Wednesday, March 18, 2009

And the Weather is...

So, the weather, from my office today, in mid-March is....

Mr. Gore? Mr. Gore?

('Cosmic irony.')

And, yes, weather is not climate. We should all remember that!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Mid-Term: Copy-Editing Symbols

Update: third hotlink now fixed: thanks to "Editor" for the tip.

Follow this link for a legend of the standard copy-editing symbols. These can be used during successive editing of essay drafts.

More here. And here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Student's Analysis

I, an humble advocate & practitioner of a Socratic method of teaching, understand it to express two mutually-supporting priciples:
  • A teacher brings out what is already there in the student—the Latin etymology of 'educate' is horticultural—rather than pouring in. The teacher provides environment & stimuli; the student the rest.
  • Answer questions with questions--the student learns by doing and thinking-through, rather than simply adding a set answer as one more log on the mental pile. "Give them a fish and they eat for a day; teach them to fish and they eat for a lifetime."
So, it is proving a rewarding Term. As I have chance to visit the tutorials, I experience profound analyses: such as the following, from classfellow Bryan MacMaster, emailed in response to my inducment in lecture to go to the OED for an answer to a etymological query.

Although the words don't have the same root according to the OED, 'sacred' certainly sounds like 'secret', and they come from words which have very similar meanings. 'Sacred' comes from L. 'sacer' and means to set apart. 'Secret', as you know, comes from L. 'secernere', which means to separate, or to divide off. Perhaps the Latin words 'sacer' and 'secernere' are cognates, and the OED simply does not trace the words far enough back (it is Latin after all, and not English).

Also, the word 'share' can mean to divide, according to the OED. Consider a ploughshare, which cuts the soil. Thus, both words in the title can mean to divide. This title is doubly about division! In this sense, it could be that the secret sharer is the one who destroys the secret, rather than distributes or keeps it. It's a title that opposes and divides itself in a number of ways. It was fun looking into these things.

Monday, March 2, 2009

For Mr. Peck's Students

For students unavoidably prevented from attending today's lecture, Mr. Peck is suffering illness and will return his students' graded essays upon his recovery. Mid-Terms are due for all on Wednesday in lecture irrespectively.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mid-Term Topics

For the mid-term essay, select one of the following three topics (irrespective of any previous written work that you might have done on the material specified) and write a twenty-five hundred word essay, using the stipulations in the English Department's published Style Guide, to be handed in the lecture of March 4th. Make certain that your essay engages each criterion in your chosen topic.

1.] In Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, Humpty Dumpty has the following exchange with Alice:

  • "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in a rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less."
  • "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean different things."
  • "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master – that's all."

Using a word to mean whatever the speaker chooses it to mean is a definition of nonsense. Consider Tennyson's "The Higher Pantheism" and Swinburne's "Response" as a dialectical exchange, where the subject is nonsense. Continue that dialectic with your essay, using literary analysis to show which one of the two previous stages -- Tennyson's or Swinburne's--is Humpty Dumpty nonsense, and which one is sense.

2.] Robert Browing's Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came is arguably the most evocative poem of the Victorian Age. In lecture, for instance, we saw how it can work as a dolourous representation of the state of a Christian's faith after Darwin. Concentrating on the transformative effect that the final stanza has on the work as a whole, interpret the poem as an allegory of some specific dark state of mind or social condition. Keep in mind that as an allegory, each aspect of the work -- word, phrase, line, object, place -- must have some direct and precise analogue to that which is being allegorised.

3.] Rudyard Kipling's "Gunga Din" and "Without Benefit of Clergy" give literary representation of Indians during the British Raj. Concentrating on the texts themselves, explain what Kipling might intend by these representations in relation to the Empire. Use Dante Gabriel Rossetti's "The Burden of Ninevah" to inform your configuration of Victorian England's understanding of Empire.