Thursday, April 19, 2012

"The Stranger" blog 7!

Below are some notes for you to read and think about as we progress through the novel:

While many originally thought Camus wrote his prose from only the angle of Existentialism, he himself was not truly an Existentialist. He was actually regarded more as an Absurdist. We see both philsophies in "The Stranger". What is the distinction?

-absurdists like Camus believe that there are no rational for the elements of life
- no redeeming purpose and one cannot make sense of it
-When we die, we die, there is no other solitary purpose,
-belief that our desire for meaning is greater than the capacity of the universe to provide meaning
-we can try all we want to make sense of things, but it's pointless
-human beings live in essential isolation in a meaningless, and irrational world

Existentialists hold a belief that there is nothing that is predetermined
our choices and actions can determine our lives
-we can make choices within the ethical system we construct
-uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience, indifferent to universe, must make our own meaning
-human existence is unexplainable, but we must take responsibility for the consequences of one's acts.

Chapter one reflection

Meursault appears heartless for failing to express grief or even to care about his mother’s death in chapter one. We shouldn't be so quick to judge him though, or else we risk missing Camus' point. "The Stranger", while it explores the philosophy of the absurd, should not be interpreted as a novel that will teach us a moral lesson. Camus’s philosophy of the absurd sees the world and human beings as having no real purpose or meaning. The universe is indifferent to human struggles, and Meursault's actions and personality embody this philosophy. Meursault does not see any meaning or significance behind his mother's death, it's not part of some higher structure so therefore he's able to continue about his day, observe people, eat regularly, go on a date, have sex and live his seemingly normal existence. This is a difficult notion for us to understand because we are always trying to attach meaning to things. The idea that things happen for no reason and that events sometimes have no meaning can be disruptive to our thinking. Accepting that life is meaningless and there is no reason to live can be cause for a major crisis. What's the point of living if we all die anyway? Existentialists would say that we are responsible for creating that meaning in our lives, while absurdists would ask, "What's the point?"

Chapter 1-2 questions and Sisyphus-respond on the blog!

1.Why was it odd that Madam Meursault desired a religious burial?

2. Does Meursault give an explanation for wanting/not wanting to see the open casket? Why would someone respond in this way? In your opinion, is this normal behavior?

3. Where is the caretaker from? His age?

4. Describe Meursault’s dream-like experience beginning on page 9. What is happening?

5. What is the purpose of holding a vigil? How long does it last?

6. What is Thomas Perez’s relationship with Maman?

Chapter 2 Questions

1.On page 21, what hint is the reader given as to where Meursault lives?

2. What does Meursault choose to do on Sunday? What does this demonstrate about his character/personality?

3. What does Meursault mean when he says, "It occurred to me....really, nothing had changed." (See last sentence on page 24 for clarification).

Sisyphus Questions

1. Which act of Sisyphus's fate differs from his life?

2. If Camus were to dramaticize the Myth of Sisyphus, what kind of drama would it be?

3. Why must we be happy for Sisyphus at the end of the story when he is doomed to repeat his same fate?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

"The Stranger" anticipation guide response

Select one of the following 10 statements from the anticipation guide distributed on Friday. Briefly explain your position as to why you either agree or disagree with the statement. Justify your rationale as much as possible.

Due Monday, April 16th!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

White Man's burden and Kony 2012 blog 5

Some time over the weekend after watching the Kony 2012 video in class and on your on if need be (video can be found on youtube, search kony 2012 video), go to the following website: and in the top right corner in the search box, type "white man's burden and click go. The search engine will bring up the article "African critics of Kony Campaign See a 'White Man's Burden' for the...(it will be the first article to come up!) click on it and read the article, the comments and watch the video even. After viewing and reading, I'd like you to answer the following questions:

1. Why do you think Jason Russell made the video? What impact has it had?
2.What criticisms of the video have emerged? What do you make of these criticisms?
3. Where do you draw the line between 'helpful activism' and this notion of westerners being the savior all incapable foreigners?
What are the potential pros and cons of “distilling a very complicated 26-year war into something that’s consumable and understandable”?
5. Can you make one comparison between what is happening with 'Kony 2012' currently in our culture and what Chinua Achebe was discussing in TFA from what you've read so far?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Blog Post 4 TFA

Things Fall Apart Language and Style Questions due Wednesday, March 14th

Examining the syntax and structure of Achebe's first chapter, it's easy to identify simple, short, terse sentences that are linked by sense rather than by grammar that would make them flow together better.
1) Why do you think Achebe used this straight forward, simplistic syntax in his novel?

