18 September 2011

CAN YOU SPIT IT? Beowulf's scop vs Aslan, Aladdin



From the moment we started reading Beowulf, we have seen some of the techniques used by the scop that must have originated in the original sung (recited) version of the poem: alliteration, kennings, repetition, musical accompaniment, etc. The British literary tradition is not the only literature that started as songs and vocal poetry. Many of the world’s cultures still practice vibrant oral traditions to entertain and inform. Performance poetry, such as the kind seen on Broadway (DefPoetry Jam) or Delaware's own twin poets, carries on this tradition in America today. And rap music born in the 1980s taps into historical African traditions to express American culture in a thoroughly original way, which is still advancing and morphing into this century.

Consider your favorite art expressed through voice: what did you listen to on the way into school this morning? How does your favorite artist express your culture, your heroes, your villains? Who do you believe will be considered a master 50 years from now? Choose an artist and a song and convince me that he/she will be remembered as the voice of our culture, just as the Beowulf scop is remembered. Use specific examples from the song to support your opinion; discuss genre, subject, themes, purpose and techniques to support your choice. Write at least 200 words or one text box on the blog’s comment page.  Appropriate language is required. Post by 9.26.11.




21 August 2011

WHAT I'M READING NOW...



The Picture of Dorian Gray
 by Oscar Wilde


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I'm rereading this, and I am still boggled by the genius of it. I know some of my students may not appreciate the unfamiliar language and stilted style, though the concept is enough to keep anyone awake at night. To imagine the appearance of a photo (or painting) of oneself distorted by evil is true horror. First, I must admit to my sins, then list them and then assign a physical manifestation of each of them. Then I must paste them together  and the cumulative effect on my face will be screamingly disgusting. It makes one see the advantages to plastic surgery.
 The perpetrator of atrocities in the SAW movies has nothing on the nightmares a person can create for him or herself. Enjoy!

View all my reviews >>

08 February 2011

NO MAN IS AN ISLAND, OR......?


We talked in class about Donne's idea that we are all connected, all part of the same life. High school students still have to read John Donne not only because his idea embraced his century's perspective on life, but also because in the 300 years since then, the Western world has wanted to see itself in the same way, that we belong to each other, that human nature is essentially good. Each of us must decide whether or not this is what our society is really all about. If you had to identify a quote or even write a catchy phrase to classify the 21st century's attitude towards our own value system, would "no man is an island" be accurate?
Or are we following a different plan--every man for himself, to each his own, love thy neighbor, the Golden Rule--these days? Think about this and classify YOUR century by reviewing details of current events, contemporary music, popular culture, media, entertainment choices, religions in the news, etc. Then choose a common slogan or quote to label this time--as a matter of fact, you can make one up. Explain your slogan and also tell me whether you identify with this cultural attitude or not. I can't wait to see whether you think man is invincible or totally devoid of kindness and compassion. Remember, I am paying attention to sentence structure, spelling, punctuation this quarter. Edit! Due at the end of class today.

28 October 2010

WIFE of BATH: WISE OR WACKY?

 The Wife of Bath is one of my favorite Chaucer characters because she is so much bigger than life. She is funny and domineering, loud and opinionated. She is past her prime, yet her experience gives her an edge. Much of what she says is true. She may not seem that exaggerated to you, since loud, bossy women are not such an anomaly today. But in 1400, she must have shocked and delighted her companions (and husbands?). Her story of chivalric love is modern too--kind of a medieval "men are from Mars, women are from Venus" perspective on relationships. Will we ever understand each other?
Some think that her answer to 'what women want' is contemporary too, at least if you listen to hip-hop, country or pop music radio. Women want to be in charge! Think of Carrie Underwood keying her boyfriend's SUV or Mary J. Blige's 411. I am sure you can think of many more that express similar thoughts. Ladies, is this who you are? Gentlemen, are you really all that cynical? Your mission: post a response of 200 words on what your gender really wants in a strong, lasting relationship. No scrubs? No pigeons? Make sure you list specific attributes, just as the Wife did. You may look at the issue from more than one angle, but you may only write about your own gender. When you are finished, we will tally your replies for a class discussion. Yes, this means that I am trusting you to censor any inappropriate words or thoughts. Remember, this will be on the web. Due at the end of class. Begin.

16 August 2010

British Literature: What I'm Reading Now...



My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I'm rereading this, and I am still boggled by the genius of it. I know most of my students will not appreciate the unfamiliar language and stilted style, though the concept is enough to keep anyone awake at night. To imagine the appearance of a photo (or painting) of oneself distorted by evil is true horror. First, I must admit to my sins, then list them and then assign a physical manifestation of each of them. Then I must paste them together  and the cumulative effect on my face will be screamingly disgusting. It makes one see the advantages to plastic surgery.
 The perpetrator of atrocities in the SAW movies has nothing on the nightmares a person can create for him or herself. Enjoy! P.S. Who is the subject of the photo?

UPDATE: from a review of another book, The Road, which I read directly after I finished Dorian Gray:
"I was in a weird frame of mind, having just finished The Picture of Dorian Gray. I had been thinking of the contemporary reactions to Dorian Gray during the century that had also produced Frankenstein. Their mouths must have dropped open to hear Wilde announce in the preface “the only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely. All art is quite useless.”

So—Wilde says, 'read at your own risk. This is something new, and I don’t care who knows it.' The audacity, the genius of it still thrills me.