Saturday, January 20, 2018
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller, chapters 13-24
by José María Heredia (1825)
Please also read, on this page, about Heredia, his life, and his experience writing this poem while standing on a rock beside the falls on the Canadian side. For the poem, scroll down. There's another translation here.
by Adelaide Crapsey (1915)
Read both the poems titled "Niagara" and think about the emotions represented in each one. Now, edit both of them, deleting everything that depends on visual imagery or aural imagery, that is on hearing or sight. Now write a short paragraph comparing the two -- how much does each one depend on its images, and what emotions remain when these are stripped away?
Blindfold yourself completely, and stop up your ears as totally as you can, either with ear plugs or noise-cancelling headphones. Stay this way for an hour. No sleeping! Don't endanger yourself, but do attempt to do some things. Maybe get a drink of water and make a sandwich, or create some art, or take a walk around the outside of your house. You'll need someone with you to take care of you, and also to tell you when the hour is over. When the hour is over, write a personal essay of 250 words or more, describing your experience. In your essay, avoid judgment words like "It was awful" or "It was great" and really try to communicate what happened, using descriptive words. Pay attention.
Often, people with disabilities are valued and made famous because they have overcome their disabilities to accomplish great things. They are held up to people without disabilities as a source of inspiration. You might have seen a poster or internet meme of a person with a disability being athletic or brave, with a caption like "What's your excuse?" or "The only disability in life is a bad attitude. What is the reason we read Helen Keller's book? Is it to be inspired by her accomplishments in the face of the adversity she had to overcome? Consider this quote from Helen Keller: "Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved." In an essay of 300 words, interpret this quote, in the context of our reading of her life story, and what we can take away.
Helen visited the World's Fair and loved it. What is the World's Fair? Write a 300 word essay in which you give some context and history. In your introduction, talk about Helen Keller's visit and use examples to set the scene. Then move into some facts and information about it. Finally in your conclusion, take the reader to a new place by making a value judgment on whether you think it was a good thing or a bad thing, or maybe even whether it should be resurrected.
In chapter 14, Helen talked about what writing is like. Consider especially this quote: "It seems to me that the great difficulty of writing is to make the language of the educated mind express our confused ideas, half feelings, half thoughts, when we are little more than bundles of instinctive tendencies. Trying to write is very much like trying to put a Chinese puzzle together. We have a pattern in mind which we wish to work out in words; but the words will not fit the spaces, or, if they do, they will not match the design." Using this quote as a jumping off place, and the other reflections in the chapter, and your own analogies, write a 300 word essay about what writing is like for you.
1. What motivated Helen in wanting to learn to talk?
2. What was the title of the story that Helen supposedly plagiarized?
3. What president was inaugurated in 1893?
4. For what person was Tennyson's "In Memoriam" written and what are the sections of the poem called? (You'll have to look this one up!)
5. Was Helen's attempt to learn to speak a success?
6. Give one aspect of classroom life in the school at Cambridge that was hard for Helen.
7. In what subject did braille NOT work for Helen's exams?
8. What does this quote mean? Put it in your own words. "A potent force within me, stronger than the persuasion of my friends, stronger even than the pleadings of my heart, had impelled me to try my strength by the standards of those who see and hear."
9. What is a "bugbear"? The context sentence is this: "Examinations are the chief bugbears of my college life."
10. At what age did Helen read The Scarlet Letter?
11. How is Helen able to experience boating and love sailing and canoeing?
12. What was Helen's impression of Mark Twain?
Friday, January 12, 2018
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller, chapters 1-12 and also the letters in the third section, up to February 1889 (the first two years of her time with Anne Sullivan).
A biography of Helen Keller on the American Foundation for the Blind's web site.
The Chambered Nautilus
by Oliver Wendell Holmes
This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
Sails the unshadowed main,—
The venturous bark that flings
On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings
In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,
And coral reefs lie bare,
Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair.
Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl;
Wrecked is the ship of pearl!
And every chambered cell,
Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell,
As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell,
Before thee lies revealed,—
Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed!
That spread his lustrous coil;
Still, as the spiral grew,
He left the past year’s dwelling for the new,
Stole with soft step its shining archway through,
Built up its idle door,
Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.
Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,
Child of the wandering sea,
Cast from her lap, forlorn!
From thy dead lips a clearer note is born
Than ever Triton blew from wreathèd horn!
While on mine ear it rings,
Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings:—
Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!
When you read this poem, think about the meaning of this object, the nautilus shell, and all the "messages" it contains. We'll talk more about the meanings in objects next week.
In the first chapter, Helen described the flowers in the gardens around her childhood home. Look up some pictures of clematis, jessamine, butterfly lilies, asphodels, and violets, and create a beautiful piece of art that reflects the joy and love that Helen clearly felt for these plants. If you read the paragraph that begins, "Even in the days before my teacher came..." you'll notice Helen does not use color to describe the garden. In your drawing, instead of colors use words, like "fragile" and "drooping" and "beautiful" and other non-sight-related words (cool, pure, heart-satisfying) that Helen used to describe what she experienced.
Anne Sullivan taught Helen the word for water after she knew the meaning of water itself. But she learned the word for love before she knew the meaning of it, and in chapter 6 we saw that it was hard for her teacher to communicate the meaning of the word "love." Write a poem titled "What is Love?" in which you attempt to define this abstraction by using concrete words, things that can be smelled or touched, or experiences.
Choose one of these quotes from Helen Keller and write a 300-word essay about it. In your essay, explain the quote in your own words, and then illustrate it with at least one example from your own life and at least one example from the book.
"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, but must be felt in the heart."
"Any teacher can take a child to the classroom, but not every teacher can make him learn. He will not work joyously unless he feels that liberty is his, whether he is busy or at rest; he must feel the flush of victory and the heart-sinking of disappointment before he takes with a will the tasks distasteful to him and resolves to dance his way bravely through the dull routine of textbooks."
Each question relates to the content of the chapter with the same number.
1. How old was Helen when she became ill and lost her sight and hearing?
2. Give an example of something naughty that Helen did.
3. What famous person did Helen meet when her father was trying to find some help for her?
4. What was the first word that Helen learned, and why was it not that significant?
5. Helen could neither see the sky nor understand weather, but through her description, what happened when Helen was in the cherry tree?
6. According to Helen what two missing elements make conversation difficult for deaf and blind people?
7. Give two examples of small physical objects that Helen's teacher uses to represent larger abstract concepts in this chapter.
8. What is Helen's favorite Christmas present?
9. Again, give two examples of physical objects or experiences that represent larger abstract concepts for Helen in this chapter.
10. What does Helen insist on bringing home from the beach?
11. What happened when Helen and Miss Sullivan and Mildred crossed the railroad trestle?
12. What was special for Helen about the bright light of winter?
Friday, December 8, 2017
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Part 3, "Burning Bright"
"The Library of Babel" by Jorge Luis Borges
Also check out this awesomely weird site, The Library of Babel. Just mouse over any of the words on the main index.
"There is no Frigate Like a Book" by Emily Dickinson
There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry –
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll –
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human Soul –
This week's short story, "The Library of Babel," proposes the the universe is an infinite library composed of interlocking hexagons. Create a piece of art that shows something else composed of hexagons. A person composed of hexagons might have one hexagon for the heart, one for the stomach, another hexagon for emotions, and maybe one to stand on for each foot. A school composed of hexagons might have classrooms and offices of this shape. A pumpkin composed of hexagons? A dragon composed of hexagons?
While on the subway, Guy Montag felt that his life could be represented by a child shoveling sand into a sieve, helplessly watching as the sand poured through. Take a look at your list of "life" analogies from class. Life is a Coke machine. Life is a bagel. Life is a highway. Life is a stage. Write a 250 word essay in which you draw out an analogy for life. You'll need at least three ways that life is like the thing you choose.
Define these words from Fahrenheit 451 and use each one in a sentence. Don't find the sentence from the book -- make up your own.
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, "The Sieve and the Sand."
"Exchange" by Ray Bradbury
"Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold
The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.
Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
After reading the short story, "Exchange," think about what libraries mean to children and adults. The story is about how fascinating and important the character found the library as a child, and how that fascination and dependence faded with adulthood. While children often read voraciously, adults frequently get out of the habit, sometimes not reading for pleasure at all. After you've reflected on the story, the place of books in the world of Fahrenheit 451, and your own feelings, either write a 250 word personal essay about what a library means to you, or create a color illustration of a fantasy version of a library, including the most appealing elements you can imagine, with no regard for physics or financial constraints.
Ray Bradbury was writing in a time before the internet, before Facebook and Twitter and blogs and the Huffington Post. In his time, the perceived threat to the practice reading books was the television. With the advent of movies and TV, our experience with stories changed forever. In a 250 word essay, give your thoughts on the experience of watching a show on TV compared to the experience of reading a book. How is it better or easier, or how is it not as good? You'll want an introductory paragraph, and then a paragraph on reading and a paragraph on watching TV. Then take your reader to a new place in the conclusion by making a value claim. Which is better?
After reading the poem, "Dover Beach," consider how the poem made you feel. After reflecting on the class discussion about whether books that make you feel unhappy should be read anyway, write a 250 word essay giving your opinion on this topic. With specific quotes, use the poem as an example of something that would have been forbidden in the world of Fahrenheit 451, because it is scary or depressing. Do you think that this type of literature is important, even though it might make us sad? Why?
1. What is the "White Clown"?
2. Where did Guy originally meet Faber?
3. Why is Guy's copy of the Bible special?
4. As Guy is trying to read the Bible on the subway, what noise is competing for his attention?
5. Why are books hated and feared, according to Faber?
6. What is Guy Montag's plan for using the books to bring down the firemen?
7. How is Faber able to talk to Guy when they are apart?
8. How does Mildred try to cover up for the fact that Guy has a book?
9. Name two of the authors Beatty references when he's arguing with Guy.
10. Where does Beatty take the Salamander on Guy's last ride on it?
Friday, November 24, 2017
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, "The Hearth and the Salamander"
"The Fog Horn" by Ray Bradbury
"Fire and Ice" by Robert Frost
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
Without looking at any images online, try to imagine what the Mechanical Hound looks like. We know he has 8 legs and is made of brass and copper and steel. It has rubber-padded paws and a proboscis for injections. Draw a picture of what you imagine the Hound looks like, and include a person or another object for size comparison.
Examine Clarisse McClellan's dialogue. She has two conversations with Guy Montag in the first twenty pages -- one where she talks about race car drivers and people watching and billboards, and the other where she talks about dandelions and tasting rain. Using only words and phrases from her speech lines in these two conversations, construct a poem with the title, "Are You Happy?"
The society in Fahrenheit 451 has done away with books, and front porches, and also spankings and representational art. What sorts of things have replaced them? Using examples from the book, write a 250 word essay describing what people in the book do instead of read. You will find a lot of material in Clarisse McClellan's speech right before she disappears. In your conclusion, you can take your reader to a "new place" by identifying which of these activities are familiar in our world.
Mildred and Guy Montag are both characters that harbor internal contradictions. Guy is a fireman and yet he has doubts about his job, and rescues and hides books. Mildred appears to be perfectly happy, and yet she also has another side. Using examples from the book, write a 250 word essay describing the two sides of Mildred Montag. You can take your reader to a "new place" in the conclusion by discussing what this contradiction means for Bradbury's broader characterization of people in this society.
Who said it? Answer with the character's name.
1. Kerosene is nothing but perfume to me.
2. Do you ever read any of the books you burn?
3. I think that's fine!
4. It doesn't think anything we don't want it to think.
5. Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.
6. There must be something in the books, things we can't imagine.
7. We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal.
8. Sometimes I drive all night and come back and you don't know it. It's fun out in the country. You hit rabbits, sometimes you hit dogs.
These four are from the short story, "The Fog Horn."
