Author Archives: T. Cole

Blog Post #10 – After Dark

A few weeks ago, I asked whether you all wanted to write on anything of your own choosing or whether I should make a prompt for blog post #8 on A Small Place.  Since the class was almost evenly split between the two choices, I came up with a prompt that asked you to write about the function of the library in Kincaid’s A Small Place.

However, for your final blog post I want each student to write on whatever they want regarding Haruki Murakami’s After Dark.

As usual (and for the final time this semester) make sure to do the following:

  • Give your post a good title.
  • Add tags (keywords) to the post.
  • Posts must be at least 250 words.
  • Posts must include at least one quotation from Murakami’s text.
  • Stay focused on your point.  Avoid repeating yourself.  Remember to clarify the importance of your post.  Don’t just tell us that something is “important”; rather explain why it is important.
  • Make an argument.  Don’t summarize the text.
  • Use specific moments from After Dark to support and illustrate your argument.
  • Be sure to introduce, quote, cite, and comment on all quotations.

This response is due before class on Thursday, April 7th. Blog comments (at least 2) are due before class on Tuesday, April 12th.

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Instructions for Blog Post #9 – Topic Brainstorming

For your ninth blog post (and its comments), you will be doing two separate steps.

The first step is to write a blog post that introduces your final paper topic. This is due before class time on Tuesday, March 29th.  This blog post should include the following:

  • The subject line should tell us the text you will be writing about and the topic.  A good example would be “Language and Gender in The Handmaid’s Tale.”
  • The body of your post–the actual post itself–will answer three questions.  Be sure to think about this questions before you jump straight to writing them.
  1. What do you know about the topic and the text that influences your why you chose it, especially since you had a lot of freedom in choosing your topic/text?  What key moments in the text will be useful for you in your final paper?
  2. What do you not know about your topic/text?  What aspects of the topic/text seem difficult to write about or understand even? List questions that you would like to answer by investigating this topic further (these should literally be questions and they should be numbered).
  3. Finally, why did you choose this topic/text?  Since you could have written about so many different topics/texts, why THIS one?

The second step is to comment on EVERYBODY’S Blog Post #9.  This is due by 11:59pm on Thursday, March 31st.

Your comments should include the following:

  1. Since each student posted specific questions they want to answer in their final papers, you, the commenter, should let the student know which question you found the most interesting.  It could be one of the author’s questions, or one a commenter added to the list.
  2. Now, add a question of your own to the person’s list (continue the numbering system the original author began. For example, if the person listed 4 questions and no one else has commented yet, then yours would be #5. If the person listed 4 questions and two commenters added a 5th and 6th question, then yours would be #7).
  3. Feel free to add anything else that you think would be helpful to the person.

Additional information: Since each student will be making 16 comments this week rather than the usual 2, the comments grade will be much higher than the usual 10 points.  Each comment will still be worth 5 points, so the comments grade this week will be worth  80 points.

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Instructions for Blog Post #8 – A Small Place

Kincaid’s focus on the library in A Small Place is an important aspect of the text.  She tells us that she read books as a small child, even stole some.  So, she personally feels some connection to the library, but there is a more important connection she makes between the library and the whole nation of Antigua.  What is the connection she is making?

How does the library act as a microcosm (and an extended metaphor and a symbol) for Antigua?  It is not simply that the library shows the never-changing, always-the-same mentality of some people on the island, but it does something more?

Think about who goes to libraries, what types of people, and how such people use the libraries.

**Do not argue that the library is simply a symbol of nothing changing for the good in Antigua.

As always:

  • Give your post a good title.
  • Add tags (keywords) to the post.
  • Posts must be at least 250 words.
  • Posts must include at least one quotation from Kincaid’s text.
  • Stay focused on answering the prompt. Avoid repeating the question and be as specific as possible in your answer.  Remember to clarify the importance of your post.  Don’t just tell us that something is “important”; rather explain why it is important.
  • Make an argument.  Don’t summarize the text.
  • Use specific moments from Atwood’s book to support and illustrate your argument.
  • Be sure to introduce, quote, cite, and comment on all quotations.

This response is due before class on Thursday, March 17th. Blog comments (at least 2) are due before class on Tuesday, March 21st.

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Instructions for Blog Post #7 – The Handmaid’s Tale, part ii

The end of Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale has a section entitled, “Historical Notes on The Handmaid’s Tale.”  In your blog post #7, write a post responding to the “Historical notes on The Handmaid’s Tale.”

