December 5th, 2010

Hey guys, I thought I’d be really nice and post some of the stuff from the review today…

  1. 21 Quotations @ a 1 pt each
    Write the author’s last name (spelled correctly!) and title of the work (can just be a catchphrase/abbreviation such as “Dying” or “JGV”)

    • Poe: 7 short stories, each used once
      “How to Write a Blackwood Article” (x1)
      “The Premature Burial” (x1)
      “Murders in the Rue Morgue” (x1)
      “The Masque of the Red Death” (x1)
      “Hop-Frog/8-Chained Oranguatan (x1)
      “The Fall of the House of Usher” (x1)
      “The Black Cat” (x1)
    • Novels: 7 longer works, each used twice
      Frederick Douglass – A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (x2)
      Harriet Jacobs – Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (x2)
      Mark Twain – Puddn’head Wilson & Those Extraordinary Twins (x2)
      Kate Chopin – The Awakening (x2)
      William Faulkner – As I Lay Dying (x2)
      Zora Neale Hurston – Jonah’s Gourd Vine (x2)
      Tennessee Williams – A Streetcar Named Desire (x2)
  2. 12 Critical Essay-Critic Matching @ 1 pt each
    Match the critic’s last name (given to us) to their argument/quote. The critics are as follows:

    • Poe: Rowe and Whalen
    • Douglass: Ripley and McDowell
    • Jacobs: Yellin and Foster
    • Twain: Leavis and Morris
    • Chopin: Walker and Yeager
    • Faulkner: Sundquist and Gray
  3. 9 Short Answer Questions @ 4 pts each
    2 – 4 sentences in response to each question

    • example: “Name 3 ways Douglass and Jacobs differ in their use of a slave narrative.”

    (please correct me if that example is wrong)

  4. 1 out of 2 Essay Prompts @ 30 pts each
    Will ask you about themes or ideas seen throughout the semester. Use multiple works to show this knowledge (but cannot use all 7 of Poe’s stories in your essay!)

Think about the texts in dialogue with each other:
Williams and Poe? and Chopin?
Chopin and Jacobs? and Faulkner?
Jacobs and Hurston? and Douglass?

Which texts are critiques of race? Slavery?
Which are critiques of class?
Which are critiques of the South?  Southern aristocracy? Southern miscegenation? Death of the Old South?
Which texts focus on gender?

A Jump Back to Twain

December 5th, 2010

A few days ago I stumbled across an NPR interview about the publishing of a new Mark Twain autobiography.  It took me awhile to get around to it because it is almost 19 minutes long, but now that I have listened I am desperate to get a copy of the book.  Next time my parents ask about what I’d like for Christmas, I have an answer ready.  The interview is truly fascinating and includes some endearing anecdotes from the autobiography, including one where Twain met Helen Keller.  So if you have some time, give this interview on-publishing-mark-twain-s-autobiography a listen.  If you have even more time, there is a second interview on the page.  But at the very least, it may get you thinking about Twain again and just in time for our exam.

I Need More Blog Posts

December 5th, 2010

If you enjoyed the reading list for this class, here are some other titles that may interest you:

Ok, I’m a few posts short of the requirement, so I’m coming up with quick and dirty posts just like the rest of you.  I googled “southern literature” and found this list.  I wasn’t surprised by the first few titles, but as I scrolled down and the list just kept going and going, I was less and less impressed.  First of all, I expected a top-ten list, maybe 25, but 99 titles, and that’s just the first page of three?!  Second, this isn’t the most scholarly list out there.  “The Notebook” and the Southern Vampires Mysteries series (inspiration for a little show you may have heard of called True Blood….)  are listed side by side with “Roots” and our beloved AILD!

This list make me think back to my post about having a checklist for what constitutes as Southern Lit?  The list includes John Grisham’s “The Client” and I would NEVER have considered putting it on a list of the “Best Southern Literature” even with an adze held to my head.

Kiss My Grits

December 4th, 2010

Like southern literature, or any aspect of southern culture, the question of authenticity always seems to come up for southern food.  Here’s a historical look at the birth of southern food.  And, yes, I know it’s Wikipedia, but they have a pretty nice breakdown of southern food.  Generally when people mention the south the first thing I think of other than accents and god-awful humidity is the food.  But it’s hard to find one unifying dish for the whole south.  I suppose I might go with cornbread, biscuits or grits but even for shared dishes there seem to be a thousand different variations, like with barbecue for example. I can think of Memphis style, Carolina style and Texas style, and each sub-region seems to think that their way is best.  I’m not really sure what the quintessential southern food is (moon pies? peanuts in coke? fried chicken? banana pudding?) but it sure as hell tastes good.  And I feel like I see southern-style cooking in restaurants outside of the south too and all sorts of southern chains like Cracker Barrel that promise real southern cookin’. Although I didn’t notice southern food specifically playing a big role in any of the works we read this semester…

Where Can Southern Literature Be Set?

