Thursday, August 28, 2014


See instructions here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Monsters--basic terms of personality

A brief article defining the three key terms of Freud's theory of personality: Id, ego, and superego.

Useful in thinking about human monsters like HH Holmes, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, etc; also for thinking about the relationship between any form of monsters, from earlier mythologies to the present, and our ideas of humanity.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Format for all essays

Here is a link to my document regarding format for writing assignments in my classes.


Enroll in Class of 2016 on

Class ID: 10553333

Password: pcds

You will also need the email address and password you created when you joined turnitin.

Good luck.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Devil in the White City prompts

Monstrous Ink
The Devil in the White City prompts

1.              In the summer of 1895 Detective Frank Geyer captured the imagination of America, making Geyer (according to Erik Larson) “the living representation of how men liked to think of themselves” (355). In what ways do you think this statement is true?

2.              Erik Larson says, “exactly what motivated Holmes may never be known” (395). How much sense can you make of Holmes’ motives? Is it important to try to understand someone like Holmes? Why?

3.              One of the distinctions Larson draws between, on the one hand, men like Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted and, on the other, the murderer H.H. Holmes is that the former “choose to fill their brief allotment of time engaging the impossible” while the latter devoted himself to “the manufacture of sorrow” (xi). Men like Burnham “make no little plans,” seeking instead “the magic to stir men’s blood.” Holmes, on the contrary, says, “I was born with the devil in me.” How do the differences between Burnham and Holmes illustrate what Larson calls “the ineluctable conflict between good and evil?”


Time Out
Slaughterhouse-5 prompts

1.         The phrase that runs throughout the novel is, of course, “so it goes.”  Look at several examples of its use. Certainly, it occurs every time death is mentioned, but what does it mean? Does Vonnegut use it only in one way, or does it accrue several meanings as its use develops throughout the novel? Is it a useful phrase for Billy to repeat to himself as his personal mantra?

2.         The novel is structured using the idea of time travel. Rather than presenting Billy’s life chronologically, Vonnegut presents Billy’s experiences to us in a non-linear fashion, in the order in which Billy experiences them. How does this unusual structure affect our understanding of the novel? Does it help Vonnegut show us the connections between different parts of Billy’s life? Does it allow Vonnegut to achieve greater depth in portraying the effects of Billy’s experiences? Are there other advantages you can identify?

3.         What if Billy Pilgrim was not kidnapped and taken to the planet Tralfamadore? What if he invented this fantasy as an escape from his own life experiences? Is it an example of the belief that “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is”?
            If Tralfamadore is a fantasy existing only in Billy’s imagination—you needn’t believe it to be so, just explore the possibility—how would that fact affect our understanding of the novel? Would it be in keeping with Billy’s character? How? Would it relate to his experiences as a prisoner of war? How? Would it help Billy find peace and serenity in his life? In other words, is it something someone like Billy might invent as a comfortable fiction?
            As you explore this possibility, consider not only what we know about Billy’s life but also the Tralfamadorian views on time, fate, free will, happiness, and war. Gather a few pieces of evidence from the novel to support your argument, whichever direction you choose to take it.