What do you make of this section of the book?  How does this challenge the rest of the book (the previous nearly 300 pages)?  What is the function of having THIS ending (i.e., the historical notes)?  What would the text be like had Atwood omitted the historical notes?

The usual list of criteria is below:

  • Give your post a good title.
  • Add tags (keywords) to the post.
  • Posts must be at least 250 words.
  • Posts must include at least one quotation from Atwood’s text.
  • Stay focused on answering the prompt. Avoid repeating the question and be as specific as possible in your answer.  Remember to clarify the importance of your post.  Don’t just tell us that something is “important”; rather explain why it is important.
  • Make an argument.  Don’t summarize the text.
  • Use specific moments from Atwood’s book to support and illustrate your argument.
  • Be sure to introduce, quote, cite, and comment on all quotations.

This response is due before class on Tuesday, March 1st. Blog comments (at least 2) are due before class on Thursday, March 3rd.

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Instructions for Blog Post #6 – The Handmaid’s Tale

For the blog post #6, the first (of two) on Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, perform a close reading on Chapter 5, specifically regarding the following passage: “There is more than one kind of freedom, said Aunt Lydia.  Freedom to and freedom from.  In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to.  Now you are being given freedom from.  Don’t underrate it” (Atwood 24).  How could this passage open up the first half of the book?  What about this passage is important?

As usual make sure to do the following:

  • Give your post a good title.
  • Add tags (keywords) to the post.
  • Posts must be at least 250 words.
  • Posts must include at least one quotation from Atwood’s text.
  • Stay focused on answering the prompt. Avoid repeating the question and be as specific as possible in your answer.  Remember to clarify the importance of your post.  Don’t just tell us that something is “important”; rather explain why it is important.
  • Make an argument.  Don’t summarize the text.
  • Use specific moments from Atwood’s book to support and illustrate your argument.
  • Be sure to introduce, quote, cite, and comment on all quotations.

This response is due before class on Tuesday, February 22nd. Blog comments (at least 2) are due before class on Thursday, February 24th.

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Instructions for Blog Post #5 – Kafka

This week we’re reading two short stories from Franz Kafka, “In the Penal Colony” and “A Hunger Artist.”  For your blog post #5, I would like you to respond to one of the following four prompts.

  1. Besides simply being an old, worn-out apparatus, what is the reason, do you think, for the machine or apparatus breaking apart in “In the Penal Colony”?
  2. How do you read the officer from the story “In the Penal Colony”?  Is he the bad guy, the good guy, or neither?  Is he a zealot, a victim of circumstance, or a pitiable character?
  3. According to each story, the hunger artist as well as the executions performed by the apparatus on the penal colony had huge crowds.  People would come to watch the execution or the hunger artist all day.  Now, no one watches the executions nor the hunger artist because the hunger artist’s art and the execution are, simply, no longer valued.  Why do you think there has been such a change?
  4. How would you read these stories if the genders were different?  What if the explorer or the condemned were a woman in “In the Penal Colony”?  Or if the artist in “A Hunger Artist” were a woman?

As usual make sure to do the following:

  • Give your post a good title.
  • Add tags (keywords) to the post.
  • Posts must be at least 250 words.
  • Posts must include at least one quotation from the Kafka texts.
  • Stay focused on answering the prompt question you choose. Avoid repeating the question and be as specific as possible in your answer.  Remember to clarify the importance of your post.  Don’t just tell us that something is “important”; rather explain why it is important.
  • Make an argument.  Don’t summarize the text.
  • Use specific moments from Kafka’s short stories to support and illustrate your argument.
  • Be sure to introduce, quote, cite, and comment on all quotations.

This response is due before class on Tuesday, February 15th. Blog comments (at least 2) are due before class on Thursday, February 17th.

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Instructions for Blog #4 – The Island of Doctor Moreau

H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau could be categorized into many genres: Victorian, science fiction, satire, dystopia, Gothic, adventure novel, or even scientific discourse.  How does reading Moreau differ when you read it as one of these genres over the others?  Does Prendick’s actions (or the tale itself) make more sense if you think of it as a Victorian text or as a Gothic text?  Science fiction? Satire?  How does genre play in this story.

