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."

Giving Voice to Stories from Around the World

I hope you were impressed and inspired by Frank Langfitt and the stories he shared today.
I appreciated how he began with the first line from David Copperfield by Charles Dickens:
Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.

Read more: Best First Lines of Novels 

Much was notable, and I hope EA has a video of his presentation (I hope to embed it in this post).

Read more of Frank Langfitt - for example enthralling three part series on Somali pirates.

Today, one point that resonated with me was the way in which social media played a role in ending labor camps in China. Imagine a tweet retweeted 30 million times rescuing a woman's life. But also imagine being sent to a labour camp in China for retweeting.

Meanwhile, Ellen's Oscar selfie - a team photo of Hollywood stars crashes Twitter. It makes me think that social media is a powerful tool and how we use it can say a great deal about our values and our culture.

When Frank Langfitt spoke of values and truth - in journalism and in the world - we see values such as the stripes and truth not in abstract notions or grandiose ways - or even cynical cliche.

We see the power of the pen not as an example of metonymy, but real power to change history, save lives, and make a difference in the world.

Putting themselves in harms way, journalists like Frank Langfitt offer us stories that go beyond soundbites and headlines. I confess in Twitter age and 24 hour news coverage we are inundated with headlines, yet we rarely read further - and we question the integrity of the sources.

Frank Langfitt is a journalist worth following because as Rev. Squire said today, he gives voice to others that may not have a voice and he lives the EA Stripes.

One of the questions about decline of "print" journalism - like poetry - suggests that you can't make money or make a living with words or stories.

As Frank Langfitt mentioned, investigative journalism is expensive, but there will always be a demand for news - for stories - and I'd like to think there will be a demand for journalists with integrity.

I, Too

Why talk about Diversity and Heart of Darkness?

Why talk about Diversity?

In yesterday's news:

Supreme Court Upholds Michigan's Ban On Affirmative Action

"Minority students and others who support a broadly diverse student body should not have to overturn a constitutional amendment simply to have their voices heard in the admissions process when everyone else can go directly to the university," the ACLU said in a fact sheet about the case.

Sotomayor accuses colleagues of trying to ‘wish away’ racial inequality

“This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable,” Sotomayor wrote. “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination.” 

Who is Chief Justice Emily Sotomayor? Listen to this NPR interview.


GROSS: So you've told us some of the things you decline to talk about. As you point out in your own memoir, you have ventured to write more intimately about your personal life than is customary for a member of the Supreme Court. Why have you chosen to do that? 
SOTOMAYOR: When I was nominated by the president for this position, it became very clear to me that many people in the public were interested in my life, in the challenges I had faces, in the difficulties I had overcome. And I also realized that much of the public perception of who I was and what had happened to me was not quite complete. It was based more on assumptions rather than realities. 
And I also knew that if I permitted those assumptions to continue, they would take on a life of their own. 
GROSS: What are some of the false assumptions you think people had about you? 
Read Interview Transcript 

More on the documentary: The Prep School Negro

I, Too

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”

They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.
Langston Hughes, “I, Too” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1994 by The Estate of Langston Hughes. Reprinted with the permission of Harold Ober Associates Incorporated.

Source: The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes (Vintage Books, 2004)

“The irony of American history is the tendency of good white Americanas to presume racial innocence. Ignorance of how we are shaped racially is the first sign of privilege. In other words. It is a privilege to ignore the consequences of race in America.” 
― Tim Wise

Heart of Darkness Illustrated

Every Page of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Illustrated by Self-Taught Artist Matt Kish

WORD of the DAY:

Monday, April 21, 2014

Assumptions and a Changing American Reality

Please understand my intention in hosting this discussion is not to create awkward silences or to make anyone feel uncomfortable or defensive. The importance of having these conversations, particularly as you head off to college, is to bring awareness and be conscious of assumptions that we all make. As a white male, I know I have been blind as well as aware of my own biases and privileges at times. Hopefully, you might be more aware of your own assumptions and how others may perceive you as you make new friends and meet new people from across the country and around the world with diverse backgrounds.

I hope we can lean into our discomfort a little more and learn from one another.

In-Class (in case you missed it):

Read Peggy McIntosh's essay, (clink link) "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack"

Consider your privileges as an EA student.
Consider assumptions that are made about you since you go to EA.

HWK: Read Heart of Darkness to page 40 (4/7th of 71 pages) 

D-Block drops Tuesday because of the speaker tomorrow.

Please take your pick - and watch/read any (or all of) the following for Wednesday.

Watch Peggy McIntosh explain her journey into...

A historical example in the United States that illustrates what Peggy McIntosh refers to as "The Myth of Meritocracy": How does race impact home equity?
Subsidy versus divestiture.

