Words Through New Eyes-Response to Ex: 5 Interpretive Podcasts

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Mary Jane's Interpretation of "In Vain" By Emily Dickinson

This poem was beautiful. I never read this poem before and I must admit I was caught up in the words. I only wished that there was more emotion behind the presentation rather than reciting the poem with a monotone voice. It lacked the sense of hopeless and unrelenting love that Dickinson was sharing with the page. I read the poem on a seperate sheet of paper while listening to her recite it and got a different perception of the poem than Mary Jane. I think this was because that the lines she chose to analyze took away from my understanding a bit. Either way based on the analysis given I was also able to understand the way it was interpretated in the podcast.


Stephanie's Interpretation of an excerpt of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Black Cat"

I enjoyed this reading of "The Black Cat." I particularly liked how Stephanie stopped periodically to provide her interpretations. This prevented the loss of important lines and what they meant. From the lines chosen for the podcast I can see how it seems to be much more than alcoholic problem fueling his behavior.

Heroism Limited by Society...

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     I read a article from the Modern Language Studies Journal written by Jim O'Loughlin entitled "The Whiteness of Bone: Russell Banks' "Rule of Bone" and the Contradictory Legacy of "Huckleberry Finn." I found this article using the JSTOR database and it is 11 pages long. The object of this article is to examine the "complex role of whiteness in Huckleberry Finn." In doing this the article also considered the how the privileges that came along with being white was key to developing an understanding of Huck and Jim's relationship. 
     This article also presents that idea while at moments some of the more dark points are left unchallenged, at times "whiteness is held up for ridicule." It also touches upon whiteness being a hypocritical ideology and the "social dimensions of whiteness" being more persistent its legal counterpart. 
      The section of this article that really opened my mind to a deeper understanding was when O'Loughlin addressed "Jim mentioning Huck's compromised status" causing him to really sit back and examine the true worth of his status himself. O'Loughlin goes on to touch upon certain aspects in which Huck's white privilege affords him such as "allowing him to assume it is ok to use Jim as the butt of his joke." Another aspect includes the ""ideology of whiteness that tells him that it is his right not to be concerned with the feelings of someone who is black." He further argues that later on in the novel their friendship replaces white privilege as the "guiding principle" of the relationship. 
   Finally O'Loughlin argues that Huck's inability to admit his decision was the right or good demonstrates "the limitations of individual heroism in the face of social determination." This article was a eye opener for the simple fact that while a few of the arguments made agreed with my thoughts, a lot of the positions proposed had not come to me during my reading. After reading this article I have a better sense of interpretation that I, myself can branch upon by using some of the structural aspects of this novel to depict an underlying meaning. 

O'Loughlin, Jim. "The Whiteness of Bone: Russell Banks' "Rule of Bone" and the Contradictory Legacy of "Huckleberry Finn." Modern Language Studies. 32.1 (2002): 31-42. JSTOR. web. 18 Oct. 2010

Shakespeare Is Not The "Bomb-diggity" By You....For Real?!?!!

"There is, assuredly, no other country on the face of this earth in which Shakespeare and the Bible are held in such high esteem as in America, the very country so much decried for its lust for money."

William Shakespeare and The American People: A Study in Cultural Transformation by Lawrence W. Levine -In the new Riverside Edition Mark Twain's adventures of huckleberry finn

When I read this I was shocked. Shocked because I could not grasp the fact that Shakespeare isn't the "bomb-diggity" anywhere else. As much as I have studied, heard and seen Shakespeare throughout my schooling it makes me question whether it was even necessary? If you didn't know a single thing about literature you at least knew that Shakespeare was the boss and if you knew anything about his works you were in a decent standing. Now that this essay has shown light on the fact that only in America can Shakespeare be found in even the lowliest of paces, be used as a means of income and at one point top entertainment.
In an effort to analyze my progress thus far within this classI have prepared my this blog portfolio to highlight some of what I have accomplished by blogging outside of class thus far. This portfolio addresses the coverage, timeliness, depth, discussions, xenoblogs and interactions associated with my blogging. Feel free to review and leave commentary as to how I can improve on any of these areas. 

Coverage and Timeliness

      None but one or two of my blogs have been on time. It is clear that this is an are of which I need to put more time into. I also have not posted an entry for every assigned text but have done quite a few and am in the progress of catching up. My archives holds the list of my blogs that I have done so far. 