In your post #4 on Moreau, choose a “genre” that you believe Moreau fits, and then defend that choice with textual evidence and analysis, i.e., use quotations from the text (citing them, of course) and analyze those quotations to prove your choice.

Think about our class discussion regarding plays, adventure novels, and fairy tales.  What was difference between the plays, The Tempest and An Enemy of the People, and the novel Robinson Crusoe (and perhaps the novella The Death of Ivan Ilych)?  What was the difference between the plays and the fairy tales we read, especially when you think about the fairy tales being a text “written down” and a text “told” or performed?

As usual make sure to do the following:

  • Give your post a good title.
  • Add tags (keywords) to the post.
  • Posts must be at least 250 words.
  • Posts must include at least one quotation from The Island of Doctor Moreau.
  • Stay focused on answering the prompt question above. Avoid repeating the question and be as specific as possible in your answer.  Remember to clarify the importance of your post.  Don’t just tell us that something is “important”; rather explain why it is important.
  • Make an argument.  Don’t summarize the text.
  • Use specific moments from Moreau (or other texts if applicable) to support and illustrate your argument.
  • Be sure to introduce, quote, cite, and comment on all quotations.

This response is due before class on Tuesday, February 8th. Blog comments (at least 2) are due before class on Thursday, February 10th.

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Instructions for Blog #3 – An Enemy of the People

Sorry for these instructions being posted later than normal.

By Tuesday (2/1/11), we will all have finished An Enemy of the People.  This play has so much in it!  It’s about the “liberal-minded independent press” and the “compact majority.”  It’s about individual rights (what rights each of us has as citizens); it’s about government, environmentalism, business, capitalism.  It’s about being ostracized in a community (i.e., being alienated or estranged).  What do you think this play is mostly about?

For blog post #3, write a post that answers the following question: What it is An Enemy of the People about, according to you?

Questions that might help get you thinking:  What, in your opinion, ultimately leads to the problems in the town and their baths?  Is it the business aims of the tourist industry (competition with other spa towns), or is it the business aims pertaining to the tanneries?  Is it democracy, namely the ability to vote in people like Peter Stockmann as director/mayor?  Or is it something else?  Do any of the characters act immorally or unethically?  Would you have done things differently if you were Peter, Thomas, or someone else?

As usual, your posts should follow these requirements:

  • Give your post a good title.
  • Add tags (keywords) to the post.
  • Posts must be at least 250 words.
  • Posts must include at least one quotation from Ibsen’s play.
  • Stay focused on answering one of the prompt questions above. Avoid repeating the question and be as specific as possible in your answer.  Remember to clarify the importance of your post.  Don’t just tell us that something is “important”; rather explain why it is important.
  • Make an argument.  Don’t summarize the text.
  • Use specific moments from Ibsen’s play (or other texts if applicable) to support and illustrate your argument.
  • Be sure to introduce, quote, cite, and comment on all quotations.

This response is due before class on Tuesday, February 1st. Blog comments (at least 2) are due before class on Thursday, February 3rd.

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Instructions for Blog Post #2

During these few classes on fairy tales, we’ve seen three major types: Little Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, and Bluebeard.  For Blog Post #2, I want to you to answer 1 of the following 3 prompts.  The choices are in no order of importance.

  1. Cultural “texts” can refer to both written and non-written creations.  Movies or television shows, like books, short stories, and poetry, are “texts.”  Nearly anything that conveys meaning can be considered a text.  Your body, the clothes you wear, the tattoo you have, the jewelry you buy–all of this tells others something about you; in short, the body becomes a “text.”  Or your dorm room or your apartment with the types of posters/pictures on the wall, the blanket you have on your couch, the way you’ve designed your living area also tells visitors about you–another “text.”  Thus, most things in the world can be read as texts.  So, Tatar tells us that fairy tales often inspire current “texts,” i.e., movies, books, and television shows.  After reading the Tatar text, you’ve now seen three major types of fairy tales in their historical forms, in their original context, in different cultures and eras, and in re-tellings of the stories.  Can you think of any movies, television shows/episodes, books, short stories, poems, video games, or any popular culture format that utilizes Little Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, or Bluebeard?  For this option (#1), choose a popular culture “text” that utilizes one of the three fairy tales we’ve read and write about how it makes use of the fairy tale. Be sure to use specific examples from the Tatar text and the popular text of your choice in order to demonstrate the similarities or relevance of the fairy tale to the popular text. You may NOT choose any movie that the Tatar book mentioned, nor can you choose a text that actually has the title of a fairy tale in it.  For example, you cannot actually choose to write about Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, even if Tatar hadn’t mentioned it.
  2. Tatar suggests that Bluebeard and Beauty and the Beast are opposite.  Do you agree or diasgree?  Post an answer to the demonstrating why you agree or disagree. How is Bluebeard the opposite of Beauty and the Beast?  What specifically in the texts proves that Beauty and the Beast is the opposite of Bluebeard?  If you disagree entirely with Tatar’s reading of them as opposites, demonstrate why you believe they are actually similar.  Since there is more than one fairy tale in each section, be sure to tell us which fairy tale you’re talking about.
  3. Why is violence so important in the texts we’ve read thus far?  Focusing primarily on fairy tales (but you can draw on The Tempest and Robinson Crusoe), explain why violence is important in these texts. What does violence do for people, readers and characters alike?  How does it help or hinder reading a text?  How does violence help or hinder the characters in the text?