The following are verbatim examples of sentences from page 7 that are written separately and showcase this simplicity:
1. Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond.
2. His fame rested on solid personal achievements.
3. As a young man of eighteen he had brought honor to his village by throwing Amalinze the Cat.
4. Amalinze was the great wrestler who for seven years was unbeaten, from Umuofia to Mbaino.
5. He was called the Cat because his back would never touch the earth.

2) Reading these five sentences, try to rewrite them into one complex sentence showcasing all the details.

3) What's the impact of the proverb examples we see immediately within chapter one?
4) How are proverbs the oil of social relationships as stated in chapter one?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Blog Post # 3 Chaucer Notes/Questions

Chaucer notes from 2/27/12


Shows himself as a good natured-Chaucer is in the tale himself as a character, and is closely connected to the narrator but is not the narrator. They do not share the same beliefs always. The narrator is somewhat impressionable (seems to admire the characters, says "worthy" alot when describing them, but Chaucer sees them as unworthy)

Chaucer himself values honesty, modesty, simplicity, indifference to money. He condemns cheating and fraud, but doesn't always recognize it.

Chaucer is big on satire! He satires the English church and it's hypocrisy-uses the Oxford Cleric and the Parson as good examples. He identifies the following characters and satirizes them:

-merchant-self-important hypocrits
-franklin-excessive devotion to pleasure
-doctor-greed and ignorance
-miller-dishonest business people

Fabliau is literary term Chaucer uses to demonstrate a great variety of comic tales in verse (i.e Miller's, Reeve's, Shipman's, Summoner's tales)
-describes everyday people in familiar places, and glamorizes them a bit, but we know that life, especially in the middle ages was not that easy!
-plots include gullibility in victims and sexual appetite in the trickster heroes
-Canterbury Tales demonstrates irreverence (lack of respect for things that are generally taken seriously) which is probably why the tales have endured so long!

Avarice-greed or insatiable desire for wealth

Questions for "Pardoner's Tale and Wife of Bath" due Wednesday, February 29th

Pardoner's Tale
1. How does the Pardoner describe his own character and morals in the Prologue to his tale?
2. How do the descriptions given by the tavern-knave and the publican personify Death? What does the rioters' response to the description of Death tell you about their characters?
3. Irony is a discrepancy between expectations and reality. What is the central irony in "The Pardoner's Tale"? (What do the rioters expect to find under the tree and what do they actually find?)
4. Is greed or desire the root of all evil? Discuss the Pardoner's moral.

Wife of Bath

1. Consider the various things the Wife of Bath. As the narrator of her tale, the Wife of Bath says things people think women want. What do you think of these proposals? In other words, what do women want according to her and you?

2. Do you think Chaucer's rich portrayal of the Wife of Bath is an indication that he had progressive views about women for his time?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Two kinds of society

The poem is an imaginative vision of two kinds of society, each a pitted against one another...what are these two kinds of society?

The characters in Beowulf are all functionaries playing out their roles as long as wyrd permits, not images of real people but exemplars of all human types. Knowing this, how is the society of Herot representative of "generosity, loyalty, and love"?

what's more important for warriors following comitatus, worrying about showing fear and being disloyal or dying? Why?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Beowulf begins!

After reading the first five sections of the poem, respond to these questions. Notes are allowed.

1. The opening passages of "Beowulf" reference family lineage as it is clearly central to the poem. Find two examples of how the characters reference either ancestry or identity of family within the first five sections. Why might family history play such a vital role?

2. How has Grendel already begun to emerge as the archetypal monster in "Beowulf"? What characteristics does he exude to link him to this title?

3. Look at the religious references in Beowulf--what are the names for God? What biblical events are mentioned, and who mentions them?