Wednesday, December 01, 2004


Ithought this post was interesting especially after Tuesday's class. August Wilson is included on the CNN/Time list of America's best Artists and Entertainers. The article itself is written by James Earl Jones who won two Tony Awards for his role in "Fences". The article praises Wilson for his ability to bring about true family situations onto the stage. I found it interesting that Wilson was a poet before he began writing plays. I want to find out what style of poetry he wrote compared to the plays.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

August Wilson

This link is interesting because it gives a timeline of Wilson's life and his works. If you read down the list, it shows some things that you might not have known about Wilson's life. For example, Wilson was the only black student at a catholic high school where students threatened and abused him until he left. He left school and educated himself through books from the library, which shows how motivated he was in all aspects of his life. Fences has the record for the most money brought in from a non-musical in the first year(11 million dollars) on broadway. The timeline on this site does an excellent job of showing how Wilson's life evolved throughout the years.

Monday, November 29, 2004


I found it interesting that Wilson is "taking each decade and looking at one of the most important questions that blacks confronted in that decade and writing a play about it." He is dedicated to giving African American history a voice. His views on uplifting black people and theater have led to controversy that began with his keynote address to the Theatre Communications Group National Conference on June 26, 1996 and culminated in a debate with a critic named Brustein on January 27, 1997. Wilson has been called a separatist, but Wilson sees this as a misinterpretation of his views.

August Wilson

August Wilson was born on April 27, 1945 in the Hill district of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Living in these slums inspired the drama that he became famous for in his works. His first two plays were Black Bart and Sacred Hills in 1981. In 1984, his name became better known after writing and publishing Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. By the 1990s, Wilson became the best known African-American playwrite. Fences was his second play in a popular collection of them and was set in the 1950s. This play earned him is first Pulitzer prize. This was the first of many more awards to come:
The New York Critics Circle Award (1985, 1987, 1988), the American Theater Critics Award (1986, 1989, 1991), the Outer Circle Award (1987), the Drama Desk Award (1987), the John Gassner Award (1987), the Tony Award (1988), and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (1987, 1990).

August Wilson

I found a fairly comprehensive biography of August Wilson at This website describes his childhood as one of six children in a poor, working-class family in Pittsburg through his days as a playwright. August Wilson is mainly self-educated after he dropped out of school at the age of 16, disgusted by racist treatment. Wilson's plays reflect the poverty he endured as a child, his vague sense of the degredation his poor parents experienced before his time, the racist treatment he endured as a young man, and the ethnic culture of the people he was surrounded by throughout his life. August Wilson has recieved many awards and distinctions for his writings. He currently lives and writes in New York City.

Henrik Ibsen

Henrik Ibsen was born in 1828 in Skien. His father was a prosperous merchant but ultimately changed his family's life because of financial problems. This affected their social position. Because of this, Ibsen developed a strong distrust of society. In 1850, he moved to Oslo where he went to school. He also wrote plays for journals. After deciding he wanted to be a physician, he took the exam and failed. Instead, he worked as a stage poet in a small theater. After years of moving around, he finally married and started a family of his own. Ibsen continued writing and even won awards for his plays. In 1900, he had a stroke and after six years of suffering from mental illness, Ibsen died.

Wilson Controversy

Wilson apparently made a speech in 1997 that was quite controversial. He said that there should be black theaters and was against "color-blind" casting. It made a claim that an all-black production of Death of a Salesman would be wrong. This is controversial because it seems to be against desegregation, instead stating that theater needs to be separate because the output of black playwrights comes from black experience and vice-versa and that these these need to be exhibited differently and can not coexist under one roof. These are some articles published around the time of the controversy.

August Wilson

I chose a link that discusses August Wilson as one of the best artists and entertainers in the USA. The thing that caught my eye in this small article was how there was commentary from people who actually were in a production of Fences. There comments in regards to the play and how it was written was an interesting inside look. Also along with an actor who played Troy there are comments from one of the producers of Fences. These two view points on the play were interesting to read because it is always interesting to hear from those who actually took part in performing such a famous and well known play.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Wilson as Comedy?

This link is interesting because its a synopsis of an article that argues for the labeling of "Fences" as a comedy, not a tragedy. I thought this was interesting because I would have never considered labeling this play as a comedy. Troy and his relationship with his son is tragic to me, and his ignorance is not amusing, but sad. Wessling, the article's orginal author, states that Gabriel is nessacary for this to be considered an comedy. He is the central figure to pulling this play together, since he represents the forward looking Christian values that are essential to make "Fences" a play of hope, not tragedy.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Voice review of recent "Nora" at theBrooklyn Academy of Music

Link. Apparently in this one, they have Nora actually killing Torvald with Torvald's own gun!

Also some nice references to Nora in China, Nora in Pakistan, etc.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Ibsen in the NY Times

This article from 1889 describes the reaction to Ibsen's A Doll's House as it was playing in London. It is described as shocking, depressing, and pessimistic. The writer claims that, "It denies everything the good people of this world believe," although he does recognize it as eloquent, powerful, and revolutionary.

Another article from 1889 looks at a German staging of the play. It describes Mrs. Linde as a dea ex machina. The author claims that the play is not suited for the U.S. because, "the reform which it advocates has hardly sufficient material to work upon in the United States. It is true that very often women in this country are treated like puppets, but it is their own fault."

This site reviews Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll House as performed in San Francisco’s American Conservatory earlier this year. In this version, the play is set in the present day, not the 1800s as Ibsen had written. The shift in time period demonstrates how society has changed in their perceptions of the role of women in society and how shocking the ending must have been for European society when the play first premiered. The actress who plays the troubled Nora Helmer performs the construction of her character starting as her “husband’s pampered “little bird” to a fully human being” with much ease. Since these are local actors, I couldn’t picture just how fitting they were to their respective roles. However, there is a movie production slated for next year starring John Cusack and Kate Winslet as the inwardly troubled Helmers. I was not familiar with the play at all until last week and I think the casting for this movie is pretty awesome, even if I think that John Cusack is too “nice” to play the condescending Torvald. If anyone has seen Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Kate Winslet is a great choice for the rapidly evolving Nora since she is known for being cast as the good girl gone badly.

Blog Post

This bio has an interesting claim. It says Ibsen's "marriage was
joyless, but a few episodes of friendship with young women broke the
austerity of his life." Considering the commitment his wife shows him
(see Kyle's post). But it definitely seems like he wrote about the
woes of social convention as much as possible, and pushed the envelope
on what was acceptable in terms of material for the stage. The bio
linked above says he wrote in his plays against conformity and
conventions, saying that they destroyed happiness. The bio also has a
few quotes of his, and he seems to be rather the feminist.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


Ibsen's "A Doll's house" was intriguing because it ended in an open denouement like we talked about in class. This site is helpful because it is a review of the plots and subplots of the play, as well as a biographical account of Ibsen. The review also stated that "A Doll's House" was banned in Germany unless Ibsen made Nora stay with Helmer in the end. It was interesting that the German government did not approve of such a vague ending. This could be due to the male superiority of the time period. As indicated in this web site, independence of women was not nearly as common as it is today. This is probably why the story was so shocking when it was initially released.

