Thursday, May 1, 2014

Synthesis essay

Many of the texts we have discussed this year in English class address the idea of social hierarchy (whether it be gender, class, race, or even within a family dynamic). 

How do these social hierarchies present themselves in relationships in the texts and support the meaning of the work as a whole? 

Issues to explore may include but are not limited to, parent child relationships, greed, power and love.

Your thesis-driven essay must synthesize a total of THREE of the texts we have read this year. 
ONE text must be from the first semester 
and ONE must be Jane Eyre. 
The third text can be chosen from either semester.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

For Exam Review...

HWK: Review (and maybe re-read Heart of Darkness)

Bring your books to class tomorrow....

And building on Shabri's brilliant idea in D-Block,
think about how you can divide and conquer the texts...

And perhaps post helpful information on each text to the shared class blog.




See previous posts, including: Exam Review Guide

IN- CLASS Tomorrow:

I will have your Heart of Darkness In-Class Writes for you tomorrow.

We will discuss further Conrad's novella and your responses - please come with questions.

Then, you will be given the synthesis question tomorrow in class.

Department Rules do not allow me to discuss the question once you have it.

Be confident that once you review, you will be prepared for the exam.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 30th - Your Ars Poetica is Due

What is an "Ars Poetica"?


Perhaps one of the most famous American examples is Archibald MacLeish‘s "Ars Poetica":
A poem should palpable and mute 
As a globed fruit,

As old medallions to the thumb, 

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown—
A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds.
Written in part as a response to the highly rhetorical nature of English poetry at the start of the twentieth century, MacLeish’s piece states the Modernist perspective:
                    “a poem should not mean / but be.”

My simple answer: A poem about poetry. 

Write your poem about poetry. 

Does Poetry Matter? Can we assume that it does?

Marianne Moore begins her poem "Peotry" with an ironic statement: 

 I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond
       all this fiddle.
    Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one
       discovers in
    it after all, a place for the genuine.

Read more of Moore's "Poetry"

How do you define poetry? 

I am not concerned about rhyme scheme or length.

I would like a thoughtful reflection in verse.

Show us - don't tell us - what you think poetry is.

Consider incorporating some of these Elements of Poetry:

Please bring a HARD COPY - and post to the showcase blog
Inspire your classmates one last time.

A few definitions of poetry you might appreciate - feel free to blend into your poem:
  Follow Kevin's board The Poet's Life: Why Poetry Matters on Pinterest.

Consider how all writing is persuasive...

Sell us your definition of poetry.

Well worth watching this...

Monday, April 28, 2014

In Class Write Tomorrow

I will have some quotes, themes, and questions for you to write about in-class tomorrow.

Bring a pen or pencil.

Consider searching digital Heart of Darkness via "Find"

with possible keywords such as...

Obvious ones: Heart, Humanity, Wild/erness, Destiny and Darkness - for example:

Less obvious: Justice, Fear, Sorrow, Regret etc.

Here's the Biblical connection to Sepulchre, Sepulchral

Matthew 23:27-28

New International Version (NIV)
27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

Yet in The King James Bible
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of deadmen's bones, and of all uncleanness.

"I flew around like mad to get ready, and before forty-eight hours I was crossing the Channel to show myself to my employers, and sign the contract. In a very few hours I arrived in a city that always makes me think of a whited sepulchre. Prejudice no doubt. I had no difficulty in finding the Company's offices. It was the biggest thing in the town, and everybody I met was full of it. They were going to run an over-sea empire, and make no end of coin by trade... (7)

"I had no idea why he wanted to be sociable, but as we chatted in there it suddenly occurred to me the fellow was trying to get at something—in fact, pumping me. He alluded constantly to Europe, to the people I was supposed to know there—putting leading questions as to my acquaintances in the sepulchral city, and so on. His little eyes glittered like mica discs—with curiosity—though he tried to keep up a bit of superciliousness...(21)

"No, they did not bury me, though there is a period of time which I remember mistily, with a shuddering wonder, like a passage through some inconceivable world that had no hope in it and no desire. I found myself back in the sepulchral city resenting the sight of people hurrying through the streets to filch a little money from each other, to devour their infamous cookery, to gulp their unwholesome beer, to dream their insignificant and silly dreams. They trespassed upon my thoughts. They were intruders whose knowledge of life was to me an irritating pretence, because I felt so sure they could not possibly know the things I knew. Their bearing, which was simply the bearing of commonplace individuals going about their business in the assurance of perfect safety, was offensive to me like the outrageous flauntings of folly in the face of a danger it is unable to comprehend. I had no particular desire to enlighten them, but I had some difficulty in restraining myself from laughing in their faces so full of stupid importance. I daresay I was not very well at that time...(65)

An interesting article:

White Lies and Whited Sepulchres in Conrad's Heart of Darkness

Here's a cool interactive map of all the places (locations referenced) in the novella.

