Monday, September 27, 2010

Resources & The Independent Reading Project


Please don’t take these links as the only places to look on “the inter-nets”, but if you are at a loss for where to begin or just need some places to get your brain moving, then feel free to check out the following sites.

Helpful Resources:

First, your Malden Library Card gives you access to the Boston Public Library database.  One of my main objectives is to get you to use this site.  So, if you have not been exposed to how to use this resource, visit your local librarian (who happens to be phenomenal at her job!)

For audio files and poetry-related stuff:
PennSound: Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing
Naropa Poetics Audio Archives
You can also check out any news organization (and a million other places) for audio files.

For audio / video avant-garde poetry and art:

UbuWeb

For interesting Video Lectures & Talks:
T.E.D talks

And for Poetry:
The Poetry Foundation

There’s a million other places that I think would be interesting—but I’m trying not to overwhelm you.  You could get lost in any of these sites for a few years.

Scoring Guide for Annotated Bibliography Independent Reading Project                                                              

Due Friday October 8th, in class.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Agenda for week of 9.27.10


Note--you should really try and finish your independent reading book by the middle of the week if you want to leave yourself enough time to do the assignment with the attention it requires--details to be given on Wednesday.

9.27.10 Day 1, In class, we will watch "Polis is This; Charles Olson and the Persistence of Place" by Henry Ferrini and prepare ourselves for the SRD on Tuesday - Wednesday.

9.28.10 Day 7, SRD on Charles Olson.  Click here for details.

9.29.10 Day 6, SRD on Charles Olson continued. (Please note the schedule change.)

9.30.10 Day 5: No class.

10.1.10 Day 4, Olson blog due. Independent Reading & College Essay workshop time.

Next week:

Independent reading Project will be due Monday, Oct 4th.  We will move on to a new unit after this.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Charles Olson (online) reader and links

Please read / watch / listen to all of the following items for the SRD on Tuesday, September 28th.  Note: Some of these things may require you to read more than once, mark up / take notes, etc. so that you can have something specific, probing, and sophisticated to say in class.

Charles Olson reads "Maximus to Gloucester, Letter 27 [withheld]"

Print and read all of the following for class discussion:





Finally, you have 48 hours (from the end of Tuesday's class) to make a comment in the comment stream that continues the class discussion:
recommended minimum: 700 words

Post your reaction to something specific and thought provoking from a classmate's comment in the SRD and elaborate on how it could be used to further explicate the poetry of Charles Olson--please be specific and original--this is not the place to be restating ideas, but furthering them . . .

This post will be graded on the Malden High Open Response Rubric and counted as a homework grade.  Because of the nature of the assignment, late credit will not be granted.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

College Essay Scoring Guide


50 points--Grammar, mechanics, typos, spelling, & usage. Remember, this is your only impression to show yourself through language. No matter the content of your essay, careless mistakes make you seem--well, careless. And you do not want the college admissions team to think you are apathetic. I expect you to make sure the essay is flawless. I would be happy to suggest how to phrase things better, but I should not be spending my time fixing your careless typos and spelling errors (and I won't).


  • 50 points--Writer demonstrates control of sentence structure, grammar, and usage.
  • 40 points--Errors do not interfere with communication. There are few errors relative to length.
  • 30 points--Errors interfere with communication.

50 points--Insight and creativity, readability, and is your essay compelling? A note to remember your audience here and the purpose of your essay: All writers do this on some level--we consistently look at audience and purpose when we analyze writing. If you are using this to apply to college, keep in mind that the admissions officers are looking for intelligent and motivated students who will be successful at their school. Your essay should:
  • Be personal (instead of general)
  • Be concrete (instead of abstract--can you make your reader "see" your world?)
  • Include anecdote (instead of summary--this is not a resume)
  • Include a hook or lead
  • Have sophisticated and / or subtle organization
  • Show a sophisticated or subtle mastery of language
  • AND AVOID CLICHE! 
In order for me to work on your essay, you also need to write me a letter:
  1. Describe yourself: where are you from, where have you lived, languages, cultures, etc.  “Surface level stuff.”
  2. Describe yourself as a reader.
  3. Describe yourself as a writer.
  4. Describe yourself as a student.
  5. Describe yourself as a friend.
  6. Describe yourself as a thinker.
  7. What else should I have asked you to describe and why?
  8. What you were trying to do in your college essay.

