We discussed a variety of different contexts for Tarzan in class: the “imaginary” frontier, the fin-de-siecle crisis of masculinity, imperialism, and the novel’s contradictory rhetoric of civilization and savagery, among others.  Hopefully, these discussions prepared you to think about how Tarzan of the Apes reflects and responds to its different contexts.

Your goal in your final essay is to connect Burroughs’ novel to one other text we’ve read in class.  That is, how does Tarzan comment on issues raised by Adams, Whitman, Gilman, Dreiser, Freeman, or any of the others we’ve read over the semester.  Probably, the best way to approach this topic is to think about some of the significant themes, conflicts, or motifs that we’ve encountered in our texts.  What themes, conflict, or motif made a particular text most interesting to you?  How does Tarzan respond to, develop, contest, revise, etc. this theme, motif, or conflict?

Your essay should be no more than two, typed pages – -error free!  Use quotation to support your argument.  (Don’t worry about citation – – just be sure that I know which text you’re quoting from.)

Questions?  Ask me.

Due: Thursday, May 12, 2011.

Don’t forget: your essay on 19th c. women writers is due Thursday!

And, you want to read at least the first 5 chapters of Sister Carrie!


Sorry for the delay . . . it’s taken me a bit longer than I thought to construct this assignment.

Your goal in the assignment: to connect this story to the six short stories by 19th c. women (Spofford, Jewett, Freeman, Alcott, Gilman, Chopin) that we’ve read.

How to approach the assignment:

1) read through your notes on the six stories by women writers that we’ve read, or re-read the stories themselves.  Focus on: themes, forms (genre, narrative structure, voice, etc.), and conflicts.

2) read the mystery story.

3) think about what continuities you can see in form, theme, and conflict between this story and the matrix of themes, forms, and conflicts that we’ve already encountered.  Focus on the theme, form, or conflict that seems most important in our mystery story.

4) in no more than three, typed, double-spaced pages – – explain how this story  “fits” with the half-dozen stories we’ve read in class; e.g. how the mystery story develops this common theme, form, or conflict.

5) in your final paragraph, suggest a title for the mystery story and explain why this title seems appropriate.

Due: March 24, 2011.

Some very important things to do by Thursday, February 17:

1) read Jewett’s short story, “A White Heron” and Alcott’s, “My Contraband.”

2) if you signed up for Jewett or Alcott, check the Community site.  I’ve created groups for you.  You should start thinking about who will do the “biography” page on the wiki and who will do the “context” (e.g. date) page for each author on the wiki.  Start collecting and sorting useful information.  Draw up a plan.  Start editing the respective wiki pages.

3) let’s start finishing up our first drafts of the Whitman project.  This means: 1) you should post a plan for your page to your Community forum.  2) Based on the plan, you should start creating and editing your pages on the wiki.  I’ll be checking up on the wiki as the week progresses – – and I’ll be bugging you about creating and drafting your pages.

Finally, enjoy the rain!

We’ve gotten started on our group work.  This is stage one of our semester-long project: to make a digital textbook.

Here are some big things to keep in mind:

– – the grand goal of this part of the project is to enable readers of Whitman’s poem to enjoy and understand the poem more deeply.  Practical consequence: all of your work should be focused on and by “Song of Myself.”  There’s a lot of interesting stuff out there on the “interwebs” – – but we’re only interested in interesting stuff that makes reading Whitman that much richer and rewarding.

– – another goal of the project is for you to become “novice experts” in your context/topic.  Practical consequence: as you collect material, you need to think about how information connects with information, about how particular objects, texts, image, data relate to bigger themes, ideas, and arguments.   Ultimately, part of the evaluation of your work will depend on the level of expertise you’ve demonstrated.

– – some more particular purposes of the project: to learn how to work, and enjoy working, together; to learn about new media (e.g. how to edit wiki pages, how to assemble multi-media, etc.); to practice critical reading and writing.


Here’s how we’ll divide up our work process:

1) collecting and sharing.  You’re collecting as much information related to your topics/contexts as you can.  Except for the big umbrella guide – – e.g. stuff that might make Whitman’s poem more engaging and valuable for readers – – the emphasis here should be on volume and quantity.  You should collect, individually, at least ten pieces of quality information related to your topic.  As you’ve already started doing, share this via the Group pages.

2) planning and filtering.  After you’ve collected a lot of information, you’ll need to figure out what’s important and what’s not.  And, you’ll need to start thinking about how to shape this material.  For this task, you need to collaborate, e.g. deciding as a group what information really helps understand your context and the poem.  As you plan, remember, you will be shaping all this information into a wiki page or pages that will be linked to the electronic version of Whitman’s poem.

3) creating and publishing.  After you’ve come up with a good plan, you’ll need to start creating the actual pages that will accompany the wiki-text of Whitman’s poem.  A key word here is “design,” e.g. think about what makes a good web page – – how a good page arranges information and objects (images, sound, video, etc.) for the reader, what kinds of design features make pages easy to use (internal links, tables of contents, etc.).  Find a web page that really succeeds in making a topic or subject interesting and post it to your group.  You’ll work together to draft and re-draft the page – – one of the beauties of electronic texts is their ease of revision.  You might run through several or many versions (1.0, 2.0, etc.) of the page before you get to a final draft.  (Not unlike Whitman’s own constant, restless revision of Leaves of Grass.)

Nota Bene:  you want to complete phase one (collecting and sharing) by next Thursday (2/10), and you want to enter class with a plan for your page already posted to our main activity stream, e.g. once you’ve co-created a detailed plan, go to “Dashboard” on our community site and click on “New Post.”  Copy your plan into this post – – title it with the name of your group – – publish the post.  We only need to see one copy of the plan, so designate a group member to be the official poster of the plan. That way we can all see your plan.

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.  Buckle your seat belts – – there are no air bags.