Sunday, March 8, 2009
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
- 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."
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
Thursday, February 19, 2009
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.