Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ivan Denisovich reading guide

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Key Terms for Reading

Look for examples as you read: underline them and share them in class

  • Living conditions: Cold, Hunger, Fear, Exhaustion
  • Coping strategies: Resourcefulness, Plotting, Scavenging
  • Psychological survival: Dignity, Stoicism, Resilience, Pride, Toughness
  • Narrative strategies: Suspense, Humor
  • Style: Slang & Colloquialisms
What is the emotional or intellectual effect of the examples you find? How do they further Solzhenitsyn's artistic goals as a novelist?

(Acknowledgment: Most of these words appear in Katherine Shonk’s introduction to the novel.)

Monday, September 15, 2008

AP--Weekly blogs

To resolve any lingering confusions or ambiguities about your blogging responsibilities, I have gathered statements from three different documents:

1. (from Oral presentations assignment): All members of the class will post to their blogs once a week, usually a response to one of the stories read during the week. Topics are open, but one good suggestion is to begin with an idea that came up in class and extend it, offering your own thoughts and taking the discussion of the topic a little further. Thus, your individual responsibility will be to read all stories, serve once as an analyst, once as essayist, two or three times as commenter, and post to your own blog weekly (except in the week for which you are an essayist).

2. (from Short story project #2 assignment): As you read new stories in your search for the perfect contemporary short story, I encourage you to post short responses to
them as part of your weekly blogs commenting on our assigned short stories.

3. (from the course syllabus):
The primary forum for written work is your blog. You are required to post weekly blog entries relating to the literature studied in the classroom. Your blogs will receive a grade, accounting for 30% of each quarter’s grade. Blog entries should be approximately 500 words in length (please indicate word count in parentheses at the end of each entry). I will not, however, grade by length alone; rather, quantity will be one of four criteria, along with regularity of entries, style, and originality of content.

Occasionally I will ask you to respond to particular prompts or questions on my blog, but often there is no set topic for your weekly entries. Rather, I ask you to find an element of the assigned reading that interests you and discuss it thoughtfully. This comment may take many forms, a few of which are suggested here:
• Discuss a character’s actions, words, personality, moral values, or humanity.
• Comment on the writer’s style, use of language, tone, irony, or imagery.
• Consider a topic or idea raised in class discussion, trying to go beyond what has already been stated.
• Raise and discuss a question about the text under consideration.
• Discuss the importance or meaning of a key passage or scene from the reading.
• For longer works, show how a scene or passage develops a theme or pattern identified in class.
•Make a comparison between a scene, character, or idea from the literature and something from another source or from your own experience
• Use an idea from my blog or from that of one of your classmates as a point of departure for your response.
• Locate relevant research material on the web, post a link to the site on your blog, and discuss your choice.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Eng IV Assignments: September 12 - Oct 3

Friday, September 12—Antigone blogs due; bring vocab books to class; in-class writing activity

Week 4
Monday, September 15—Read A Doll’s House, Act I, pp. 140-165

Tuesday, September 16—A Doll’s House, Act II, pp. 165-184

Wednesday, September 17—A Doll’s House, Act III, pp. 184-202

Friday, September 19—Vocabulary quiz, lessons 4 – 6

Week 5

Monday, September 22—“A Country Doctor,” pp. 242 - 247 + Dollhouse blogs

Tuesday, September 23—“The Heavenly Christmas Tree,” pp. 121-125

Wednesday, September 24—“How Much Land Does a Man Need,” pp. 126 – 138

Friday, September 26—Begin reading One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich; start Wednesday night, average, 20 pages per night Thursday night and all weekend, finish reading by Monday night September 29

Week 6
Monday, September 29—Continue reading One Day

Tuesday, September 30—Finish reading One Day, possible quiz

Wednesday, October 1—Continue discussion of One Day

Friday, October 3—One Day blogs due; vocab quiz lessons 7 - 9

Sunday, September 7, 2008

AP--A Rose for Emily

First 3 paragraphs:
--Narrator speaks on behalf of townspeople
--Fact of Miss Emily's death established in first 5 words, not returned to until section V of story.
--Several elements of mystery surrounding Emily's life & house
--diction establishes Emily as a kind of historical relic, object of curiosity, symbol of fallen 19th century grandeur
--Faulkner's use of loose sentences--at least 4 examples in 1st 3 graphs--allows direct statement of main idea in simple clause with ample embellishment in attached phrases and clauses--characteristic of his style--see example in ¶ 55, describing Emily's funeral
--use of formal diction (esp. adj-n): respectful affection, fallen monument, scrolled balconies, lightsome style, coquettish decay, cedar-bemused cemetery, hereditary obligation, etc.
--ends ¶ 3 with balanced sentence to emphasize traditional understanding of gender roles in Emily and Col's generation (now largely gone)