        When I blog I try my best to talk about issues that stand out or move me in some way. It may not be everyday that I feel deeply about the designated piece but when I do, it shows. I try to write in depth about pieces that either hit close to home or leave me speechless with their profound effect. One blog in which I wrote in depth about would be my commentary on Washington Irving's "The Wife" which I entitled Voiceless Thoughts. Thomas C. Foster's How to Read Literature Like a Professor has also brought about points that caused me to not only think deeply but also reflect upon myself. The blogs in which I was able to explore my thoughts more openly were entitled New Perspective, Crossroad Demons and Naked Without My Identity


       Surprisingly enough some of the thoughts that I shared were able to produce feelings and opinions to be brought forth from my peers. Some of these opinions that were left on my entries further developed into fruitful discussions in which I hope was beneficial towards that enlightenment of all parties included. The first of which was my blog on Irving's "Rip Van Winkle" entitled Hell Hath No Fury Like.... Another blog that resulted in conversation was Voiceless Thoughts.


       With the information provided within my blog entries I do feel that a stranger who were to come across my blog would be able to understand and even respond to what I have written. My blogs include  the quote from the text which I am expounding upon and also the author's name. The only way a an outsider would be able to identify this as a class assignment is if they were to click the link that leads back to the course website in which I provide. While writing some of these blogs I was compelled to do outside research and provide links that could further the knowledge of anyone who comes across it. In Writing Without Fear I included a link to a page on Thomas Middleton that gave information about his life, works and achievements. In New Perspective I linked to a page on the novel Beloved that provided book reviews, audio excerpts and essays on the book. And in Crossroad Demons I gave links to the TV series Supernatural that I mentioned in my discussion and also a page which provided information on the history of crossroad demons. 


       In order to keep discussion going throughout our bogs I also made comments on the blogs of my peers. By commenting on the blogs of my classmates I am able to broaden my thoughts and even gain new opinions. Some of the blogs that I commented on include The Wife Listening by Michael McCullough,  Oh, Those Familiar Blood-Suckers Strike Again by Alexi Swank, Weather is never just weather by Stephanie Wiegand, "It's Never Just Rain." It's Other Stuff Too by Patrick Schober, Plotting Your Discussion by Mary Jane Stano, and It's All Political by Megan Nelson. My comments on Michael McCullough's blog Chapter 3 blog from our Foster txt sparked a tad bit of an debate but I think it is one of worth discussion. 

      I have no wildcard entries to summit for this portfolio. I have been wanting to post some of the poems that I write just to relieve some stress or whenever I just feel like picking up a pen but I am a bit skeptic. Although I am not an artist in the traditional sense of the word, I am nevertheless sensitive about my work. I think I might for the next submission get over my fears just merely because reading some criticism would be less harsh than hearing it aloud. 

My thoughts are me and my thoughts are free
Left in silence to explore the connections made from other writers ...Peace Love & Pencils 

Naked Without My Identity...

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"Why didn't Napoleon conquer Russia? Geography. He ran into forces he couldn't overcome: a ferocious Russian winter and a people whose toughness and tenacity in defending their homeland matched the merciless elements. And that savagery, like the weather, is a product of the place they come from."--Thomas C. Foster How to Read Literature Like a Professor --Chapter 19 pp. 165

I am the Virgin Islands is what came to mind when I read this excerpt. I completely agree with the concept of geography including ". . .economics, politics, history." When defining a person you have to take in to account not only their personality and friends but also the history of their family and where they are from. Whether you would like to admit it or not where you are from directly affects who you are and where you are going throughout life. This hit home for me because where I am from everyone's life is so embedded our culture that we take it where ever we go and consider ourselves "naked" without this part of our identity. The pride we feel because of where we lives  creates a barrier that would make it impossible to outside forces to come in and do "conquer" us. Because of this I am able to identify with and understand how it was not only the the people he could not have defeated but the particular region.


