Saturday, February 5, 2011

For Credit: Staging the Love Suicides at Amijima

The Longman anthology has an good explanation of bunraku puppet theater--the form for which Chikimatsu Monzoemon's The Love Suicides at Amijima was written.  Understanding how this poem is staged explains a lot about how it is written, so it's worth taking some time to look into the features of this important Japanese poetic form.

Whether or not you have time to read the Longman explanation, this video does a good job describing it for you and showing you some bunraku puppets and puppet-masters in action.   If your previous experience of puppets is limited to Sesame Street, this will be eye-opening.

A question to consider: how does the puppet staging of this drama affect how you read or understand the events of the play?  Let's take it for granted that seeing any play staged is more powerful than reading it on the page--any performance is going to be more vivid, ore true to the author's vision, and more engaging to the viewer's mind and emotions.  Given that basic feature of a performed play, how specifically might the features of bunraku theater affect how you understand the events depicted?  Would the puppets/chanter feel more or less artificial than actors on a stage?  What additional pleasures might this use of puppets contribute that aren't available in conventional Western forms of drama?  Are there parts of the play that you read or understand differently if you know that the dialogue and narration is being contributed by a single person, not individual actors?

Your response doesn't need to answer all of those questions!  They are just intended to get you thinking productively about this poetic form.

Deadline: Monday (2/7), 1pm.

Friday, February 4, 2011

For Credit: Writing Process

Feel free to respond here with thoughts, questions, reflections, complaints, or advice about the writing process as you prepare to hand in your first assignment.

Posts before midnight on Saturday (2/5) will count towards Week 3 blogging.  Posts after midnight on Saturday will count towards Week 4.  Deadline: Monday (2/7), 10am.

For Credit: Fantomina and Eloisa

Great discussion today!  Before we move on to our next couple of texts (The Love Suicides and The Story of the Stone), here's a chance for a little summing up.  Feel free to respond to any one of the following (or take issue--kindly and collegially--with a classmate's response):
Taken together, what have these two texts taught you about the Enlightenment-era world that was new to you?
What interpretively significant similarities do you find between these two texts?
How do the interpretively significant differences between these two texts illuminate your understanding of the period in which they were written?
What does "interpretively significant" mean?

Deadline: Saturday (2/5), midnight.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

For Credit: So Where Do We Stand?

Since class was cancelled Wednesday, I'm extending the deadline on the current Eloisa to Abelard blog posts.  We'll have to cover two days' worth of discussion on this poem tomorrow in order to clear the decks for The Love Suicides of Amijima on Monday.  Respond to this post with your suggestions on what that compressed agenda should include:
  • What issues have been resolved and can now be shelved?
  • What conclusions have we come to?
  • What interpretive questions that have come up so far seem to need some further discussion or resolution?
  • What interpretive questions haven't been asked yet and should be?
  • What would you like to know but haven't had a chance to ask yet?
You don't need to answer all those questions!  Pick one to prompt your ideas.  And feel free to take issue (kindly and collegially, of course) with a classmate's remarks.

Deadline: Friday (2/4), start of class.

Monday, January 31, 2011

For Credit: Some Strong Interpretive Claims

The responses to the fishbowl exercise today shook loose some interesting ideas that weren't fully advanced in class discussion:
[Eloisa] has done something wrong and is fearful of the consequences....she wants to use God to escape the situation.
[T]his poem is about Eloisa and not "the lovers."
 In her heart she does not want to forget Abelard.
I don't think she wants to be reunited with God...she resents him (if unacknowledged).
Respond to this post with evidence from the poem that supports or refutes (kindly and collegially, please!) any one of these provocative claims.

Deadline: Wednesday (2/2) Friday 2/4, start of class.

For Credit: Eloisa's Death

Discussion today ranged widely around this poem, but we didn't quite tackle the end, where Eloisa imagines her death.  A couple of people pointed out that Eloisa could look to the prospect of uniting in heaven with Abelard as a resolution to her woe, but we didn't really look closely at the particular lines where she thinks about death.

To what extent does Eloisa find comfort in the thought of being in heaven with Abelard?

How else does the prospect of dying fit into her effort to put her mind at ease?

How does Pope bring the poem to a satisfying close?

Feel free to take on any of those questions in your response--or respond (kindly and collegially) to a classmate's ideas).

Deadline: Wednesday (2/2) Friday 2/4, start of class.

For Credit: Curse on all laws but those which love has made!

There's an important passage in this poem that came up in passing at a couple of points in discussion.  I didn't pause discussion then to focus on it, because there was so much other interesting stuff to talk about (excellent work today, guys!), but let's do so here, on the blog.

The passage in question: the verse paragraph beginning on l. 73 and ending l. 98.  It works as a self-contained unit (more so than other verse paragraphs in the poem), but it also connects to Eloisa's overall chain of thought.  Line 81 often trips people up.  It's reasonable to think that "the jealous God" is...well, God.  A lot of editions of this poem, however, put a footnote in at that point to suggest that "the jealous God" refers back to "Love" in the previous line and means, not God, but Cupid (the god of Love).  Try reading it with that gloss, and see if it makes sense.

What is Eloisa saying in this verse paragraph?  How does it connect to Eloisa's other thoughts and concerns in this poem?

Deadline: Wednesday (2/2) Friday 2/4, start of class.