Your Final [Sniff] Project

World Literature

May 18th, 2009

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We will culminate this year with creative projects based on your chosen archetype. So far, you have discovered many examples (at least 50) of your archetype in literature ancient and modern, in music, in film, and in television. You created a visual representation of this archetype, combining elements from all of these sources in an attempt to discover the “essence” or most basic characteristics. The papers you have just completed not only further illustrated the ubiquity of your archetype, but also showed that the way an archetype changes over time can also reflect changes in cultures (father and damsel archetypes after WWII is an excellent example of this).

Your final job in this project is to continue the story of your archetype. You have seen where they’ve been, you have seen how they are being portrayed; now it’s time to continue the story. The parameters of this part of the project are broad, so I will be working with each of you closely in the next week to guide your progress. The only requirement that applies to all projects is that you must tell a complete story that reflects your archetype. That’s it.

Some thoughts to get you started:

You may choose your medium (play to your strengths). Short story, fable, song (with lyrics), visual art (must tell a story; that is, it must be more than one “panel” long), movie script, television show pitch… The possibilities are endless.

As far as ideas go, you should look back at how your archetype has been/is being portrayed. Do you like it? If not, change it! The power to control your archetype’s fate is in your hands as the author. Want to take her back to her roots? Do it. Want to completely re-interpret it? You can.

Have another idea? Post it in the comments area; you may inspire others.

Find something like this on the Interwebs, on youTube, etc? Post a comment for the same reason.

I’m excited. We’re finishing strong.

Index Card Workshop

World Literature

April 21st, 2009

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Today we discussed the two stories included in the packet yesterday. While the connection between the two might have been obvious, it gave us a chance to discuss the portability of stories and practice the index card system.  Here are three examples from 5th hour today:


Notice the author’s name on the right, the quotation in the middle, and the analysis at the end.  This student also included a connector for the Anansi story.

The “Brer Rabbit” title seems a bit specific, but if this student were to continue to study this particular character, the title would help him find cards from different stories easily.

imageAgain, the author’s name in the upper right corner and a title that includes the name of a character.  I’ve added “(wife)” to the General Topic on the top left to allow this card to fall under the more general “all wives” category rather than this specific woman.

This card contains, rather than a direct quotation, a paraphrase of the action in the story.  This is a good thing to do instead of quoting large sections of the story (the wife’s advice in the four trials, in this case).

The analysis in this card is better than the first example, as the student is looking into the motivations of the character and comparing her to her husband.

image Another great example.  Similar to the previous example, I have added “(sky god)” in the General Topic section in order to open up the possibility of connecting this character to Zeus, Horus, etc.

The analysis pulls the god’s miserly nature from the fact that he “kept all the stories locked up in a wooden box.” The next step, perhaps, for this student would be to look for miserliness in other gods or characters, or perhaps look for other boxes in other stories…

Archetype Calendar

World Literature

April 20th, 2009

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(Not a caimagelendar that is the epitome of calendar-ness, just an overview of what we’ll be up to in the coming weeks. Click to expand)

This is going to be a fantastic close to your senior year; archetypes are (by definition) apparent in every culture around the world and can be seen in every story ever told. For the past two years I’ve emphasized that “everything’s connected”; now it’s time to see just how closely.

This will be a four-step project with plenty of benchmarks on the way. (More specifics to come.) Today I have you an overview of how to learn/do research with index cards.  Trust me on this.  Follow my instructions and you’ll have no problems.

Your homework tonight is to choose an archetype that you wish to study.  I’ve given you lists, and here are some more. And some tropes from television. And here’s a t-shirt.

After you’ve chosen, read the two stories I included with the “Index Cards are Your Friends” handout and compare. Mark the similarities and the differences, and anything else you find interesting about them.  Make index cards for them if you’d like to get ahead for tomorrow, but I’ll walk you through the process in class.

And please, for the love of the class, let me know if I’ve made a mistake on this calendar. (All dates subject to change with advanced warning. Things happen.)

Weekend Short Story-The Crane Wife

World Literature

April 4th, 2009

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Or, Tsuru no Ongaeshi, a classic Japanese fairy tale.

As you read, see if you can find any of the archetypes we’ve been discussing.  Also, if you’re familiar with The Decemberists, check out the lyrics for their album The Crane Wife.

Read twice, annotate.  We’ll talk about it on Monday.

On Conformity and Rebellion

World Literature

November 17th, 2008

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During what turned into “storytime” on Monday, we looked at Ursula K. LeGuin’s short story, “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas.” Finish the story.  We’ll discuss it tomorrow. 

We’ll have a discussion of conformity tomorrow and seek answers to questions of equality, specifically: What is the overlap between a society that values conformity above all things and a society that values equality above all?  Is there any overlap?  Michel de Montaigne, considered by many to be the father of the modern essay (now you know who to blame), says of conformity:

Once conform, once do what others do because they do it, and a kind of lethargy steals over all the finer senses of the soul.

Which, of course, raises the question: What are the “finer senses”?  (See Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron“) After freeing himself from the equality devices, Bergeron dances with the prima ballerina.  Can we make the argument that the arts are made possible by these “finer senses” and thus non-conformity or rebellion?  Of course, Bergeron also declares himself “a greater ruler than any man who ever lived!”  So there’s the wrench in that analysis.  Thoughts?

Your homework for this weekend is to keep reading Brave New World (reading journal=friend) and finish Harlan Ellison’s “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman.”  First question: What’s with the jellybeans?  I leave you to come up with other questions that pop up.

Bonus reading: Ursula LeGuin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas.”  This is a quick read, but a very haunting story.  Read it if you so desire, but we will be focusing on Brave New World and Ellison’s story in class on Monday.

P.S.  If for any reason you have trouble opening Ellison’s essay, download a free PDF reader or read LeGuin’s story.  Discussion is impossible if we’re not all on the same page.