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Tuesday, January 15

January 15, 2013

Poetry Workshop: Today we started out the workshop by doing something crazy: we reviewed some terminology from Survey (for those of you who had Survey, anyway). We talked about the five essential elements of poetry; what an image is: some basic sound devices; and a couple of organizing devices (an external one: anaphora, and an internal one: narrative). We also talked about the “Who is talking?” question. And we spent a little time recording some imagery that might (or might not) come in handy later.

Your assignment for Tuesday (the next time we’ll have class) is to choose a patron poet — someone whose work you enjoy and admire. Without being overly restrictive, I want this poet to be someone whose work you might find in one of the Norton anthologies — someone who is widely recognized as a legitimate poet. You are also to choose a poem by this poet that you can bring to class with you in printed form. You’ll need it for what we’re going to try to do.

Next week we’ll work on developing lots of raw material and then we’ll set the first workshop dates for the following week. Everyone should plan to have their first poem on the blog by next Thursday. For the first rotation, you can choose any poem, including old stuff.

Fiction Workshop: Today we went over the syllabus and set the first rotation. Here are your due dates:
Due Wednesday, Jan. 23: Allison (workshop Tuesday, Jan. 29)
Due Monday, Jan. 28: Ashley, Victoria (workshop Thursday, Jan. 31)
Due Wednesday, Jan. 30: Alyx, Zack (workshop Tuesday, Feb. 5)
Due Monday, Feb. 4: Shannon, Jonnah (workshop Thursday, Feb. 7)
Due Wednesday, Feb 6: Bethany, Heaven (workshop Tuesday, Feb. 12)
Due Monday, Feb. 11: Morgan, Liam (workshop Thursday, Feb. 14)
Remember that your stories are due to be posted to the blog on the above dates. Hard copies will be distributed the following day and the workshop for your piece will be held on the date noted above.

Next week we will do a few in-class writing activities, hopefully to get you started on something new if you need it. Let me know asap if there are any issues with the above dates.

World Lit: We started class with a little geography quiz: you had to identify Russia, China, Japan, India and Ireland on a map. Those countries, plus the continent of Africa, will be the ones we’ll focus on in this course.

We started talking about World Lit by discussing why there even is any such field of study. To answer that question, we brainstormed the qualities that you thought are intrinsic to the literature you (probably) know best: American Lit.

Some things that people said, which I thought were perceptive: Much of it has focused on the underdog, or at least the average person — someone who is eligible, as we all are, for the American Dream. That is, the belief that anyone can, if they work hard enough, achieve success here. It’s a powerful idea; so powerful that when that right is denied (as when, for example, prejudice, racism or corruption have prevented it), we believe that denial is worth a story (or several). People noted that a lot of well-known American Lit is centered around small towns and is influenced by religion in some fashion — both things not surprising when you consider our national origins. And someone said freedom has been a common theme; I agree, especially when you consider just how big the continent that greeted our forefathers was, and the possibilities it presented to them, which must have seemed almost limitless.

Those are some qualities of American Lit. We needed to see them in part because we won’t find them in all the work we’ll be reading — we’ll find other stuff instead. Now you’re ready to look for it.

Prompt: Today we went over the syllabus. Bring your notebook on Thursday! Also, the first notebook check will happen next Tuesday (Jan. 22), so get started on the entries… now.

Film Studies: Today we went over the syllabus and watched a short slapstick film with Buster Keaton (The Goat). You took notes, which were collected.

Survey: CNF: Today we began CNF by:

1. Reviewing the syllabus
2. Talking about what CNF is, and what is isn’t (there was a handout)
3. Reading (aloud) the David Sedaris essay “You Can’t Kill The Rooster.” It’s a funny story (at least I hope you thought so), but it has to be more than that to really be worth talking about. Your assignment for Tuesday is to write down what you believe is the theme of the essay. I gave out index cards, but you can use a regular old piece of paper. Just have it in written form, ready to turn in on Tuesday.

If you don’t like CNF, that is perfectly fine — we hear it every year. It’s my job to help you see that it can be more than just some dry retelling of facts that weren’t interesting the first time around. We’ll start in earnest on Tuesday.

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