Portfolio Four

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Portfolio Four:

Coverage and Timeliness:

(All of my entries were on time)

Diving a Little Deeper - Roberts' Chapter Seven. I look at how literature allows for different ways of viewing a story in order to make an academic paper or claim that you can make into an argument/thesis statement.

The Real Joke - I explain my process of going about doing my class presentation for Chekhov's, "The Bear." I explain what I think is the funniest part of the story and explain my outside source a little bit and how it applies to the story. I think this entry shows my close reading skills and ability to apply an article to a work of literature.

Stormy Night - My entry for Browning's, "Porphyria's Lover." I look at the foreshadowing that the very first few lines convey and examine what the overall effect is on what takes place further along in the poem.

Easy To Say? - Roberts' Chapter Thirteen. I look at how some words are easier to pronounce versus other ones and explain how they have a different meaning and understanding when read aloud.

Just Words? - Chace's "The Decline of the English Department." I explain that if someone who is already in the English field feels like there isn't that much more English majors can do to get the numbers back for students going into the English department than perhaps they're in the wrong line of career, and how I'm not really about the money, but more about wanting to write for other reasons.

Think Again, Scrooge - First part of Dickens' A Christmas Carol. I look at how I always looked at Scrooge as someone who was not always someone that I sympathized with, but after reading the actual book, I understand how I can understand why he would want to keep his money.

One Night or Two? - The Ending of Dickens' A Christmas Carol. I look closely at Dickens reasoning behind having the ghosts come in two nights only to have them all come in one night. I try to figure out why this might be.

Not Always Necessary? - I look at Roberts' Chapters Ten and Sixteen, where I examine whether or not it's always necessary to look too closely for symbols or even if you absolutely need to always have the cultural or historical references to a story in order to properly understand it.


The Real Joke - I, obviously, had to look for outside sources for my presentation, but I do explain their connection between the outside source and the text.

Stormy Night - I draw on an outside source (the novel Paul Clifford by Edward Bulwer Lytton) and compare it to the text.

One Night or Two? - I think I tried to determine what the underlining message was that Dickens was trying to get across by how important Christmas is to Scrooge between one night versus the ghosts coming in two nights.

Not Always Necessary? - I bring both chapter ten and sixteen together and really examine how much analyzing is necessary the first time you read a work or how much influence you should allow while reading that may hamper your opinion of the text.


Universality Saves the Day - Brooke Kuehn

-          Here I discuss with Brooke about how whether or not an author intended for a symbol to represent something in an author's work, and how it's not necessarily about what the author intended as much as it is for what the reader finds or interprets.

How Much Food Does One Ghost Need? - Karyssa Blair

-          Josie and I attempt to puzzle over Karyssa's blog entry about whether or not the second ghost in A Christmas Carol, and what this might represent for Dickens and the overall meaning of the work.

Where I've Been - Jessica Orlowski

-          Jess, Karyssa, and I discuss the decline in the English department and how Chace seems to already be calling it quits without even trying.

Hoorah for Short Hair - Josie Rush

-          I respectively try to explain the foreshadowing of the poem and how it started the tone throughout the rest of the poem.


Stormy Night - Gladys and Karyssa give their own opinions on the foreshadowing in Browning's poem. Gladys and I try to figure out what the purpose of the poem was. Karyssa links me to her blog and presentation blog on the poem to help us further expand our knowledge.

Just Words? - Carissa, Jessica Orlowski, Gladys, and I talk about the decline in the English department and what careers we hope to go into to reach our ultimate goals.

Think Again, Scrooge - Josie expands my ideas on how Scrooge isn't really about hoarding money, and isn't really trying to steal Christmas away from other people, but he just allows it to continue.


Not Always Necessary? - I mention Karyssa's blog in my entry.

How Much Food Does One Ghost Need? - Karyssa Blair

-          I was the second to comment on Karyssa's blog, but it developed a conversation and further established some ideas that Josie had.

