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For Thursday (8/11)

Remember: Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese for Thursday.

Also, two extra credit possibilities:

1) a 50 minute reading identification test to take place the last hour of our class on Thursday.  This test will comprise 10 quotations or character names or other significant textual items.  You will be asked to: identify the work (author and title); explain the significance of the item; discuss the meaning of the item.  To get full extra credit, you’ll have to get at least 8 out of 10 correct.

2) “YouTubing” Howl.  Here, you’ll “perform” the poem, record it on video, and upload to our YouTube page.  Details can be found here.


A sample YouTube performance from another class:

For Tuesday (8/9/11)

Don’t forget: read Ginsberg’s Howl!

And, keep working on your Eliot annotations and your author pages.  Time is slipping away . . . .

Annotating Eliot (Phase 1)

For Thursday, we’re going to start annotating “The Waste Land.”  Here’s what you need to do to start:

Now that we’ve sampled some of Eliot’s massively dystopian epic, let’s try to track the way he uses fragments to build up the structure and meaning of his poem. In class, we’ve started to assemble a list of motifs (e.g. wet/dry, impotence/blind/deaf/mute, unreal city, voices/polyphony, nature/roots/organic, exile/sailor/journey, zombie, natural time/human time, fragments/dust, etc.).  Think about which motif you think is most interesting, then let’s split up into groups based on the motif you choose.

Your goal in this project is to track the motif across the poem and to understand how the poem develops this motif. First, on your own, re-read the poem (in hard copy).  Highlight or underline every instance or version of the motif that you find.  Make notes about how and why these instances are related.

Bring your annotated text to class.  We’ll break up into groups, and you will start pooling your resources to harvest motifs across the poem.  Our next stage will involve linking these motifs together electronically.  We’ll worry about that in class.

And, don’t forget, for Thursday, start reading In Our Time.

Finally, a treat.  Turn the lights off, close the windows, and listen to Mr. Eliot.

The Armory Show

Many historians point to the Armory Show of 1913 as an authentic starting point for American modernism. From February 17th to March 15th, 1913, organizers presented an exhibition of about 1250 paintings, sculptures, and other works in the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue in New York City. Many critics and viewers were shocked by the show; many, especially younger, artists and critics were energized and inspired by the show.

After our next class, we’ll meet in the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue. Virtually, of course. Point your browser to: the Armory galleries. Take a tour of the show – – browse through as many rooms as you can. Afterward, write a 3 page review (typed/double-spaced) of the show.

Address your review to a classmate who asks the question: what makes this stuff modern? E.g. think about all the modernist poetry and prose that we’ve read. What connections do you see between the artwork in the Armory Show and the texts we’ve read in class? Pay attention to our “Modernist recap”  – – on Tuesday – – where we will try  to arrive at four broad ways of describing the modernist ambition and aesthetic.
Don’t try to write about the whole exhibition; instead, focus on two or three works of art – – sculpture or painting – – that seem particularly related to the poetry and prose that we’ve read. What similar subject matter do they share? What similar techniques? What similar approaches to the reader, to the art work, to the artistic effect, and to tradition?
Due: Tuesday, August 2.

For Tuesday (June 19)


Pre (?) modernist poetry slam: Frost, Millay, Masters, Robinson.  See syllabus and anthology for readings and links.

Also, don’t forget, you should have a rough, rough draft of author/context pages up on the wiki.

Bonus: Interested in Hemingway?  See A.E. Hotchner’s short account of Hemingway’s last year.

For Thursday (July 14)

For tomorrow, you’ll want to read Henry Adams, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman.  See our syllabus and look for the texts on our wiki.

And, by tomorrow, we’ll start working on the digital anthology itself.  See my more extensive comments on this in my post at our Community site.



Welcome to our course motherblog!  This – – and the Community page attached to our wiki – – will be where I post updates and info about the class, assignments, our texts, and other very important things.  Bookmark this url and check it often!

This will be a very interesting semester because we’re going to try something new: co-creating our own textbook.  Why?  You can read part of my reasoning here.  To do this, I’ve created a Wikipedia-style wiki called Democratic Vistas.  There, you can find all of the texts we’ll read in class.  What we need to do as a class is to first create the apparatus (text information, author biography, etc.) that will accompany our textbook.  To do this, you’ll need to create an account on our wiki – – go to Democratic Vistas and click on “create account” in the upper right-hand corner.  Follow the instructions.

To provide a staging area for our textbook authoring – – where you can collaborate, collect, and discuss – -I’ve created a Community site. Again, you’ll need to go to the page and create an account – – simply click on the “create account” link in the box on the right-hand side of the page.  Follow the instructions, and look for further instructions in my post on the Community page.

Once you’ve created accounts on both sites, we’re ready to go.  Buckle your seat belts – – there are no air bags.