March 3, 2005

Compilation of Kayla's Blogging defines Blog as:

"An online diary; a personal chronological log of thoughts published on a Web page; also called Weblog, Web log. Typically updated daily, blogs often reflect the personality of the author." OR "A shared on-line journal where people can post diary entries about their personal experiences and hobbies."

So for those of you who are not familiar with this ever-growing phenomenon, welcome to a blog portfolio of a Seton Hill University student who is becoming more addicted with every passing day.

This site allows you to access some of my best blogged ideas and criticisms to the writings discussed in the American Literature 1915-present course with instructor, Dr. Dennis Jerz.

Although I am not an English major, I can reflect upon my ability to critically analyze and respond to various literary works. These may include, but are not limited to: short stories, novels, poems, dissertations, commentaries, and other literary works. From time to time, you may also find blogs which are non-academic, but there simply for reading entertainment and fun.

I am proud of my work in this course, and am becoming more involved in blogging with my fellow course mates. As I began the course, I was receiving little to no feedback/comments from my course mates, but as I become more involved by commenting on other blogs, I have been very pleased by the results it has had ~ more comments on my blogged agenda items.

I would like to extend a sincere "thank you" to Dr. Jerz for introducing me to this new concept of "blogging" that allows me to discuss literary works and other topics with my peers. As technology continues to grow, blogging is a very important tool to incorporate into the classroom. With a course that deals with discussing literary works, it is almost imperative to use such a method of communication outside of class that ensures the works are adequately covered. Time allotted during class time is simply not sufficient to cover everything needed to become involved with the texts.

As we move towards Spring Break, I look forward to the second half of the semester as becoming a more productive and involved blogger with my American Lit class!

So... without further explanation, this is my first set of blogs that were created to help become better understood with my American Literature course with Dr. Jerz. They may not look like much, but they are Introductory. As the semester continues, I will become more comfortable and explorative with my blogging of agenda items. Stay posted for updates! :)

THE GREAT GATSBY : This is my second blog ever. This is the blog that I prepared after finishing the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby. I argued that Gatsby was, indeed, a great man. This was my honest opinion and I backed up my claim with some evidence from the novel itself. Some controversy over Gatsby's "Greatness" rose during following class discussions. This is one of my earliest blogs, and one can see that I was a bit more succinct than in some of my later blogging assignments. From this blog, I received some course mate feedback regarding Daisy and Gatsby's relationship. Still new to blogging, I was slow in checking back and failed to reply back to their comments.

MACHINAL: This blog demonstrates my ability to not only comment about the play, but also use some of my personal opinions and life experience to better understand where the young woman stood in her life. This story posed some serious questions, which I wish I could have better covered within my blog. This may have been what was needed to produce some discussion among my classmates regarding the play. Unfortunately, no comments were given on this blog.

DADDY: In my opinion, this is my best blogging work to date. I felt strongly about this poem, and it shows because I took it upon myself to not just accept the poem for face-value, but I wanted to see what the author, Sylvia Plath, was really saying. My interest sparked curiosity regarding Plath's background and I learned the poem didn't fit with what others were saying. Within this entry are numerous comments regarding my interpretation and even some doubts from fellow course mates. I was very prompt to reply back to the comments received, and offered answers to questions that were asked. This is the type of blogging that is fun and helps you to learn. This is the blogging style I wish to create in all future assignments ~ where people question and argue facts and ideas. That makes for more interesting blogging, than the dry, boring entries I was better used to writing. I am proud of my efforts with this blog, and I feel that it created a successful discussion in which I was able to teach a thing or two to others about the author's life and open the poem up in a different direction.

Hart Crane and David Lehman: This was an attempt to create similarities to Crane's "To Brooklyn Bridge" and Lehman's "The World Trade Center." Crane's poem celebrated New York City's Brooklyn Bridge, which was an architectural accomplishment for the time. A link is given that supplies a brief history of the bridge's construction, as well as tourist information and relevant facts concerning the well-known NYC Bridge.
Lehman's "The World Trade Center", written in 1996, is a very powerful and honest depiction about the New York City twin towers. Lehman states that he, as well as many other New Yorkers did not like the towers until a bombing occurred within, thus, helping people to change their views of the towers. They stood for an image of liberty. My blog also examined the poem in light of more recent events, September 11, 2001. I learned a few things from this poem, such as that it had been attacked before, and that people did not particularly like the World Trade Center. This poem carries a different meaning now than it did in 1996, because of later events. The World Trade Center no longer stands tall in New York City, but the feelings towards it are expressed within this poem.