Where I've Been - Jessica Orlowski

-          I was the first one to comment on this blog entry, and it sparked a comment from Karyssa who expands upon why English majors are important for saving the world.

Hoorah for Short Hair - Josie Rush

-          I was the first one to comment on this blog, and Gladys followed up agreeing with my entry.


One Night or Two? - I look at Dickens' reasoning behind the one night or two between the ghosts and Christmas' meaning. I think that this shows my skills at close reading and could enhance an argument for a paper about how Scrooge probably wouldn't have changed nearly as much if the story would not have been set during Christmas.  

Not Always Necessary?

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It seems like just about anything can be seen as a symbol in a story, but where do you draw the line? Roberts seems to give some good guidelines throughout chapter ten to let the reader know what could be something that has a double meaning or symbolic nature. However, he seems to also convey that private or contextual symbols are "contextual symbols derive their meanings from the context and the circumstances of individual works" (Roberts 150). Something about trying to recognize symbols in something that is only part of one story or poem sometimes trips me up. The examples given in the book include Poe's clock, which was a fairly obvious symbol to recognize while reading the "Masque of the Red Death," but for other stories things tend to get a bit more complicated. However, Roberts seems to have an answer for this as well with a list of references a reader can use to find out whether or not symbols mean anything. However, he doesn't really offer any solution to symbols used specifically in stories or poems alone. I guess I'll just have to figure that out on my own or hope that they're all as obvious as Poe's clock.

Still, this kind of coincides with chapter sixteen where Roberts talks about historical references and culture. He explains that after first figuring out what whether or not something is historical or from a certain time period the reader must then "determine what has been created by the author of the work from ideas prevalent at the time of composition" (234).  Because of this, a reader may take something to mean one way because of the time period, but the author may have intended something to be a little different. In Karyssa's blog, she references The Awakening by Kate Chopin, which explains some of the deeper meaning behind the book and how by just looking at the surface you miss the entire point.

I thought that although a reader may read a lot into the time of a particular story, some stories and poems are timeless and can be applied to any time period regardless of what may have been occurring during the original publishing date of the work. For example, the plays that Shakespeare wrote have been done in a variety of different ways including a contemporary version. Because there are so many themes and timeless ideas that still apply to people today, the story loses virtually nothing by putting it in a contemporary setting. Because of this, the historical references are not always necessary to understanding what is taking place between the characters and overall points Shakespeare was attempting to make. Therefore, I think that although the historical and cultural context can be important to a story or poem or play, it can also hinder the work, too. By focusing too much on the time period, sometimes the reader can miss interpret something or view a part of the text in a different way.

Regardless of time period or cultural influence, sometimes looking for the symbols or underlining messages in a story or poem can end up just making the whole story more complicated. Sometimes just taking things at face value can be good for the first read through of something. However, certain objects may jump out to a reader to represent something else or while reading the reader determines that he or she cannot figure out what is taking place without figuring out what was going on during a certain time period, then perhaps a reader should begin diving deeper into the underlining meaning. Now, not in all instances should this occur, but sometimes the best way to read a story to form an opinion without the references to compare it to how a reader better understands the text after gaining the other necessary information to really understand what is taking place.

One Night or Two?

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"It's Christmas Day!" said Scrooge to himself. "I haven't missed it. The Spirits have done it all in one night. They can do anything they like. Of course they can. Of course they can" (Dickens).


It kind of baffled me as to why Dickens would choose to show the reader that the ghosts were coming on different nights, if in the end they were all going to only come in one night. It's very convenient that it's just in time for Scrooge to make amends on Christmas day. If they were all going to come in one night anyway why would Dickens write:

"Expect the first to-morrow, when the bell tolls One."

"Couldn't I take 'em all at once, and have it over, Jacob?" hinted Scrooge.

"Expect the second on the next night at the same hour. The third upon the next night when the last stroke of Twelve has ceased to vibrate" (Dickens).