December 4th, 2010

While I was perusing the internet, desperately searching for another blog entry topic, I found another blog that raised an interesting question on whether or not southern literature needs to even be set in the south. I’m in an Asian-American lit class this semester and we’ve read some texts dealing with immigrant experiences, so I’m wondering what about a work with a southern character displaced in the north or the west or wherever? Does that count as southern lit? Or does southern identity not work like that? I feel like I hear lots about southerners who move away and get shit for their accents. When my mom first moved to Virginia from Texas apparently all people talked to her about was her accent, how it made her more attractive or how it made her sound stupid. In terms of regional identity, I’d say that the south probably feels the most separated and exoticized because of all its stereotypes. But then again, given globalization and such, I might also assume that regional identities as a whole are probably starting to disappear

Alternative Streetcar Ending

December 2nd, 2010

To dialogue with some of our Streetcar essays, I thought it would be worthwhile to provide the ending of the film adaptation of the play.  Because of censorship, in this ending, Stella leaves Stanley and does not submit to maintaining the lie of her husband’s innocence.


What do you all think the consequences of this change are?

On the Peripheral

December 2nd, 2010

Looking back on all the essays we wrote, I decided that it might be important to marginalize the methods everyone used in order to discuss the future of literary criticism and how our essays viewed collectively can open a discussion about how we are taught to think about literature.  Not to say that it is wrong or needs fixing, but it is something definitely worth considering.  I am going to attempt to breakdown all the essays into methodological categories so we can view how as a class and intellectual community we view literature.  I will use the common critical approaches found in beloved Orange Book(Critical Terms for Literary Study: Appendix C) all the English majors have grown to love with a passion.  These broad general styles include Formalism, Biographical, Historical, Sociological, Feminist and Gender, Psychoanalytic, Structuralism and Post-Structuralism criticisms.  I realize that many of the essays contain combinations of textual analysis , but I think it is important to categorize them for simplification.  I apologize to anyone who feels I have marginalized their essay in the wrong way and ask that you please comment on this post to correct my errors, or discuss how I should have viewed your essay because my perspective has lead me astray from your thesis.

Here is the list:

Formalism:  I found no essays that broadly encompass this style of criticism, if you think yours belongs.  Please tell me i’m wrong

Derek LeComte’s “Zora Neale Hurston’s Perfect Tool”
Coleman Clark’s “Fear and Loathing in New Orleans: Tennessee Williams’ Self-Portrait via Blanche DuBois”

Lindsay Cutler’s “Washingtonian Philosophies of Racial Uplift in Jonah’s Gourd Vine
Andrew Campbell’s “Exploitation and Oppression in A Streetcar Named Desire

Kathleen Fabie’s “Sorrow’s Kitchen”
David Gallagher’s “The Value of Folk Tradition in Jonah’s Gourd Vine
Lindley Estes’s “The Cultural Predestination of John Pearson in Zora Neale Hurston’sJonah’s Gourd Vine
Andrew Campbell’s “Exploitation and Oppression in A Streetcar Named Desire
Kyle Hoffmann’s “False Dichotomy of Class in A Streetcar Named Desire
Jency Williams’s “Material Culture as a Measure of Control in Tennesse Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire

Feminist and Gender: Had some trouble here deciding the fate of a few, let me know if you want out!
Ocean Edwards’s “Jonah’s Gourd Vine: Women and the Reformation of Man”
Stephanie Edwards’s “Marriage and Motherhood: Complications to Selfhood in Jonah’s Gourd Vine
Karl Livingston’s “Maternity and Language: A Comparison of As I Lay Dying and Jonah’s Gourd Vine
Meg Baker’s “Misogyny and Rape: The Downfall of Two Queens”
JB Bridgeman’s “Blanche and Alma: The Circumstances of the Southern Gentlewoman”
Julianna Truslow’s “Disability as Feminized in A Streetcar Named Desire
Alex Culbreth’s “Blanche DuBois and the Southern Belle”
Ginny Ferrell’s “Lured by Lights: Stella’s Dependence on Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire
Calli Fox’s “Stella’s Lost Identity in A Streetcar Named Desire
Julia Holmes’s “’I’m not in anything I want to get out of’: Consensual Victimization in A Streetcar Named Desire

Terrell Taylor’s “The Tragedy of Individual Struggle in Jonah’s Gourd Vine Stephen Harrison’s “The Impossibility of Choice: Naturalism in Jonah’s Gourd Vine
Jacklyn Faraci’s “The Inevitable Destruction of Blanche DuBois”

Structuralism: Yo, where the structuralists at?Let me know if you think you belong here.

