Here’s a thread for some thinking about Halberstam’s article on “Queer Temporality and Postmodern Geographies.” As I suggested in class today, Halberstam’s piece is a complex, rich reflection on gender, sexuality, time, and place — all concepts that can help to illuminate both Angels and Moonlight. So we’ll use Tuesday’s class to practice working closely with this kind of material and thinking about how we might use it in the third paper.
For this blog post, you should focus on one key passage from the essay — one section of a few sentences that you find particularly interesting, revealing, challenging, problematic, or otherwise significant. Make sure to contextualize and cite the passage as you would in a paper, and use your post to start thinking through that passage — what do you find important about it? What issues does it raise, and how might it give us a way to think about those issues (and our recent texts) in new, different, and more complex ways? We’ll use some of these passages as focal points for our thinking and discussion in class Tuesday.
Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by 9:00am on Tuesday, November 26th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.
Here’s a thread for our film text, Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight. First, a few practical things:
Before you watch the film, make sure to watch the three clips from the “How to Speak Movie” series on YouTube: The Camera, Mise en Scène, and Editing. These will set you up with a useful vocabulary for how to analyze film in formal terms (again, think of these as similar to the Bedford Glossary or Culler’s essays for this section of the course).
Then watch the film in preparation for this blog post and for our discussion in class Tuesday — the DVD is on reserve at the library, and the film is also available online. Just make sure you plan ahead and give yourself enough time to get it and watch it before class Tuesday—keep in mind that even if you’ve seen it, you need to watch it again so that it’s fresh in your mind and you can view it more analytically and critically. When you watch it, treat it analytically and critically just as we do printed texts — take notes, think about where and how the form of the film works in particular ways, and try to come away with a concrete sense of the issues it’s raising and how it’s engaging those issues.
Then come back here for the post itself: for this post, you should closely analyze one shot from Moonlight. In your post, you should address both what is significant about your chosen shot formally, and what that form is saying in larger thematic terms. What kind of shot is it? What kinds of angle, camera distance, depth of field, etc., are in play here, and how do they help to shape meaning? How do parts of mise en scene such as lighting, set design, costume, etc., contribute? How long or short is the shot, and what’s important about that? What larger issues do these formal effects raise, and how?
Keep in mind that your analysis should focus on the form of the shot rather than on character or plot at that moment in general. You don’t need to cover every term or category from the clips above in your analysis, but you should certainly use some — be selective and use those concepts to help you analyze the shot more thoroughly and deeply.
Happy watching — see you all next week!
Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by 9:00am on Tuesday, November 19th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.
Here’s a thread for some thinking about the first part of Kushner’s Perestroika (we’re reading Acts 1-3) for Tuesday. For this post, you should pose two interpretive questions, or clusters of questions, that emerge for you from your reading for Tuesday. Rather than being oriented towards reading-comprehension-type thinking, your questions should be open-ended and speculative — they should point us towards the larger questions and issues Kushner is raising in this second play. Although you might think about how you’d answer the questions you pose, they should be questions you can’t answer easily or simply.
For each question, you should say a little about what’s at stake in it for you, and what you see the importance of that question being. We’ll look at some of these in class Tuesday as a way of starting to wrestle with this complex work.
Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by 9:00am on Tuesday, November 12th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.
Another Reminder: Don’t forget that the revised draft of Paper Two is due next Friday, November 15 by 11:59pm. Email me or stop by office hours next week (Monday 1:00-2:00pm and Tuesday 3:45-5:45pm) if you want to discuss revision!
Here’s an open thread for thinking about the rest of Millennium Approaches, which we’ll discuss on Tuesday. You’re welcome to write about whatever in the remaining acts seems important to you in terms of the play overall — you might write on the questions of space and power that we’ve been looking at so far, or on theatricality within the play, but feel free to focus on whatever strikes you as significant in what you’re reading. The only requirement here is that you focus on something that allows you to address some larger issues (thematic, generic, social, etc.) in your writing, and that you pursue those issues through some quotation and close analysis of Kushner’s text.