Examples of my Xenoblogging (the word Dr. Jerz cleverly coined to mean: "the work that we do that helps other people's weblogs")...

Maggi Quinlan: One of my first comments. This shows my earlier efforts to comment and give some feedback on a peer's blog. This is a good example of an earlier form of "xenoblogging" because rather than bring up an issue to be further discussed, I commented that she made some great points, including one that I thought was excellent ~ a view I hadn't noticed within the novel "The Great Gatsby." Even more, I felt comfortable commenting on Maggi's page because she is a friend of mine. As time progressed, I began to read the blogs of classmates I was less familiar with, but engaged in discussion regarding some literary works.

Maggi Quinlan: Another comment to a familiar peer. This is another example of how I was a bit hesitant to comment on classmates who I didn't know very well. Again, it demonstrated my opinion, somewhat contrasting, to Maggi's regarding Nick Carraway.

John Haddad: Comment to praise his oral presentation in class and reaffirm my contrasting opinion in Gatsby’s Greatness. This is a bit of a transition to my xenoblogging, because I commented on a classmate who I was not familiar with and posed a more thoughtful response to his post.

Mary Anderson: Comment to a stranger's blog. This is a transition because I have never talked to Mary one-on-one before. I was interested in what she may be thinking because she had made some good comments in class discussions. I was disappointed that she didn't follow-up on my comment, but at least I am trying to contact other people in the class!

What I have learned from looking back on my Xenoblogging:
I need to become more familiar with the blogs of other course mates. This is extremely beneficial, not only to myself, but to them as well. It helps me to see their perspectives on the literary works we are studying. I may gain a better understanding because of their insight, or perhaps begin a discussion that ultimately brings new ideas to light and/or helps reaffirm and argue our interpretations. An open mind to new ideas is always good to have when studying American literature. Additionally, xenoblogging is beneficial to the other person because it creates feedback to their ideas. What fun is it to blog if no one ever leaves suggestions or ideas? A blog can be a very fun experience, especially if dialogue is encouraged within.

So… there is a summary of the contents of my blog. I hope you have found it interesting and thought-provoking. I am looking forward to much more blogging in the future, to better myself as a student studying American Literature, and to engage in relevant discussion with my peers.

Posted by KaylaTurano at 3:15 PM

March 2, 2005

American Liberties

Hart Crane's "To Brooklyn Bridge" and David Lehman's "The World Trade Center" shared some similarities. Both focus on two New York City landmarks~ The Brooklyn Bridge and World Trade Center.

Although I have not yet been to New York, I have always thought the Brooklyn Bridge to be significant. If you are interested in seeing what is so special about it, this is a current NYC attraction site to the Brooklyn Bridge. It includes a lot of great information and gives you a sense of the views you can see from it.

"When it was completed in May 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was the largest suspension bridge in the world. It is considered one of the greatest architectural accomplishments of the nineteenth century, and is, in fact, a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark." There is a lot of historical information regarding the bridge, and after reading it, I can see why Crane chose to focus on it. This was a great achievement to the Industrial period and seemed to watch over the city. Crane's imagery and personification of the bridge comes alive in this poem. It also gives the bridge a sense of Liberty... the Brooklyn Bridge reflects hard work and accomplishment for America during a time of change.

David Lehman's poem definitely hit home for me, as well as many of my classmates. Every American can probably feel the significance of this writing after the events of September 11, 2001. Although this had been written years before the attacks, Lehman is honest to tell his feelings about the towers before the 1996 bombing. "I never liked the World Trade Center. When it went up I talked it down, as did many other New Yorkers. The twin towers were ugly monoliths that lacked the details the ornament the character of the Empire State Building and especially the Chrysler Building, everyone's favorite..." "The World Trade Center was an example of what was wrong with American architecture, and it stayed that way for twenty-five years until that Friday afternoon in February..."