Henrik Ibsen

I found a website containing literary criticism on Ibsen, which describes the progressions of his works throughout his life: Near the middle of the page, some discussion of "A Doll's House" takes place. I think the most significant aspect of this essay was when it addressed the question of the purpose and content of Ibsen's works. The author of the site concluded that Ibsen's dramatic works are neither realistic portrayals of human interaction nor are they blatant representations of ideas in conflict. Instead, Ibsen's focus on blending psychological, ideological, and social influences produces a mixture of these two models for drama.


The site I found was particuarly intresting because it talks about the social lies that Ibsen presents in his play. The site actually houses an essay about the social significance of modern drama. Apparently societal issues were extremely important to Ibsen, which is no wonder he wrote such a strong piece about the fakeness of the Helmer's marriage. The essay refers mostly to Nora, and her appearance of shallowness. The final line of the essay though simply proves how far advanced Ibsen's writing was for the 19th early 20th century. "When Nora closes behind her the door of her doll's house, she opens wide the gate of life for woman, and proclaims the revolutionary message that only perfect freedom and communion make a true bond between man and woman, meeting in the open, without lies, without shame, free from the bondage of duty."


This website that I found is very informative. The article starts with a brief biography. The next section describes other plays that Ibsen has written such as, The Pillars of Society, When We Dead Awaken, and The Master Builder. The section goes on further in detail to describe his works. The last section in this article is important because it describes Ibsen's moral ideas. The section claims, "...his moral ethic, was that honesty in facing facts is the first requisite of a decent life." Then, at the very end of this website it adds other helpful links on Ibsen and his plays.

NY Times Review of A Doll's House

This article, featured on New York, is written by Charles Isherwood and reviews the staging of a Doll's House by German director Thomas Ostermeier on his American debut at the Brooklyn Academy of music. In his review, Isherwood makes some interesting distinctions between this version recently performed in New York and the classic play written by Henrik Ibsen. Isherwood comments that the play features many modern updates, including pop music and a modernist-clad appartment as well as a focus on the issue of sexuality and the role it plays between men and women in society. As stated in the article, "In Mr. Ostermeier's harsh interpretation of the play, all relationships turn on power, and sex is the most potent and readily available source." The characters in this modern version very blantantly communicate their sexuality to the audience in order to establish the issue of women's independence versus their dependence on men. Ostermeier relies on very emotional and phsyical bursts between his characters to show Henrik's play in a more up-to-date setting.

Another distinction between this play and Isben's original version is that it is called "Nora," which it is called in traditional Germany.)

An new type of Ibsen

I found this press release from a production of this play in North Hollywood, California. Although there is not much information here, other then where the play opens and such, but I found the discription of this particular play of A Doll House interesting because of the setting. Instead of the orginal 1880s Norway, this production is set in 1950s America. A parellel is drawn between the two settings in terms of gender roles. The women of the 1950s had the same constraints as the women of the 1880s and were seen more as possessions than as individuals.

About ibsen

The website below outlines his literacy career, and final years. Particulary, interesting and relevant to A Doll's House is the description of his marriage. While he wrote about women being unhappy in their marraiages his wife was in fact very satisfied and fully devoted to their marriage. His sensitivity towards women proabbyl was in part duw to the love and devotion of his wife. Ibsen was highly critical of society and most of his plays challeneged social norms espeacially relating to the relationship of men and women in society.

Doll House Review

There are two particularly interesting comments made in this review. One is about the famous ending. I particularly liked the comment saying that foreknowledge of the play's resolution allows for a better enjoyment of the show.
The second piece I thought was worth mentioning was the reviewer's comment on the story in context with the time and place it was written and originally presented. He explains how the modern audience would react differently to Torvald than Ibsen's contemporary audience would have.


A Doll's House was written while Ibsen was in Rome and Amalfi. The play had a different feel to it than other plays that had been written earlier on because Europe was in the midst of a revolution. The revolution of 1848 brought many new ideas to Europeans and one of them was a new modern perspective that challeneged the romantic tradition. Besides this, A Doll's House was widely important because it was written soon after Norway was freed from centuries of Danish rule. The language used by Ibsen was Nowegian with still heavy remnants of the Dutch language. The breaking away from the Dutch was hugely important for Norway and to begin to write works of literature under this new rule allowed the Norwegians to have a sense of pride that this work was purely Norwegian and not Dutch. One of the many things actresses have said about portraying Nora is that it is very difficult to portray a woman who is immature in the beginning of the play and then to learn to portray Nora as serious in the second half of the play. Acotrs also have said that they find it difficult to portray Torvald because he has so many different characteristics. When this play was perfromed it also sent a message to women of the world because it rejected the traditional roles of women and how they must be married and have children. This of course shocked many people. It schocked some German audiences so much that a different ending was made to perform so the audience would not walk out on the performance or not enjoy it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Isben and his family was affected by poverty early on in his life and effected his ability to receive a solid education. In 1850 Isben movied to Chrisitinia and attended Heltzberg's "student factory" where through some of his writings he earned money. After he failed the entrance exam to fulfill his dream of becoming a physician, he was appointed stage poet a small theatre in Bergen. After six years there he returned to Chistiania to become the artistic director of a Norwegian theatre. After awhile the theatre went bankrupt and Isben was appointed to the Christianian theatre. His plays in his theatres didn't attract many audiences and the constant disappoints became a burden to him. Isben then received an award for foreign travel from the government and spent the next 27 years traveling Rome. It was during this time he spent traveling in Rome that he wrote he best works. After spending many hears traveling he returned to Norway and continued writing for nine more years.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Joyce Carol Oates

I chose to do Joyce Carol Oates, since she works at Princeton University, which was a few miles away from my high school we always tried to interview her for our English classes, but she always refused. Oates only teaches one writing class at the University with I think maybe twelve students. On a side note my friend has come home for dinner on a few occasions to find Carol Oates sitting at his kitchen table.
Carol Oates was born in 1938 in Upstate NY. She went to Syracuse University, where she graduated as Valedictorian. She has written more than 70 books, novels, and short story collections. She has won Rosenthal Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the O'Henry Prize, the Elmer Holmes Bobst Lifetime Achievement Award, the Rea Award, in 1978, membership in the American Academy Institute. Carol Oates has been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize in Literature.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

John Cheever

John Cheever was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, on May 27, 1912. His father was a shoes salesman, who lost his job and found it hard to find another. His mother, in order to make ends meet, opened up a gift shop where she ended up selling many of the family possesions, including John's bed. John resented his mother's shop because he believed it advertised the family's income decline. Josh started his schooling at Thyarlands, which is a junior school, where he did well. Cheever did well enought that he moved on to Thayer Academy. However, the results at the academy were not so well. He eventually ended up getting explained for bad grades, but turned the reasoning around and he said that he got kicked out for being caught in the act of smoking. He ended up turning his expellsion incident into a short story where the publisher for The New Republican got a hold of and Cheever had a published story in a major magazine and didn't even graduate high school.
Cheever's parents still were struggling to make money and he parents ended up splitting up eventually and John lived with this brother, Frederick, in Boston. Once Cheever was 20, he decided to venture out on his own and move to New York City. He supported himself through writing jobs, including writing synopses for MGM studios.
Cheever married May Winternitz who was the granddaughter of Alexander GrandBell's assistant, who received the first ever phone call. She too was a writer, but her focus was on poetry. They couple had three children together and moved to West Chester. In West Chester he dubbed the area, "Cheever County" which is where, "The Five-Forty-Eight", one of his most famous works, comes from.
Cheever went on to publish many more novels, but struggled greatly with his health. He died in his home in Ossinig at the age of 70 from kindey and bone cancer.

