Frankenstein and Journals

Junior English

September 4th, 2013

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We began Frankenstein last night. Our goal in this section of the course is to better understand the Romantic era and the novel’s place within it. To this end, your prompt:

How does Mary Shelley’s argument compare/contrast with the arguments of contemporary works?

When put this way it is fairly straightforward. Indeed, you’ve already practiced this kind of comparison in your previous writings (rebellion and poetry). However, this will take it to another level—we will read contemporary works (poems, philosophy, short stories), discover and compare major themes, and use them to better understand Mary Shelley’s larger work.

If you’re interested in the Prometheus myth (or mythology in general) check out for the most comprehensive collection of stories on the ‘net.

I’m checking journals today, but may not get to all of them. If you need a refresher on what I’m looking for, check out this post from a while back or look over the journal rubric handout I gave you at the beginning of the year.

You should read (and journal) through chapter two by Friday.

Romanticism and Frankenstein

Junior English

August 17th, 2012

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We’ve read a number of works over the past few days in an attempt to triangulate an understanding of this “Romanticism” thing. Here are links to most (a second read is worth your while):

Whitman’s “Song of Myself” and “I Sing the Body Electric,” especially these lines:

You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.

Milton’s Paradise Lost1:

 The mind is its own place, and in it self
Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n.

We can contrast them nicely by looking at the way in which the speaker knows his world: Whitman understands through experience, while Satan is busy cogitating.2 Both, however, refuse a universal, objective reality that Enlightenment thinkers founded their philosophies upon. As we move forward we’ll find other examples, further work out their attraction to Milton’s Satan, and look at the role of the artist/hero.

Also: There is a great series of lectures on this topic here, if you’re interested, and a previous post by me on the Gothic.

  1. note that he, like Ellison, begins in medeas res. Not so modern after all… []
  2. Later we’ll see Hamlet say something similar: “Denmark’s a prison. . . . for there is nothing / either good or bad, but thinking makes it so: to me / it is a prison. . . . I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count / myself a king of infinite space” II.ii []

Ghosts and Airwaves

Junior English

August 20th, 2011

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We began listening to an episode of the radio program To the Best of Our Knowledge on Friday. Entitled “Does the Soul Still Matter?,” it brings together scientists, philosophers, believers, poets, and skeptics to offer their opinions on the subject. You can listen here.1 Be sure to take notes, as we’ll continue our discussion Monday.

A few questions that came up as we listened:

It would be a good idea to revisit the notes you took during our listen and attempt to answer the questions you asked. If the answer takes some research, major bonus life points if you bring a copy and share with the class on Monday.

You can find the rest of the series here. If something catches your attention, you may use it for #1 in The Cycle2–just let me know before you begin synopsizing.

In case you’re looking/planning ahead, your final project during our study of the Romantic movement will be a researched paper addressing this question:

Why is Frankenstein considered a Romantic novel?

We will delve much deeper into the movement as we begin the novel, but rest assured: our soul/mind, religion/science discussion will be very relevant to your writing.

  1. We left off before Parker Palmer’s story (around the 23:00 mark), but you are free to keep going. []
  2. check your syllabus []

Frankenstein Source!

British Literature

October 13th, 2010

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Just came across this cool site that offers information about our author’s life. A few of you were asking about contemporary reactions–a few can be found here.

The site is part of Romantic Circles, “a refereed scholarly Website devoted to the study of Romantic-period literature and culture . . . published by the University of Maryland.”1 If you find anything interesting, post a link below or bring it to class.

A quick reminder for those re-working their midterms: your final drafts are due Friday. I will not accept them after that date. If you will be absent then, please email a copy before 3 pm on the 15th or bring it tomorrow.

  1. Read: goldmine of credible information about the history of the work and the culture it was a part of. Worth looking through. []


British Literature

October 6th, 2010

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Romanticism information (actually, there is plenty on the French Revolution and such here, too; dig around.)

Paradise Lost

A previous post on the gothic and sublime (we’ll talk about this tomorrow).

Share below any other cool things you find.