Cycling Backwards and Moving Forwards with The Tempest

In a class and a semester that has been full of reflection, I thought it would be fitting to note that I first read The Tempest in my first literature class here at Geneseo, ENGL 203: Reading Transnationally with Dr. Lima (for the rest of the post I’ll refer to her as Maria, not out of informality, but because it is how she prefers to be addressed). It seems like some Shakespearean work of fate (or perhaps someone’s magical ability) that I would also end my literature career at Geneseo reading the same play. Continue reading “Cycling Backwards and Moving Forwards with The Tempest”

How To Teach Colson Whitehead in College Classrooms

This semester, I’ve read novels by Colson Whitehead in two of my classes. The experiences were different since in this class I read the novel as a student, becoming aware of plot twists at the same time as everyone else, but I also read Whitehead for a class that I’m TAing for. For that class, I had read the novel (The Underground Railroad) before the students and I helped plan discussion questions and was pretty involved in deciding what we were going to focus on in class.

Depending on who you ask about the merits of an English major, sometimes I feel the need to defend teaching contemporary novels in the classroom. So I’m writing this post in an attempt to both reflect on my experiences with Whitehead in college classes and in anticipation of anyone who might think these novels don’t “fit” with their idea of an English literature/college writing class. I thought it might be fun to switch up the structure of how I usually post and include a list and flex my educational mindset a bit. Continue reading “How To Teach Colson Whitehead in College Classrooms”

Water, Water Everywhere

I’ve always heard my grandpa say “Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink,” and I really couldn’t tell you why he says it. The actual line comes from an 1798 text, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. I can safely assert that my grandpa has never read that and he was never a sailor. But, I found this to be a fitting title for this blog post and next time I see him, my grandpa will enjoy hearing about his five seconds of blog fame.

Anyway, due to the nature of this course, I’ve found that water is everywhere. Yet, I was still shocked to find the “language of water” in Colson Whitehead’s Zone One since water isn’t the driving factor of the plot. I mean at least not yet. I think it’s funny, because of the sheer nature of fluidity, that this recurrence of water has been grounding my thinking as I’m reading. I’ve been able to use language that is evocative of water, its properties and its force, as something I can hold onto as I dive into (see what I did there) a novel filled with specific genre conventions that I’m not very familiar with. It also allows me some ways to connect the novel with the ideas of churning and cycling that I’ve been thinking about all semester. Continue reading “Water, Water Everywhere”

The Strengths of Abolitionist Rhetoric in 2018

I was particularly interested in the Prison Abolitionist Movement mentioned in Mariame Kaba’s essay “Free Us All” that we read for Friday’s class. I was familiar with the concept of prison reform and even the arguments in decreasing the numbers of prisons across the country, but I had never heard of prison abolitionism. It piqued my interest especially because I’ve taken a lot of history classes here (mostly with Dr. Behrend) where I’ve worked semi-extensively with the eras of slavery, emancipation, and their lingering effects on contemporary American society.

This got me thinking… What were the benefits of speaking the language of abolitionism in 2018? And, how did this engage with course concepts of memory and forgetting? Continue reading “The Strengths of Abolitionist Rhetoric in 2018”

More on Hurricanes and Names

I’ll be the first to admit that I stopped posting on the blog the last few weeks because I got stuck. Stuck in my own busy semester, stuck in the unexpected emotions that surfaced in me while watching Levees, and stuck in the shock of realizing that I hadn’t noticed some of these important things before. But after class today, and being able to ground my thinking in course readings (I think I’m just naturally comfortable with words), I think I might be getting unstuck.

With that in mind, I’ve been really interested in the concept of “names” especially in recent posts by Helen and Christina that highlighted the difference between male/female named storm, since the idea of being conscripted into a role and the connections to gender stereotypes is not something I had spent time thinking about. However, what I really wanted to focus on for this post was the idea of “retiring” hurricane names, which Christina does mention. Continue reading “More on Hurricanes and Names”

Stumbling across relevant poetry

I found this poem in a chapbook entitled Counting Descent by Clint Smith, who is one of my favorite poets/writers/people to follow on Twitter. I was reading when I came across this poem and naturally thought this could serve as a good blog post, especially since we’re going to be looking at Blood Dazzler in class soon and we looked at poems in class last week. Continue reading “Stumbling across relevant poetry”

Some Sunday thoughts on effigies and bodies

After completing my first blog post with relative ease, I found myself slipping into a state of acute stress regarding my impending second post. I, much like Jenna explains in this post, was worried that whatever I had to say wasn’t going to be significant enough, or worth a reader’s time. The content in this class seems TOO significant for me to put into words in a single blog post. Yet, I’m going to keep trying.

So, there’s my disclaimer: I can’t solve the world’s problems on the blog, as much as I may want to. Now that that’s out of the way and I can write without feeling like I need to do something revolutionary, Roach’s definition of effigies and his explorations of the implications of dead bodies in propinquity (hopefully, I used that term right) to the living have all been circling around my brain. These thoughts were only heightened with watching When The Levees Broke in class.

Continue reading “Some Sunday thoughts on effigies and bodies”

What Gets Churned Up?

Since I’m familiar with the blog assignment, because I’ve taken a few classes with Beth before, I thought maybe I’d start off the conversation specifically related to ENGL 432. I know we haven’t delved too far into the course readings, but I thought that I could provide some useful thoughts on some of the introductory discussions we’ve had and an interesting piece of news I came across today. Continue reading “What Gets Churned Up?”

Some synthesized thoughts on Jazz/Purgatorio part 1

While I think there is a benefit to examining specific similarities between Morrison’s Jazz and Dante’s Purgatorio, I also believe that, in order to make more progress on this project, it is important to also see these similarities on a broader level. I’m almost finished with Purgatorio, but now I’ve read enough to be able to see some larger trends that are present in both texts. Through my reading, I’ve found four distinct threads that I feel are important for both Jazz and Purgatorio. These can then be further subdivided and of course are up for debate (and I definitely think my own thoughts would benefit from larger discussions). I thought perhaps this organized list would be the best way to show my thinking:

Continue reading “Some synthesized thoughts on Jazz/Purgatorio part 1”

Recurrence of “Vesper”

In my rereading of Jazz, I was intrigued on page 30 when Morrison begins a paragraph with, “They met in Vesper County, Virginia, under a walnut tree.” I knew that Vespers was a type of prayer, and so immediately I marked it in my text, knowing that at least it had somewhat of a (potentially superficial) connection to religion, and therefore potentially Dante.

Continue reading “Recurrence of “Vesper””