Isaac Bashevis Singer

Isaac Bashevis Singer was born in 1902 in Leoncin, Poland. He was the son of a rabbi and the brother of novelist Israel Joshua Singer. Singer's upbringing was in the Yiddish speaking poor section of Warsaw and the language he wrote his works in was Yiddish. In 1938 Singer came to the United States where he began writing for The Forward, a Jewish newspaper in New York. After working for The Forward for many years Singer's literary career was finally acknowlegded when he won the Noble Prize in Literature in 1978. Singer wrote approxiomately twenty-five pieces of literature before he died in 1991 at his home in Miami, Florida.

E.B. White

Elwyn Brooks White was born in 1899 in Mt. Vernon, New York. After graduating from Cornell University, he went on to write for the New Yorker Magazine where he met his wife, Katherine Angell, the editor of the magzine at the time. Through writing for the New Yorker, one of today's most popular magazines, he became known for his witty and satiric observations of his contemporary society. He was also said to have a "crisp, graceful, and relaxed style" and a knack for pointing out the ironic perspective in his writing. White is famous for his essays and children's fiction and wrote such stories as Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little. In his story "The Second Tree From the Corner", White clearly uses his ironic undertone for which he has become known, in addition to his ability to illustrate everyday occurrances in an accurate and witty manner. In 1985, he died in Maine from Alzeimers.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Jean Toomer

Jean Toomer overcame to obstacle in his life of being biracial. His grandfather was a free African American well known in Louisiana during the 1890’s. The grandfather later acted as the Governor of Louisiana during the reconstruction. Toomer; therefore, was born into an upper class black family and had a white Caucasian father. Toomer, as a young child, suffered many illnesses, which propelled him to be more successful. He had a well cultured background because he moved around from all black schools to all white schools and communities. These experiences are reflected in his works. Toomer had a great appreciation for major American poets like William Blake and Sherwood Anderson. This admiration further inspired his works. He wrote major public statements about racism in the United States for The New York Call, which gave him more popularity. Toomer’s writing of Cane inspired the Harlem Renaissance and brought a new generation of African American writers.

William Faulkner

William Faulkner was born in Mississippi on September 25, 1897. Never having graduated from high school, he sought to join the Air Force. When he was turned down because of his height, 5' 6", he applied to the Royal Air Force in Canada portraying himself as British. The first World War ended before the completion of his training but, Faulkner told tales of his service and took advantage of benefits for war veterans to attend the University of Mississippi. Faulkner dropped out of school but continued his education in the literary circle of Sherwood Anderson. He came into his own with the Sound and the Fury, which he wrote for pleasure and without plans for publication. Broken into four sections and each told from the point a view of a different character, the novel plays with style and content in a revolutionary way. As I Lay Dying followed, and then Faulkner began writing short stories to support his growing family. Faulkner's explorations of life in the setting of his native south were recognized with the Nobel Prize in 1949. His acceptance speech has been considered one of the best given at a Nobel ceremony. In it he urges the new generation of writers to return to problems of the heart, the only subject worth writing about.

Vladimir Nabokov

Nabokov was a Russian-born writer who lived in America for some time before moving to Switzerland where he died. He published books written in Russian and other written in English. His use of language has been lauded in both cases. Nabokov met much controvery when he attempted first to publish his novel, Lolita, in America. Four publishers turned down what would become his most famous novel because it dealt with pedophilia. Many critics and well-known authors considered the manuscript to be appalling. One American publisher claimed that if he published the work he and Nabokov would surely go to jail. The book was finally picked up by a publisher in Europe who Nabokov knew has published James Joyce and Henry Miller. He did not know, however, that the company had recently published mostly pornographic novels. After originally being banned in France, Lolita eventually made its way to America where it began very successful and spawned two film versions.

This web site was created by for the centennial celebration of Nabkov's birth in 1999.


Nabokov lived in Berlin for 15 years and worked as a translator, tutor, and tennis coach. He won acceptance as the leading young writer in the Berlin Russian community. Most of his readers were Russian émigrés - in the Soviet Russia his books were banned or ignored. In his early works Nabokov dealt with the death, the flow of time and sense of loss. Already using complex metaphors, Nabokov themes became later more ambiguous puzzles - he was a remarkable chess player - that challenge the reader to involve in the game. ''Readers are not sheep," he once wrote to a publisher, "and not every pen (pun) tempts them." In LECTURES ON LITERATURE (1980) Nabokov wrote that to be a good reader one do not have to lean heavily on emotional identification, action, and the social-economic or historical angle, or belong to a book club. "The good reader is one who has imagination, memory, a dictionary, and some artistic sense - which sense I propose to develop in myself and in others whenever I have the chance."
This excerpt was found on the website:
I found it interesting that it referred Nabokov to a chess player and that the reader is really challenged by a good story. Ambiguity in a story has always intrigued me. This seems like a good metaphor to relate to one's own writings.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Gatsby, being one of my favorite and most influential pieces of literature, has sparked a keen interested in me in learning more about its auther, F. Scott Fitzgerald. I know that his writing is inspired by significant circumstances or events in his own life. I was very interested to learn and to be able to better understand the conditions which motivated his works.
F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. His father, an unsuccessful businessman, raised his family on his wife’s inheritance from a grocery store chain. Fitzgerald was first recognized for his writing at the age of 13 at his St. Paul prep school. He continued his education at a Catholic boarding school in New Jersey and then went onto Princeton in 1917. He actively pursued his writing throughout his time at Princeton, but seemed to neglect his other studies. At the threat of not graduating, Fitzgerald joined the army and wrote his first novel, The Romantic Egotist, in fear of dying at war. He was stationed at Camp Sheridan in Montgomery Alabama, where he met his debutante wife, Zelda Sayre. She refused to marry him until he achieved the wealth necessary for her lifestyle. He began writing novels and short stories when he failed in advertising. After he was famed for his second novel, This Side of Paradise, Zelda agreed to marry him. The couple traveled throughout Europe before the birth of their first and only child Frances “Scottie.” They settled in St. Paul then relocated to Great Neck, New York to be nearer to Broadway. Fitzgerald became an alcoholic and often fought with his wife. His reputation as a writer was on the line as a result of his excessive habits. He relocated to France to write his third major novel, The Great Gatsby. At this time he befriended renowned author and influence, Ernest Hemingway. While abroad Zelda began to mentally unravel. Her hospitalizations continued throughout the rest of her life. In between Europe and America, with his alcoholic binges in full swing and an unstable wife, Fitzgerald’s writing was paused and he incurred major debts. He put Scottie in boarding school and corresponded with his daughter through letters. In 1937, Fitzgerald moved to Hollywood and fell in love with columnist Sheilah Graham. He was able to pay back most of his debts with his movie scripts, but saved little. He died of a heart attack in 1940. Fitzgerald’s success with Gatsby long proceeded his death. Now, his work is regarded among the greatest and most defining American writing.
Fitzgerald's writing can be far better understood after studying the situations which provoked such universal realities.