Have a good weekend, and happy reading!
Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by 9:00am on Tuesday, November 5th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.
Hope you’ve been having a good Study Day. As I mentioned at the end of class yesterday, Kushner’s Angels in America is an exemplary dramatic text, but it’s also an important text for us in the ways that it’s self-consciously thinking about drama. In the same way that Morrison is thinking about how narrative, storytelling, voice, and memory function through Beloved, Kushner is thinking in Angels in America about what it means for bodies to exist and move in space — for him, this is an artistic inquiry into what these things mean in terms of drama as a form, but he’s using the form of drama as a social inquiry into the larger meanings of the body and space.
So for this first post on the play, you should do some close reading and reflection on one body and/or space (feel free to define those terms however you want — for example, a space can be a particular setting of a particular scene, but you also might think of larger social spaces that the play seems to be addressing). What spaces seem important to the world of the play — what (kinds of) bodies are permitted into them, and what (kinds of) bodies are restricted? What spaces seem public or private, and what impact does that have on the world of the play? What bodies seem important and why — what is Kushner trying to show us about bodies and space through this first Act? You’re free to take up these issues and questions around bodies and space, or others that strike you as important — just make sure, as always, to ground your thinking in some quotation and close analysis of the language of the play. If you find the Elinor Fuchs article we’re reading for Tuesday helpful to your thinking here, feel free to use that in your analysis as well.
Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by 9:00am on Tuesday, October 29th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.
Nice thinking about some difficult material in the novel today. As promised, here’s a post on the experimental sections at the end of our reading for today (pages 236-256). You should finish reading the novel as a whole for Tuesday, but we’ll also spend some time looking back at this section and thinking about how it relates to the end and the novel as a whole. So let’s use this post to start thinking about those issues.
Morrison calls these sections “unspeakable thoughts, unspoken” — they pose something unique and different, even within this unique, challenging text. What we encounter here seems at times like poetry, giving us a strange and intimate window into the minds of Sethe, Denver, and Beloved—it’s clear here that Morrison is doing something that expands the scope of this novel in particular, but also pushes at the boundaries of the novel as a form more broadly.
Your task for this blog post is to do some close wrestling with precisely these issues, along two lines. Focus in on a few specific lines or phrases in your post, and read them closely and carefully—given the form of this section of the novel, it makes sense to recall our blog and paper writing about poetry as a model of specificity and detail and to think along those lines here. What is Morrison saying or showing about the character speaking in the section you choose, and how—what does her choice of language there do to shape that section’s meaning?
In addition to doing this focused close analysis, you should also do some thinking in your post about the nature and meaning of this section overall. Is this poetry, prose, something else altogether? What does it mean to include it in the novel? How does it change how we have to read? What do we have to consider as we read this section that we might not have considered before—linguistically, psychologically, thematically, formally, etc? Try to use your larger reflection here to think about how this section overall might fit into the larger issues we’ve been discussing—what is Morrison getting at through this section as a whole?
Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by 9:00am on Tuesday, October 22nd. If you have any questions, let me know via email.
Here’s an open-ended thread for writing on the next chunk of Beloved — you’re free to write on what seems most important to you in this section of the text, with a few qualifications and constraints.
First, rather than a general response, you should use your post to raise and think about some specific key issues in this section: you might write about one of the issues we’ve been talking about or that I forecasted at the end of class today — questions of ethics, race, and trauma in the text, or of narrative and time, or of the supernatural — or you might focus on something else that we haven’t touched on much like, like gender, or space, or something else altogether. Just make sure that the issues you’re approaching are high-level conceptual and thematic ones that you can pursue through some close analysis, and note those issues in your writing in ALL CAPS so it’s clear what you’re focusing on.
