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Tuesday, October 27

October 27, 2015
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Violence: Today we read aloud Shirley Jackson’s 1948 short story “The Lottery.” I shared with you some fun facts about the story, considered the most controversial piece ever published by The New Yorker.

Why did the story outrage so many readers? For some of the same reasons Lord of the Flies would disturb readers a few years later.

  1. There is violence, obviously.
  2. The violence involves children; in “The Lottery,” it’s even more shocking.
  3. The rituals described — which involves sacrifice, which we’ll call scapegoating — seem like remnants of some ancient time. This horrified modern readers, who had big problems seeing these rituals brought into the modern era. These are rituals, after all, that humanity was supposed to have outgrown, since “history is the story of progress.” But the aftershocks of two world wars unleashed an uneasy new age, in which writers began to remind us that perhaps magic and myth and ritual weren’t going to be so easily banished. (The literary term for this is “displacement,” in which elements of one time are juxtaposed with elements of another.)
  4. Why the need for a scapegoat? In “The Lottery,” it’s suggested that the villagers are continuing what used to be a fertility rite, that at one time, these sacrifices were necessary to secure a good harvest. This is an idea that goes back to the dawn of humanity, and it’s one we’ll continue examining in the coming weeks.
  5. To continue that theme, we read the folk ballad “John Barleycorn.” Here’s a recent version, featuring British pop icon Paul Weller:

And here’s an acoustic version of the most famous recording, by Traffic. Steve Winwood of Traffic — maybe you know him from the songs “Higher Love” or “Roll With It” — did this version:

The song, as we found today, describes the process of harvesting barley by personifying the grain, and the violent way in which it is harvested (to make beer and whiskey, among other things). Why so violent? It may well have something to do with the idea that the harvest was a violent time; that it involved some sort of sacrifice in many cultures, in order to insure success.

We’ll follow this theme in the story I gave you to read for Thursday, William Faulkner’s “Dry September.” You will notice that it contains some archaic language, which I have no doubt that you will be mature enough to handle. Expect a reading quiz!

Radio: Weekly listening, followed by unscheduled work time. Hope you used it well…

Projects are due on Thursday. Audio should be shared to writingfortheradio@gmail.com and logs should be printed (as well as any other additional material you may want to hand in – for example, a script/planning materials/etc).

Siren: AP Style quiz. These are graded and in PowerSchool — we’ll go over them Thursday. We also divided up stories for November.

Style: Today some of you shared your Dahl-inspired stories. The style for this week is “In Touch” – a tabloid. Read it and take notes for Thursday, as always.

Also, I managed to grade the Dahl stories. They are in the gradebook, so your grade is completely up-to-date (unless you were absent today and didn’t hand it in, of course). Just FYI.

Middle School:

Survey: Poetry: I returned your scansion quizzes from last week. You turned in your sonnets. We began reviewing a new form, the rondeau. Survey Poetry Rondeau

You began writing a rondeau that is due Wednesday. You can use the first line we voted on:

I’m lol-ing cuz U stupid, bro

Or you can create your own. The rondeau must follow the form on the handout. It does NOT have to rhyme, but it DOES have to be in iambic tetrameter. These are due Thursday.

Survey: Fiction: Today you handed in Assignment #2. If you did not, for whatever reason, please get it to me ASAP.

Your notebooks were handed back to you, as well as a variety of graded quizzes. Then we went on to finally discuss The Yellow Wallpaper. You broke into groups to discuss a certain aspect of the story. We did not have time to share but will do so at the beginning of class on Wednesday.

Thursday is a review day for the midterm exam, which will be held next Monday, Nov. 2. There will be extra credit or some other kind of thing at stake, so if you want to study for the review… do!

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