Flannery O'Connor

Because we spent so much time on Flannery O'Connor in high school I felt it would be interesting to find out some information about her. Also since Deep is so into writer gossip I thought perhaps she might have some, being a Twentieth century writer! Well the first line of her biography begins with..."Flannery led a rather uneventful life that was focused almost exclusively on her vocation as a writer and devotion to her Catholic faith." So much for gossip. However what I saw most on various O'Connor websites is that her writing is so remarkable because she lead such a bland life. The fact that she could see into the human mind and create characters that were so different from anyone she would have known it an attribute that makes her great. O'Connor was born in 1925 in Georgia, she was an only child. While in school Flannery wrote "satire" pieces, yet when she was rejected from literary magazines. At age 16 she began at Georgia State College for Women, and graduated in three years. She then enrolled in a writers workshop in Iowa. After leaving Iowa O'Connor was invited to live in a writers colony in Upstate NY where randomly enough she raised peacocks, and of course wrote. She developed lupus and died in 1964.

E. B. White

I was interested in E.B. White not only because I found his story in the short stories collection interesting, but because I also enjoyed his other novels "Staurt Little" and "Charlotte's Web" that I read when I was younger. I did not know much about him, but was interested to learn that his full name was Elwyn Brooks White and was born in 1899, the youngest of a very large family. It made sense to find that his parents were great lovers of childern and encouraged Elwyn in all his writings. He finished at Cornell University and began to write for "The New Yorker" as well as other columns in other literary magizines. He wrote much including a manual to be used in schools called The Elements of Style in 1959 which was revised and used for many years in schools. He moved to Maine in the middle part of his life, and sadly died there of Alzheimer disease in 1985.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

E. B. White

Most people have probably read E. B. White's children's books Stuart Little, Charlotte's Web, and The Trumpeter Swan at some point. I remember each of these stories quite clearly from when I was younger, so I was intrigued by seeing his name as the author of one of our short stories. The Second Tree from the Corner turns out to be a very simple story about a neurotic, but very empathetic character going to see his doctor and coming to some sort of terms with his fears through identifying with the doctor. I enjoyed how E. B. White managed to explain the main character by using first person to get inside his mind, providing some rather unconventional analogies and slightly confusing and illogical trains of thought.

At I found that E. B. White was born in 1899 into a wealthy, loving family in Mount Vernon, NY. He attended Cornell University, graduating in 1921. He worked as a reporter for various organizations until becoming a writer for The New Yorker, where he met his wife Katherine Seargent Angell. He wrote and worked for The New Yorker for the rest of his career. White covered many social topics in his stories, novels, and essays: "the complexities of modern society, failures of technological progress, the pleasures of urban and rural life, war, and internationalism." His writing also touched on religion, racial segregation, and the newly created UN. E. B. White was an extremely successful writer who stressed simple living in his works. In 1985 he died of Alzheimer disease.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004


I also chose to look into Fitgerald because I enjoyed his short story so much. I found this line very humorous from Kyle's website: "The dominant influences on F. Scott Fitzgerald were aspiration, literature, Princeton, Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, and alcohol." I thought of the scene where Joel promises himself that he won't drink on Sunday night, and ends up having a drink anyways. It sounds like Fitgerald might have had a situation quite similar in his lifetime as well. Fitzgerald realy brought Joel to life by making a man that was susceptible to love, lust, and human error. Similar to Fitgerald, aspiration, literature, and alcohol were prominent inspirations in Joel's life. This was one of my favorite reads of the course because of how well developed Joel becomes. I found another website which gives a ton of information about Fitzgerald and his other works.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Willa Cather

I chose Willa Cather, because I remember learning(while reading My Antonia)that she was one of the first American female writers to break the gender barrier. When she first began to publish her work, companies would not accept it because she was a woman. Willa then began to submit work under the name "Will" Cather, the publishing companies then began to accept her work as well as compliment it. Willa Cather was born in 1873 in Virgina. In 1883 her family moved to Nebraska, which was monumental for Cather, as Nebraska is the setting for many of her writing. She attended the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and graduated in 1895. Cather worked as an editor for McClure's Magazine and a friend persuaded her to write. In 1923 she won a Pulitzer Prize. For more information on Willa Cather go to

sherwood anderson

Sherwood Anderson was born into a poor family in Camden, Ohio in 1876 where he served as a laborer during his early years. After serving as a laborer for several years Anderson then served in the Spanish-American war until attending Wittenberg Academy, in Springfield, Ohio in 1900. Once completing his studies at Wittenberg, Anderson married Corneila Lane with whom he had 3 children . At this time in his life Anderson was not specifically focusing on writing. Instead he made his money by a mail-order paint business. After crisis in both his marriage and business Anderson went to Chicago to focus solely on his career as a writer. Anderson's first published work,Windy McPhersons Son, was publish in 1916, the same year he divorced Corneila and remarried to a woman namedTennessee Mitchell. During this time period Anderson continued to write and to he gained recognition for his work. Up until 1921 Anderson was relatively happy with his life, but in 1922 Anderson divorced Tennessee, left Chicago for New York and then for Reno. In 1924 Anderson then married his third wife, Elizabeth Prall, and then continued to move to New Orleans. After all of this moving, Anderson then purchased a farm in Virginia and a publishing company called the Marion Publishing Company where he became editor of two weekly newspapers. Once again Anderson's love life fell apart and he and Elizabth separated and he then married Eleanor Copenhaver. For the remainder of his life Anderson and Eleanor travelled in the South. Anderson met with his demise on March 8, 1941 in South America due to peritonitis.

for more details on Sherwood Anderson you can check out this website:


I choose F Scott Fitzgerald becuase I found his short story most interesting. The intricacies of his writing and attention to detail within social interactions are quite remarkable. He developed Joel and Miss Calman into intrguing and complex characters with very realistic human emotions, flaws and strengths. He like his character Joel had a problem with alcohol which had almost as much of an affect on him as his years at Princeton University. he was bron in St.Paul, Minnesota and also attended St.Paul's academy. The website below gives a more in depth look into Fitzgerald's life.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Sherwood Anderson

Sherwood Anderson was born in Camden, Ohio. He served in the Spanish-American war for awhile and then returned to Ohio to become the manager of a paint store. He was not happy with the way his life was, so he left his family and his job, moved to Chicago and began his journey writing short stories. Most of his short stories consisted of small town life, which he became most famous for, especially in his 1919 collection of stories, Winesburg, Ohio. Anderson continued to write short stories, mostly concerning the despair, boredom, and loneliness of living and growing up in a small town. After writing short stories for most of his lift he picked up and moved to Virginia where be bought two newspapers, one democrat and one republican, which he spent the rest of his life editing.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Katherine Ann Porter