Second, as always, you should ground your analysis in quotation and close analysis of a specific moment or two from this section of the text — cite this and look at it closely as a way of thinking about how Morrison is addressing the issues you’re focusing on.
Happy writing and paper revising — I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s work!
Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by 9:00am on Tuesday, October 15th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.
Nice discussion of Machado and Culler yesterday. Since our next class will be our first day of a few with Beloved, I’m going to make this post an open-ended one so that we can set out some of the issues in the text that seem important and worth thinking about over our discussion.
There’s lots to think about in this first section of the novel — the question of how Morrison is using language to think about time, memory, and history is certainly one important thing we’ll discuss Wednesday, as is the ways in which the novel illustrates and engages with some of the foundation ideas from Culler we’ve been discussing, so you might write on one of those if it interests you. But feel free to focus on whatever seems significant as something that would allow you a way into thinking about the larger issues of the novel. The only fundamental requirement here is that you ground your thinking in quotation and close analysis of some specific language from the novel — think about the larger questions and issues that Morrison’s rich prose opens up and what seems significant in it to you. Have a good weekend, and I’ll see you Tuesday!
Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by 9:00am on Tuesday, October 8th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.
Welcome to the first blog post of the fiction section of our course! As we transition from poetry to narrative prose, we’ll turn to a number of new concerns and questions, but also hold onto our focus on form and close reading as foundational to how we think about literary texts and the thematic, cultural, and social issues they raise for us.
To help us make that transition, we’ll spend our first day on fiction looking at two texts in conversation: Culler’s chapter on narrative and Carmen Maria Machado’s short story “The Husband Stitch.” Machado’s story gives us a rich groundwork for thinking through some of the issues and questions Culler raises around narrative, from the relations between plot and presentation to questions of speech, authority, and focalization.
So for this post, let’s try to think about how we might use some of Culler’s thinking to frame Machado’s story (think of this as a continuation of the poetics activity we did with Culler in our last class). In your post, you should discuss how an element or moment from “The Husband Stitch” illustrates an idea or issue from Culler’s writing, quoting and discussing language from both pieces. You might explore how this story one of the questions Culler notes as central to narrative theory, or how it plays with plot and discourse, or what the story “does,” in Culler’s sense of the term, or whatever other relations between these two texts seem important and significant to you. As you explore those relations, think and write about what they help us to see about Machado’s story and about fiction and narrative more broadly.
Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by 9:00am on THURSDAY, October 3rd (remember that this is on a different schedule from our usual blogging). If you have any questions, let me know via email.
Nice job of thinking through the workings of the villanelle today! Our readings for next week take us into the somewhat different world of free verse. As we turn to these poems, they may seem more plain, accessible, and natural, but our challenge with them is the same that it’s been up to this point — to think about where and how linguistic form creates meaning in specific ways — and that challenge is all the more important given that these works seem not to have form in the same sense as what we’ve read so far.
So for this next post, you should zero in on and close read a small piece of one of the poems we’ll read for Tuesday — by small here, you should focus on something as small as a single word, and certainly no longer than a single line. You might refer in your post to other moments in the poem, but you should do that in order to contextualize that focal piece more fully and richly. As you analyze it, think about how it’s working and what it’s doing in the poem overall — because these works are in seemingly “plainer” language and don’t have a set form like the sonnet or the villanelle, it’s tempting to choose a moment and paraphrase or “translate” its language, so to speak, but try instead to think about how that language is working and what it’s saying through how it works. Poetic issues like word choice, phrasing, rhythm, placement within the line and the poem, repetition, and punctuation (to name just a few) are as much in play here as they are in more formal poetry, so try to think about how those factors shape how your selection operates within the larger line and poem.
As in our previous post, it would be great to cover as much ground as possible, so take a look at what’s been posted before you post, and try to address material (both lines and poems) that hasn’t been heavily covered yet. Happy reading!
Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by 9:00am on Tuesday, September 24th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.