9. Ray Bradbury really likes similes. Give five examples from the story.
10. What two substances does he narrator see in the monster's eyes?
11. Why does the monster attack the lighthouse?
12. According to McDunn, what does the monster learn?
Friday, November 3, 2017
Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, Acts 4-5
Giuseppe Verdi wrote an opera setting the words of Macbeth to music. Take a look at this video of the production. Here's another one, but without subtitles. Think about the most important speeches in Macbeth and choose one. You might pick "“Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under ‘t.” Or “Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.” Any quote will do really! Now, choose a pop song, and modify the words to reflect the words of the play. It doesn't have to be an exact match. For example, you could change "Uptown Funk" to "Lady Macbeth": Lady Macbeth gonna give it to ya! Lady Macbeth gonna give it to ya! Look like the innocent flower! Or maybe instead of "We found love right where we are" you might say We killed Duncan right in his bed! Or some such thing. Post your song, telling what song it's based on and what speech in the play inspired it.
Below are four images of different productions of Macbeth, showing Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Use your imagination and come up with some costume ideas for your ideal production. Would it be contemporary? Victorian? Medieval? Futuristic? Describe and sketch at least three characters.
Pretend you are a trial lawyer preparing a defense of Macbeth in the murder of Duncan and Banquo. The trial has already passed, the witnesses have been called, and you are wrapping up your argument to the jury. Using at least three key points to defend him, write your closing statement of at least 250 words. One idea for your conclusion would be to suggest another person who might be more to blame. The witches? Lady Macbeth?
1.What are the three apparitions that give prophecies to Macbeth?
A. The ghost of Duncan, the ghost of Banquo, the ghost of Fleance.
B. A head, a bloody child, a child dressed as a king.
C. A dagger, a head, a bloody hand.
D. First witch, second witch, third witch.
E. Dunsinane, Forres, Inverness.
2.What are the three prophecies he receives?
A. 1. Beware Macduff. 2. Worry about Fleance. 3. Ponder Duncan.
B. 1. Beware Macduff. 2. Stay away from Dunsinane. 3. Stay away from women.
C. 1. Beware Macduff. 2. No woman born in Scotland shall ever defeat him. 3. He will not be vanquished as long as Duncan's corpse is in Dunsinane wood.
D. 1. Beware Macduff. 2. No man of woman born shall stand against him. 3. He will never be vanquished until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane Hill
E. 1. Beware Macduff. 2. No man of England shall stand against him. 3. King Edward was not born of a woman.
3.What does this mean? “From this moment, the very firstlings of my heart shall be the firstlings of my hand.” (Act IV Scene 1, Macbeth’s final speech)
A. As soon as I have an idea, I’m going to act upon it.
B. I will never betray my first love.
C. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
D. If I find something in my hand, I'm going to stick it in my heart.
E. Whatever moves me first will move me last.
4.Who says the line: “He has kill'd me, mother:Run away, I pray you!”
C. Macduff's son.
5.In Act IV Scene 3, Malcolm accuses himself of being insanely lustful, avaricious, criminal, power-hungry, not suited to be king. How does his conversation with Macduff resolve?
A. He kills himself.
B. Macduff agrees Malcolm should never be king.
C. He takes it all back.
D. The doctor takes him to King Edward for a cure.
E. He accuses himself of being addicted to haggis.
6.What help has the King of England loaned to Macduff in his effort against Macbeth?
A. 10,000 men and a healing wand of blessing.
B. 10,000 trees that can walk to Dunsinane.
C. 10,000 generals and a sewer, newly built.
D. 10,000 witches and a cauldron, hot.
E. 10,000 men and Siward, Earl of Northumberland, for their general.
7.When Macduff is grieving for his wife and children, Malcolm says, “Be this the whetstone of your sword.” What does this mean?
A. Let this prevent you from being rash in battle.
B. Let this motivate you to be fierce in battle.
C. Let this teach you that battle serves no purpose.
D. Let this make you feel better after your wounds.
E. Let this convince you to build a fence instead of an army.
8.What is Lady Macbeth worried about, while sleepwalkingin Act V, Scene 1?
A. She sees an apparition of a witch.
B. She cannot find her husband.
C. She sees ghosts in her bedroom.
D. She cannot find her dagger.
E. She sees blood on her hands.
9.How did Birnam Wood come to Dunsinane?