At first, I thought it might have something to do with how Scrooge didn't have power in the situation that was taking place, which may be partly a result of it, but I think that there is more to it than that. It may have something to do with heightening the story being centered on Christmas. If so, then it would support that Scrooge was only going to be nice because it was Christmas, and he most likely wouldn't have been nice on any other day of the year. He seems so happy that it's Christmas because then he can show he has changed. Couldn't he have shown this transformation in himself on some other day by still giving to charities and being nicer? Anyone else have a theory as to why Dickens would write it this way?

Think Again, Scrooge

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I've seen different adaptations of the movie version of A Christmas Carol, and I've never especially liked Scrooge. I never even found him justified in keeping his money or being mean in the movie version, but by just reading the first part of the story, I found myself thinking, "maybe he was right to keep at least some of his money." He may be selfish, and really people should give back to those who are less fortunate, but when I saw that Scrooge's life wasn't the picture perfect lifestyle that I had originally envisioned, I felt sorry for him.

"At one of these a lonely boy was reading near a feeble fire; and Scrooge sat down upon a form, and wept to see his poor forgotten self as he used to be" (Dickens).

It didn't seem like Scrooge was very happy at the place he was staying, until his sister arrives to take him back home a couple Christmases later. Then soon after, the reader sees that he becomes an apprentice and has to work hard. Sure, his life wasn't the hardest, but he wasn't born with riches. He had to earn them, and I think that that plays a huge role in why Scrooge has probably been hoarding his money. He just needed a little reminder to give some of it back to the community, which is what the three ghosts end up doing. In the end though, I didn't expect to find myself sympathizing with Scrooge.  

Just Words?

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"Studying English taught us how to write and think better, and to make articulate many of the inchoate impulses and confusions of our post-adolescent minds. We began to see, as we had not before, how such books could shape and refine our thinking" (Chace).

English has taught me how to think better, which I'm grateful for. It has also taught me why I really wanted to go into English: to reach people through written words. Maybe it won't change anyone's life, but it might make someone stop and think about something a little differently or realize like I have through reading that I'm not the only one out there that feels this way. We read books to feel a connection that we can't always get from the people around us.

So in a way, I'd like to think that other people are out there not always going for the money, but to change people. Actually, I'm pretty sure that's what drove a lot of people to become English majors in the first place. Sure, money would be nice, but it really isn't that important to me. Something tells me I'll be rethinking that last statement though when I'm poor, but by then I'll hopefully have found some type of career doing something in English.

Easy To Say?

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It's always nice to get a little reminder about poem conventions, but I found myself thinking that some of the stuff I hadn't actually heard of before. For example that there was a term for good sounds versus bad. "Euphony refers to words containing consonants that permit an easy and smooth flow of spoken sound...the opposite of euphony is cacophony, in which percussive and choppy sounds make for vigorous and noisy pronunciation" (Roberts 193).

I guess I had never really thought about some words being easier to say and others not being. It was interesting to see how Roberts managed to tie this in to how important this may be in a poem where it may change the way the work is read.

Stormy Night

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So we've all heard the cliché "It was a dark and stormy night" which was originally the first line of the novel Paul Clifford by Edward Bulwer Lytton. So where am I going with this? Well, the first few lines of Robert Browning's "Porphyria's Lover" immediately brought that line to mind. Lines "The Rain set early in to-night,/The sullen wind was soon awake,/It tore the elm-tops down for spite,/And did its worst to vex the lake;" (1-4) show the whole scenery aspect. This completely establishes that something horrible is probably going to take place.

Now, I know nothing about the original cliché that Lytton wrote and whether or not something horrible eventually happened in the story, but the reader immediately thinks something bad is probably going to happen at least in this poem. The tone actually stays throughout the rest of the poem and the reader just seems to get the chills when the speaker starts talking about the intimate details of this woman with long blonde hair. Overall, Browning does a great job of giving some foreshadowing or at least setting the tone that carries throughout the poem.

