Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Kafka Movie

Check out the short animated film of "The Metamorphosis" Becca found on a publisher's website, part of a 2003 promotion for the graphic novel version of the story. Post a quick comment on your blog, or on Becca's, saying what you notice (about the music, the art, the way text is incorporated, or anything else you observe). Prize for best original comment.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Blogging Shakespeare

Here are a few suggestions to get you started with the new semester and your Shakesblog:

*One I call Notes & Quotes: find a few of your favorite (brief) passages from the play, copy them from an online Shakespeare source (for the M.I.T. website, click here), and for each one you select, write a few sentences explaining why you chose it. Part of the fun of Shakespeare is exploring the language he uses and the way he says things.
*Write a blog about a character you find either interesting or appealing. Think of characters from other stories who have something in common and explain the similarity. Think of a real person you are reminded of and explain why.
*Go to "Shakespeare and the Internet" (link here) find some interesting material, and write about why it's interesting.
*Choose a scene from the play and explain why it is important to the play as a whole.
*Revisit the list of blog starters on the entry "Your class blog" (click here) for some whopping good ideas you've probably forgotten since August.

As you think of other excellent ideas, let me know.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Blog groups for writing and responding

I said the other day that for the next few weeks we would split into two groups for blogging and responding. Here are the groups (taken from the order in which your names appear on the list on my blog):

Group 1 (blogs this week for Oedipus, comments next week for Antigone; responsible for reading both pieces of literature):

Aaron, Abby, Alex, Ally, Jillian, Becca, Becky, Caitie, Chelsea, Danni, Dave, Deepa, Eric, Gary G, Emily, Andrew, Greg, Hutch, Ian, Ivy, Todd, Jessi, and Jimmy (23)

Group 2 (comments this weekend for Oedipus or Kafka, writes blogs next week for Antigone, reads both plays): Jonny, Julia, Kaleena, Karen, Katelyn, Lauren and Lauren, Lizzy, Manasi, LeManley, Michele Sue, Aravind, Natalie, Navdeep, Nina, Nick, Piper, Q, Richard, Gary S, Sam, Warren, and Yesenia (23)

Comments: Let's make this work well; here a few guidelines:
*Listen to what the writer is saying; give credit for good ideas
*If you disagree, that's OK, but no cheap shots or mocking; take ownership of your own responses by making "I" statements
*Our comments are public documents, so let's keep the tone civil; no flaming or obnoxious language
*Don't limit your comments to your 5 closest friends; each time you write comments, choose different people.
*In a few weeks, I'll redraw the groups so you will have the chance to comment on different blogs
*I absolutely enjoy reading your blogs and giving you my best possible comments; I hope you will have fun with this also.
*Each time you're in the commenting group, leave 5-10 comments at the end of the week and over the weekend.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Vocab game

Mr. White and Katie Senzig told me about a web site that’s fun, educational, and humanitarian. It’s a vocabulary game with 50 levels. When you answer questions correctly, you move to a higher level. Each one you miss moves you to a lower level. More importantly, the sponsors of the web site donate 20 grains of rice, through the UN, for every word you answer correctly. Hence the name, “free rice.”

Here’s the link.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

AP Assignments January 2008

Week 1 (January 8-11): Read The Death of Ivan Ilyich, p. 280 in our anthology. Look at my blog entry for September 24, 2007 for discussion and blog questions. As you read this story and the discussion questions, think about the story’s central message. In what ways is Tolstoy’s story critical of bourgeois Russian culture? Is Ilyich meant to be a unique or a representative character? We will discuss questions 1 through 6 beginning Wednesday afternoon through Friday and finish our discussion Monday and Tuesday morning. Blog entries are due by Sunday. No quiz this week.

Week 2 (January 14-18): Read The Metamorphosis, p. 317. Look at my blog entry for November 1, 2007 for a possible blog idea. As you read this story, think about the possible levels of interpretation (Freudian/phychoanalytic, cultural, mythic, historical, and so on) that the story, or parts of it, lend themselves to. What do you see as the significance of Gregor’s transformation? What emotions does Kafka dramatize through Gregor’s plight? Is the story more about Gregor himself or the family situation of which he is a part? We will begin discussion Tuesday afternoon and continue through Friday. Blog entries are due Friday, with a vocabulary quiz over lessons 16-18 also scheduled that day.

Week 3 (January 22-25—No school Monday, MLK Holiday): Read Oedipus The King, page 1285. Also read my Introduction to Tragedy (Wednesday, September 5, 2007 on my blog) and the questions at the end of the play. This is one of the most famous plays in all of Western literature. Why do you think that is? How does Sophocles give the play both philosophical and psychological depth in addition to developing the emotional tension which is central to the experience of all drama, especially tragedy? What does Oedipus’ story represent? How does it raise issues relevant to all human life? This week, half of you will blog on some aspect of this play (entries due Friday), while the other half of you post comments on 5-10 of your classmates blogs (be polite, be respectful, be responsive to others’ ideas—comments due by Sunday). Multiple choice quiz Friday.

Week 4 (January 28-February 1): Read Antigone, page 1324 in our anthology. Look at the links from my blog entry of September 18, 2007 and the questions at the end of the play. Why is Antigone’s dilemma important? What does it represent? Which character, Antigone or Creon, best fits the definition of the tragic character from the Introduction to Tragedy? Blog entries, for those who did not write the week before, are due Friday. Comments (5-10) from those who blogged last week are due Sunday. Vocabulary quiz Friday, covering lessons 19-21.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Tin Roof Blowdown

James Lee Burke is a mystery writer with a series of twenty or more novels detailing the exploits of Detective Dave Robicheaux, a deputy sheriff in a small Louisiana town, a recovering alcoholic, Vietnam war veteran, married to a former nun--a good if somewhat complicated man. In the latest installment of the series, which I finished yesterday on an airplane to Sacramento--where I'm playing my favorite role, that of "gramps"--Dave finds himself in the middle of a story involving homicide, theft, looting, organized crime, a missing priest, and a psychopathic killer, all coming in the days and weeks following the devastation of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina.

What is remarkable about the novel, at least to me, is the elegiac mood. All the Dave Robicheaux novels involve the solving of a crime, but it's the backdrop of this one, the character's (and author's) palpable sense of overwhelming grief, mixed with anger, at the destruction of a once-beautiful city which he clearly loves, which gives the story the depth of feeling that kept me turning pages for several days.

I recommend it highly to anyone who likes mystery novels or who wants to try to imagine the chaos that followed in the wake of the terible hurricane.

If you're interested in learning more, click here for the New York Times review of the novel (226).