Thursday (Sept. 22)

First, a couple of things to keep in mind from our discussion of “A White Heron” and “My Contraband”:  the unstable nature of differences within the stories, e.g. Robert “Dane” as handsome/ugly, friend/servant, brother/rival, etc.; second, the two modes of action or power we saw in the stories, e.g. action through inaction (Sylvia’s silence) vs. action through expression (the Alcott narrator’s “one weapon I possessed – – a tongue”).

Second, for Thursday, be sure to read: Harriet Spofford’s “Circumstance” and Mary Wilkins Freeman’s “The Revolt of Mother.”

Finally, in regard to the wiki, several things to keep in mind:

1) do not try to link a line that already has links!  This will confuse the poor wiki and create odd and counterproductive formatting.  If your favorite line already has a link within it, simply link another word or phrase from the line.  Then, when you create your page, quote the whole line.

2) do not use the “rich editor.”  Though a useful tool, the rich editor typically screws up the formatting of wiki pages.  Especially, do not use the rich editor when putting your links in “Song of Myself.”

3) do not mess with the header of the Whitman page – -e.g. the bit at the top of the page that includes Whitman’s name, the name of the poem, and the date of the poem.  At all costs avoid tampering with this part of the page.  It is in a template, which means that editing the header will destroy the template and eliminate the links from the header to other pages.

4) do complete a good draft of your page by Thursday.  You will receive credit for a good draft; you will not receive credit for a poor or non-existent draft.

Questions?  Email me or message me on the wiki.


For Thursday (9/15)

Don’t forget to read Jewett’s “A White Heron” and Alcott’s “My Contraband.”

And, don’t forget to work on your Whitman “seeding.”  Here are some guidelines for your horticulture:

1)  Make sure that you’ve created an account, a user page, and done some editing on your user page in Democratic Vistas.  It’s probably a good idea to look through the Wikipedia editing tutorial to get up and running.  (Our Democratic Vistas site isn’t part of Wikipedia, but we’re using the same open source software that Wikipedia is based on.)

2) Pick the one or two lines from “Song of Myself”  that you want to cultivate.  These should be lines that you really like or that really puzzle you.  Once you’ve picked your lines, create a wiki page for them.  How do you do this?  Remember: log on to Democratic Vistas, go to “Texts,” click on the “Song of Myself” link, and then click on the “Edit” button at the top of the page.  Scroll through the poem until you find your two lines.  Put double brackets ( [[ my favorite two lines ]] around your lines.  Save the page.  You’ll notice that now your two lines are in red.  Click on the red lines and your new wiki page will open up.  Enter some text and save.  When you return to the poem – – your lines are now in blue.

(N.B. Your favorite two lines may already have linked items in them.  In that case, you can’t just put two brackets around the whole line or two lines.  Instead, put brackets around the longest section of text that doesn’t have any links.  Still unclear, email me.)

3) What does it mean to “cultivate” your two lines?  First, look through the other Whitman links – – his name, the title of the poem, or “1855” at the top of “Song of Myself.”  As you browse through these pages, you’ll notice that the pages don’t interpret the poem.  They simply give you information (textual, visual) that helps you to understand the poem more fully; e.g. the pages don’t tell you the “meaning” of the poem.  This is the approach you want to take with your two lines.

Don’t tell the reader what the lines mean.  Don’t interpret the lines.  Instead, think about what a reader would need to know or see to understand your two lines more fully and richly.

This could mean that you’ll supply historical or cultural context – – what did “trappers” look like in 1855?  where did they work? what did they do? how did others view them? what was it about “trappers” that made them such important characters for Whitman?

Perhaps you’ve chosen lines that are less “concrete” or visual.  For instance: ” What is commonest and cheapest and nearest is Me,/Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns.”  Here, you need to think about things a little differently.  Where is Whitman borrowing his language from?  Are there any other people in 1855 who are “going in for chances, spending for vast returns”?  What kinds of things are “commonest,” “cheapest,” and “nearest” to somebody like Whitman in 1855?  In other words, you need to really question the lines to think about where Whitman is getting his images or language from, what kinds of things or people he is poeticizing about.

4).  Once you’ve started to get a fix on the kind of context you want to create with your page, you’ll need to do some research.  This means looking for information on the internet, in books, in images, etc. that will help you to understand your context more deeply and richly.  As you collect information, you’ll need to start thinking about how you want to organize your page – – what organization of the information will be best for the reader of your page?  what information will be grouped together? how will you divide up the information?  And, how will you design your page.  That is, how will you organize the visual display of your page – – where will images go? how will you use headings? will you use a table of contents?

5) Now, start composing your page.  Again, refer to the Wikipedia editing tutorial for a good, basic introduction to wiki writing.  We’ll go over how to add images to your page next week.  (If you want to get a headstart on adding images to your page – – here’s another quick tutorial.)  Save your page frequently.  Each time you save your page, the wiki “caches” or saves the page, meaning that you’ll always have a copy of that version of your page and earlier versions of the page.

You should have a good rough draft of your “seedling” by next week (Thursday, September 15).

For Thursday (Sept. 8)

Remember: we won’t be discussing Life in the Iron Mills, instead we’ll continue with Whitman’s “Song of Myself.”

Some things you should do before you come to class:

1.  read and re-read your favorite 20 lines – – putting some “music” into the lines;

2.  head to our digital anthology, Democratic Vistas, and:

a.  create an account – – by clicking on the the “Login/Create Account” link in the upper right-hand corner of the main (or any wiki page).  (When you click this link – – you’ll be sent to a page with a box for your Username and Password.  Note that right above these boxes is another link that says: “Create an account.”  Click on this link and follow the directions.

b.  browse through the student-authored pages on Walt Whitman.  These can be found by: clicking on the “Texts” link above the Coney Island mural; clicking on the “Whitman, ‘Song of Myself’ (1855)” link on the Texts page; clicking on any of the links (“Walt Whitman,” “Leave of Grass,” “1855,” etc.) within the blue box at the top of the poem.  Check out what previous students have contributed to make your reading of the poem deeper and richer.

For Thursday (Sept. 1)

Watch and listen to John Doherty explain his connection to “Song of Myself.”

For Thursday, we’ll discuss Whitman’s poem.  You can find the poem here.

Try reading the poem out loud.  As you read, don’t worry about making sense of the poem – – there’s just too much going on to worry about that.  Instead, come to class with your favorite (or most mystifying) 20 lines of the poem.  Highlight or underline these lines.



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: 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.  Vamanos!