Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Fiction in our post-truth era by Adam Kirsch

(from the column)
Artificiality is what makes reality television enjoyable, even though these same shows, if advertised as fiction, would appear banal, repetitive and undramatic. Reality is the ingredient that turns a bad fiction into an enthralling one.

The problem with our “post-truth” politics is that a large share of the population has moved beyond true and false. They thrill precisely to the falsehood of a statement, because it shows that the speaker has the power to reshape reality in line with their own fantasies of self-righteous beleaguerment. To call novelists liars is na├»ve, because it mistakes their intention; they never wanted to be believed in the first place. The same is true of demagogues.

From its beginning, the novel has tested the distinction between truth, fiction and lie; now the collapse of those distinctions has given us the age of Trump. We are entering a period in which the very idea of literature may come to seem a luxury, a distraction from political struggle. But the opposite is true: No matter how irrelevant hardheaded people may believe it to be, literature continually proves itself a sensitive instrument, a leading indicator of changes that will manifest themselves in society and culture. Today as always, the imagination is our best guide to what reality has in store.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

CRQs for Ehrenreich's "What I've Learned from Men"

CRQs: “What I’ve Learned from Men” by Barbara Ehrenreich                            mcrawford

Essay appears on pages 83-87 of Patterns of Exposition

1) Who wrote this?  Where did it first appear?  How would you describe the genre of this document?  For whom was it written?  Review a few of the things revealed about the writer.  Which of these things most contributes to her ethos.

2) In what section of the textbook does this essay appear?  Why do you think it was used here?

3) (paragraph 1) How does Ehrenreich open this essay?  For what reason might she do this?  Explain.

4) Ehrenreich’s thesis is introduced—though not fully developed—in paragraph 2.  After reading paragraph 2 what do you expect this essay to argue?

5) (paragraph 3) The writer introduces this as “an example from [her] own experience.”  What do we call such examples when doing rhetorical analysis?  Why does she use this?  Is it effective?

6) Explain the relationship between paragraph 4 and paragraph 3.  Is the writer’s definition of “ladylikeness” is more clear because it is preceded by the episode described in the previous paragraph?  Explain.

7) The first two words of paragraph 5 make clear it’s purpose.   Explain.

8) Paragraph 6 examines more deeply this ‘contrast.’  How does the writer use differing responses to recognition in the workplace to make her point?

9) Paragraphs 7-11 might be described as a call to action.  What actions does the writer ask women to take?  List and explain.

10) In paragraph 12 and 13 she brings the reader’s attention back to the story she describes in paragraph 3.  Why?  How does she use this to make her conclusion more effective?  Explain the connection between paragraphs 12 and 13 and her earlier definition of “ladylikeness.”

Friday, September 2, 2016

Exam: Scarlet Letter chapters 1-12

Read carefully, make notes and prepare to write about the following items:

The rose at the threshold of the prison door.  Anne Hutchinson.  Sweet moral blossom?  

Pearl's name.  It's significance.  (Biblical and natural)

Pearl’s response when asked who made her.  Significance. (connections to first item)

Chillingworth.   His relationship to Dimmesdale.  Differing opinions of him among the townsfolk.

The conversation about the weeds and hidden sin in chapter 10.  The subtext.  Dramatic irony.  The burrs.

The scaffold scene in chapter 12. Compare to the scaffold scene in chapter 2.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Crucible CRQs Act 3

