"Liberating education consists in acts of cognition, not transferrals of information." -Paulo Friere

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Two Brave New World Assignments, and one link just for fun


Assignment #1:

This article seems particularly relevant to our discussion of Brave New World, and I hope it won't impinge on any of your Power Read topics.

Please read it carefully and complete the first two article response steps in your sourcebook, like you did for the Moby Dick "Wicked" article.

1. Comprehension. In your sourcebook, summarize the main points of the article in about 1/2 a page. Bullet-point format is fine for this.

2. Analysis. Choose three significant quotes and copy them into your sourcebook. After each quote, discuss why you think that sentence is key to the argument.

We will go through the application, evaluation, and synthesis steps together in class, so come ready to discuss on Tuesday, September 28.

Assignment #2:

Please read this comic, and write a paragraph personal evaluation. For instance, you could describe what the point of this cartoon is and how true you find it.

Also due Tuesday, September 28.

Link just for fun:

I stumbled upon this
article the other day, and just had to share it. It's a list compiled from two other sites giving the most popular dystopian movies ever. I don't necessarily agree with their definition of dystopia, but this was still interesting enough to share. Brave New World is not even on the list, because the only movies that have been made of the book have terrible reviews. It seems to me like it's one of those books that never really works that well as a film.

I'd love to do an assignment with
Brave New World where we compare different dystopias and analyze them somehow....we'll see if we have time.

What are your favorite dystopian movies, students? Discuss in the comments section (purely voluntary, not an assignment!)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Seniors: First In-Class Essay Prompt

Seniors, you will be writing on this essay during the class period on Friday, 9-17. In the future, you won't know ahead of time what prompt you'll be writing to, but I wanted to let you do a little preparation for this essay if you wish, since it is your first one. I suggest you make an outline before you come to class. You may choose to write on any of the summer read books.

"The British novelist Fay Weldon offers this observation about happy endings: “The writers, I do believe, who get the best and most lasting response from readers are the writers who offer a happy ending through moral development. By a happy ending, I do not mean mere fortunate events—a marriage or a last-minute rescue from death—but some kind of spiritual reassessment or moral reconciliation, even with the self, even at death.” Choose a novel or play that has the kind of ending Weldon describes. In a well written essay, identify the “spiritual reassessment or moral reconciliation” evident in the ending and explain its significance in the work as a whole."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Token Female Role

Mendelson's Memos is an interesting film blog, and I liked this post on token female roles in blockbuster films. This quote is particularly great:

"Actresses in most mainstream pictures are merely placeholders, basically playing one variation or another of 'the girl'. Her name is irrelevant and her character usually is too. She is eye candy for the boys, and for the girls often merely a cynical attempt to pull in females by promising romance and/or a moment or two of alleged 'female empowerment'. In all but the most overtly female-driven pictures (Sex and the City, Mama Mia!, Whip It), the actress is cast only in regards to how well she compliments the hero. She may be twenty years younger than him, but rarely older than him. She is often 'hotter' than him, but rarely taller than him. She is occasionally beside him, but never in front of him. "

What's particularly frustrating about this to me is not only how ubiquitous this "token" role is, but also how surprised everyone is when a movie breaks the mold and gives the female a fleshed out character. Think of Salt, the Jolie action movie, and how much talk it caused about how enlightened the directors were for making the lead a woman. Or Avatar, and how much attention critics gave to the fact that the female lead had just the bare minimum of her own fleshed out personality.

"Great" literature is often guilty of the same kind of tokenism, isn't it? Think Catherine in A Farewell to Arms, or Lenina in Brave New World. Sure, they're slightly more rounded characters than your typical movie romantic leads, but they still basically there to complement the male hero on his journey to understanding himself or his place in society or whatever. A couple of notable exceptions that I'm currently teaching: The Crucible, where Abigail is an incredibly believable and well rounded villain, and Things Fall Apart, where Ezinma shines through the bonds her society puts on her. Both of these are texts written by a man with a lead character who is a man, but they still manage to give other roles to the women than simply being rescued or kissing the hero at the end.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Moby Dick sourcebook entry and online discussion

Seniors, I found an article titled Moby Dick, A Wicked Book that I wanted to share with you. Please read the article and complete the following steps. This should be sourcebook entry #9, with the same title as the article.

Response Steps:

1. Comprehension. In your sourcebook, summarize the main points of the article in about 1/2 a page. Bullet-point format is fine for this.

2. Analysis. Choose three significant quotes and copy them into your sourcebook. After each quote, discuss why you think that sentence is key to Sloan's argument.

Now, put down your sourcebook. Instead of writing the following answers in your sourcebook, they should be posted as comments to this blog entry. Write your name in the comment title.

3. Application. Choose a significant quote and discuss how it changes the way you see the meaning of any formalist patterns. For example, could Sloan's argument change what you think the whale symbolizes? Discuss the implications of his ideas. (Please, don't all use the whale example.)

4. Evaluation. Choose a significant quote and discuss to what extent you agree with Sloan's analysis, and why. You may note any flaws you see in his argument.

5. Synthesis. Respond to another student's comment. (You may have to do this separately, after some people have posted answers to #'s 3 and 4)

If you don't complete this assignment in class, please complete it by Tuesday, Sept 14.