Crossin' Walden on a Raft, while Reading with a Raven

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This semester seems to be flying by, as it is once again time for a quick look back. Anyway, this is my second portfolio for my class, American Literature 1800-1915. The first one explained this next bit, so skip to the next paragraph if you've read it. This class looks at a variety of American literature (obviously from the selected time period), and also looks at techniques for writing about literature. For this reason, the entries that will be referenced here are a blend of responses to text-book chapters, and responses to various works of literature, though a fair portion of it is dominated by The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain).This portfolio is designed simply to showcase the work I've done since the last one.

To begin with, I'd like to present a few blogs that I feel are reasonably well written, in terms of addressing the literature, and providing insight about the material. I was particularily pleased with my blog about Thoreau's Walden, ....and if for some reason it's not from Shakespeare, it's from Chaucer, which discusses references to the Canterbury Tales, that I found in Walden. Th title is a reference to a chapter title from Foster's book How To Read Literature Like a Professor entitled "When In Doubt, It's From Shakespeare." How Shiftless! is about Aiken's theatrical adaptation of Uncle Tom's Cabin, and offers a detailed analysis of the meaning behind Ophelia's favorite word, as well as including the first ever sentence to illustrate all three possible meanings for the word"shiftless." So, at this point, if it isn't Shakespeare or the Bible, it's Sophocles once again references Foster's chapter title, though it makes more sense to do so as it is actually about a chapter from his book. (Usually my better work isn't about text-books). Anyway, it talks about the common archetype of the blind seer, (Tiresias from Oedipus Rex). I tried to find an unimportant blind literary character and could not (I ran through characters from Bartelby the Scrivener to Geordi LaForge). Sexist Irony...or Ironic Sexism, if you prefer looked at the often overlooked issue of gender in The Adventures of Huckelberry Finn, (people tend to focus on race). It was just in a brief, non-essential scene, but I found the irony amusing.  

 The reason we blog, rather than write lots of little essays, is that they offer a chance for discussion. Blogs are an online conversation, rather than a work of writing. These next few are blogs of mine that show some interaction and discussion with my peers. Which Pallas? is a bit embarassing, as it shows my failure to recognize the connection between "Pallas" and "Pallas Athena" in Edgar Alan Poe's poem "The Raven." Instead I did some heavy research into a minor god and a titon by that name. It did a comment though, as others (who GOT the connection), corrected me. I got some approval in Thoreau: False Romantic when I pointed to a passage in Walden that seemed to contradict some of his main points. In Wow, it STILL might be Shakespeare, which beats the dead horse that is Foster's chapter on the prevalence of Shakespeare references in other works, got some comment as I compared Huck to the wise fool present in much of the bard's work.

With any communication, it is necessary for it to go both ways. Thus, it would be remiss of me to not mention other people's blogs that I participated in discussions on. I, as well as several others, commented on Jeremy Barrick's blog The Fowl's Happiness is Dark, which looked at the raven as a symbol of evil in Poe's poem, "The Raven." I also discussed the role of the bust of Pallas in the same poem on Kayla Lesko's blog, Poe Post 1 as well as my own. On Katie Lantz's blog Tom Sawyer: Holden Caufield? we discussed the similarities between Huck Finn (I think she meant him rather than Tom), and Holden Caufield from J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. I don't have as many good conversations on here as I would like as I seem to have inadvertantly wiped out my draft blog containing a list of comments. (I just went with the first ones I could track down, as it is tedious work.) 

 To increase the chances for communication, it is important that my blogs are done early enough that others get a chance to comment on them.....and if for some reason it's not from Shakespeare, it's from Chaucer  was up a couple days before class, which is kind of dissapointing as it got no comments. The majority (including all of the ones above) of my blogs were posted at least a day before, so in the interest of saving space I will mention only the those that were not previously mentioned. Water = Baptism which refers to a chapter in Foster about Baptism, as well as the baptism of pig's blood that Carrie gets in Stephen King's novel Carrie. Wow, I would never commit a crime with these guys.... discusses the scene with the bandits on the wrecked steamer in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.   

We were asked to pick a favorite blog, and it need not even be related to this class. I selected Sailing From Romanticism to Realism, not because I necessarily consider it better than my other blogs, but because it deals with "Cargoes" by John Masefield, a poem that we never really discussed in my Writing About Literature class. 

To sum everything up, here is a list, in order of every blog required for the class since my last portfolio, Puritans, Vampires and Wallpaper....oh my? :

Thoreau: False Romantic on Walden by Thoreau 

....and if for some reason it's not from Shakespeare, it's from Chaucer  on Walden by Thoreau

Sex Addicts can be Christ Figures, too.  on Choke by Chuck Palanhuik and the idea of the Christ figure from Foster

Which Pallas? on "The Raven" by Edgar Alan Poe

Grim and Ghastly Pun on "Epigram for Wallstreet" by Edgar Alan Poe

High on Life, er Nature on XX: "I taste a liquor never brewed" by Emily Dickinson

This chick likes books  on the frequent theme of reading in Emily Dickinson's poetry

Water = Baptism on the meaning of Baptism discussed from Foster

How Shiftless! on Uncle Tom's Cabin by George Aiken

Wow, it STILL might be Shakespeare on the role of Huck in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Samuel Clemens

So, at this point, if it isn't Shakespeare or the Bible, it's Sophocles on the role of the blind in literature, from Foster

Sexist Irony...or Ironic Sexism, if you prefer on gender in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Wow, I would never commit a crime with these guys.... on humor in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Tom Sawyer's Degradation of Jim? on the "Introduction to Huckleberry Finn" by Henry Nash Smith

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