When considering this injustice, think about these infographics...
what are our assumptions about wealth? and what is the reality?


With changing demographics and inequality growing exponentially, why discuss race?

We are living in a more diverse country and more interconnected world.

We need to be aware of our history,
or assumptions, and where we are headed,
assuming we want "a just society." 

Watch this video on a changing America.


I know sometimes there is fear of saying something dumb
that will be well-intened but miss interpreted or even cause harm.

Have you said any of these "35 Dumb Things Well-Intended People Say"?
I have. The point is to acknowledge them and then open a conversation.
Let's discuss soon.

Lastly, consider code switching in Key & Peele:
How does humor defuse tension so we can talk about race candidly?
And when does humor cross a line?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

"I've read Gone with the Wind"

From Chris Abani's TED Talk "Telling Stories from Africa":

In other words, it's the agents of our imagination who really shape who we are. And this is important to remember, because in Africa the complicated questions we want to ask about what all of this means has been asked from the rock paintings of the San people, through the Sundiata epics of Mali, to modern contemporary literature. If you want to know about Africa, read our literature -- and not just "Things Fall Apart," because that would be like saying, "I've read 'Gone with the Wind' and so I know everything about America." That's very important. There's a poem by Jack Gilbert called "The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart." He says, "When the Sumerian tablets were first translated, they were thought to be business records. But what if they were poems and psalms? My love is like twelve Ethiopian goatsstanding still in the morning light. Shiploads of thuja are what my body wants to say to your body.Giraffes are this desire in the dark." This is important.4:22It's important because misreading is really the chance for complication and opportunity.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Microaggression, Code Switching, Piling On, & Open Conversation

As we begin Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, we will discuss colonization and context.

Below are images of the Congo River - in living color, from social studies, and an early depiction of Africa, an unexplored continent. Each image feeds our imagination and our understanding of the Congo River. 


he introduction to The Norton Anthology's Heart of Darkness begins…

Norton Critical Edition 4th Edition


How do we read this allegorical journey? 

It depends on how we see the world. 

"Is Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" a masterpiece of art? 
Or is it, as Chinua Achebe persuasively argues, a racist and deplorable book?"

To answer these questions…as readers, we have to look at our own society, so...

We start(ed) a conversation about Microaggressions, Code Switching, and Piling On.


Read HEART OF DARKNESS to page 20 of 72 pages (thus 2/7 of the text).

And Read the handouts: From Time Magazine: "'Microaggression' Is the New Racism on Campus"

From Teaching Tolerance: "Straight Talk about the N-Word"

Here's some additional resources that will better inform our conversation.

What is code switching? Why does one switch codes?
What role does context and audience play in code switching?

Code Switching: Defined on NPR as "the practice of shifting the languages you use or the way you express yourself in your conversations"

Piling on

For more examples, check out: The Microaggressions Project

Chinua Achebe writes of his own experience with a microaggression - long before there was the term:
In the fall of 1974 I was walking one day from the English Department at the University of Massachusetts to a parking lot. It was a fine autumn morning such as encouraged friendliness to passing strangers. Brisk youngsters were hurrying in all directions, many of them obviously freshmen in their first flush of enthusiasm. An older man going the same way as I turned and remarked to me how very young they came these days. I agreed. Then he asked me if I was a student too. I said no, I was a teacher. What did I teach? African literature. Now that was funny, he said, because he knew a fellow who taught the same thing, or perhaps it was African history, in a certain Community College not far from here. It always surprised him, he went on to say, because he never had thought of Africa as having that kind of stuff, you know. By this time I was walking much faster. "Oh well," I heard him say finally, behind me: "I guess I have to take your course to find out."
An older man, perhaps a fellow professor, makes assumptions about age, race, and history in the briefest of exchanges. One can imagine this is not an isolated incident - then or now.

READ MORE of Achebe's essay on Heart of Darkness and then watch this video...


"Is Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" a masterpiece of art? 
Or is it, as Chinua Achebe persuasively argues, a racist and deplorable book?"

Interesting Youtube lecture that gives background, overview, and attempts to answer this question.

Background on African colonization:

Poetry matters... since it allows voices, often marginalized, to be heard.

Watch Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's TED Talk (she quotes Achebe). Here's a favorite quote with an egregious assumption:

I recently spoke at a university where a student told me that it was such a shame that Nigerian men were physical abusers like the father character in my novel. I told him that I had just read a novel called American Psycho -- (Laughter) -- and that it was such a shame that young Americans were serial murderers. (Laughter) 

Also consider how geography along with a single story shapes the way see the world.
1646-47 Robert Dudley (1574-1649) 
Carte seconda Generale d'Affrica.