December 2009 Archives

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not it's always necessary to look too closely for symbols or even if you absolutely need to always have the cultural or historical references to a story in order to properly understand it.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?

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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