Discussion questions:

  1. What is the effect of telling the story out of chronological order? Does it make the ending more or less powerful?
  2. In what ways have the times changed during Miss Emily's life? Why has she been unable to change with the times? Did she try?
  3. Miss Emily's father never appears directly but is mentioned several times. What influence does he have in the outcome of Miss Emily's life?
  4. (from textbook): what is the author's attitude toward Emily? Is she simply a crazy murderess? Why is the story called "A Rose"?

ENG IV--Antigone Blog

Here are a few thoughts for an Antigone blog. You need not choose one of these, but I ask you to write a few hundred thoughtful words on some aspect of the play’s meaning.

1. Demonstrating the power of the individual to resist unjust authority or immoral force is perhaps Antigone’s great achievement. What parallels do you see in other events you know about, perhaps through your knowledge of history?

2. Creon’s position is that the safety and security of the state come first, ahead of the rights of the individual. How does his position relate to current debates in the war against terrorism?

3. Haemon tactfully attempts to point out to his father the error of his (father’s) actions. Can you think of a comparable situation in which the child turned out to have greater wisdom than the parent?

4. Re-read Antigone’s final speeches (ll. 963-968 & 978-1021)—do the feelings she expresses there give us any insight into why she may have taken her life in the tomb?

5. The Chorus suggests at the end of the play that too often in human life wisdom and humility come too late to do any good, that pride leads to suffering and pain. Do you agree with this view of human life? Why or why not?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

AP--short story project #2

In addition to the short essay on the story you have been assigned, your final assignment for our study of short fiction is to research and write a paper on a story you choose based on your own interest. Listed below are the requirements and guidelines for this assignment:

• Your story must have been published for the first time while you’ve been in high school, that is 2005 to the present.

• Your story must have actually been “published”; no self-published internet pieces by amateur writers, please.

• Since I am asking you to research the author and write an analysis of the story, I strongly suggest that you read several stories, from a variety of sources, then choose the one you enjoyed the most. As you read new stories, I encourage you to post short responses to them as part of your weekly blogs commenting on our assigned short stories.

• Published short stories are not as abundant as they were 50 or 75 years ago. Nevertheless, you may find excellent material in a variety of places: New Yorker magazine publishes short stories regularly, and Mr.Thommen has set over 100 issues out in the reference section of the library. Also, Mr. Thommen has begun a subscription to a periodical called One Story, each issue of which contains, you guessed it, a single short story. The Best American Short Stories series publishes a new edition every year (guest editor for the 2007 edition was Stephen King), and I have ordered copies of the two most recent collections. Finally, literary journals in libraries often contain new stories, and both single-author and anthology collections of stories may be found in bookstores as well. For example, Jhumpa Lahiri, author of The Namesake on my summer reading list, has a new story collection called Unaccustomed Earth.

• The written portion of the assignment is a paper of approximately 5-6 pages (1500 to 2000 words) in which you cover three key points: your reasons for choosing the story, some biographical background on the writer, and an analysis of the story using the methods and vocabulary we have discussed and practiced in class.

• Drafts of your papers are due in class Monday, October 6 (Tuesday for section 3). Final papers are due, both hard copy and, on Wednesday, October 8.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

NOTICE to ALL my students

I'm having to type random, barely legible series of letters in order to leave comments on your blog. It's already annoying and I think we've found (thanks, Sophie) a way to avoid it.

So, as quickly as possible, tonight if you can, please log on to your blogger account and do the following:
1. Click "Settings."
2. Click the "comments" tab
3. Scroll down to "word verification" and click "off."
4. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen and "save settings."

Also, go to the "e-mail" tab and turn off "blog send." I already have direct feeds set up for your blogs.

Thank you.

Eng IV--Antigone

1. Here is the link to my slideshow presentation on the elements of tragedy.

2. Here is a link to some other web sites dealing with Antigone or Greek tragedy.

3. What are the issues at stake in Antigone's argument with Creon? Who is right? How do we know?

4. What is important about the characters of Ismene, Teiresias, Haemon, and Choragos? How does each contribute to our understanding of the play's central questions?

