Blogging Portfolio 3

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Looking at my blogs from the end of the Fall 2009 semester at Seton Hill University, I can see how my blogging skills have developed. My entries became longer and more in depth, allowing my peers to discuss topics on my entries and I became more comfortable with commenting on my peer's blogs. Overall, blogging this semester was a nice experience and has helped me grow as a literature reader and writer. Listed below are readings discussed in ED266: American Literature from 1800-1915 from October 28, 2009 - December 2, 2009.

COVERAGE: Listed are all assigned readings with my corresponding blogs to each literary work.

Foster- How to Read Literature Like a Professor
Chapters 23-24
            Chapters 25-26
Clemens- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Chapters 36-Finish

Mallioux- The Bad Boy Boom

Scott- 'There's More Honor': Reinterpreting Tom and the Evasion in Huckleberry Finn

Smith- Huck, Jim, and the American Racial Discourse

John Henry- Traditional Poem

Washington- Address of Booker T. Washington

Du Bois- The Souls of Black Folk

Baum- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

DEPTH: The following blog entries are ones I thought had much detail and analysis or consisted of thoughts that were worthy of discussion with my course mates.  

            Scott- 'There's More Honor': Reinterpreting Tom and the Evasion in Huckleberry Finn
            Baum- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
            Smith- Huck, Jim, and the American Racial Discourse
            Washington- Address of Booker T. Washington

INTERACTION: The links listed below consist of some of my course mate's blog entries that I commented on before our weekly class meeting. Ironically, my best comments happened most frequently on Jeremy and Heather's blogs.

Jeremy Barrick- "The Many Hats of Jim" (Smith- Huck, Jim and the American Racial Discourse)
Jerermy Barrick-
"John Henry The Mighty Force of Manual Labor" (John Henry Poem)
Heather Mourick-
"Heartache and Pollution" (Foster- Chapters 23-24)
Heather Mourick-
"Friends or Foes?" (Smith- Huck, Jim and the American Racial Discourse

DISCUSSION: The following links are my blog entries that led to a discussion either on the blog or during class.

            The Adventures of Huck Finn- Chapters 36-Finish
            Smith- Huck, Jim, and the American Racial Discourse
            Mallioux- The Bad Boy Boom
            Foster- Chapters 23-24

TIMELINESS: Almost all of my blogs were posted before the specified date and time. These three entries, however, were some of the first entries posted on the course site.

            The Adventures of Huck Finn- Chapters 36-Finish
            Scott- 'There's More Honor': Reinterpreting Tom and the Evasion in Huckleberry Finn
            Smith- Huck, Jim, and the American Racial Discourse


Sarah Durham- "Race": Sarah was talking a lot about race in her blog and how society links specific races to specific types of people. Her comments reminded me of a humorous song from the musical Avenue Q, so I posted a link to a YouTube video of the song. Even though the song is poking fun of people and race, it still holds some truth.

Smith- Huck, Jim, and the American Racial Discourse: On this specific blog entry, I had linked one of Heather's previous blogs to the current blog I was writing. I had remembered reading her comments on Jim and his education and thought I would tie them together to show that everything fits.

Jennifer Prex- "Bad Boys": Although my comment may not be the most insightful, I think that Jenn's blog entry on Jim and Huck made a lot of sense and gave insight into both characters. I thought more people would have written comments.


"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the End of Huckleberry Finn"- I had some complications with my Huck Finn text and thought the story was humorous and wanted to share.

"Blogging in the USA" - For my creative presentation, I chose to write a song parody to the song "Party in the USA". In this blog, I explained why I chose this type of presentation and included the lyrics to the song "Blogging in the USA".




One Short Day in the (Not So) Emerald City

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"When you wear green spectacles, why of course everything you see looks green to you...But my people have worn green glasses on their eyes so long that most of them think it really is an Emerald City." (Baum 211)

People wear glasses everyday and don't realize it. If someone tells you something is one way and you believe it, you are constantly stuck thinking it until someone points out the truth. I think that the concept of wearing "green glasses" can be applied to how anyone seeing or interprets anything. You see what you want to see, believe what you want to believe and so on. Often, things can be missed because of such a one track mind. For example, the people of Oz never realized that things were not actually emerald because they never took the time to look around and see the city was as normal as any other city. To add, the people of Oz never caught that the Wonderful Wizard was not so wonderful. They always kept their glasses on and assumed he could do anything.

Overall, I enjoyed reading the book. I have been a long time fan of the movie the Wizard of Oz and in recent years have been hooked on Wicked (Both the novel and the musical). What the interesting to me was how Gregory Maguire (the author of Wicked) took the best of both worlds from the book and movie of the Wizard of Oz and reworked everything to create a novel and that again was reworked into a musical. It's amazing how one story can have so many interpretations! I do have to say though that both Baum's book and Maguire's novel seem to have darker tones to them than the movie and the musical Wicked. But the latter two are musicals so I would expect them to be nothing less than happy almost all the time!