I chose Katherine Ann Porter because her story, Theft, reminded me of the chick-lit that I am so fond of. The main character, an overly pampered debutante or heiress, reminded me of the recent wave of over priviliged and wealthy society women that we see on television or gossip columns. On one of the sites I found concerning Porter, lit told me that Porter actually did live the “cosmopolitan” lifestyle alluded to in Theft although she was born and raised in Texas, not New York which she eventually inhabited later in life. At the age of 15, she began her first dramatic career, marriage when she married her first of four husbands. Her life was typically plagued by vicious drama and when she contracted tuberculosis in her twenties that fueled the beginning of her fiction career. She began publishing collections of stories during the forties that were filled with themes of justice and bravery, similar to fighting a battle with illness. She also associated with a group of other Southern writers, including Allen Tate, whose poem I analyzed for the last paper. Her writing was very critical of the social changes occurring in the United States although her personal lifestyle would suggest the contrary. Although an associated Nazi and jet set New Yorker, her scathing rhetoric won her a Pulitzer Prize in 1962 even though Collected Stories came during a dry period in her writing. Porter outlived all of her writing contemporaries before passing away at the age of ninety in 1980. Katherine Ann Porter, complete with her biting repartee and rhetoric, is a staple of women in American twentieth century literature.



I chose to post on Ernest Hemingway because of how much I enjoyed his short story, "The Killers." His character development is subtle so it helps leave the reader to interpret the text a lot better. I've always enjoyed when authors have left information out so the reader is able to make some of their own assumptions. This website provides a lot of information on Hemingway's life. After I read it, it showed how a lot of his writing influences came about, because of the experiences Hemingway had in his lifetime. -Matt

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway was born Chicago, Illinois on the 21st of July in 1899. He grew up with both parents in a very well rounded, but strict household. His mother exposed him and his five siblings to cultural opportunities at every chance she could get. At 17 years old, Hemingway had his first work published. Hemingway received a job working a newspaper where he was exposed to the night life of socialites. This fascinated him. Soon after, he became a Red Cross Volunteer for World War I after showing much interest in it. Through this organization, he traveled around the world, seeing most of Europe and ultimately getting wounded, resulting in being sent home. Once home, he met his wife with whom he traveled throughout Europe and had a baby. It is in Europe, specifically Spain, where he found his muse for many of his novels and short stories, such as The Sun Also Rises. He and his wife loved the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain as well as the European life style.
I chose to write about Hemingway because after reading The Sun Also Rises and visiting Spain, I understood where and how his passion for the country and lifestyle arose. Also, after reading about Hemingway’s childhood of being exposed to the arts, it reminded me of my relationship with my parents: they are always trying to get me to see plays, operas, shows, and so on.

Monday, October 04, 2004

John Updike

For this assignment I chose John Updike to review his biography and works. Since he is the one who put together this collaberation of short stories, I thought it might be useful to understand who he is as a writer himself. This might give a better perspective on the stories we read for class, including the story he contributed called "Gesturing." I've also read some of his short stories before and they have made a great impression on me.

Updike was born in Reading, Pennsylvania but lived in a town outside of Reading called Shillington. During his childhood he suffered from psoriasis and stammering, so through encouragment from this mother he pursued writing and reading. Updike attended Harvard where he pursued a degree in English, and spent some time in England at Oxford with his wife, Mary Pennington. He has written numerous short stories, novels and poetry, a lot of which is set in New England where he resides outside of Boston. A renown writer, Updike holds many awards and has written a great deal of literary criticism for authors such as Kurt Vonnegut and Joyce Carol Oats.

Sherwood Anderson

The story we read for class is the only one by Sherwood Anderson that I know but I enjoyed the style in which it was written. Anderson provides us with a first person account and reminds of us this by having this person tell the story to another. This raises the interesting question of whether or not we believe the charcater's telling of events and his own motivations. Who is he telling the story to and what is at stake? Why might the character choose to lie about his story? Every piece of writing should evoke these questions, but I always find it particularly intriguing when and author draws attention to it, the most notable example probably being in Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein."

This site has some great links to info about the author and some of his works online. It also has a timeline of his life.

Katherine Ann Porter

I choose to post on Katherine Ann Porter because I was intrigued by her story, "Theft." It was an interesting look into human nature. I was surprised to find that she was a direct decendant to Daniel Boone and grew up in Texas and Louisana. Her story seemed very urban, not what I expected from a southern girl. Porter was born in 1890 and live until 1980. She was raised by her grandmother after both her parents died. Porter was educated at convent schools and ran away when she was 16 to marry the first of her 3 husbands. She eventually made her living as a journalist in Chicago and Denver, where she probably acquired the urban feel to her story.

Sherwood Anderson

Sherwood Anderson, with little formal education, began writing in 1910 at the age of 34. His early struggles to support his family provided invaluable insight into the American experience. After a nervous breakdown in 1912, he began to focus on his writing career. He is most praised for his short stories which led the American short story beyond it's well worn formulas, focusing more on portraying life realistically.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Willa Cather

I researched Willa Cather because I liked the way she created such detailed depictions of very real seeming characters in her short story. I found this website about her on the internet: Willa Cather was born in Virginia in 1873, but moved to Nebraska when she was 10. Many of her works center both around this familiar childhood home and the pioneering community she lived in as a child. Most of Willa Cather's stories and novels have characters drawn from herself and people she was familiar with in her personal life. Willa Cather's later works contain a lot of conflict between the idyllically presented pioneering life of the past era and the modern urbanized lifestyle. Her writing style has been compared to Hemingway's because of her minimalist form.

Willa Cather graduated from The University of Nebraska in Lincoln, an achievement which few women of her time managed. She went on to become a teacher, editor, critic, and writer. She wrote many essays, poems, short stories, and novels in her lifetime. Willa Cather died at the age of 73 in 1947 and is considered one of the most important American modernist women writers.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

From Jen...

Monday, September 13, 2004

9/11 poetry

I came across a collection of poems, Night letter I find particulary poignant and fitting.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

9/11 Poetry

I found a poem on 9/11 that was written by former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky for the 9/11 anniversary. I think the poem does an excellet job at capturing a series of moments during 9/11 while combining them with thoughts and feelings of the tragedy in retrospect.


Thursday, September 09, 2004

9/11 poetry

I chose this poem because I felt like it was a good poem that captured the idea that America is not invincible as we all might have thought. It was an interesting poem to read because it made me think back to how vulnerable everyone is how even now we have to remember that something like this can happen to us again at any moment.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

WTC 9/11

I chose this poem because i think it accuractely portrayed the day of septermber 11, 2001 when nobody knew what was going on and could not get in touch with anyone.

9/11 poems
This site is from a newspaper that compiled reader's submissions of 9/11 poetry. Some of the poems really describe the severity of the event and help console people who have lost a family member on 9/11. -Matt

September 11 Memorials I thought that this site was intresting because it is not only for poetry, but also to help family memebers who lost someone on September 11 cope with their grief.

9/11 Poetry offers a variety of 9/11 poetry from various sources.

