Friday, April 1, 2011

For Credit: Applying Literary Analysis to the Non-Literary (w/r/t Phillis Wheatley)

We didn't have time in class today to do justice to the eight pages from Phillis Wheatley's Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral that we discussed.  There is more to say, so feel free to say it in response to this thread.

Some issues to consider:

We have not "read" a lot of images in this course, but the portrait is an interesting one.  What interpretive observations can you make about it?

What strikes you as particularly interesting about the "To the Public" attestation?

Do the three documents here sound like they were all written by the same person?  Why or why not?

What would you have like to say in class today but did not get the opportunity to?

Deadline: open (for now).  Posts before midnight Saturday (4/2) count toward Week 10; after that it's Week 11.

(For those of you who have NOT read any of Wheatley's poetry, here is a hypertext of one of her most widely anthologized poems (one of the very few that refers to her enslavement.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

For Credit (and FYI): Second Paper Update and Open Thread

Clio, by Vermeer (1665)
Okay, it's looking like I will be handing back your first papers (Parts 1 and II) in class on Friday, with extensive comments. I want you to have time to review the feedback and use it in your second papers, so as I mentioned in class Monday, I am moving the deadline for those papers to Monday (4/11).

We'll discuss writing issues on Friday, particularly the challenges of writing accurately and insightfully about the literature of the past. There is much that one doesn't know, and relatively little that one can state for certain and with confidence. That situation makes it easy to fall back on either generalities that are so vague that they can't be wrong (but then, they can't be interestingly right either) or narrow factual claims that seem too obvious to warrant restating. We'll explore some ways to write thoughtfully between these two extremes.

Feel free to post here with reflections, observations, or questions about the second assignment, the ECCO text you've chosen, difficulties you're having, strange things you've discovered...

Posts before Saturday (4/2) at midnight count toward Week 10. Posts after that count for Week 11.

Monday, March 28, 2011

For Credit: "Shrines of Saintly Gnostics and Pious Mystics"

"Why'd they change it, I can't say--people just liked it better that way."

The story is a little more complicated than that (as you probably guessed). As Haro mentioned in class, Celebi consistently refers to his native city as "Islam-bol," a pun on "Istanbul" that means "full of Islam."

[Inconsequential data point: did you guys know that TMBG didn't write this song? It's a cover! Check out the original here.]

Celebi describes three shrines in Diyabekir on pp. 403 - 406 of the reading. What do we learn about his religious values from these descriptions? Obviously, he is a devout and committed Muslim, but what more finely grained information can we glean from these passages, about his faith, about how he perceives the relationship between religion and politics, about the relationship between Muslims and "infidels"?

Deadline: Wednesday (3/30), start of class.