A) When and where does Miller set Act 3?  How does he set the scene?  How does he describe the room?  How might the set contribute to the tone of this part of the play?
B) How does Miller describe Judge Hathorne and Judge Danforth?
C) Explain Hathorne’s logic as he questions Martha Corey.  When she denies knowing anything about witchcraft, how does Hathorne respond?  Does this make sense?  What does this reveal?
D) Who does Proctor bring to the court?  What does she say?  How does Danforth respond?
E) “Plow on Sunday!” (95)  What does this mean?  Who says it and why?  What is being discussed?
F) What does Parris say about Cain and Abel?  Why?  What is his point?
G) Danforth reveals that Elizabeth Proctor has claimed to be pregnant.  He then offers John Proctor a kind of deal.  What does he offer?  How does Proctor respond?  Why does he respond in this way?  What does Danforth mean then when he says, “Then your purpose is somewhat larger.” (97)
H) What happens when John Proctor and Francis Nurse submit a “testament” signed by 91 people?  Who are these people and why did they sign this document?  How does Danforth respond to this document?  What does he decide to do with these people?
I) What kind of document does Giles Corey try to submit to the court?  What happens to him?
J) Describe Reverend Hale’s changing sense of what’s happening.  How does he feel about Rebecca Nurse having been condemned? (see page 104)
K) On page 105 Danforth explains the logic of his procedure for investigating witchcraft.  How does he see it?  What might be the problem with this logic?
L) How does Abigail respond to the content of Mary Warren’s deposition?  When she does this how does John Proctor respond?
M) Near the end of this act, Elizabeth is brought in and questioned.  In the end she lies.  What does she lie about?  Why?  What will happen now as a result of this?
N) Why does Hale quit the court?

The Crucible CRQs Act 2

A)   When and where does Miller set Act 2?  How does he set the scene?  How does he describe the room.  What takes place—before any of the dialogue—that might help an attentive audience understand the relationship between the Proctors?
B)   Copy down two or three sentences that reveal how Proctor’s earlier indiscretion with Abigail still hangs over the relationship between Proctor and his wife.
C)   What differences are there between the court’s disposition toward Goody Osburn and its disposition toward Goody Good?  Of what are they accused?  Why will one hang but not the other?
D)   “I saved her life today!”  (page 63)  Who says this?  About whom?  What is then revealed?  What, after learning this does Elizabeth Proctor urge her husband to do?
E)   Rev. Hale comes to visit then “without the court’s authority.”  Why has he come?  What does he want to know about the Proctors?  How does he go about investigating this?
F)    What does Proctor say about “golden candlesticks”?  What does he mean?
G)   Which of the Ten Commandments does Proctor fail to remember?  Is this significant?  Why?  Or why not?
H)   How does Rev. Hale respond when Proctor reveals that Abigail told him that this all “had naught to do with witchcraft?”
I)     When Giles Corey and Francis Nurse come in we learn that others have been accused and arrested?  Who?  How does Hale respond?  How does Proctor respond?  Elizabeth?
J)    Explain why the doll (the poppet) plays such an important role.  Who made it?  To whom was it given?  Why does Cheever get so worked up about it? 
K)   Why is Mary Warren scared to testify about the poppet?  What does she tell Proctor to persuade him not to testify against Abigail?  How does Proctor respond?
L)   What does Proctor seem willing to do as the curtain falls on Act 2?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Want to get a good grade in the old man's class? Earn it.

How to get an excellent score on an exam or assignment in the old man’s class:

Prompt: (sample question re: The Glass Menagerie) Fire Escape: Explain the importance in the play and its significance artistically.

C (average) The fire escape shows you that they live in a poor neighborhood that they want to escape from.

B (good) The fire escape is symbolic.  It comes up several times in the play.  The characters talk on the fire escape.  Tom talks to the audience in the beginning from there.  Amanda wishes on the moon on the fire escape.

A (excellent) In the stage directions on page 3 Williams explains that the fire escape is a “touch of accidental poetic truth.”  He explains that people living in such circumstances long for escape.  In Scene 4 Tom loses his key through a crack in the fire escape landing.  This suggests that he’s lost or is looking for a ‘key’ to escape his family obligations.  Tom and his mother—and later Tom and Jim—talk on the fire escape.  The Wingfields—especially Amanda—often refer to the fire escape euphemistically as something more pleasant like a terrace or a porch.