9/11 poetry

I found this site which has one poem on it. It is a personal site about a writer named David Soubly. This is his poem about the events of 9/11. - 9/11 dedication poems has an extensive collection of poetry posted to their site about 9/11. There is much diversity because posting is open to everyone.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

I discovered a collection of poems about 9/11 at This seems to be a running collection starting with poems written by various authors a few days after the attacks up until the present.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Remembering 9/11 in Poetry

I randomly came across a link to a poem by Billy Collins, remembering the people who died on 9/11. Billy Collins is one of the best contemporary American poets.

The poem, called "The Names," is at the Poetry and Literature Center of the Library of Congress. You can read it here.

Do people have other 9/11 oriented poems they think are good?

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Jean Garrigue (posted on behalf of Sari Biddelman)

Posted on behalf of Sari Biddelman:

"You know those..." are the first words of Jean Garrigue's poem "You Know" in Understanding Poetry. This caught my attention because Garrigue is not asking if "you know" but rather stating that "you" do "know." In this poem, Garrigue discusses how the little things in life are not appreciated until you see them while leaving them. She does this by comparing the little, unappreciated aspects in nature to somebody she has not gotten know to know yet but wishes she had.

"You Know" embodies everything that Garrigue stands for as a poet of her genre. She was born in Evansville, Indiana in 1912, moved to Chicago where she studied, and finally settled down in New England. However, in between studying in Chicago and settling in New England, she traveled extensively throughout Europe, which heavily influenced her poetry. In addition to her travel, World War II affected her writing as well as other poets writing during this time. This period in poetry is known for its more mature and distinguished style and interpretation of life. Garrigue, like many of these poets, were skeptical of current values and morality and saw the world as unsafe. Garrigue was interested by the artistic and romantic qualities of nature and used it to explain larger ideas, such as love. In 1972, she died of Hodgkin’s disease.
Garrigue once said about her work that “Chopin, Keats, and Proust were early, powerful influences. So were mountains and water.” This quote summarizes her major themes in Garrigue’s work.

Robert Graves

Robert Graves was born in Wimbeldon in 1895. He attended public school and was later offered a scholarship to St. John's College at Oxford University. When World War 1 began, he enlisted and became commissioned as a Captain. In July, 1916, he was grievously wounded, and, though his family was mistakenly told he had died, Graves partially recovered, his lungs permanently damaged. Graves published poems on his war experiences and returned to attend St. John's College. Later was given a post at the University of Cairo. Graves wrote poetry as well as novels on a variety of subjects, both fiction and non-fiction. While at University of Cairo, Graves co-authored A Survey of Modernist Poetry and A Pamphlet Against Anthologies and published Lawrence and the Arabs. He then moved to Spain with his family, and there wrote I, Claudius, a tale of the life of the Roman emperor Claudius. He returned to England due to the Spanish Civil War, but returned to Spain to retire. Graves died in December 1985.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Ezra Pound

I also chose to investigate Ezra Pound because, while he was born in Idaho and as an adult spent long periods in London, Paris, and Italy, he was actually raised in Wyncote, PA. I learned from my parents that I was born in the same development that he lived in during his childhood years. In addition to what other people have already posted, I learned that while Pound was among the initial founders of "Imagism," he later broke with the school to create his own style in tandem with Wyndham Lewis and the sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska called "Vorticism." Also, Ezra Pound spent 12 years in a hospital for the criminally insane after broadcasting anti-Semitic statements over the radio in Rome. Pound died in 1972 in Italy. In his lifetime he published over 70 books and translated many Japanese plays and Chinese poems into English, which served as inspiration to him. I collected information on Ezra Pound from:

Dante Rossetti

I chose to research about Dante Gabriel Rossetti because I enjoyed his poem "The Woodspurge" so much. The site gives a great compilation of his poems as well as numerous paintings. The interesting part about this site is that the artwork gives the reader a better sense of Dante as an individual because of how well he can portray human and religious figures on a canvas. He obsessed over a woman named Elizabeth Siddal and buried a number of poems with her after she supposedly committed suicide. The poems were then exhumed during the 1860's! It seems like his religious gesture was tainted by his admirers. His obsessions with women led to many paintings and many poems influenced by these paintings. Rossetti exemplifies the role of an imagist during this time period.

Gerard Manley Hopkins' "Inversnaid"

This poem jumped out at me because of the way it treats language. I was impressed with the rhythm and musicality of the piece. I am not a huge fan of poetry so it takes something special to entice me. Since I'm a musician, a musical quality can often be that something. The book mentions that some of the words used here are made up. This is interesting because what I liked about this poem was not the meaning of the words so much as the musical and rhythmical use of the words. The alliteration and rhythm to the piece really resonated in my ear. I find it to be very fulfilling when a piece can have a separate meaning outside of the literal meaning of the words. So, even if all of these words were nonsense words, I would still have enjoyed hearing the poem. That being said, below is the best link I could find on the poet.

William Blake

William Blake was born and raised in London. His schooling first consisted of his mother home schooling him until he was sent off to Henry Pars’ school, where his parents hoped the school would further educate his artistic ability. After school, Blake went on to be an apprentice for a man who engraved. After he was done with his apprenticeship he published some of the poems he had written. The most famous of the poems, was a collection called Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. After those two collections were published he continued to write a few more, but received no recognition for them. So, Blake stopped writing and went back to the engraving process where he didn’t receive much success. Blake wrote his last poem at age 70 and shortly passed away. He was buried in an unmarked grave. His work though, is still important in today’s literature.

Ezra Pound

I choose Ezra Pound because I had never read any of his work before In a Station of the Metro. The website I choose is it gives a brief biography and a list of the 25 poems written by Pound. Pound was born in Hailey, Idaho in 1885 he went to UPenn for two years and graduated from Hamilton College. One of the more interesting happenings in his life was his arrest on charges of treason during World War II for broadcasting fascist propaganda.

While the poem is short and simple it captures his experience with vivid language and artistic beauty. Additionally, I can relate to his experience and am impressed that he found the words to describe this type of situation. There many times in passing when I have seen a beautiful face or interesting person and there is a certain excitement or intrigue which passes without much further thought. Pound encapsulates this feeling perfectly relating the sudden emotion to viewing another beautiful creation of nature: " Petals on a wet, black bough."

John Keats

The poet I chose to research was John Keats. I chose him out of all of the poets because I was drawn to his poem "To Autumn". This poem was attractive to me because of the calm and beautiful way that Keats described nature. A second reason why I chose this poet was because of his wonderful rhyme scheme that makes the poem flow so smoothly.

After reading the poem it made me want to learn more about Keats. What I discovered was that Keats was an English poet who lived from 1795 to 1821. He was a Romanticism poet that had a great love for life and those around him. His life was cut short due to Tuburculosis at age 25. In reading up on Keats others commented on his ability to describe the beauty of the natural world and how effective he was at doing so. His poetic imagery and sound is a second comment that was prevalent in the few biographies that I read. Finally, in the twentieth century Keats was highly praised by T. S. Elliot for his work in poetry and what contributions he had made to the literary form.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

W.D. Snodgrass

This link is for the Biography Resource Center, one of the databases on Lehigh's library website, in case it doesn't work.

This site has a more extensive personal biography.