I had never known New Yorkers to be appalled by the Twin Towers architecture and height before reading this. The bombing made the World Trade Center "a great symbol of America, like the Statue of Liberty." This is how attacks on our country bring people together and show our love for our surroundings. Although one can argue that the towers were "ugly monoliths" that "lacked the details, ornament, and character" of surrounding buildings, it is within our great country and the attack caused Lehman, and probably many others, to view it differently.

This poem has probably grown in popularity since the attack on September 11, and it now carries more meaning (for me) than if I had read it before. Although Lehman had no way of knowing what would ultimately happen to the World Trade Center, it is quite interesting how later events shape older writings, such as this one. I am glad that the unfortunate 1996 bombings made people appreciate the twin towers, for they would only stand in the city for several more years.

Posted by KaylaTurano at 8:03 PM | Comments (2)

Daddy's Little Girl

Upon the very first time of reading Sylvia Plath’s "Daddy,” I was shocked and also rather confused as to the direction of her poem. However, some obvious struggles were found within. It is well-known that Plath struggled in her life with mental illness and suicide attempts...

Through some research, I found that her father died when she was only a young girl. In addition, whereas some sources state her father, Otto Plath, died from diabetes, other sources state he died of complications following a leg amputation. However, despite these inconsistencies, I took a lot from this poem and I will argue my interpretations…

Many of my classmates assume that Plath hated her father. However, there is no direct reference that she hates him. Rather I think that she feels abandoned, alone, isolated. Her father died before she was ready – “Daddy, I have had to kill you. You died before I had time--.” She is saying that she must erase his memory and finally move on with her life because she was too young when he died. Plath’s struggle to deal with her father’s death appropriately was a major grievance in her life. Wouldn’t most young children probably feel the same way if a parent had died at this age? This is a traumatic event that is not fully understood until years later. It doesn’t shock me that she would feel trapped and try to commit suicide several times (especially given the mental illness).

A major recurring reference in her poem is with the Holocaust and Germans. I read that her father was a German, but not a Nazi. Of everything I have read about Plath’s biography, never once did I read that she was Jewish or suffered in a concentration camp during the Holocaust. However, it was occurring within the same time period. I think that Plath was comparing herself to a Jew (during that time) – victimized, alone, scared, trapped. “I think I may well be a Jew,” “I may be a bit of a Jew.” That may be a big stretch, and in some ways I would disagree that it is wrong to compare oneself to a concentration camp victim, but it is relevant to the time she lived and was writing.

Ted Hughes, Plath’s husband for seven years, is also written about in this poem. Plath writes, “Bit my pretty red heart in two.” This doesn’t seem to fit with the memory of her father… but a lover.

“I was ten when they buried you. At twenty I tried to die and get back, back, back to you. I thought even the bones would do. But they pulled me out of the sack, and they stuck me together with glue. And then I knew what to do. I made a model of you, a man in black with a Meinkampf look.” In this stanza, I believe Plath is confessing that at twenty she tried to commit suicide, in an attempt to get back to her father (showing her love for him), but she survived. She then decided she had to make a “model” of her father… her husband, whom in the next stanza says, “And I said, I do, I do.” This announces her marriage to Hughes. However, Platt describes him as a “brute,” “devil,” and “vampire.”

There are some things that are not clear to me within this poem, but I definitely feel that Plath is speaking of both her father and husband. She seems to have some repressed feelings towards her father’s death, but genuine anger and hurt toward her husband’s infidelity.

“If I’ve killed one man, I’ve killed two – The vampire who said he was you and drank my blood for a year, Seven years, if you want to know Daddy, you can lie back now.” This is symbolic, because Plath is killing, or letting go of, not only her father’s memory but also her husband who has been unfaithful. In the last line, then, it seems relevant that Plath is speaking about her husband… “Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.”

Hughes was having an affair during his marriage to Plath and this poem was written at the time that he left her. About three months later, Plath was successful in committing suicide.

Posted by KaylaTurano at 2:33 PM | Comments (12)