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Thursday, September 5

September 5, 2013

Violence: Today we took a quiz on “A Voice From Death,” by Walt Whitman. Then we watched this video about the Johnstown Flood, which happened here in PA in 1889:

This natural disaster was clearly one that occurred because man failed to take nature seriously. In his hubris, he built a playground for the rich that ended up destroying the town when the rains came. The courts may have ruled it was an act of “Providence,” but this was in all respects a man-made tragedy. (The people in the town were a little to blame as well: they didn’t heed multiple warnings.)

Whitman’s poem was written within a month of the flood, and the last section delivered a warning to those who take nature, and Death (which is a part of Nature) lightly. The close proximity of the poem to the event led us to consider the question of how soon is too soon to turn a violent tragedy into art?

We listened to last year’s LAVA keynoter, Terrance Hayes, read his poem “Fish Head for Katrina,” about a recent disaster that also was aided and abetted by human hubris and error, Hurricane Katrina:

Whitman and Hayes’ poems both are attempts to use natural violence as revelation. Similar to “The Stoat” and “The Wind,” they offer warnings about nature’s violent tendencies, and about man’s capacity to ignore them.

Your assignment for Tuesday: find a piece of art (poem, song, painting, etc.) that deals with the subject of 9/11, and bring it in (either printed out, or, if it’s online, have the link written on a piece of paper or index card). I would really like you to be able to tell me the year the piece was published/released, if at all possible. We want to use these pieces to continue our discussion of “How soon is too soon” to deal with a violent event in art?

Radio: Today was a little disappointing – since quite a few people did not do the writing half of the homework, we did not do the in-class activity that was planned. Hopefully we will get to it on Tuesday IF those people make up the work.

Instead, we discussed the reading assignment after a short quiz. We made up a timeline on the board – hopefully you all copied it down, it may come up again. We then listened to some examples of the shows that we were discussing. Here are the links:
Amos and Andy:
Fireside chat with FDR:
Quiz Kids:
Burns and Allen:

Kat Ree and Rosemary (and Autumn) have recorders today. Morgan, Jillian, Alyx, and Shannon are scheduled to take them over the weekend.

Everyone is expected to have 1 hr of listening to report on Tuesday, as usual. You may listen to older material, like we did today, if you like – the site has a LOT of material.

Siren: Kept working on copy for the first issue. Nice work so far, everyone. Didn’t have time to discuss leads, but please review the last two pages of that handout I gave you — expect a quiz Tuesday.

Style: Today we discussed the Hempel stories. Here’s a copy of the board:

Your stories are due on Tuesday and I would expect them to be about 400 – 500 words in length (longer if you wish, but shorter will be regarded with skepticism).

Film Studies:

8th Grade: Today we did a “You Oughtta Know That!” about the Oxford comma. Then we heard a few story openings read by their authors. In the second half of class we played a game to see who was the best liar. Stay tuned for the results…

Survey: Poetry: Today we reviewed some of the images you created from abstractions (as well as some cliches). Remember: an image is something you can experience with your senses. It also helps if you can be specific. If your image for “despair” is “Pittsburgh,” that doesn’t really give us much of a picture (especially if we’ve never been to Pittsburgh). If your image for “insane” is “Psycho,” you’re really talking about a specific aspect of the film (probably the shower scene).

Then we reviewed some things from Chapter 4, especially the chart on page 67. Boring but necessary. Remember the difference between simile, metaphor and symbol.

Here’s a list of the terms I expect you to know from Chapter 4:

image/abstraction/tenor/vehicle/simile/metaphor/symbol/figurative language/image cluster/hyperbole/synecdoche

We talked about those last three a bit at the end of class. I don’t feel like I did a great job of explaining them, so we’ll probably review them again Tuesday. Expect a quiz sometime (not Tuesday) next week.

No assignment over the weekend, but please bring your books Tuesday. (And it wouldn’t hurt to re-read Chapter 4.)

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