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"And lateral thinking is what we're really discussing: the way writers can keep their eye on the target, whether it be the plot of the play or the ending of the novel or the argument of the poem, and at the same time bring in a great deal of at least tangentially related material."" Thomas C. Foster How to Read Literature Like a Professor -- Interlude pp. 85

This idea of lateral thinking brought up by Foster is one of the very fears I face as a writer. I worry that I might become so consumed in my thoughts that I drift so far off topic that there will be no way for me to recover. If worries me about with my poetry, Imagine if I was to attempt to write a full novel. I truly commend authors because they are able to create a world, give it a focus and connect everything within this world to that focus--a skill I hope to acquire someday. I guess in some ways we practice this when writing essays because the thesis becomes our understood focus and our entire essay is centered around this thesis. 

If All Else Fails. . .

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". . . some of the most primal basic, most primal patterns known to humans, exactly as Homer did all those centuries before. The need to protect one's family:Hector. The need to maintain one's dignity: Achilles. The determination to remain faithful and to faith: Penelope. The struggle to remain home: Odysseus. Homer gives us the four great struggles of the human being: with nature, with the divine, with other humans, and with ourselves. What is there, after all, against which we need to prove ourselves but those four things?- Thomas C. Foster How to Read Literature Like a Professor-Chapter. 9 

What else is really out there for us to prove ourselves against? Just as demonstrated in Foster's book, these battles are the ones that show up continuously in the novels we read from day to day. These struggles are the ones that are identified first and in a sense used as safety nets when analyzing works. We tend to pick at the main characters and focus on either their good qualities or flaws sometimes ignoring the setting and other small details that make the stories what they are. 

New Perspective

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". . . Seth intuits, that what's coming in the front gate is the Apocalypse. When the Four Horsemen come, it's the Last Day, the time for Judgment."- Thomas C. Foster How to Read Literature Like a Professor

Although I have not read Toni Morrison's Beloved, I can definitely understand how these four white men can be seen as bringers of Judgment. This excerpt brings forth possibilities that never crossed my mind before- this connection between Judgment Day and people who can only bring pain and anguish with their presence. This novel seems as though it would be the perfect example to explore this concept. It causes me to wonder, do I fault this character for her actions? What would I have done if I was put in the same situation and would I be able to live with the actions I would have chosen? Would those very actions affect my final judgment and how? Now that my eyes have in a sense, opened to this possibility of analyzing different works this allows me to be a little more open with my interpretations. 

Here is a link to a web page about Beloved that has book reviews, audio excerpts and essays on the book. 

Crossroad Demons

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"Bargins with the devil go back a long way in western culture."-Thomas C. Foster's How to Read Literature Like a Professor 

When Foster brought up this concept I saw flashing lights. Situations just as the one described in the book--"the hero is offered something he desperately wants. . . and all he has to give up is his soul"--are often part of the conflicts that arise in literature. After this statement he goes on to pose the question, if allowing one's pride, self-respect and basically identity to be bought is not selling one's soul, then what is? To give all that up is to have nothing, one in a sense gives up the right to speak, have connections with others and basically blow out the candle on your will to live.

This quote also made me think of the TV series Supernatural that airs on the CW on Fridays at 9 which is a show which I am a huge fan {owning all the seasons on DVD} that incorporates all types of religious beliefs. In numerous episodes there are encounters with crossroad demons that negotiate deals between humans and the devil. The demon grants them their wish and after the agreed upon limit {often 10 years} hell hounds come to retrieve your soul.  One particular episode {Season 2} involved the story of Jimmy Johnson who is often mistaken as Robert Johnson. Jimmy Johnson is a blues singer who is known throughout the south for his alleged encounter with a crossroad spirit that explained his sudden guitar playing skill. More information about the crossroads and Jimmy Johnson can be found via this link--The Crossroads.

Writing Without Fear

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While listening to the overview of Washington Irving and brief intro to the "The Wife" I could not help but be amazed by all the accomplishments Irving was able to gather during his lifetime. Among them being a mentor to Edgar Allan Poe and US Minister to Spain. Being able to make a living writing and not having to work to support oneself is also very commendable and most of all inspiring. I too wish to be able to write and not worry about giving up my passion in order to pay bills.

Also briefly touched upon in this intro was the opening of "The Wife" in which we find a few lines from Thomas Middleton. When I first read these lines I was left speechless and wanted to know  more about Middleton so I did a little research and here is a link to a page on his life, works and achievements among other things. 

Recent Comments

  • Stefanie Wiegand: It's hard to believe that Shakespeare isn't as highly regarded read more
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  • Peaches Ostalza: Society does look down on men that cannot provide for read more
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