For Tuesday, May 16, let’s talk about Junot Diaz’s short story – – “Monstro.” You can read or download the story here.
And, don’t forget, your bug-out bag is due on Thursday, May 18, by noon!
For Tuesday, check out our final project – – “My Bug-out Bag.” Bring some ideas about which items you might consider adding to your bug-out bag to class.
For Thursday (May 4), consider the following. In response to the Old Man/Abidugun’s complaint that “It is all lost,” the narrator of The Strange Bird comments: “Yet what had been lost? The old world had been no better for the Strange Bird’s kind than the new. Just different” (34). I think this quote points to at least one tension central to post-apocalyptic fiction: what is the best way to think about the relation between old, “normal” days and the current post-apocalyptic times – -as tragedy? as a rupture or continuity? as divine revelation? as possibility? Think about the narrator’s comment and write (around 250 words) about which text(s) that we’ve read would most likely agree with the narrator and/or which text(s) would disagree. Add this to your google writing platform. Try to finish this up by Tuesday, May 9.
For Tuesday, let’s talk about Jeff VanderMeer’s novella, The Strange Bird. This is a shortish text that belongs to VanderMeer’s “Borne” trilogy (Borne, The Strange Bird, Dead Astronauts) – – no, not the “Bourne” series made famous by Matt Damon et al. Though the setting is quite strange – – and radically “post-apocalyptic” – – the story is almost classical in its themes and structure. You might also be reminded of Atwood’s “pigoons” and “wolvogs” etc.
For Tuesday (4/25), finish reading Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake.
For Thursday (4/20), let’s think about Atwood’s vision of “pre-apocalyptic” society. In Oryx and Crake, this society is divided into “Compounds” and “Pleeblands.” Can you see any evidence of a similar social organization/division in contemporary society? If so, how well does Atwood’s description of Compounds vs. Pleeblands correspond to ours? For instance, in terms of who lives where? Or, the proffered reasons for why space/life is divided this way? And, the pitfalls of this kind of social/geographic division? Write about 500 words or so on this topic in your google writing space. (Try to finish this up by Sunday at noon.)
For Tuesday, April 18, let’s try to read about half of Margaret Atwood’s fantastic novel – – Oryx and Crake – – up to about the end of Chapter 7. (This is the first installment in her “MaddAddam” trilogy – – Oryx and Crake (2003), The Year of the Flood (2009), MaddAddam (2013).
For Thursday, after you’ve sampled some of Atwood’s novel, I’m curious which of our previous novels/films you think this new one most resembles. Write three paragraphs or so (about 500 words) in your google doc/reading journal reflecting on the relation between Oryx and Crake and its nearest relative (on the syllabus). (Try to finish this up by sundown on Sunday night.)
For Tuesday (4/11), let’s finish talking about Station Eleven. And: As you finish the novel, reflect on the Traveling Symphony’s motto: “Survival Is Insufficient.” What role does this motto play in Emily St. John Mandel’s novel? Which of the novels (or movies) we’ve read (or seen) so far would most disagree with the Traveling Symphony’s post-apocalyptic slogan? Write a couple of paragraphs addressing these questions in your google journal.
For Thursday (4/6): Don’t forget – – your second Reflection Essay (“Last Days“) is due today by midnight! Remember: just append it to your existing google doc.
Try to read up to the end of Chapter 37 (Part 5: Toronto) in Station Eleven. And, take a look at the rubric for our second reflection essay: “Last Days.”
Another bombogenesis/storm event is scheduled to land tomorrow morning in the Bay Area. To minimize risk and inconvenience, let’s get together tomorrow to talk about Severance via Zoom. Check your SFSU email account for proper link to join etc. See you tomorrow morning!
For Tuesday after spring break (3/28), let’s talk about Ling Ma’s fantastic debut novel – – Severance.
Enjoy your recess!
“The spoliation of the church’s property, the fraudulent alienation of the State domains, the robbery of the common lands, the usurpation of feudal and clan property, and its transformation into modern private property under circumstances of reckless terrorism, were just so many idyllic methods of primitive accumulation. They conquered the field for capitalistic agriculture, made the soil part and parcel of capital, and created for the town industries the necessary supply of a “free” and outlawed proletariat.” – – Karl Marx, Chapter 27, Capital Vol. 1
Let’s finish reading The Water Knife for Tuesday, March 14.
For Thursday, here’s our asynchronous event:
“She saw the world clear,” Maria says to herself early in the novel. “For once, she realized she was seeing the world clear. No wonder Papa kept himself pretending.”
“Seeing the world clear” seems to be important to all the main characters (Angel, Lucy, Maria) in the novel. Choose one of these characters and explain what “seeing the world clear” means to them. Why is it important to see things this way? What’s the problem with not seeing things this way? Do you see evidence that this ambition might be more complicated or contradictory for your selected character?
Write a couple of paragraphs in your existing google doc – – separated from the rest of your work by a heading like: “For Thursday, March 9” or “The Water Knife,” etc. Probably no more than 500 words. Try to complete this by Sunday night so that I can take a look at your work by Monday.
Bonus: If you’re interested in reading Marc Reisner’s Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, click on this link. (Password: Desert). Once you download the file, you should be able to read it in either Apple Books or Kindle.