Saturday, April 26, 2008

AP poetry and novel papers

  1. Please submit both your poetry presentation and your novel papers to this week.
  2. I've noticed that several of you have done either biographical or interpretive research on your poems and poets. While it was not my intention that you do so, it is an acceptable practice PROVIDED you document the source of any information in your presentation that did not come from either your own knowledge or your own interpretation of the poem. For example, if you looked up the poet's life on wikipedia, you must include that as a source (parenthetical is fine) in your final draft. Otherwise you could be guilty of using material inappropriately.
  3. Same goes for your novel papers. The in-text citations should be parenthetical, including the author's last name and the page number where the information or quotation occurs. The last page of your essay should be a Works Cited page, listing the complete citations for all the references in your paper, including the novel itself.
  4. Remember that I have suggested two methods to incorporate criticism into your paper: either summarize, in your opening page, key points from the research you did, then identify your thesis and go on to develop it; or, write a briefer introduction and use references from your critical articles in the body of your essay to develop individual topics related to your thesis.
  5. See me with any questions.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

This week's Shakespeare blog

WHAT: Write a full-length blog entry (approximately 800-1000 words) discussing and evaluating Shakespeare’s presentation of the character of Shylock and the extent to which that presentation either endorses or subverts prevailing Elizabethan anti-Semitism.

WHEN: Entries are to be posted no later than Friday, May 2.

HOW: Begin by reading the resources available at Prof. Grant Stirling’s web site. You should also identify some other relevant resources, but this site will serve as an introduction to the issues and evidence of this debate. In your entry, show your understanding, both of the topic and of the play, by evaluating the evidence on both sides and presenting your own conclusions.

Since this essay involves some research, be certain both to document your sources and to give credit for ideas as well as direct quotations. Use act, scene, and line numbers for quotations from the play, and put other sources in parenthetical citations. You may also, if it serves your purposes, refer to Michael Radford’s film version of the play.

SUGGESTIONS: Read all the available information, paying special attention to what you find most persuasive. Give fair treatment to the different sides of the question. In your evaluation, state which ideas you believe are strongest and why. Support your reasons by referring to the play itself.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Shakespeare Assignments for April

Choose one of the following three choices. For choices 2 & 3, essays should be approximately three pages in length. For option 1, obviously, they will be somewhat longer. Assignments are due Thursday, April 10, both in print and to (Richard III essay). Late assignments in either form will be penalized. (ALSO, this semester’s final vocabulary quiz, on lessons 28-30, will take place Friday April 11.)

1. Select a scene or portion of a scene of approximately 200 lines in length. No teeny-weenie scenes please. Study your scene carefully and add director’s notes clarifying and making explicit the subtext (motives, thoughts, feelings, and hidden agendas), stage directions (movements, gestures, expressions), and adverbs denoting tone of voice. Be certain to make your notes easy to distinguish from the text of the scene by putting them in a different type face (bold, italics, etc).

The play may be found on the M.I.T. web site (google Shakespeare + MIT)

2. Compare the speeches delivered by Richmond and Richard prior to the final battle at Bosworth Field. (Act 5, scene 3, lines 250-285 and 332-363, pages 291 & 297 in the Folger Library Edition). In your essay, examine the rhetoric of the two speeches as examples of persuasive language. Show how the language, style, and methods of persuasion reveal the differences between the two leaders at this critical moment. To what does each appeal in order to exhort his troops to victory? How do the speeches reveal not only their characters but also the themes of the play? Refer generously to the two speeches in your discussion.

3 Write a critique of the Richard III video viewed in class. Discuss the merits of adapting a Shakespearean script in such an unusual way. Consider some of the following questions. How successfully and how meaningfully does Loncraine's film update the play Richard III? What is gained, or lost, of the play's meaning by changing the setting from the 1480's to the 1930's? Do the changes made to Shakespeare's script make the play more or less accessible to modern audiences? Does the imagery of the film accurately depict both the glamour and the corruption of the Plantagenet royal court? Which actors' performances are most true to Shakespeare's original conception of the characters? Does this film lend credence to the often-stated belief that Shakespeare's plays are timeless? Discuss whichever of these issues allow you to develop your understanding of both play and movie. Above all, focus on those elements of the film that allow you to assess both the validity and desirability of modernizing Shakespeare's play.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Shakespeare--visiting author workshop

Google Jennifer Lee Carrell before tomorrow's writer's workshop (I could post the links myself but I'd rather you find them). In five to ten minutes, you should be able to find answers to the following questions:

When was Interred With Their Bones published?

