Author: Erin Herbst

Parable of the Talents

I know that the semester is over, but I figured this would be an easy way to share this–

I started reading Parable of the Talents today, the sequel to Parable of the Sower, and most of the action is set in 2032. I found this on page 20, and was shocked to find a “catchphrase” that all of us have been exposed to in the media lately:

“Help us to make America great again.” It comes up at least once more in the novel too.

So I just wanted you all to remember what we individually said we could do after taking this class. I think we’ve got to commit to doing them, and this seems evidence enough to me. (PS the book is good! Sorry to make this a weird post– Happy summer!)



This will just be a quick post I promise…

I keep contemplating what Beth means when she talks about her goal every semester is to become irrelevant in class. I understand her point and agree that it is great that we are able to continue discussions on the blog and weave together so many strands of the course on our own. I’ve said it before, but I’ll reiterate how helpful I believe the blog is. This course is one that makes us think about so many important aspects of our society and meanings, many of these thoughts happen outside of class and instead of having to remember them for class we have this space to share them.

However, my issue is that Beth cannot become irrelevant, and that doesn’t only stem from my high respect for her as a professor and a person. In a class that focuses so heavily on origins, we know that it is irresponsible to forget about the past. While Beth may not need to actively contribute as often in class discussions/ on the blog, I feel that she really can’t be considered irrelevant in a class. Thanks to her syllabus, text selections, and class structures, we have been able to create a product out of this class. She could not fully prepare for where all our thoughts would go, but of course her influence was there at the start of the semester and even now!  We didn’t autochthonously (I may have just made that word up, oops) come up with these thoughts and ideas. I can’t immediately think of a better word that Beth could use, but I just figured I would share those thoughts.

ENGL 439 Musings after a weekend on LI

I always hate missing this class, but I had to on Friday, so first I’d like to say thanks for everyone who has been writing blog posts! I was happy that I got to see some threads of conversation that I missed (especially because I absolutely loved Dominion).

Even though I went back home this weekend, I was still thinking about this class. Going back to Long Island made me loop back to Emma’s post about Levittown and its history. I researched it a bit, and found this article. I found it really interesting how the creation of this suburb is spoken about in business-like terms, which brings me back to the idea of using financial language as we read the texts in this class.

Also on my plane ride home, I thought about a link that Beth shared with us on the syllabus. It shows some housing projects that were not completed in Florida and we briefly spoke about what those housing projects had, noting the geographic patterns and often their close proximity to water.

I took this picture soon after we took off Thursday night. I have no idea where this was (and I’m guessing most of these houses are occupied) but I found it interesting that it shared many of the characteristics we noticed in class. It reminds me of a both/and concept in that the housing market in the country is both similar in its setup, and yet it differs due to the specific places that were hit harder during the 2008 housing crisis.

How important are specifics?

I think it’s fair to generalize and say that for the most part, people like to know specifics of a situation. Details are used to enhance a narrative and immerse the reader in the story. Specifics in literature allow for plot to move forward and led us to all too familiar, inevitable “have you read quiz?” in English classes throughout middle/high school. Teachers can create questions that ask students to recall details and specifics to show that they are doing the assigned reading for homework and are comprehending the work.

But if we really think about it, how important are specifics? And what does their inclusion/exclusion mean for the bigger picture? Read more

ENGL 439 in conversation with ENGL 458

I was part of the ENGL 458: Major Authors class that Beth taught last semester focusing on the work of Toni Morrison, and how it related to Dante’s Divine Comedy. Throughout the semester, I (as well as my fellow classmates- many of whom are in this class as well) learned how to change the way I think and process information, working past the shock of different experiences and instead understanding causes/effects and the humanness of reactions and emotions. Also, Toni Morrison wrote novels that examine the wonder of language in regards to its specificity and limitations as well as certain themes that I believe are applicable to this course as well, including diaspora, disenfranchisement, memory/forgetting, and loss/gain (to name a few). Read more

Toni Morrison’s relation to novels

I took one creative writing class last semester just because I figured I’d give it a try, so in no way am I an expert in creative writing. I just remember that I learned “Form is never more than an expression of content.” It made me think about how Toni Morrison uses the structure of the novel to write and how important that is for the messages she tries to get across. I think that novels give her enough space to create multiple characters, giving multiple perspectives which emphasize the necessity of varying interpretations, instead of relying on “the single story.” Read more

Using Morrison’s words today

I took a day before posting this in the efforts to try to collect my thoughts in order to display them here cohesively. First, I’d like to thank you all. After undoubtedly an emotion-filled Tuesday night, I was very comforted that this was my first class after the election results. I really believe this class has created a very safe, comforting atmosphere where people feel that they can honestly discuss their opinions without the fear of letting “too much” emotion show- and that is in part facilitated by Beth, but also everyone else in the room contributes to that. I’m sure this is a common thought, but thank you all for letting everyone react however they needed to.

Next, when we were reading in class I kept coming back to this, on page 7:

“Words that seemed at first to bless them; later to confound them; finally to announce that they had lost.”

Read more