Monthly Archives: October 2014

Nightfall Reading (AP Lang)

Now posted on the course specific page.

Enjoy.

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Literature and Morality

“When I talk about the ‘personal moral inventory’ it’s not so much about the immorality of the war itself, but the sense of how an ordinary person is complicit in the ongoing folly of his time. Even with honorable intentions and a certain measure of innocence, you can become a part of the very thing you fear and despise. And this shows up in my fiction. It isn’t a question of the stories being moral fables. ‘Don’t do this because something terrible will happen.’ It’s more an exploration of the moral sense that dominates our lives for better or worse, the constant effort of trying to find the right thing to do in complex situations. I can’t imagine not having that kind of reckoning in my work because it’s at the center of our lives. Everyone I know is puzzling things out, trying to figure out the right thing to do. We’re all in a web of connection to friends, family, community, and the moral sense is what determines how we honor those connections. To leave that out of one’s fiction seems to me to be impossible. It’s going to be there, so it’s better that it not be there by default, but that you have some edge of consciousness about its workings.”

-Tobias Wolff

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Happy Birthday Nietzsche!

“There are no facts, only interpretations.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

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Hon Eng 10: New Core Text Added

Young Scholars of Honors English 10:

We have been moving at a nice enough rate to squeeze in another book. It is short and right in line with what we’ve been discussing. Not to mention it is an incredibly important work of literature/historical document. If there were required reading for the human race, this would be on the list.

We will be reading Night by Elie Wiesel. However, I will not be distributing hard copies in class. You will find the reading schedule and the link to the full text on the course specific page.

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AP Lang: Homework for The Road…

Trying out a new approach for the next core text. Please make sure that you visit the course specific page to view the assignment. It is called a “Dialectical Journal”. I will not be handing out hard copies, you will need to access the document online. You can either print and write on it, or type directly into the template and then print. Cheers.

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An Open Correspondence with a Student

Mr. Klein: (note: this is excerpted from an assignment, not originally written in the form of a letter; note on the note: this should be a footnote, but that seems to be beyond the formatting capabilities of wordpress)

Why do we refer to Roger Chillingworth as Chillingworth and Hester Prynne as Hester and Arthur Dimmesdale as Dimmesdale? I understand that the men’s names are chosen to have some sort of meaning, which explains why we use their last names, but what about Hester Prynne? I’ll just refer to everyone’s last names for the entirety of this assignment (except Pearl). If it bothers you as much as it bothers me, you can just tell me and I’ll use Hester instead of Prynne ^_^

Cheers,

H

__________________________________

Dear H

I just read your note about calling Dimmesdale and Chillingworth by their last names while Hester only gets a first name, in your discussion questions from chapters 4-8 (I’m a little behind in my paperwork, clearly). I think you raise an interesting question. I’m not sure that I have a good answer, but I’ll give it a shot.

My gut reaction is that I’ve always called those characters by those particular names because that is the way I’ve heard other people designate them (teachers, professors, etc.). But since pure habituation is not a particularly good rationale for action, I will press this a bit further. In my mind, I say all the characters first and last names when introducing them and then shorten them, keeping their most distinctive name-part for brevity. I say “Dimmesdale” because I want to highlight how dim he is, “Chillingworth” because I want to harp on Hawthorne’s insistence on attribute-names, and “Hester” because she is so mighty a character that she doesn’t quite require any other appellation…like Madonna or Prince.

I fully admit that these may be post-hoc rationalizations. I can’t be sure exactly what was going through my mind or whether this is the unconscious product of a patriarchal society, or if this is a value neutral situation as I propose above. As a feminist thinker, I certainly hope it is the latter, but I suspect that regardless of my intention, it smells like there is a structure of inherent sexism reflected in such designations. Perhaps “value neutral” is an impossibility.

I thank you for bringing this to my attention.

Best,

Mr. Klein

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Parting is such sweet sorrow…

As we approach the end of The Scarlet Letter, I would like you to revisit your discussion questions. Please prepare questions and quotations for discussion for next class (10/3- even, 10/6- odd). We will devote all of next class (assuming that you are prepared) to focusing on the novel. But I want this class to be largely student driven. I will not be spoon-feeding. I will have something else for us to do if the class is not well-prepared, though I strongly suggest taking advantage of class time to make sure that you have established enough depth in your analysis to be ready for the assessment that will follow.

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