Friday, April 29, 2011

Just So You Know

I'm a week behind in the blog grading.  The priority at the moment is getting your third papers graded, so I'm probably not going to get on top of it this weekend.  FYI.

For Credit: The Easy Answers

Our discussion of Candide today ended on an optimistic note: This may not be the best of all possible worlds, but by consistently questioning, thinking for oneself, and (I daresay) laughing at oneself, perhaps a better world that the current one can be gradually achieved.

Is such a hopeful, forward-looking view in fact what Voltaire seems to be suggesting through Candide?

What separates the phlegmatic cynicism of Martin or the old lady from more modern forms of anomie?

What (if any) limitations are there to the world-view presented in the conclusion to Candide?

What would you have liked to say, ask, suggest in class today if you had had the opportunity?

Deadline: Monday (5/2), start of class.  Whether your post counts for Week 14 or Week 15 depends on which side of midnight Saturday it appears. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

For Credit: All the Single Ladies... (BUMPED, deadline extended)

The women represented in Candide are either the victims of rampant and unremitting sexual violence...or they are prostitutes (which does not necessarily preclude being a victim of sexual violence). Or they cheerfully make love to monkeys.

What are we to make of this?

Deadline: Wednesday (4/27) Friday (4/29), start of class (since we didn't have much opportunity to discuss this issue on Wednesday).

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

For Credit: Things I Learned This Evening

1.  My facetious suggestion (you know, the one that produced dead silence: that the old lady is quite deliberately presented as "half-assed") turns out to be anachronistic.  Worse, it relies on a pun only available in English translation (the native-French-speaking friend I consulted tells me there's no equivalent French term that combines butts with the sense of things being poorly done or ill-considered.)  In case you're curious, the term originates in American English, with a first recorded usage of 1938.  It doesn't appear in British English ("half-arsed") until 1961.

2.  People seem to name their cats after characters in Candide more frequently than one might expect.  Or so I have gathered from searching Google Images for graphics to put on the blog. 

Why doesn't the old lady have a name?

Deadline: Friday (4/29), start of class.

For Credit: Science, Progress, and Glasses that are Half-Full/Empty


So where did today's Martin vs. Pangloss exercise leave us?

Is the difference just one between those who see the glass as half-empty and those who see it as half-full, or is there a more far-reaching distinction between the two positions?

To what extent does Voltaire think that change is possible, either for individuals or for the human race as a whole?

What would you have liked to say today but didn't have a chance to?

Deadline: Friday (4/29), start of class.

For Credit: The Winding Down of the Semester

In random bullet form, because there's not a lot of coherence here, but I don't want to make a series of microposts. The bloggy question is the last bullet point.
  • You people don't eat wings? The senior English majors in Later C18 Lit (427) had lots of suggestions. So did the folks in Intro to Fiction (109). I'm not sure what to make of the silence from my (ahem) Enlightenment class. 
  • In case you were wondering, good wings are, apparently, to be found at Buffalo Wild Wings, Hooters, Farren's, Black Dog, Brothers, Applebees (half price after 9:30), and Gumby's. But  the Intro to Fiction class mostly recommended BWW.  Then again, according to a 2-year old Buzz review of CU wings, which someone in Later C18 Lit helpfully linked to, BWW isn't that good. So now you know. (Me, wings have always seemed like a lot of work relative to the payoff. I'll have a brisket sandwich with extra sauce and sweet potato fries at Black Dog or a cheeseburger at Farren's--and leave the wings for someone else.)
  • As I announced in class today, we'll finish up Candide on Friday; Monday we'll review the semester and I'll pass out the exam questions. Wednesday, we'll discuss the reading that will appear on the exam. 
  • I misspoke in class.  The exam will have three questions: one requiring you to make sense of some Enlightenment-era text you haven't seen before, one inviting you to think broadly about the semester's reading as a whole, and (this is the part I forgot) a question on Candide.
  • As some of you have noticed, there's an Exploration Assignment listed on the syllabus that never got assigned.  It won't be.  You all have had plenty to do this semester as it is.  Instead I'll just give everyone the 10 points.
  • SO, here's the bloggy question for credit: How should the exam prompt your best thinking about Candide?  Propose a good exam question. It should elicit 2 - 3 pages of double-spaced interpretive writing, be only answerable by someone who has read the text attentively and paid attention to the issues raised in class, and demonstrate the skills one has mastered over the course of the semester.

Deadline: Friday (4/29), start of class.

Monday, April 25, 2011

For Credit: God (as Promised)

Not ALL religious feeling comes under satirical attack in Candide. Jacques, the generous Anabaptist, and the El Doradans profess their faith and seem to go uncriticized for it. An oversight on Voltaire's part, or a cue to the positive views being advance in this novel?

Deadline: Wednesday (4/27), start of class.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Wishing a festive holiday to everyone who is celebrating today.

The image is the earliest known depiction of an Easter bunny in the Americas.  It is thought to be by a Pennsylvania schoolmaster (originally from Germany), Johann Conrad Gilbert.  It's on display at the Winterthur Museum in Delaware, which only recently acquired it.  You can read more about the picture here.