A. The trees took up root and marched.
B. The soldiers used branches as cover.
C. The soldiers dressed as trees.
D. The wood was transported in a magical fog.
E. The wood symbolized Macbeth's guilt.
10.How was Macbeth killed by a man not of woman born?
A. Macduff was out of Scotland's trees resplendent made.
B. Macduff was from his father wholly made asunder.
C. Macduff was from his mother's womb untimely ripped.
D. Macduff was from a man and goat fastidious clenched.
E. Macduff was out of Duncan's brain conceived and born.
Friday, October 27, 2017
Macbeth by William Shakespeare, Act 2-3
"Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin
"Sonnet 29" by William Shakespeare
When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur’d like him, like him with friends possess’d,
Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
Last week during our visit to the farm you took notes for a poem while sitting on a horse and riding through the fields and woods. This week your creative assignment is to use those notes to write a poem. Incorporate as many of the physical details as you can, including how you felt, what you smelled, heard, saw, etc. Your poem can be in any form, but don't feel like you need to rhyme or have regular meter. If you weren't able to make it to the barn, you can write about a different time when you've been out in nature, enjoying the sensory input.
Can you solve the mystery of the third murderer? We know that Macbeth sent two murderers to kill Banquo and Fleance, but who is the third person that shows up? There's lot of speculation about who this might have been. Shakespeare's audience might have gotten a clue, because there may have been some costuming or acting similarities to the character it was meant to be. While we may never know for sure, we can make a decision and incorporate it into our own production. For example, if we decide it's Macbeth or Lady Macbeth, we can disguise that actor to play the part. If we decide it's a random person, we can reflect that in the casting/costuming. Read this discussion of the different possibilities and then write a 250 word essay in which you decisively say which choice we should make with our version of Macbeth.
1.What happens between the time Macbeth exits at the end of Act 2 Scene 1 and the time he enters in Scene 2?
A. He sends a messenger to the king.
B. He confers with Lady Macbeth.
C. He visits the park on his horse.
D. He kills Duncan.
E. He kills Banquo.
2.Who officially discovers Duncan’s body? (Act 2 Scene 3)
D. The grooms
3.What did Macbeth do to cover up the assassination of the King?
A. Smear the grooms’ hands with blood.
B. Wash his hands of blood.
C. Kill the grooms.
D. Pretend to be surprised and horrified at the body.
E. All of the above.
4.Who fled from the castle after the king was discovered dead?
A. Lennox and Ross.
B. The two grooms, covered in blood.
C. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.
D. Banquo and Fleance.
E. Malcolm and Donalbain, the king's sons.
The handle toward my hand?"
D. Lady Macbeth
6.Who does Macbeth tell the murderers to kill in Act 3, Scene 1?
A. Duncan and Banquo.
B. Macduff and Lennox.
C. Malcolm and Donalbain.
D. Banquo and Fleance.
E. Lennox and Ross.
7.What does Macbeth mean by this? Act 3 Scene 2 Line 45: “Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck, till thou applaud the dead.”
A. You won't be able to fully appreciate the murder unless you understand the plot.
B. Better you know nothing of what's going to happen, until it's done.
C. You will stay innocent as long as you don't kill anyone.
D. I can't tell you what's going to happen, because you'll give away the plot.
E. Make sure you appear to be happy, after the murder is accomplished.
8.Where do the murderers in Act 3, Scene 3, set on their victims?
A. In a park near the castle.
B. In the stable, after the horses have been put up.
C. In Forres.
D. In the victims' bedrooms, when they are asleep.
E. In the castle yard.
9.Why does Macbeth not want to take his seat at the table with the lords?
A. Lady Macbeth has told him not to sit down at the table.
B. He is worried that there is a plot against his life.
C. There is a ghost sitting in it.
D. He doesn't want to accidentally give away information.
E. He hallucinates a bloody dagger lying on the stool.
10.Why has Macduff gone to England? (Hint: reread Act 3, Scene 6)
A. To Forres to spread the word of Duncan's assassination.
B. To Inverness to protect Malcolm and Donalbain.
C. To England to avoid suspicion of murder.
D. To England to ask King Edward for help in removing Macbeth from the throne.
E. To Ireland to encourage Macdonwald's supporters to rise against Macbeth.