Parings, Progress, and SMBC

Senior English

August 30th, 2012

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We’ve moved rather quickly through the first novels, paring Things Fall Apart with the poem that gave it its name and The Stranger with writings by Camus and Sartre. I asked you to write a summary characterization of your novel’s protagonist (an outline is all that’s necessary) before returning the work. If you haven’t done this, remember that your paper will require a synthesis of several works; it would be easy to lose connections in the shifts.


Mersault, Okonkwo, and Sisyphus

Senior English

August 20th, 2012

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Solid discussions today.

We looked at what makes these characters (Mersault and Okonkwo) such unlikable people, hoping to contrast their inevitable1 change. I won’t go into detail here, so if you were absent ask a peer for notes.

We will continue this pattern for a while, so make sure you’re noting those questions/confusion as arise.

For those reading The Stranger (or those interested), a copy of the essay I passed out today, “The Myth of Sisyphus,” is available here.

  1. Heh. Fingers crossed. []

Identity and the Novel

Senior English

August 17th, 2012

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Yesterday we read W.B. Yeats’s “The Second Coming” in all its apocalyptic glory. If you didn’t get chills the first reading1, give it another go.

Today we discussed what it means to represent an individual, a personality, in literature. This has become our guiding question:

How is identity represented in literature?

An odd question and one worth unpacking a bit before we attempt an answer. In moving toward a better understanding of identity, we made connections between our representation of ourselves to others—or any autobiographical act—and the relationship between an author and his creation.

We’ll read a number of works (Oedipus RexThe StrangerThings Fall Apart, others likely) and call on previous readings (Hamlet, especially) to better answer this question. Ensure that you are reading and journaling—you’ll have time for group discussions on Monday.

  1. “vexed to nightmare”?! That’ll keep me up… []

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?