Where does the title come from?

What is Ms. Carrell's academic background?

With what bestseller has the novel been compared?

What work of non-fiction has she also written?

What is one question you would like to ask her, based on what you know about her?

Poetry presentations

AP English
April, 2008

1. Each day we will discuss one or two of the poems listed below. Each will be "presented" by me or one of you. Presentations include a memorized recital of the poem, a brief discussion of its meaning and use of the elements of poetry, and a 600-700 word essay on the poem, posted on blogs. Presentations will begin Wednesday, April 9 and continue through Friday, April 25.
2. See my blog post for specific instructions about the content of the essay which comprises the single largest part of your presentation.
3. Poems--all page numbers refer to Literature, 10th ed.

Aunt Jennifer's Tigers 664--LCC The World is Too Much With Us 912
My Last Duchess 668--LCC One Hundred Love Sonnets 973
My Papa's Waltz 674 Traveling Through the Dark 991
The Unknown Citizen 690 Dover Beach 1078
Dulce et Decorum Est 698 QuinceaƱera 940
Batter My Heart… 709 Anorexic 1088
Metaphors 771--LCC Kubla Khan 1096--LCC
The Silken Tent 780 A Valediction… 1102
Since There's No Help… 858 Digging 1118
Swan and Shadow 885 Death Be Not Proud 1101
Neutral Tones 897 To An Athlete Dying Young 1124
White Lies 680 When I Have Fears 1129
Her Kind 687 When I Consider… 1142
The Red Wheel Barrow 688--LCC That Time of Year… 1183
America 938 Daddy 1150
Below Zero 982 A Description of the Morning 1171
One Art 998 The Writer 1181
Theme for English B 1035 When You Are Old 1190

Also, this reminder, that for Friday, April 11 you will post the first of 3 blog entries containing your clear and specific first thoughts about your selected novel. What do you observe about the characters, the author’s style, and the way the subject matter is presented in the early chapters, having read the first 50 to 75 pages of the novel. Additional blogs are due April 17 (with bibliography) and April 25.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

AP--Reading poetry

A. How to read a poem:

There is no single way. The best advice I can give you is to sit by yourself in a quiet place and read aloud slowly, several times, paying attention to the images, ideas, and feelings the words call into your mind, imagination, and heart. Poetry can be magical stuff, but it can't compete with ipods and cell phones, tv's and texting. Give it a chance to get inside you and stretch out.

B. Questions to ask of individual poems:

1. Who is the speaker of the poem? What qualities of personality does the poet provide? What kind of language does the speaker use? How does the speaker's mind work? What hints of personal history are given? Are there any specific facts about the speaker's identity?

2. What is the situation of the poem? Is there a social, cultural, historical, or familial context given? Does the poem refer to any specific events? Does it contain an account of an incident? Imagine the poem as a dramatic utterance—what scene is being portrayed?

3. What is the tone of the poem? Are there words that describe the attitude of the speaker toward the subject of the poem as a whole? Does the tone change as the poem develops? If so, where are those "turns" (shifts of tone or subject)? What is the tone of individual lines or sections of the poem?

4. How would you paraphrase the poem into a series of prose sentences. What clarity is gained from paraphrasing? What essential qualities are lost?

5. Does the poem have a basic meter? What is it? How does it either advance the musicality of the poem or provide emphasis to certain words and ideas? Where does the meter change?

6. What devices or poetic techniques does the poet employ? How does the poet use strong diction, concrete detail, sensory images, irony, or figurative language? How do these devices help us better understand some element of the poem's meaning? How does the use of language strengthen both the idea of the poem and its emotional content?

C. Define and be able to identify examples of each of the following terms:

sonnet (Elizabethan, Petrarchan)
dramatic monologue
closed form
open form
terza rima
heroic couplet
blank verse
free verse
ballad stanza


rhetorical question
symbol & allegory

masculine rhyme
feminine rhyme
approximate (slant)
end-stopped lines

iambic/ anapestic

TONE (apply to poems)