Blogging in the USA

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When asked to do a creative project as an assignment, I automatically knew what I wanted to do. I love when people write song parody's and I'm fairly good at modifying lyrics and singing, so I decided a song parody was the right medium for my project. One of the things I enjoy most is the Disney Channel and actors and singers affiliated with Disney, so the recently popular song Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus was a no-brainer choice for me. Also, I have had some experience with practicing my Miley performance in the mirror, so I figured I'd share it with the class.

Two of the things that I had most trouble with in the class during this semester were first, getting used to the blogging process and second, reading the dialects in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Because I felt like those were two of my weakness in class, I wanted to make sure the song parody consisted of those two topics to show that my frustration towards the two of them subsided over time. So Blogging in the USA seemed to be a perfect change for Party in the USA and Huck Finn was written in the song as the literary work I'm blogging about. Understanding dialects started as the main point of the song, but to add more content from the story, I included the scene where Huck and Jim pass the mouth of the Ohio in the fog and pass up their opportunity to get to the free states. This scene is critical to both Mark Twain's writing process and the story itself.

At the beginning of the semester, I had blogged about hating blogging, but really in the end it wasn't that terrible. I came to see how it can be useful in a classroom setting and help promote classroom discussion. So the song parody is a realization that blogging can only help you understand something and not hurt you.

A Song Parody of "Party in the USA" sung by Miley Cyrus

I started reading Huck Finn mid October with a hope to understand the text
But then who's this dude who's talking weird
Woah, gotta be a dialect
Figured out it's Huck an he's the main character
The book's his adventure down the Mississippi River
But this is all so crazy
Cause I can't understand a word he's saying

My head is hurting and I'm feeling really confused
Too much reading and I'm uptight
That's when I mark the page and just move on
I'll just blog it later on, I'll just blog it later on, I'll just blog it late on

So I sign on to my blog and I write my thoughts away
My classmate comment like yeah
And I get new ideas like yeah

So I sign on to my blog
Now I'll write a thesis that will be OK
Yeah, I'm just blogging in the USA

Huck meet Jim, a runaway slave, and invites him on his raft
Jim wants to get to freedom, even though he's really free
But shh Huck and Jim don't know that

So hard to get the free states
And to find the mouth of the Ohio
Cause there's fog all around them
And they passed the Ohio

My head is hurting and I'm feeling really confused
Too much reading and I'm uptight
That's when I mark the page and just move on
I'll just blog it later on, I'll just blog it later on, I'll just blog it late on


Fell like I can learn to fly
When someone comments "Yeah you're right"
Then I feel better every time
When I find out what Jim is saying I feel alright

So I sign on to my blog and I write my thoughts away
Yeah, I'm just blogging in the USA
Yeah, I'm just blogging in the USA


A John Henry Poem Comparison

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The John Henry Folk version and Prison and Chain Gang version of the poem differ in extension of details of the John Henry story as the order of events happening in the legend. The folk version details John Henry before his hammering accident. It showed what kind of person he was by singing and whistling while he was working. The Prison version  just started into his hammering accident. The Folk version also talks about his wife a lot more and how she would live once John Henry died. While the Prison version said that he did not have a dime, the Folk version states that John Henry had saved money in the bank so he could buy a home for his wife.  Another detail the Folk version adds is that John Henry's death spread to all the women and even to his mother who did not know he was dead. John Henry was then taken to the White House at the end of the poem where as locomotives passed by, it says "there lays that steel drivin' man." The Prison version tells the story of how John Henry died in a similar way, but the beginning and end are different from the Folk version. At the beginning of the Prison version, we find that John Henry's father tells him he will be a steel driving man and the ending is John Henry saying "Lord, I've hammered my insides in two."

A Determined Man

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In what ways is the John Henry story a tall-tale? How is it social commentary? Is it primarily a story about technology, or about race? Is it too simplistic to say "both"?

Of course John Henry is a tall tale. No one really knows who the "real" John Henry was. There are only really theories about his story and man people interpret his story many different ways. Also, some of the events in the John Henry story seem to be exaggerated, like hammering yourself to death. Although it could happen, the way it's said makes it seem bigger than it actually is.

As a social commentary? Well I'm not so sure. I guess it does have something to say about what was happening at the time with technology and the work force, but I don't think that is the first idea that came across with just a glance. I don't think it says necessarily something about society, but more a hard working individual.

I had read the story of John Henry before and I didn't know it had anything to do with race until it was mentioned the the NPR reading. So in my opinion, to say it's primarily about race isn't quite true for me. Again, what I really got from the story was the development of tehnology and the work ethic of a determined and hard-working person. I'm not quite sure how race fits into the whole picture.

I Trust My Soul

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"there must come a loftier respect for the sovereign human soul that seeks to know itself and the world about it; that seeks a freedom for expansion and self-development" (DuBois, Of the Training of Black Men, para. 28)

I was interested in the fact that the one of the functions of the "Negro College" is to know your soul in relation to the world and find ways to expand upon what your know. Really, it's a great philosophy of education. Not all education has to be memorizing facts and figures. It's important to know certain information but the person who is learning the information must grow as well. Saying that the soul of a black should be respected and seek development in the world was a step to giving blacks the same rights as whites. In a sense, respecting someone's soul would equate to respect who they are as a person and accepting them into a soctiety. No matter what kind of education or from what kind of institute your education is recieved, the bottom line is the person being educated learns to respect themselves and their community and grow as a person.