As usual, your posts should follow these requirements:

  • Give your post a good title.
  • Add tags (keywords) to the post.
  • Posts must be at least 250 words.
  • Posts must include at least one quotation from Tatar’s book.
  • Stay focused on answering one of the prompt questions above. Avoid repeating the question and be as specific as possible in your answer.  Remember to clarify the importance of your post.  Don’t just tell us that something is “important”; rather explain why it is important.
  • Your response should make an argument, not summarize the text.
  • Use specific moments from Tatar’s text (or other texts if applicable) to support and illustrate your argument.
  • Be sure to introduce, quote, cite, and comment on all quotations.

This response is due before class on Tuesday, January 25th. Blog comments (at least 2) are due before class on Thursday, January 27th.

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Instructions for Blog Post#1

Last week, we read Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and we brought up some key issues about racism, class, colonialism/imperialism, violence, and even government, as well as metaphors for the island: the island as… (according to Shelby’s Discussion Leading) a vehicle for separation, a vehicle for conflict, and a vehicle for questioning.

We also talked about how the island functions as a smaller version of a country.  For example, there are no actual indigenous people on the island.  Sycorax, whom we never meet and is often thought a “native of the island,” and Caliban are actually emigrants in exile from Algiers, and so are Prospero and Miranda emigrants from Milan.  The rest of the cast is either from Naples or Milan, too.  Yet on this island of  populated by 15 people, we clearly see an upper class of royalty, numbering 6, and the other 9 people are either servants, counsellors, or slaves.  A question to think about is “how does separation or estrangement/alienation play a role in light of their situation?”

In this week’s reading of Robinson Crusoe, I want you to think about some of these themes–separation, slavery, government, violence, colonialism, and any others you might be interested in.  What values do the characters from Robinson Crusoe (or the text itself) share with The Tempest?  What’s similar between these two texts?  What’s dissimilar or completely different?

In your blog post, you should focus on only 1 or 2 of those themes (also known as tropes), and give a detailed analysis of the connections between the two texts, however focusing primarily on Robinson Crusoe.

Your posts should follow these requirements:

  • Posts must be at least 250 words.
  • Posts must include at least one quotation from Robinson Crusoe, though you may quote more from the text (and also from The Tempest, but your one required quotation can’t be from The Tempest).
  • Stay focused on answering the prompt question above. Avoid repeating the question and be as specific as possible in your answer.  Remember to clarify the importance of your post.  Don’t just tell us that separation is an “important” trope; rather explain why, with textual evidence and logical thinking, separation is important.
  • Your response should make an argument, not summarize the text.  In this case, your post should link a connection between The Tempest and Robinson Crusoe.
  • Use specific moments from Robinson Crusoe to support and illustrate your argument.
  • Be sure to introduce, quote, cite, and comment on all quotations.  For example, don’t just quote a passage from Robinson Crusoe and hope that your readers understand what you mean by using that specific quotation.  Introduce the quotation (e.g., “This passage occurs when the main character goes to the neighboring island…”), cite the text using MLA style, i.e., author’s last name and page number (e.g., Defoe 22), and finally explaining why the quotation proves your point (e.g., “We can see in the text that Crusoe’s reaction constitutes a racist way of thinking…”).

This response is due before class on Tuesday, January 18th. Blog comments (at least 2) are due before class on Thursday, January 20th.

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