AP--oral presentations

Each assigned story carries with it a total of four separate responsibilities Listed below are details about each of these duties.
1. Style analyst—Class begins with the analyst pointing out characteristics of the writer’s style, based on a close reading of the story’s first two paragraphs (more if the story begins with dialogue; fewer if the first paragraph is an especially long one). The style analyst points out significant examples of diction, syntax, figurative language, organization, tone, and tension, paying special attention to issues significant to the story as a whole. A brief discussion ensues during which other members of the class can add to the insights of the analyst.

2. Essayist—The essayist writes a brief essay (600-800 words) on the story, focusing on one aspect of the story’s technique, or meaning. The essayist may discuss an aspect of characterization, identify an interpretive problem in the story and offer a suggested answer to the problem, comment on setting or point of view, or interpret a crucial moment in the story. Essays are posted to the writer’s blog and read to the class. In the time remaining, the essayist leads a discussion of the story. (N.B.—one excellent way to begin a group discussion is to ask a question to which you don’t have a complete answer yourself, something important about the story you’re still trying to figure out. If you’re not sure whether the main character made the right decision, ask the class. If there’s a scene whose meaning is ambiguous or whose significance is unclear, ask the class.) IMPORTANT: The essayist brings a hard copy of the essay to class for me to write notes on.

3. Commenter—Within 24 hours after class, three members of the class will post written comments on the essayist’s piece. I will be one of these three commenters, often in the form of notes on the hard copy provided me. The other two commenters will write thoughtful, constructive comments on the blog, specifically offering their suggestions for making the essay more specific, more persuasive, or more clearly written. The essayist will then submit a revised version of the essay, both hard copy and, two class sessions after the presentation.

4. Reader—All members of the class not included in the above roles are readers. The reader’s job is to read the story carefully before coming to class, annotating the margins of the textbook with comments about the story. Readers contribute to the day’s discussion by responding to the analyst or essayist or both during class.

All members of the class will post to their blogs once a week, usually a response to one of the stories read during the week. Topics are open, but one good suggestion is to begin with an idea that came up in class and extend it, offering your own thoughts and taking the discussion of the topic a little further. See the course syllabus, section III, for other suggestions. Thus, your individual responsibility will be to read all stories, serve once as an analyst, once as essayist, two or three times as commenter, and post to your own blog weekly (except in the week for which you are an essayist).

AP--Pride & Prejudice essay

Write an essay of approximately 600-750 words (2-3 typed, double-spaced pages), in which you discuss in as much detail as space permits the significance of the following passage to the work as a whole. In your discussion you may focus on an appropriate combination of the following elements:
• How does the passage characterize its participants and Austen’s methods of characterization?
• What is the relationship of this scene to the “action” of the novel? Does it contribute to either the complication of the action or to its resolution?
• How does it embody or advance themes important to the novel?
• In what sense is the scene “comic”?
• How does it most significantly illustrate Jane Austen’s style?

Essays are due Friday, September 5, both hard copy and electronically to Here is a link to the formatting requirements. Here is a link to the syllabus, section 5 of which details procedures.


“Tell me once for all, are you engaged to him?”

Though Elizabeth would not, for the mere purpose of obliging Lady Catherine, have answered this question, she could not but say, after a moment’s deliberation, “I am not.”

Lady Catherine seemed pleased.

“And will you promise me, never to enter into such an engagement?”

“I will make no promise of the kind.”

“Miss Bennet, I am shocked and astonished. I expected to find a more reasonable young woman. But do not deceiveyourself into a belief that I will ever recede. I shall not go away, till you have given me the assurance I require.”

“And I certainly never shall give it. I am not to be intimidated into anything so wholly unreasonable. Your ladyship wants Mr. Darcy to marry your daughter; but would my giving you the wished-for promise, make their marriage at all more probable?” . . . .

Her ladyship was highly incensed.

“You have no regard, then, for the honour and credit of my nephew! Unfeeling, selfish girl! Do you not consider that a connection with you must disgrace him in the eyes of everybody?”

“Lady Catherine, I have nothing further to say. You know my sentiments.”

“You are resolved then to have him?”

“I have said no such thing. I am only resolved to act in that manner which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me.”