The Real Joke

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Not to go too in depth on this since I'll be givin my presentation on it tomorrow, but The Bear by Anton Chekhov deals with two people who hate each other and then eventually fall in love. I think the best part of the story is that there is an overall funny moment that takes place, when Smirnov finally realizes how much he truly likes Mrs. Popov. It's interesting that Smirnov doesn't realize he likes Mrs. Popov until page 390, but I think he really started liking her back on page 388, when they start talking about the differences between the sexes.

However the best moment and the true joke, I feel, is really when she says, "it's no mystery to you that he was often mean to me, cruel...and even unfaithful, but I shall remain true to the grave and show him I know how to love. There, beyond the grave, he will see me as I was before his death..." (385). The fact that one woman can still love a man who was so mean to her even after his death is a bit crazy to me. Still the best part is probably that the first man that comes along is also the one she ends up falling for.

My article that I'll be using is by Yuan Yuan called Representation and Absence: Paradoxical Structure in Postmodern Texts which basically talks about the abscence of certain parts of a story and how this can hinder the text. This paper actually goes against what I'm going to talk about. Therefore, I'll talk about why Chekhov does a wonderful job of using all of the elements he presents to make the jokes and overall inform the reader behind why the jokes are funny.

After looking at what we have to do for this assignment, I guess I'll say a little bit about how my research for this went. Basically, I looked up all the articles that may be related to Chekhov, like Carissa did, and found nothing. From there I knew I kind of wanted to talk about the structure of the story, which I had another hard time finding something that even semi-related to my topic. I ended up just picking one that kind of related, but it is a little bit of stretch to connect it. If I was writing a paper based on this source, I would not use it as an ideal source, but maybe something to counter evidence my original thesis.

Diving a Little Deeper

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"Ideas are not as obvious as characters or setting. To determine an idea, you need to consider the meaning of what you read and then to develop explanatory and comprehensive assertions. Your assertions need not be the same as those that others might make" (Roberts 121).

As you've probably noticed through most of my blogs, I tend to perceive things differently than most people, which is usually because it's more fun and interesting to not go with the norm while reading. This is especially helpful after you've read the same blog entries over and over again where the same ideas are coming up on the text we're assigned to read. Roberts explains that ideas are sometimes different than what other people might view them to be. I think ideas mainly bring out the importance of the overall theme of the story, which is sometimes difficult to pin down since most stories have more than one theme to go through. At the same time, some stories have one main theme or idea and a lot of smaller ones that do not necessarily get wrapped up in the end. Regardless, Roberts makes it a point to show the importance of ideas and how a paper can be written on them if a writer so chooses. I think not having the same view or idea of the text makes things a little more interesting. Sure there are answers that closer than others (which Jerz has been telling us throughout the semester) but some interpretations are fun to contemplate anyway.

Portfolio Three

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Coverage and Timeliness:

Authenticy of Mice - Part one of the Maus sections that we were to discuss. I look at how authentic the story is to the Holocaust, and how Art works hard to show the realism to a cartoon story.

Bunker Down - Part two of the Maus sections. I talk about the thoughtfulness of the bunkers Vladek and  his family built in order to hide from the enemy and how the images accurately depict the bunker.

A Ghostly Alternative - "The Masque of the Red Death" where I talk about the story possibly being about ghosts or at least told from the point where this event has happened over and over again, kind of like the people at the party's hell.

Accenting Everyone - Chapter Six of Roberts where I discuss how important the setting can be to the overall character with the example of "The Masque of the Red Death."

Finding a Life Line - Editorial that I looked at on the death penalty and how some people's veins are unable to be found and so their executions are put off for a different day because of this.

Woe and Moan - Shakespeare's "Sonnet 30" where I see the use of the words "woe" and "moan" are used over and over again to give the poem an overall looping quality.

The Puzzle - John Keats' "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer" where I look at the confusion the reader has of his poem and how necessary the footnotes are to understanding the poem. I made a parallel to the way Keats felt about the translated versions of "The Odyssey" and "The Iliad."

