of all faith traditions."

People of all faiths can understand the necessity of a structured, selfless set of principles such as the ones set forth in CST. Most religions, and even modern first-world societies stress the importance of selflessness towards your neighbor, and the word nobility is used in conjunction with heroism. CST and similar systems based on such a noble set of principles are absolutely necessary for achieving peace. If more people around the world were striving to exhibit the truth, candor, and humanity CST demands, it would no doubt be a better place.

Here's where I found possible conflicts in other faiths following the principles of CST:

More interesting than some of the other principles are those of human life and subsidiarity. These specifically address modern political issues, instead of purely reasons for selflessness and community betterment. They are where the Catholic opinion is included, but built within principles of respect and equality. With regard to the principle of subsidiarity, Catholics tend to be conservative, and so naturally against government involvement. Also, the principle of human life undoubtedly shows their stance on abortion, seeing as “human life at every stage of development, from conception to natural death, is precious and thus worthy of protection…” It is in these two principles that people of other faiths might find a conflict of belief.

Posted by DavidDenninger at 2:11 PM | Comments (0)

Ramsey, "Traction"

This play has many parallels to different stories and religions. Most interesting is its relation to the story of Saul in the bible. Elmore begins the story talking about how he's in line to be promoted to a position of upper management, and also expresses his obvious preparedness to kill anyone who messes up in front of OSHA, saying, "...anybody who fucks up in front of OSHA tomorrow is gonna get fuckin' killed." It's as if his work crew is the enemy, or the Jews. After all, both Elmore and Brandon fought in some conflict, presumably the gulf war. Suddenly he is forced into seeing what's "in[side] the wheel," and undergoes a transformation, much like Saul becoming Paul. Elmore even sees a vision of a tire iron, or crucifix, and it is this image that changes his character. Elmore now has an infinitude of possible directions he could take, and decides to honor a "promise to keep" from the past
The play has many Christian overtones and the Saul interpretation is one of a possible hundred. For instance, one could discuss the scriptural identity of the Saturn dealership. Had Elmore been more specific as to what his "wheel vision" symbolized, it would be more obvious what the message of the play actually is.
After investigating the link that Katie Lambert posted and it refers to something called the "canon wheel," which is similar in meaning to the Christian halo. The site explains:

"The Bible Wheel is a simple and direct geometric representation of the Holy Bible. It reveals the supernatural structure of the Christian Canon by displaying the intrinsic geometric integration of the sixty-six books amongst themselves and with the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

"The Wheel is composed of twenty-two Spokes and three concentric wheels within the Wheel called Cycles. The sixty-six books of the Bible fit perfectly on this structure. Each Cycle spans a consecutive set of twenty-two books." (1)

Maybe the purpose of the play is to show the kind of impact living or witnessing someone living up to the principles of the Bible wheel can have on an individual.

1.) McGough, Richard Amiel. "View the Bible Wheel." Divine Seal and Capstone of God's Word. 2003. 8/31/05. .

Posted by DavidDenninger at 2:02 PM | Comments (0)