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Wednesday, November 16

November 16, 2016

CNF Workshop: Today we finished up Adamson, and then workshopped McDanel and began on Kennedy.

Here’s the plan:

Friday I (and some of you) have to go to Poetry Out Loud. We will begin class by finishing up with Kennedy; then all the POL people have to leave. At that point, I will have the second packet for you, with four essays due for Monday, and the rest (probably) for the Wednesday we return from Thanksgiving break. Best we can do.

Screenwriting Workshop: Today we workshopped Joanie and Rachel. Round 2 concludes with Spencer and Payton on Friday. Please finish strong!

Next Monday is a work day for your next film project.

Wednesday, November 30, the following people are due to post: Ash, Payton, Sara, Sarah, Layla, Alexa, Spencer and Chip.

Monday, December 5, the following people are due to post: Henry, Cassidy, Olivia, Haley, Rachel and Joanie.

WARNING: I am suspicious of batch hand-ins for a variety of reasons, but one of the foremost is the temptation to be late. If so many people are handing at once, so what if  I’m late? Don’t fall into this trap! Major deductions (20% per day) will be taken if you’re late, AND you’ll be messing with your schedules of your classmates. You voted on this hand-in scheme to maximize work time, so I expect you to respect your classmates – and me – enough to get your work in when it needs to be in. Which is by 8 am on your given due date.

On a more positive note, so far this is one of my favorite workshops of all time. On a more threatening note, don’t make me have to change my mind about that. 🙂

Public Speaking: Round 1 of midterm presentations. Round 2 is Friday:

  1. Wolfe
  2. Apel
  3. Koscinski
  4. Duffy
  5. Logan
  6. Cianfarano
  7. Trodden

And then the rest on Monday.

BatCat: We are staying after tomorrow (Thursday, 11/17) and hopefully either (or both) days next week. Please stay if you can – as we discussed today, we’re in a tight spot. If you can stay, please do. If you can take things home, please do. If you want to take initiative and make something apart from the assembly line, please do! Some of the coolest stuff gets made that way. Thanks in advance.

Horror: Today we covered a lot of ground, from the idea of universal morality — many of you said there is no such thing; I am skeptical — to how Lovecraft’s brand of existentialism made his horror fiction different than any that had come before.

A recap:

  1. Existentialism debuts (in most people’s minds) in the mid-1800s through the works of Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. He is a Christian, but tries to advance the idea that we must each create our own independent path and not rely on previous or existing systems of belief. We’re all free agents, and the freedom is overwhelming.
  2. Then it goes underground, mostly, until it re-emerges after World War II through Sartre, Camus, et al, as well as through writers like Salinger. This brand of existentialism, however, doesn’t profess any belief in God. We are alone in the universe, and free to make our own decisions. But that’s it. We can’t rely on God, nor society, nor anything other than ourselves to forge our own path. This freedom is even more overwhelming, which explains why so many of these folks were so absurdly happy. 🙂
  3. In-between — in the 20s and 30s, mostly —  comes Lovecraft. He is an atheist. He’s not really an existentialist because people back then wouldn’t have called it that: the idea hadn’t been popularized yet. But he DOES believe what we now think of as a kind of existentialism, called cosmicism. Cosmicism is the idea that there is no divine presence — a god or gods — in the universe, and that man is completely insignificant; that human beings have no particular or special purpose. Lovecraft himself wrote, “(W)hat human beings do is just as free of sense as the free motion of elementary particles. Good, evil, morality, feelings? Pure ‘Victorian fictions.’ Only egotism exists.”
  4. You can see that knocks a pillar out of the horror model we’ve been talking about all semester, the one that’s existed since Greek times. That is, that man has hubris. He crosses a boundary because of it. And he is punished by a god or gods, because he goes where he is forbidden to go. Lovecraft replaced the god or gods with the Old Ones, a collection of deities who appear in a variety of stories. The Old Ones may have come from outer space, or from within the Earth, or from another dimension. Their common bond is that they were here long before humans, and they wait, ready for the chance to take over again. But man is to the Old Ones as a fly is to us: they could care less about humans. We are completely unimportant to them. It’s true that sometimes humans try to open the portal between our world and theirs. That usually ends just like you think. The punishment these humans receive, however, is less moral than unthinking. If you put your hand in the fire, the fire burns you. The fire doesn’t care about you; it just does what it does.

I gave you a copy of the Lovecraft story “The Festival,” which I’d like you to read for Friday. And you need to read “Herbert West, Re-Animator” for Monday. If you have any trouble accessing the stories, you can get them all from because his work is of contested copyright. Which sucks for him, but might be fortunate for you.

Survey: Fiction: First, a quiz on Paul’s Case.

Today you got some notes on a handout (fiction-11-16-16-characterization-examples) regarding characterization. In English class, the related terms are “direct” and “indirect” characterization; in this class the terms “image-based” and “narrator-based” characterization are used to avoid confusion and allow for some nuance. Please staple these sheets into your notebooks. On the same page (or entry), you also should have the definitions for “summary” and “scene.”

We discussed these things in class and you got Prompt #9 (fiction-11-16-16-prompt-9-characterization), which will be checked for completion on Monday. If you have questions, please see me.

I gave you an early reading assignment: A Rose for Emily, which is due to be read for Wednesday, November 30 (when we return from Thanksgiving break). There will be a quiz, but the bigger issue is this: we are going to be doing a lot with this story, particularly when it comes to structure. The more familiar you are with the intricacies of this story, the better off you’re going to be. So maybe read it a couple of times… in a perfect world.

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