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Tuesday, Feb. 5

February 5, 2013

Poetry Workshop: Today we began the first round. Holness, Rearick, Dean. Nice job with the comments and annotations; nice discussion. Keep it at this level and we will have a fantastic workshop!

For Thursday: we’ll begin with Dixon, Patterson and Peterson. Comments and annotations for Kline and Fox, please.

Fiction Workshop: Today we workshopped Victoria and Alyx. Zack and Jonnah’s stories will be workshopped on Thursday. You also have Shannon’s story, but we are holding it over till Tuesday. Heaven and Bethany are due to post tomorrow.

Round 2 is fast approaching, so I highly suggest you start on it (or at least start thinking about it). The prompt, which you do have to do, is this:
Write three pieces of flash fiction, each no more than 1000 words long (and please do keep under this limit). The pieces should stand alone as individual stories but should also be related in some way. For example, they may all involve the same character(s) or tell the story of a single event from three different perspectives. Note that the thread connecting them can be quite fine and subtle – it might be something structural, like they all are stories told backwards, or the all start and end with the same lines. Your choice.

We will set the rotation next Tuesday. Remember that someone has to go first — it might be you.

World Lit: Today we discussed Gogol’s “The Nose,” but we talked some terminology first:

Romanticism: art focused on emotion as the highest end; expressions of awe or even terror; nature is a favorite subject, but so is the supernatural. Focus on the individual and subjective truths. Imagination instead of reason; beauty trumps all. The dominant form in English literature in the first part of the 19th century.

Gothic: a blending of two Romantic strains, horror and romance. So named for its focus on medieval-era settings and /or buildings.

Realism: art focused on as accurate a depiction of real life as possible, with no embellishment. Authenticity and detail are prized; so is being unafraid to look beyond the beautiful, at the world (and society) as it really is. Rose in popularity with the birth of the novel in the 19th century.

Naturalism: A strain of realism that seeks to identify the causes for the conditions it depicts. Why are the poor poor, etc.? (Think Richard Wright’s Native Son, for example.)

Surrealism: Art that seeks to upset the status quo by employing unexpected distortions of reality and odd juxtapositions.

Premise fiction (sometimes called “magical realism”): A story which contains a single, identifiable distortion of the world as we know it. Usually, this is not described as a magical intrusion.

So where do Gogol and “The Nose” slot into these categories? Like “The Cloak,” “The Nose” is a realistic work with a surprise. In the previous story, it’s the ghosts — you might call it romantic or even gothic, thanks to those additions. Here, it’s the nose, which is not magical or supernatural — at least we don’t think so, as the author never reveals how the nose came to live on its own (and even critiques this failure at the end of the story). So it’s best described as premise fiction: what would happen if a guy’s nose left his face and struck out on its own?

Another thing this story has in common with “The Cloak” is its making fun of the government and societal conventions. Remember, Kovaloff’s main worry upon seeing his nose is that it clearly outranks him in the civil service and thus he doesn’t know how to address it properly! That’s absurd, of course — which is the point.

For Thursday, please read the next story in the packet, Dostoyevsky’s “A Christmas Tree and a Wedding.” It could be that this story is more important for who the author is than for the story itself, but it will give us a chance to talk about a term that is important throughout Russian literature.

Daily Prompt: Today notebooks were checked and we had the usual class reading. The rest of the time was yours to use to write, so hopefully you got something done. A few new prompts will be going up on the blog in the next couple of days (not that there aren’t plenty there already). We will do an activity on Thursday, and four new entries will be due next Tuesday.

Film Studies:

Survey: CNF: Today we took a quiz on David Sedaris’s “The Youth In Asia.” Then we listened to him reading it on NPR’s This American Life (link to it here).

We then imagined how the essay might have been written: the moment method, or the riff method. And then I returned your moments (and in some cases, riffs) from the other day.

Then we started a new moment, in which you wrote about confronting (in some fashion, even if indirectly) your biggest fear. (Or one of them, anyway.) If you didn’t turn your card in today, it’s due at the beginning of class Thursday.

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