Jacob Gordon’s “Human Nature and Linguistic Oppression in Jonah’s Gourd Vine
Minta Smith’s “The Underdevelopment of Jonah’s Gourd Vine: A Critique and Comparison”

Ok, so now looking at my marginalized view of our essays it’s pretty apparent the style of criticism our class generally focuses on.  I know that I probably made a few(or many) mistakes so please correct me if I am wrong because i would like to know why so i can categorize better in the future.  Easily I recognize a fetish of feminism and sociological studies.  Is this because of the texts we’ve read?  Or maybe it is because we have more women so more feminism?  I would like to believe it is the result of literature pedagogy in our contemporary world, but I feel i’m likely to be wrong.  Is the contemporary literary world obsessed with sociological and Feminist studies?  If so is this a good or a bad thing? I’d like to believe that all the styles carry an equal weight.  I hope to hear some opinions about this, or at least reform my collection because I viewed the criticisms wrong.  This is something I’d rather discuss than impose my opinion on since I am no literature expert.

Deities We Love and Critique

December 2nd, 2010

I know I’ve touched on this subject before, however briefly it may have been, but bear with me. It’s near THE END:

All through the readings of the supplementary criticism and the recent paper, I notice how the names of authors carry a sort of weight. In their usage, justifications as to why certain literary techniques or quirks were used then use the author as a validation in terms of historical, biographical, and other implications. In some instances–whether unique to myself or not–the author’s name seems rendered in a vague, unspecificed by evidence or implied manner; simply, like God or whatever deity of your choosing you wish to spit out cursing, the author’s name is sometimes “said in vain”.

On the other side of the spectrum, some literary critics and certainly those people selected to write introductions/forewords to texts in question may go on about the wonderful merits of the piece, typically saying something like “This book changed my life” or “This play has moral and/or philosophical topics that will get you thinking.” Even the negatively charged criticism can be seen as some sort of worship, in the view that “Hate is just a different form of love” paraphrased from school of though à la Terry Pratchett.

Insofar as my rhetorical questioning may go, What instances ARE there, either textually specific or generally that I have missed? Indeed, am I truly unique in seeing this phenomenom happening or is this typical late-night desperation and deprivity speaking? (Don’t answer that last question. =_=; )

Great Literature….Or Not?

December 2nd, 2010

I was discussing great literature with a friend today, and I remembered the discussion we had in class about the Canon and what makes great literature. And I’ll be honest, the conversation I was having my friend revolved around none other than Harry Potter (I finally got to see the movie). Are these seven novels good enough to be considered great literature and make it into the Canon?

My initial response is no because they are really literally genius pieces of work. They aren’t overly complex, though Rowling does create some interesting characters, and they are easy reads. However, these books are going to go down in history as being some of the greatest novels because an entire generatation grew up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. And not only that, but they impacted our lives. Let’s face it, I know I’m not the only one who stood in line at midnight to get the next book in the series the night it came out. Nor am I the only one who lost numerous amounts of sleep as a 14 year old because I was reading them all night.

So will we even get a say regarding what these books go down in history as – great pieces of literature or just a good read? I don’t know. But it does present the interesting question of who will decide this and how they will come to this decision. Let’s hope there is some good basis and academic reasoning behind it all. Though, if I get to be on that decision making board, those books are totally going in the Canon.

Leaves of Paper

December 2nd, 2010

Before Thanksgiving (and believe you me, I was giving thanks) I did my own paper on Jonah’s Gourd Vine and submitted it with more than enough trepidation, as I now see it deserves. As always with submitting work I wished I had had more time to work on it, proofreading and especially editing. Now that I’m reading papers by others, it’s like that feeling has been reverted and turned inside out: what I had to truly concentrate to ignore was the attention I paid to how each paper was written, thinking more along the lines of a fiction writer than of nonfiction.

Yet while writing in general alway involves creativity in composing and trying to be entertaining enough so that the reader doesn’t sleep-drool onto the pages is–so I find, anyway–more difficult when juggling facts and quote one is required to deal with rather than abstracting it all from one’s head. Editing and proofreading made a boring monstrosity less horrible. But as much as using different fonts may change the reading experience, editing and proofreading change the initial intrepretation of the piece.

Simply said, I wish I could go back and redo my paper. I’m guessing others would want to do that as well. Of course, to put this issue in perspective, the papers may then never end (I heard a little about Faulkner’s relationship with his piece “The Bear” and its multiple revisions from a horrified friend). 

Speaking directing to whomever is reading this, what other issues in writing draftsmanship are there, beside potential  cases of the lack thereof? Clarity, style, diction, syntax…