For Tuesday, take a listen to the Ma Rainey song – – “Prove It on Me Blues.” Then read our Sterling Brown poems. As you annotate the poems, try to make any connections you can between the Ma Rainey tune, Hughes’ essay, and Hughes’ poems. (Feel free to link within your annotations to significant or interesting material.)
Items for Thursday include:
Keep working on your group annotations. You should have final drafts of all your group annotations online by Thursday morning!
Take a look at this rendition of Duke Ellington’s signature number – – “Take the A Train” (above). Let’s chat a bit in class about how this representation of swing jazz possibly connects with some of the modernist themes we’ve talked about in class.
Read our collection of Langston Hughes poems. You should annotate as you read. (The usual 3 quality annotations.) Also, try to get a look at Alain Locke’s essay, “The New Negro.” This essay will add some new dimensions to Hughes’ arguments in “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” and supply some important contexts for Nella Larsen’s Quicksand.
A couple of things you’ll want to get working on for our next meeting on Tuesday:
- Keep working on your group annotations of “The Waste Land.” Remember what we agreed to in class: seven or eight annotations of at least 200 words per group. Each group should make its annotations on the “clean” copy of the poem. Since other non-class readers may be digesting your annotations, think about the richness and design of the annotations – – e.g. images, links, etc. Organize your group’s annotations by tag, e.g. “rivers”, “zombies,” etc. I’ll be offering feedback on your annotations starting Sunday evening.
- Read Langston Hughes’ essay, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” (1926). Annotating the essay is not required, but is welcomed and advised. (In other words, extra credit points for annotating the essay.)
- Open Gradebook Day will be on Thursday, October 22!
Now that you’re working in groups to track your motif through Eliot’s “Waste Land,” you’ll want to try to accomplish the following as you annotate together:
- Narrow your motif. For instance, if your chosen motif is “wet/dry,” try to focus on one particular instance of this motif – – for instance, rivers, or oceans, or sailors, etc.
- As you annotate, you want to think about the following: what meanings is Eliot giving to the motif within the poem? what kinds of oppositions is the motif invoking – – between life and death, past and present, high and low, etc.? what seems important to Eliot about the motif? how does the motif change from one instance to another? The goal here is to build as rich a meaning for the motif within the poem as you can.
- As you explore the meaning of the motif within the poem, you should also be thinking about how this motif connects to and connects the poem with other texts and contexts. For instance, have you seen this kind of motif in any of the other texts that we’ve studied? How so? Where? How does this motif connect to other cultural events circa 1922 – – music, film, art, popular and high cultures, etc.? How might this motif both allude to and interpret the social contexts of 1922, e.g. the “modern” city, or speed, or technology?
- As your work takes shape, think about some of ways of enriching your annotations: are there good visual images that might make your annotations more interesting and illuminating? are there texts or sites that you might want to link your annotations to? E.g., how can you connect your annotations to the multimedia sources available via the interwebs in ways that make your annotation more interesting and more insightful.
Keep expanding and adding to your annotations. Your goal is to develop as much good material as you can. Later, you can edit and shape this material.
Your mission for Tuesday is to read the rest of Eliot’s “Waste Land.”
Before you start reading, think about our discussion of the poem’s first section “Burial of the Dead.” I tried to point to a network of motifs that seems to sustain Eliot’s poem: wet/dry, “unreal cities,” voices, exile, nature/un-nature, fragments/ruins, and zombies. As you work through the rest of the poem, track one of these motifs by annotating as many instances of the motif as you can. Use the “tag” function of hypothes.is to label these instances with the motif you’re tracking. (See my example for the dedication to Ezra Pound.) (The “tag” box appears at the bottom of the text box where you typically enter your annotation.)
Questions? Let me know.
For Thursday, don’t forget to read the first section (“Burial of the Dead”) of Eliot’s “The Waste Land.” Annotate what you read, but let’s stick to the “questions only” mode, e.g. only use the annotations to pose questions about the poem, especially about moments or lines that puzzle or intrigue you.
For Tuesday, be sure to read Gertrude Stein’s “Sacred Emily.” If you’re looking to find one meaning or interpretation or even reading of the poem, you may be frustrated. Instead, try to find a few lines that strike you as interesting or suggestive or important. Annotate these lines.
For this Thursday:
- Don’t forget – – your “Mystery Text” assignment is due!
- Read Ezra Pound’s very short poem, “In a Station of the Metro.”
- Visit the Armory Show. Travel back in time, via the web, to visit 1913 and the infamous public arrival of modernist art in the U.S. Take a tour of the show, find one piece of art that seems especially “modern” to you, make a note of the artist and title of the work and bring this information to class on Thursday.