Identical or the Same? - Chapter Nine of Roberts where I look at metaphors and similes for revival to a story, but that overuse of them can be boring. I linked to Josie's blog for further explanation of this.

Cracking Façade - "Miss Brill" where I look at the hidden identity she has when she puts on the fur as opposed to when she doesn't have it on.

Always Have a Purpose - Chapter Eighteen of Roberts where I looked at how you sometimes go fishing for quotes for your paper, but I tend to find more information out that helps in ways I hadn't originally thought of after looking at other sources and how important this is to enhancing my paper.

Simple Questioning? - Hughes "Theme" where I look at his use of questions and subtle wording such as "I guess."

Overstatements: This is the Best Blog Ever - Chapter Eleven of Roberts where I look at overstatements and how they work in other situations other than just humorous ones.

The Road Less Traveled - The first part of John Henry Days where I looked at his trip into West Virginia and the significance of this in connection to his job.

Let's Talk Light Bulbs - The second part of John Henry Days where I looked at the power that Lucien has not only with the list, but in getting jobs from new places such as representing a town for publication.

A Statue of a Man - The third part of John Henry Days where I looked at the significance of the statue J. buys.

Eye'll Erase My Name - The last part of John Henry Days where I look at what One Eye wrote in his message to Lucien.



Authenticy of Mice

Bunker Down

A Ghostly Alternative

Finding a Life Line

Woe and Moan

The Puzzle

Cracking Façade

The Road Less Traveled

A Statue of a Man



But What Cometh Before Pride? - Josie Rush

-          Numerous people discuss pride in the story John Henry Days. I happened to dispute whether or not John Henry was all about pride with an example from the text.

Setting the Mood - Josie Rush

-          Karyssa and I help enhance Josie's theory about "The Masque of the Red Death."

The black and white, cat and mouse, Jew and German truth. - Josie Rush

-          I am the first of seven comments on this blog with a link to another holocaust book that Josie and other people may be interested in reading if they want a perspective from the German side of things.

You are What You Hear. You are What You See. - Brooke Kuehn

-          First of five comments to discuss and enhance Brooke's theory about Hughes' poem.

J. Better Come Through... - Cody Naylor

-          Aja and I speculate on the growth of J.'s character.


A Ghostly Alternative

Cracking Façade

Always Have a Purpose

Simple Questioning?

The Road Less Traveled



The black and white, cat and mouse, Jew and German truth. - Josie Rush

-          This exemplifies my ability to link to other sources, but it's not necessarily an enhancing of the text. However, I was the first to comment and further the discussion.

Denial isn't just a River, it's a State of Mind - Kayla Lesko

-          First of four people to talk about "Miss Brill" and try to explain some of the things that took place inside the story as well as speculation about the almond. I helped start the discussion for this blog.

You are What You Hear. You are What You See. - Brooke Kuehn

-          I was the first to comment on this entry and other people followed, sparking an interesting discussion about Hughes' poem.



Cracking Façade

-          I think this blog shows my ability to look at the text to come up with something interesting to say about it and make it work. Kayla also agreed with me on this after prompting for further explanation on my part. Carissa then went against the idea, where she had some good points, but we also differed slightly in some areas still.

Recent Comments

Kayla Lesko on Not Always Necessary?: Sometimes when I read somethin
Carissa Altizer on Just Words?: I just read over this and real
Melissa Schwenk on Think Again, Scrooge: Josie, I definitely agree with
Josie Rush on Think Again, Scrooge: I actually laughed at the begi
Karyssa Blair on Stormy Night: Melissa - I feel like Browning
Melissa Schwenk on Just Words?: Jess - That's probably what I'
Gladys Mares on Just Words?: Thats the same exact quote I p
Jessica Orlowski on Just Words?: Waitressing... and starbucks..
Melissa Schwenk on Just Words?: I've read the book, and it hel
Carissa Altizer on Just Words?: I can't remember if you were i