Philosophizers and Criticizers

Senior English

August 23rd, 2011

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Over the past few days we’ve delved into a number of philosophical perspectives on identity. Your current assignment is to research one of the philosophers we’ve discussed, read a selection of his work, write a synopsis of your reading, and present your findings to the class.1 For your benefit, here’s a list of authors:

We’ll sign up for presentation dates tomorrow with the first presentation the following day. If you’ve got your eye on an author, snag a reading (let me know if you have trouble), send me a link, synopsize it, and be ahead of the game for Thursday.

  1. We are essentially crowd-sourcing our research for this paper. []

Identity, Characterization, Omelas

World Literature

November 15th, 2010

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Great first day! We had a solid discussion (one that won’t be over anytime soon) about what it means to be an individual.

Throughout this course we will be exploring characterization in novels ranging from Achebe’s Things Fall Apart to Camus’ The Stranger. The goal is not to establish a universal conception of identity but to understand how each character develops within the work. More on this later.

We read Ursula K. LeGuin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” to stir up some discussion about the individual’s place in society. We’ll discuss more tomorrow.

You should begin Things Fall Apart tonight. To get your journaling started: Why does Okonkwo react to his father the way that he does?

Don’t mean to throw a wrench into our identity discussion, but: » Blog Archive A piece of their mind «. {0}


We are—hundreds of millions of us—broadcasting our lives and following the broadcasts of others as if our lives depended on it. I’m not just referring to Facebook or Twitter. I’m talking about memoirs, based-on-a-true-story movies, daytime talk shows, blogs, confessional songs, reality TV, and every other form of “sharing” that’s taken the culture captive.
via Life in the Age of Authentic Artifice < PopMatters. {0}

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

World Literature

September 1st, 2010

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Are full of passionate intensity.1

So. Okonkwo’s story is reduced to a “reasonable paragraph.” It is a tough story, but perhaps a few questions remain:

More questions to come, I’m sure. Please add your own (or any answers) in class or in the comments below.

We will wrap up our discussion of this novel officially tomorrow, but will continue to come back to it throughout the year. Our next work is Oedipus, which we will follow with The Stranger.

Your midterm paper will follow the same writing process we used your junior year (compilation of patterns and ideas from your journals, organization into outlines, peer review, presentation, rough drafts, peer review and one-on one with me, final drafts. You will be required to pull from multiple works (those read in class and others you discover on your own; check the syllabus for ideas) in presenting your ideas on the development of identity. Keep this in mind as you continue to read and journal. We’ll discuss the patterns you are finding during class discussions and when I check your journals.

  1. Full text. []