I was drawn to Ten Days Leave (p. 37) for the way it describes what is going on in the soldier's mind when he is home again. I found it to be an interesting subject matter. It turns out that Snodgrass served in the Navy during WWII. He was born in 1926 in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. He has been married and divorced several times, which lent inspiration to his first collection, Heart's Needle, where he explored divorce's effect on his relationship with his daughter. He has been considered a "confessional poet" which seems to mean that he aims, " reveal the repressed, violent feelings that often lurk beneath the seemingly placid surface of everyday life." One of his works, which sounds particularly interesting, is a series of monologues from the men and women under Hitler, called The Fuehrer Bunker. It was first released as a work in progress in 1977 and was completed in 1995.

Ezra Pound's Imagism Manifesto; Wordsworth's "Preface"

The excerpt from Ezra Pound's "Imagism" manifesto is here. It is part of a longer article on Imagism by Amy Lowell, an American poet who was for a time associated with the movement. There is also a nice page on the imagist H.D. (a Bethlehem native) here; and here is a thorough biography of her.

And Wordsworth's "Preface" to Lyrical Ballads, one of the key documents in the Romantic movement, can be read in its entirety here.

Though the Romantic movement and the Imagist movement are separated chronologically by at least a century, there is considerable overlap between them.

Monday, August 30, 2004


While I know Henry David Thoreau is extremely well known to most English students I had to pick him for my bio simply because he is one of the most interesting poets ever. Born in 1817 , he grew up in Massachusettes and graduated from Harvard. From 1835- 1837 Thoreau worked as a teacher until he contracted TB. For a short time Thoreau lived and worked for Ralph Waldo Emerson, a poet he had learned about while at Harvard. It was Emerson who encouraged Thoreau to publish "The Dial" a transendentalist literary magazine.
As one of the first Transendentalists Thoreau spent 28 dollars to build a house on Walden Pond. It was there Thoreau created Civil Disobedience, which was written after he spent time in jail for not paying his taxes to protest the Mexican war and slavery. He spent two years living alone at Waldon Pond. He spent his time away from materialistic things and worked odd jobs in a town nearby. Mostly he watched nature and wrote. Thoreau kept a journal of his time at Walden which later became a book of the same name. What I think makes Thoreau great is that he not only was a profound and groundbreaking writer, but that he was also an evironmentalist. He believed in a world full of naturalism which he lived during his time at Walden.
I have a fairly vehement distaste for poetry (I just cannot relate to it) and it takes forever for me to find a poem worth more than one moment of consideration. I require quite a lot to satisfy my extremely picky taste in poetry and I found most of it in the poetry that I selected for this entry. The poet I chose to profile is T.S. Eliot, an American poet who found his fame and notoriety in England. I chose Eliot because I enjoyed his poem Preludes and its imagery that reminded me of a book I read on my flight to London this March, The Town and the City by Jack Kerouac. The transient Martin family of Kerouac’s first novel wanders around many of America’s bustling metropolises and encounters many interpersonal transactions such as seen in Sections III and IV of Preludes. In the text of both The Town and the City and Preludes, the anguish and dereliction of the human experience are evident by use of vivid images and striking yet simple language. I enjoyed the words that he employed to convey the actual and unsightly state of an urban setting rather than lilting on and on about a pastoral view of places that scarcely exist.

The actual life of T.S. Eliot is seemingly less dramatic, although quite poignant and challenging. He was born in Missouri in a standard Middle American household. What set him ahead of a completely standard life was his private Ivy League education at the finest establishments in the country. When Eliot exhausted his use for the United States, he left for England to pursue greater interests such as his writing. He assumed British citizenship after marrying Vivien, a psychotic beauty who captured his heart and mind but ultimately driving him to madness. His madness made it quite difficult for him to appreciate the fame following the success of his masterpiece, Wasteland. Rapt with anxiety, Eliot continued to write plays, poetry and essays that were published and performed during his lifetime. Toward the end of his life, he began to feel more at ease with his life and fame after the death of Vivien and his marriage to another woman. He died in 1965 under the line, "In my beginning is my end. In my end is my beginning."

Theodore Roethke

I was particularly drawn to Theodore Roethke's poem "The Geranium" (p.103) when going over the readings for class. It was the speaker's apparent devastation and my confusion as to what the geranium actually was that propelled me to investigate further. While I have analyzed some of Roethke's other works, I had never read The Geranim and knew very little about the author.

After researching Theodore Roethke, I gained much insight into his work. Raised by greenhouse owners, Roethke often uses floral imagery to depict his message. Severely depressed for most of his life, Roethke communicates his inexplicable sadness through his work. The Geranium seems staple for the author's style and position as he elucidates the speaker's lonesomeness (possibly from losing his beloved lady) in terms of a flower. It is probably Roethke's own pain and loss which inspired this work and after becoming familiar with his situation, I better understand the implied meaning of the flower.


Friday, August 27, 2004

Robert Frost

For my poet I chose to research Robert Frost (pg. 18). He's one of those poets that has always been read and taught in English classes, but he's still one of my favorites because his language is very down-to-earth. Another reason I chose him was because his poem "Out, out-" reminded me of certain feelings I had during a serious rock climbing accident I was in this past spring, and it made me think more about that incident in different ways, especially the line, "He saw all spoiled." I thought that demonstrated very well what we have been reading as poetry's function, to capture sensory feelings in words. The website I chose had a complete biography as well as links to many of his poems. Also, I have used it before for classes so I know that it is reliable, which is why I chose it.

He's one of the most famous American, pastoral poets and has received the Pulitzer Prize 4 times. After reading his biography, one can sense the presence of death throughout his life, starting with his father's death when he was 11. He also lost his wife in 1938 and 4 of his children, which caused him to be depressed later on in his life. These instances in his life had direct affect upon his poetry, as we saw in the poem "Out, Out-", which we read in class. Frost also uses a lot of nature imagery in his poems and, as I read in his biography online, correlates to his living on farms in New England. This use of nature images can be seen in one of his most famous poems, "The Road Not Taken."



Thursday, August 26, 2004

Alfred, Lord Tennyson


I chose Alfred, Lord Tennyson ("Ulysses," p. 57) because I am somewhat familiar with his poetry, and he is one of my favorite poets. Everyone has read "The Lady of Shalott." One of Tennyson's favorite subjects (it would seem) was Camelot, and the legend of Arthur ("Sir Galahad," "Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere," "Morte d'Arthur," etc.)--one of my favorite subjects is Arthur, too. Tennyson wrote a poem titled "Lilian" (my aunt) and "Kate" (me), which I think is pretty interesting. Finally, I had memorized, at one point (for an English class), "Crossing the Bar," and I've always loved the final stanza of that: "For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place/The flood may bear me far,/I hope to see my Pilot face to face/When I have crost the bar."

I chose this particular website because it has links to all of these poems, as well as useful biographical information and links to other Tennyson sites (and a sources page that tells where everything was taken from). Plus, I learned that--apparently--"Ulysses" was used in the final episode of Frasier (I wouldn't know, as I don't watch. Friends, on the other hand...).