"In meeting men, in many places, I have found that the happiest people are those who do the most for others; the most miserable are those who do the least." (Booker T. Washington, The Atlanta Exposition, para. 20)

This particular quotation really struck me. I think that it's very profound and inspiring to say that the more you help others, the happier you can be. He didn't say the more you get want you want the happier you are or when all your dreams come true or any other event that could happen to only youself. It's doing things for other people which bring happiness. And really if you think about it, it's true. Washington seems to really be focusing on community and bringing people together as opposed to looking specifically at individual needs. It makes me think of ABC's Extreme Makeover Home Edition and how people feel on the show when they help families out. I think comments like these made Washington a great speaker.

"I said that any individual who learned to do something better than anybody else--learned to do a common thing in an uncommon manner-" (Booker T. Washington, Two Thousand Miles for a Five Minute Speech, para. 12)

Something similar to this was on the back of Heinz Ketchup bottles. I think it was "To do a common thing uncommonly well brings success."

Exhausted Codes of Literature

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"If I have given the impression somehow- by reaching an end point, for instance- that I have exhausted the codes by which literature is written and understood, I must apologize." (Foster 279)

I know that many of us have complain about how tired we are about translating literature with the topics Foster brings up, but at least he admits that his what he is written can be taken that way. He does, however, say that "we've only scratched the surface" on all the literary codes that could be studied, so really he shouldn't have exhausted us at all. There is so much more. Foster also says that this book was not meant to be a database, just a template to look at when reading literature. So If you take what he said about his work into consideration, I guess the book was not that annoying afterall.

Self-gratification or survival?

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"Huck's skills of play are productive only when used for survival, while Tom is able to dedicate his play skills entirely to the purpose of adventures and self-gratification." (Scott par. 6)

First of all, this whole critique kind of confused me. I was getting lost in the whole honor thing that he was trying to get across.

But the above quotation I think explains my frustration with Tom sometimes. When Huck plays a trick or decieves someone, it's generally to aid their adventure down the river and get Jim to freedom. When Huck does something crafty I kind of think "That was clever of him" and his journey with Jim down the river continues. Stealing food may be morally wrong, but they do need food to survive. On the other hand with Tom, I see exactly what Scott says in the quotation. Tom's tricks can be annoying and foolish. Granted, he knows that Jim is already free, but still. I feel like if he really wanted to put on a big show to free Jim, he could have been more serious. It would have made it more believible for the people around him.

I guess this goes along with any "adventure" though. Some are in it to do something that is good and makes a difference, while other are just concerned about themselves.

Life's What You Make It

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"By becoming, in effect, an author, Jim writes himself a new destiny." (Smith 364)

This quotation refers to the elaborate story that Jim created after Tom had hung Jim's hat on a branch while he was sleeping. You always here saying about people having control of their life and writing their own destiny, and this quotation follows that thought exactly. Smith points out that Jim is smart. He knew what he was doing when he created this story. Because of people's' superstitions, people believed Jim and wanted to hear this story about his hat. It brought attention to him.

This gave me a whole new view of Jim. I always thought he was an uneducated person just kind of riding the coat tails of Huck and Tom, but really he was using them (especially Tom) to his advantage, which is very smart. So Jim may not know history or math. but he knows how people work and how to use people's foolishness (Tom's tricks) to get attention from others.  It kind of goes along with what Heather had said about Huck and his education. It doesn't matter thay Huck or Jim know everything that you learn is a classroom because they know how to accomplish things that some people who know multiplication would not be able to figure out.

I think that Jim's power in the novel can be overlooked sometimes. I mean, the whole point of going down the river was for Jim's freedom. I know I always tend to be drawn to what Huck or Tom has to say and push Jim and his stories to the side unintentionally. The book is just as much the adventures of Jim as the adventures of Huck.

Recent Comments

Kayla Lesko on Life's What You Make It: Jim was what made the book so
Kayla Lesko on That's All Folks!: Well, it seems that most of th
Katie Lantz on I Trust My Soul: Ah, I love the point you make
Katie Lantz on One Short Day in the (Not So) Emerald City: I do agree with Jennifer that
Meagan Gemperlein on One Short Day in the (Not So) Emerald City: I was not necessarily saying t
Jennifer Prex on One Short Day in the (Not So) Emerald City: Your entry made me wonder if t
Heather Mourick on Blogging in the USA: it was awesome 8-)
Jennifer Prex on I Trust My Soul: I never thought of that before
Kayla Lesko on I Trust My Soul: I think that's why Du Bois dec
Kayla Lesko on So Maybe That's Why We Read Uncle Tom's Cabin...: Yeah, this is a late comment b