Masks are Metaphors

Grandfather would prowl through the living room as though seeking a place of rest and not finding it, would stare fixedly without speaking, and would then descend the basement steps to the rocking chair which sat beside the furnace. — Margaret Laurence, “Mask of the Bear”(139)

… not selfishly–or not always selfishly, we are in search of our identity, the identity of our human condition.
– Malcolm Ross & John Stevens

The most profound discovery that we can make is our discovery of self. Our identity rests in the kind of people we are. To understand who we are and to develop fully as human beings, we must explore the nature of our humanness and the purpose of our lives. Who and what are we? What are the common human qualities and ideals we hold? What roles do other people (e.g., friends, family) play in our lives? What brings us joy, inspiration, and fulfillment? What doubts and fears do we have? By examining our lives and searching for answers to these and other questions, we can find meaning and fulfillment as human beings.

The life which is unexamined is not worth living.
– Plato

Read closely Margaret Laurence’s, “The Mask of the Bear.”

As the title suggests, masks are a significant literary device in the development of character in this story.

30-1 Write a five paragraph essay in which you discuss the ideas suggested by Laurence about the relationship between masks and the search for identity.

30-2 Write a five paragraph essay about masks. Research masks, psychological and cultural. How are masks significant in your life in 2009?

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The Lottery Writing Assignments

Shirley Jackson regarding the letters she received after publishing The Lottery

Curiously, there are three main themes which dominate the letters of that first summer–three themes which might be identified as bewilderment, speculation, and plain old-fashioned abuse. In the years since then, during which the story has been anthologized, dramatized, televised, and even–in one completely mystifying transformation–made into a ballet, the tenor of letters I receive has changed. I am addressed more politely, as a rule, and the letters largely confine themselves to questions like what does this story mean? The general tone of the early letters, however, was a kind of wide-eyed, shocked innocence. People at first were not so much concerned with what the story meant; what they wanted to know was where these lotteries were held, and whether they could go there and watch.

Assignment 1
Work with a partner to complete task A and B.
Task A. Imagine you live in 1948 have just read The Lottery (originally published in The New Yorker, June 28, 1948).

Write a letter to Shirley Jackson.

Task B. Imagine you are Shirley Jackson and you have just read a letter from your audience in response to “The Lottery” during the summer of 1948.

Write a letter in response to that letter.

Assignment 2
Write a post examining the cause and function of violence in your life in 2009.

  • 30-2: select appropriate detail from your personal experience to include in your analysis
  • 30-1: select appropriate detail (image–
    >symbol–>archetype) from The Lottery to include in your analysis

English 30 Poetry Assignment

Respond to each of the following in a well-considered post in your blog.
Limit your selection of detail to a separate poem for each response.

  1. Explain how image and symbol reinforce theme in a poem.
  2. Explain how facts about a writer’s life are relevant to your understanding of a poem.
  3. Explain how a poem can reflect a poet’s personal psychology.
  4. Explain how your own experiences affect your interpretation of a poem.

Trackback each post here.

Hamlet: Final Response

Choose a focus for your final response to Hamlet.

Synthesize alternative points of view, (include links to sources: your posts, STJ blogs, etc.).

Review your responses throughout our study:

Writing tips:

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PS: “To thine own rubric be true.”
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November 9th is the “cut off” day for submission of my marks to the office.
Any assignment to be (re)submitted for grading must be “in my hand” before 2:00PM November 9th.

Hamlet Getting Started 2

Recall:

“refer to your responses to these questions and keep track of any changes in your opinions, or any surprises you find.”

Revisit your initial response to Hamlet: Getting Started. Include specific examples from the text to justify opinions you are forming; develop, rebuke, or refute your initial impressions. Synthesize ideas from outside the text to enhance the clarity of your argument. Use stronger verbs in topic sentences. Use transitions to move between ideas and examples, and avoid dropped quotes and the now overused blockquote.

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Hamlet: Act 1 and 2(English 30)

How do isolation and loneliness affect how we perceive ourselves?

Is Horatio a nihilist? A Christian existentialist? Something else? Does he reveal his “imperatives“? How does he respond when evidence challenges his “imperatives”?

Consider “Postulates 1-4.”

How do characters respond when evidence clearly contradicts their ideals?

While viewing/reading/blogging, keep the usual “Cornell” notes with pen and paper. Blog your response to textual issues arising from class discussion. Link your blog to online sources: wikis, etexts, guides, discussions, imdbs. Synthesize don’t plagiarize: hyperlink all sources. Refer to “Improve Your Critical Thinking” suggestions.

Refresh your skills by looking again at notes from our discussion on Bloom: Knowledge=>Comprehension==>Application==>
Analysis==>Synthesis==>Evaluation.

Ask for the “Strong Verbs” handout if you’ve misplaced yours.

PS: linguistic multi-taskers will excel.

Why read literature?(English 30)

Mark Twain once shrewdly observed that a person who chooses not to read has no advantage over a person who is unable to read. In industrialized societies today, however, the question is not who reads, because nearly everyone can and does, but what is read. Why should anyone spend precious time with literature when there is so much reading material available that provides useful information about everything from daily news to personal computers? Why should a literary artist’s imagination compete for attention that could be spent on the firm realities that constitute everyday life?

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