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Notes Towards Day 14 (Thursday, 10/24): Close Reading NW (and ourselves)

mlord's picture

I. 11:25-11:35--> "I am curious about..."
organize into small writing groups to brainstorm your close readings of NW
write your question on a piece of paper and circulate, looking for 2-3 partners who are
interested in exploring the same/a similar arena of curiosity

Anne wants to say something about character study (which seems the main theme)-->
how can you make such a paper not just descriptive, but also analytical?

from Jonathan Culler, Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction:
What is Theory?

* a theory must be more than a hypothesis; it can't be obvious; it involves complex relations of a systematic kind among a number of factors; and it is not easily confirmed or disapproved.
* Theory is anaytical and speculative--an attempt to work out what is involved in what we call meaning
*Theory is a critique of common sense, of concepts taken as natural.
*Theory is reflexive, thinking about thinking, enquiry into the categories we use in making sense of things.
Identity, Identification, and the Subject
*is the self something given or something made?
* should it be conceived in individual or in social terms?
* The dominant modern tradition in the study of literature has treated the individuality of the individual as something given, a core which...can be used to explain action.
* 'Theory' has contested..the priority of the subject itself....If the possibiilties of thought and action are determined by a series of sytems which the subject does not  control or even understand, then the subject is not a source or centre to which one refers to explain events. It is something formed by these forces.
* To what extent is the "I" an agent who makes choices rather than has choices imposed on him or her?
*Literary works offer a range of implicit models of how identity is formed...

11:35-12:00--explain your question to your writing partners,
and ask them to help you
brainstorm how you might go about pursuing it: where will you locate yourself in the novel?
what other sources might you search-and-use?
might you want to write this paper together?

you can on helping each other on Serendip...put ideas/questions out there....

II. 12:00-12:15--discussing the mid-semester evaluations, which were predictably not all aligned!
I do not have enough time to devote to my papers....switch the short posting and essay due dates
the prompts make the papers unncessarily hard..while...this openness is designed to free us from any constraints, it makes the papers harder
the prompt is intentionally vague...I benefit more from a direct one liner...
At first, the prompts seem vague and long...Only once I've written quite a bit have I discovered what I actually want to say...that strategy is one I will end up utilizing a lot...sharpening my exploraiton skills....Our writing as a neighborhood is becoming more it becomes more structured....

Another Abby:
I think that part of the improvement in my writing during this class will hinge upon how much of my peers' works I read...I'm lacking the ability to step back, take a breath, and look at what I've done to see how I can improve it....The quick turnarounds...prevent me from not only taking a while to decide whether or not I'm satisfied with my writing, but also prevent me from reflecting on my experiences....
Frindle: The one aspect of this class that I would change would be the amount of time I have to work on my essays...Our essays could be due on Wednesday by 5 PM, in time for class on Thursday....
Juneau: This class has also challenged me with the sheer volume of writing...Now that process is jammed into a few days....This has forced me to feel less attached to my writing...there is always a time to just let it go...I have been able to feel less anxious, the perfectionist in me has begun to calm down...

I need fresh air. I am dizzy. My head is spinning. I haven't found an simple, easy, tangible, visual solid that contains everything. I walk out.

Claire: The larger a group is, the more self-contained it becomes....
this concept applies readily to the classroom as well....
Our small writing groups often seem pointless. None of us are ever sure what we are supposed to be discussing....
lksmith: o
ne of my favorite things we have done during class time has been talking to other students about their essays and hearing what they saw in my writing.
Talking to the other students is the most useful thing we've done in class.

"Who are you writing this for? Were you trying to write to me?"
I would push for a a bit more imput from a few of my classmates into the discussions.....
tomahawk: I have been given less rules...I am pushed to be a player, to make my own....
I thought play was of the theatrical sense....Are we going to learn something about that?

what adjustments might we make? (papers due on Wednesdays? on alternate weeks...?)

III. 12:15-12:30--reviewing future plans
A. this weekend, you have a 3-pp. web reflection due,
close reading one very small portion/dimension of NW --

by classtime on Tuesday, read the essays written by your new writing partners,
and come to class ready to give them some very concrete feedback:
one thing you learned from their paper, one question you have...

also bring NW back w/ you once more--we will spend the other 1/2 of the class
continuing to discuss the novel...

B. next weekend, you will self-organize into small groups to take an audio tour of
Eastern State Penitentiary, an ancient and legendary jail, no longer in use,
in the Fairmount section of the city (up the hill behind Logan Circle/the Free Library--
some of you ventured to a restaurant there, Fare, on our first jaunt into town)--
details to follow (what about Parents' Weekend?)

C. we have thought through the remainder of the trips;
some dates have changed (see homepage and/or calendar),
but all of them will be self-scheduled to particular sites (with the option of going
exploring nearby on your own) within the parameters of a given weekend:
we want to buy Nicole Caruso tickets--what dates will work for each of you?
possibilities include 7:30, 9 p.m. on Fris, Nov. 1, Nov. 8, Nov. 15,
6, 7:30 & 9 p.m. on Sats, Nov. 2, Nov. 9, Nov. 16
4:30 & 6 pm. on Suns, Nov. 3, Nov. 10, Nov. 17
6 & 7:30 on Mons, Nov. 4, Nov. 11
7:30 & 9 on Thurss, Nov. 7, Nov. 14--
and what about Mark's fantasy of a final gathering of us all, in the city on Dec. 6-8??

D. we have also posted instructions for preparing your final portfolio and checklist

--which you can now access from the top of our course homepage

F. Anne makes a pitch for her new Eco-360!

IV. 12:30-12:45--back to NW
some unanswered questions: re: #37?
relation between Nathan and Shar? comparing those mothers? what about Cheryl?
Tessa's questions about to what extent do we choose our own futures?