Thursday, October 30, 2008

Blog post for the week of November 28

Final blog topic:

Reflect on all the readings that we've done this semester.  Which readings were your favorite?  Why?  Which readings would you have rather not read?  Why?  If you would have left a reading off the list, what would you have included instead?

This topic is due by 11:59 pm on Sunday, November 30.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Blog post for the week of October 23

This post is due on Sunday, October 26 by 11:59 pm.

Think about how the title of the book Atonement applies to different characters in the novel. Who achieves atonement and who does not? Why do you feel this way? How does the setting of the book contribute to each character's achievement of or lack of atonement?

Do you have any sympathy for Briony? Why or why not?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Blog Topic for the Week of October 9

This blog post is due on Sunday, October 12, by 11:59 pm.

This week is a free topic week.  You select any topic relating to any piece of literature that we have read this semester and reflect on it.  You might focus on a favorite/least favorite character/writer/plot/etc.  Or perhaps you see some theme that has been common in more than one reading.  Find one topic that speaks to you and simply reflect on it for a couple of paragraphs.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Blog topic for the week of October 2

This blog is due by 11:59 pm on Sunday, October 5.

This week, we read "The Indian Uprising" by Donald Barthelme. It was a challenging story to comprehend due to the stream of consciousness style writing and apparent mental impairment of the of the narrator.

Barthelme's writing has been critiqued by some as "meaningless academic postmodernism." Still, some in our class felt that if he was attempting to write like a madman (or man tripping on acid), he did it brilliantly.

Try your hand at this. Pick any plot you'd like, but try to describe that plot through the eyes of someone like the narrator in this story. Will you have your character fight some personal war, like the narrator in this story? Will this person have been betrayed, using fantasy to try to come to grips with the betrayal?

Feel free to use an image, song clip, video, etc. to bolster your creative writing piece.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


You need to post the theme song blog by this Sunday night. You have no new blog due at this time. Instead, focus on studying for your midterm. You'll have a new topic next week.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Blog Post 4 - A character's theme song

This blog post is due on Sunday, Sept 28 by 11:59 pm.

I'd like you to select any character that we've read so far and select a theme song for him/her. If you can find a youtube or google video that goes along with the song, feel free to post that too. Be sure that you discuss why you chose that song for that character. If there are lyrics that sound like they are describing the person, for example, that would help you support choosing that particular song.

You can make fun, if you like. For example, I could kind of see "Pretty Fly For A White Guy" by The Offspring as a theme song for Rudy Elmenhurst. (Link to "Pretty Fly" video)

Or you can make it a little more serious.

The idea of Donald Armstrong doing the handstand before he gets beheaded in "The Performance" has always fascinated me. I remember hearing Dickey talk about this poem speicifcally when I was at Governor's School. He read it to us and then talked about Armstrong with a lot of respect.

"So why does he do the handstand?" asked one vocal student.

(Dickey was pretty intimidating, so that took some bravery, lol.)

I can't remember his exact words, but it went something along the lines of there being a lot of reasons why he might have and how it's up to the reader to decide the reason. (Postmodernism, anyone?)

Sure, I might have this on my mind because I'm excited about the release of Metallica's new album tomorrow, but I am going to relate "The Day That Never Comes" to Donald. I think that could be his themesong.

Donald is a prisoner of war in the poem. He is clearly not going to be given his Geneva Convention rights. Instead, he's digging his own grave. For some reason, when it's time for him to kneel down to await his gruesome death, he does a headstand. What an odd, out of place thing it is... a headstand! A "dead man walking"... on his hands!

I've chosen "The Day That Never Comes" for several reasons. First of all, several lines in the song seem applicable. "Born to push you around/ Better just stay down... He hits the flesh / You hit the ground"... to me, that sounds like it could be talking to a prisoner of war.

The title of the song seems pertinent. Wouldn't a POW be desperately waiting for the day that he/she would be released? It seems like freedom would be the most important thing on this person's mind. But in Donald Armstrong's case, this day he's waiting on will indeed never come. And as he's digging his own grave, he has to realize this.

So, unlike the cowardly chancellor from "The Obsolete Man," he decides to make one last public statement - his headstand. It's almost humorous - his lack of balance, his gangly body. Humor and death don't seem to mix, but he puts the two together anyway. In the song, one of my favorite lines is "I'll splatter color on this grave." I believe that's exactly what Donald was doing... splattering color - human-ness, actually - on this bitter, unjust, horrible moment.

The video is a director's interpretation and doesn't necessarily related to Donald, but it does show a similar human side to war... enjoy!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Blog 3: Streetcar Named Desire

This post is due by 11:59 pm on Sunday, September 7.

First watch these two different film clips from the play:

The first clip is from a 1995 film in which Jessica Lange plays Blanche.

The second clip comes from a 1951 version in which Vivien Leigh, most famous for her role as Scarlett O'Hara, plays Blanche.

In your opinion, which actress does a better job bringing Blanche from page to screen?

Which actress does a better job of playing the role that Tennessee Williams seems to be describing in this famous quote: "I have found it easier to identify with the characters who verge upon hysteria, who were frightened of life, who were desperate to reach out to another person. But these seemingly fragile people are the strong people really."

Give reasons to explain your opinion.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Blog Topic for the Week of August 29

This post is due by 11:59 pm on Sunday, August 31.

So far, we have discussed the following works of contemporary literature:
  • "The Obsolete Man" by Rod Serling (video in Blackboard)
  • "The Man From Mars" by Margaret Atwood
  • "The Rudy Elmenhurst Story" by Julia Alvarez
  • "Redwing Sonnet" by Julia Alvarez
We also discussed the differences between Modernism and Postmodernism.

Ponder the characters in each of these works. Which one of these characters best helps you understand the differences between Modernism and Postmodernism? You don't necessarily have to like the character, but he/she still could have enlightened you in some way. Be sure to use quotes from the text(s) to illustrate how this character impacted you.

For an extra blog point (or two if you're especially creative), find an image online that you feel represents the character you've chosen. Include the image in your post.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Welcome to English 215!

I look forward to working with you this semester!

I will post your weekly blog assignments on this blog, so it is important for you to check here to get your writing prompt each week.  
Your new prompts will always be posted on Thursday and due on Sunday.

This week's blog is due by 11:59 pm on Sunday, August 24.

Your topic is to write a short biography introducing yourself to your classmates.  Feel free to include photos or videos.

You also need to leave me a comment on this post giving me the link to your blog.  If you need help with any of this, just let me know.