Follow Kevin's board Conrad's Heart of Darkness on Pinterest.

Thursday, April 24, 2014



Friday - Read to page 62.

For Monday - Finish the book - page 72.

Review Heart of Darkness on Monday.

In-Class Write on Tuesday - I will have a couple passages with questions.

Wednesday - ARS POETICA - a long poem about poetry.

This month/this year/ this life, what have you learned about poetry?

Does poetry matter? 

Thursday/Friday Exam Review


1.   Beowulf
2.   The Canterbury Tales
3.   Hamlet
4.   Jane Eyre
5.   Heart of Darkness (flex text)

Exam Format:
1.   identification of literary terms and historical facts (both fall and spring texts)
2.   passage analysis (spring texts only)
3.   synthesis essay on the course reading (includes fall text)
4.   analytical essay on an unseen short piece of writing (spring flex texts only)

Study Suggestions:
q  Begin reviewing early. Spread out your reviewing between now and the exam. Do a little bit of reviewing each day. Do not leave review work until the day before the exam.
q  Review literary terms list. Make sure you can apply the terms to and explain how they work in the literature
q  Review any historical information relevant to the texts
q  Go back over tests - and past posts to
q  Go through all texts. Re-read and think about significant passages 
(i.e., the ones you supposedly marked).
q  Try outlining or writing a practice essay or two. Pose a question to yourself about character or theme development in one of our texts. 

FYI: Helpful vocabulary to review...

Visual Maps of 2010 Census

Read more
Philadelphia's  black-white dissimilarity score is 73.7, according to a study of 2010 Census data by professors John Logan and Brian Stults of Brown and Florida State University. A score above 60 on the dissimilarity index is considered very high segregation.
The red dots show white people, blue is black, orange is Hispanic, green is Asian, and yellow is other, according to maps of 2010 Census data by Eric Fischer.
Read more:

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Homework - Read to page 50 in Heart of Darkness

HWK: Read to page 50 - Finish Part II - in Heart of Darkness

FYI - Joseph Conrad on Writing and the Role of the Artist


Please see previous blog posts as well.


Writing Prompt: Best Advice - write it in verse. 

Also we listened to Patti for more.

From Brainpickings: Patti Smith’s Advice on Life

When you proceed on your course, never forget you are not alone. You have friends and family, but you also have you ancestors. Your ancestors sing in your blood. Call to them. Their strength through the ages will come into you. And then there are your spiritual ancestors. Call on them. They have set themselves up through human history to be at your disposal. Jesus, he said, “I am with you always, even into the end of the world,Allen Ginsburg, Walt Whitman — they are with you. Choose the one you wish to walk with and he or she will walk with you. Don’t forget that you are not alone.
She ends by recounting the advice her father gave her, bringing it all back to the bigger point behind her seemingly silly dental care counsel:
When I left home, I asked my father what advice he could give me. My father was very intelligent, very well-read — he read all the great books, all the great philosophers. But when I asked his advice, he told me one thing: Be happy. It’s all he said. So simple. I’m telling you, these simple things — taking care of your teeth, being happy — they will be your greatest allies. Because when you’re happy, you ignite that little flame that tells you and reminds you who you are. And it will ignite, it will animate your enthusiasm for things — it will enforce your work.
Be happy, take care of your teeth, always let your conscience be your guide.

Bonus from Brain Pickings:

Illustrated Flowcharts to Find Answers to Life’s Big Questions

Howe's poem "What the Living Do" was recently anthologized in The Penguin Anthology of 20th-Century American Poetry. Howe discusses several of her poems, which deal with topics such as loss, love, spirituality, gender, sexuality and intimacy.

"Poetry holds the knowledge that we are alive and that we know we're going to die," says Howe. "The most mysterious aspect of being alive might be that — and poetry knows that."