Friday, April 8, 2011

For Credit: Reflections on ECCO Assignment

Feel free to respond to this post with your thoughts about any of the following:

(1) In what specific ways do you find that the text you're writing about complicates, affirms, completes, or otherwise speaks to the picture of Enlightenment-era culture that you've been acquiring in this course?

(2) What particular rhetorical challenges does this paper assignment present?

(3) What are you finding particularly interesting, frustrating, confusing, or difficult about grappling with your chosen text?

Deadline: Monday (4/11), start of class. Posts before midnight Saturday (4/9) count towards Week 11; posts after that count towards Week 12.

For Credit: Follow-Up on Montagu and Diderot

Anything you would like to add to our discussion today of Montagu and Diderot? Anything you would have like to say but didn't have a chance to? Any questions you didn't have a chance to ask?

Feel free to offer your thoughts here, or respond to a classmate's ideas.

Deadline: Monday (4/11), start of class. Posts before midnight Saturday (4/9) count toward Week 11; posts after that count toward Week 12.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

For Credit: Montagu Follow-Up

Who has more freedom, in Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's opinion: English women like herself or the Turkish women she gets to know? What makes you think so?

Deadine: Friday (4/8), start of class.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

For Credit: Diderot and the Tahitians

Many of the travelers in our readings so far travel in a spirit of open-ended inquiry (even if they find it harder than they realize to escape from their prejudices and underlying assumptions).  Diderot is more of an "armchair anthropologist" than a traveler.   So committed is he to a certain lessons that can be learned from foreign cultures that he doesn't even need to travel himself in order to extract them. Instead he reworks and extrapolates from a travel narrative that was already out there--Bougainville's account of his voyages (please note that he does this with utter transparency--he wasn't trying to make anyone think he had made this voyage himself).

So: what are some of the specific claims that Diderot is trying to advance through this pseudo-travel-narrative?  What does want readers to take away from their literary encounter with Tahiti?

Deadline: Friday (3/8), start of class.

For Credit: The Third Paper (BUMPED and UPDATED)

The third paper for this course will require you to write about two assigned readings that were NOT on the first paper or the midterm: the travel narratives we've been reading (Swift, Celebi, Basho, Montagu) and Kant.  You will get a choice of assigned topics, but the crafting of topics should not be solely up to me.  After all, one of the skills we've been implicitly working on in class--and directly practiing in your second papers--is identifying good interpretive questions.  What would be some useful ways to bring these various readings into productive and interesting dialogue with each other?

Respond to this post with a suggested topic for the third paper.  Your topic should (a) require the writer to discuss two of the texts listed above, (b) involve a minimum of secondary research, (c) be narrow enough that 2nd-year college student can write at least six pages of thoughtful ideas about it, but broad enough to require more than four.  You can also respond by kindly and collegially suggesting modifications to a classmate's proposed topic. 

UPDATE: If you're not comfortable proposing something as structured and formal as a paper topic, consider responding to this thread with some more general observations about the travel narratives we've read.  What are some interesting (specific and non-obvious) similarities among some of these narratives?  In what specific and non-obvious ways do some of them differ?  

Deadline: Friday (4/8), start of class.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

FYI: Extra Montagu Reading/Handout

If you weren't in class to get the Montagu handout on Monday, you can find it here, or over there in the sidebar (under "Readings").  There's been some fine commentary on this supplemental reading already in the responses to the Montagu post below, so I won't start a new thread here.  Instead, I'll encourage you to add your reflections to the conversation already in play.

UPDATE: the link above to the reading has been fixed.

Monday, April 4, 2011

For Credit: Points of Entry for Montagu's Turkish Embassy Letters

From today's attendance questions:

  • Neither do I think our English proper to express such violence of passion, which is very seldom felt among us (p.178).  "This highlights the cultural differences between LMWM and the Turkish people.It comes up at many times, such as when giving gifts, speaking with ladies, or translating poetry.  LMWM is conscious of the difference and is trying to deal with it."
  • As equal were our Souls, so equal were our fates? (p. 174).  Mentioned by four different people.
  • Nothing could be more artful or more proper to raise certain ideas, the tunes so soft,the motions so languishing, accompany'd with pauses and dying eyes, half falling back and then recovering themselves in so artful a manner,I am very possitive the coldest and most rigid prude upon earth could not have looked upon them without thinking of something not to be spoke of (182)  "...Montagu is very descriptive when observing her surroundings..."
  • He is a man of wit and learning, but whether or no he is capable of writing good verse himself, you may be sure that on such an occasion he would not want the assistance of the best poets (p. 176).  Hint from your instructor: "want" can mean two different things here; which possible meaning does LMWM have in mind?
  • I have taken an abundance of pains to get these verses in a literal translation, and if you were acquainted with my interpreters, I might spare myself the trouble of assuring you that they have receiv'd no potential touches from their hands.  In my opinion (allowing for the inevitable faults of a prose translationinto a language so very different) there's a good deal of beauty in them (178). "This passage shows how hard she works on these letters/poetry/translations.  It also shows her passion for poetry--someone who did not really care would not to such great lengths to get something translated."

Respond to this post by offering your further commentary or reflections on any of these passages, or by connecting any of them to either today's discussion, or the additional reading on the Turkish baths and Turkish dress.

Deadline: Wednesday (4/6), start of class.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

For Credit: Lady Mary Wortley Montagu Grab-Bag

To get us started on Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's reflections on the Ottoman Empire, respond to any of the questions below (just be sure to specify which you are answering).
  1. What differences do you find in the ways that Montagu addresses the various people she writes to?
  2. What conclusions about Montagu's values can you draw from the differences she observes between the two houses she visits?
  3. How does Montagu's "literal" translation of the Turkish poem differ from the translation that she casts "in the style of English poetry"? What do the differences tell you about "English poetry" or Montagu's conception of it?
  4. What is Montagu's attitude towards the Turkish slaves?
  5. Montagu is perhaps most famous for her role in bringing the concept of inoculation to England, an intention she first conveys in the letter to Sarah Chiswell on p. 178 - 179. What is worthy of note in her explanation of this practice?
  6. What questions do you have about Montagu's "Turkish Letters." What do you find particularly interesting, significant, or noteworthy about them?

Deadline: Monday (4/4), start of class.