English 100 Syllabus and Key Terms

Tentative Syllabus (subject to change)

Tuesday: 8/24 Course Introduction
Thursday 8/26: Read Understanding Poetry (UP), Intro and Chapter 1: Dramatic Situation
Some select supplemental poems (pp. 51-67: “The Code”; “The Cameo”; “Ulysses”; “Hell-Gate”

Tuesday 8/31: UP Chapter 2: Description (68-111)
Post to blog: a link to a site on a poet, with a short summary
Thursday 9/2: UP Continue Chapter 2
2 page paper due: close reading of a "supplemental" poem

Tuesday 9/7: UP Chapter 3: Tone (112-164)
Post background on a poet to the blog (more info. on this soon)
Thursday 9/9: UP Chapter 4: Analogical Language: Metaphor and Symbol (196-254)

Tuesday 9/14: UP Chapter 5: Theme, Meaning, and Dramatic Structure (266-321)
2 page paper – close reading
Thursday 9/16: UP Chapter 6, Appendix A

Tuesday 9/21: UP Appendix B: Metrics (advanced!)
Scan a poem
Thursday 9/23: UP Appendix B continued

Tuesday 9/28: 5 page paper due -- comparison of 2 major poems
Thursday 9/30: John Updike’s introduction to Short Stories; Read Rosenblatt and Sherwood Anderson

Tuesday 10/5: Short stories: Jean Toomer, Ernest Hemingway, Willa Cather, Porter
Post to blog: background on an author
Thursday 10/7: No class (pacing break)

Tuesday 10/12: Short stories: William Faulkner, Parker, Fitzgerald, Richard Wright
Post to blog: background on an author
Thursday 10/14: Short stories: Eudora Welty, Vladimir Nabokov, E.B. White, Elizabeth Bishop

Tuesday 10/19: John Cheever, Flannery O’Connor, Isaac Balshevis Singer, Saul Bellow
Post to blog: background on an author
Thursday 10/21: John Updike, Cynthia Ozick, O’Brien, Susan Sontag

Tuesday 10/2: Raymond Carver, Alice Munro, Ferrell, Gish Jen
Post to blog: background on an author
Thursday 10/28 5 page paper due, Read Gwynn, introduction to Drama

Tuesday 11/2: Read Shakespeare, Othello
Thursday 11/4: Continue Othello
(Outside class: screen a recent film adaptation of the play)

Tuesday 11/9: Read Henrik Ibsen, A Doll House
Thursday 11/11: Continue Ibsen

Tuesday 11/16: Read play: Williams, The Glass Menagerie
4 page paper due on either Shakespeare or Ibsen
Thursday 11/18: Continue Williams

Tuesday 11/23: Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun
Thursday 11/25: No class: Thanksgiving

Tuesday: 11/30: Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun
Thursday 12/2: Last day of classes

Final papers due: 12/9 (8-10 pages)

Key words

These are all terms that will be covered over the course of the semester.

Literary Form:

-Poetry – Rhythmic use of language; implies oral recital, but complete on the page
-Drama – Intended for performance on the stage; not complete on the page
-Prose – Complete on the page, belongs to one of the following forms:
Short story
Non-fiction essay
Other journalistic prose forms (not always literary)

Literary Genre

Epic – Narrative poem with a clear hero and a quest
"Mock epic"
Pastoral – Ancient poetic mode involving wandering, shepherding, nature, etc.
Ballad – Narrative poems originally meant to be sung
Lyric – Short poem (usually 40 lines or less) expressing the thoughts and subjectivity of
one person (often a celebration of the beauty of something or someone)
Elegy – Poem mourning the death of someone
Sonnet – Poem with 14 lines, one of various rhyme schemes, and various meters
Religious forms (hymn, Psalm...)
Other poetic forms (Sestina, Villanelle, Haiku)

Gothic – Story with a supernatural element (i.e., haunted house), popular in the early
Sensation fiction – Mode of intensely sensory fiction popular in the mid-1800s
Mystery -- 19th century; Arthur Conan Doyle's “Sherlock Holmes” stories
Thriller -- contemporary, but with sources in the late 1800s)

Short story
History play (Shakespeare)
Melodrama (mostly extinct; think soap opera)
Musical, Opera

Reading – tools, terms, and schools of criticism
Close reading
Text – Work of literature
Explication – Explaining, unpacking a text in a step-by-step way
Analysis – Breaking a text down into its basic elements
Interpretation – general term for understanding of what a text means
New Criticism (school of criticism) – Everything you need to know is in the text
Authorial intention – What an author says he/she meant to say (not always authoritative)
Reader response (school of criticism) – What a text does to a reader
Aesthetic value – How good is it? Is it Art? Is it middlebrow? Is it kitsch?
Historicism (school criticism) – The meaning is determined by the historical context.
Primary text – Original text
Secondary criticism – Writing or analysis of a primary text


Medieval (anything post 500 AD, pre-1500 AD)
Elizabethan/Jacobean: about 1500 to 1630
Seventeenth-century: 1620s to 1720s
Restoration: After 1665
18th Century novel (Defoe, Richardson, Fielding)
Romanticism: 1780-1820
Victorians: 1837-1901
Moderns: 1910-1945
Post-modern/contemporary: 1945-present
Colonial, Postcolonial: From outside Europe/America
Ethnic Minority literatures

Drama terms (see Gwynn's “Introduction”):

Stage directions – indicate movement and gestures made by actors)
Stage business – indicate action without dialogue)
Chorus – Original voice of people together (vs. Gods)
Dithyrambic poetry/theater – worshiping God
Proscenium – raised stage behind main stage
Aristotle, Aristotelian concepts of drama
Mimesis – imitation of life
Unified plot – play happens in real time, or over a single day
Episodic plot – play happens over an extended period (months, years)
Reversal/Peripeteia – discovery that something is wrong (at the beginning)
Discovery/Anagnorisis: Discovery of truth (at the end)
Deus ex machina (Latin: "God from the Machine") – arbitrary resolution of a crisis
Agon: Protagonist, Antagonist
Tragic flaw/hamartia
Characternym (Willy Loman --> "Low man")
Allegorical characters – “Charity” “Temptation” as characters
Soliloquy – Speech by single character on stage alone
Aside – Actor's comment directly to audience
Morality play (middle ages religious drama/sermon)
Problem play (modern social issue play)
Drama of ideas (George Bernard Shaw)
Raisonneur (French) – Character who is primarily a mouthpiece for the
playwright's opinions
Levels of diction
Spectacle or Mise en scene – the visual dimension of the play, the set
and lighting
Blank verse – Poetic line used by Shakespeare
Scrim – semi-transparent screen on which images may be projected

Poetry – technical terms (See Appendix B of Understanding Poetry)

Accentual syllabic verse
Iamb (short-long)
Anapest (short-short-long)
Trochee (long-short)
Dactyl (long-short-short)
Spondee (long-long)

Hexameter (Alexandrine)

Scanning a poem’s meter (scansion)
End-line, internal pause
Rhyme Scheme
Alliteration: Repetition of individual consonants (foul, fair…)
Assonance (or interior rhyme): strings of rhyming vowels in a single line
Consonance: Similarity between patterns of consonants (lean, alone…)

Italian Sonnet
Shakespearean Sonnet