PLEASE PRINT THIS PAGE OUT AND ATTACH TO THE BACK OF YOUR ESSAY SO I CAN WRITE COMMENTS. WHEN YOU PRINT, MAKE SURE YOU ONLY PRINT THIS PAGE.

College Essay Prompts

image: Jay DeFeo The Veronica, 1957; painting; oil on canvas, 132 in. x 42 3/8 in. (335.28 cm x 107.63 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Gift of Irving Blum; © Estate of Jay DeFeo / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


The prompts provided are often a starting point—it’s not really about which prompt you choose to answer, but HOW you use the topic to write an essay.


Remember Borges, “people tend to prefer the personal to the general, the concrete to the abstract”. You will notice that the questions are vague, repetitive, and general. You could almost adapt any good essay to fit a prompt.


Anyway, here are the common application prompts:

Personal Essay: "Please write an essay (250 words minimum) on a topic of your choice or on one of the options listed below, and attach it to your application before submission. Please indicate your topic by checking the appropriate box. This personal essay helps us become acquainted with you as a person and student, apart from courses, grades, test scores, and other objective data. It will also demonstrate your ability to organize your thoughts and express yourself."
  • Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
  • Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you.
  • Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.  Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence.
  • A range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community, or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you.
  • Topic of your choice.

Image of Jay Defeo working on an early draft of "The Rose."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Agenda for week of 9.20.10

Image is Three Studies for a Self-Portrait (1976) by Francis Bacon (the 20th century painter, not the Renaissance thinker.)

 9.20.10, Day 6: In class: Workshop of draft of  “Heart of Darkness found poem”.

9.21.10, Day 5: No Class due to rotation.

9.22.10, Day 4:  Heart of Darkness found poem” & meta due.  In class: Introduction to College Essay

9.23.10, Day 3: In Class: Lecture on Ted Berrigan’s Red Shift

9.24.10, Day 2: In class: College Essay workshop and / or Independent Reading Research Day.

By Friday at the latest, you should have selected (and made some progress in reading) your independent reading book.  Please see me for consultation if you want or need suggestions.  When you have selected your book, please post the author and title of the book in the comment stream (for posterity) and link to a description of the book online.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"Should We Read *Heart of Darkness*"?

"Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? is one of Paul Gauguin's most famous paintings. Gauguin inscribed the original French title in the upper left corner: D'où Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous". . . read more on Wikipedia.  This is a painting from a series that was mentioned in the Achebe essay.

I took the title of this blog post from J. Hillis Miller's essay in your book on pages 463 - 474.  I certainly recommend reading this for more intellectual fodder.  You may, if you wish, reference this essay instead of the class discussion.

Blog Assignment:
Part A: due by class time Thursday 9.16.10
recommended length: 500 words

Post your reaction to something specific and thought provoking from class discussion (any of the three days) and elaborate on how it could be used to further your own analysis of Heart of Darkness.

Part B: due by class time Friday 9.17.10
recommended length: 500 words

Post your reaction to something specific and thought provoking from a classmate's comment (Part A) and elaborate on how it could be used to further your own analysis of Heart of Darkness.

Both assignments will be graded separately on the Malden High Open Response Rubric and counted as a homework grade.  Because of the nature of the assignment, a letter grade will be lost for every day it is late.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Agenda for week of 9.13.10

more Swoon, image found at The Brooklyn Museum

The first three days of class will be devoted to your Student Run Discussions of the following essays.  I am interested in Heart of Darkness only in the sense of these essays, which vary widely in ways, or lenses, in how to approach this piece of literature. 

When you are prepping for this discussion, please have moments in the text (either the essays or the novel) which we can look at closely; and please look for the complexity and subtlety of the arguments presented in the essays--you can certainly agree and disagree with points made, but be careful not to read the essays as too simplistic.  Hopefully the essays will be good fodder for discussions and future use.

9.13.10: Day 4. SRD on Chinua Achebe’s “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness”, pps. 336 -349.
9.14.10: Day 3.  SRD on Andrew Michael Roberts’ “Masculinity, Modernity, and Homosexual Desire”, pps. 455 - 462.
9.15.10: Day 2.  SRD on Lissa Schneider’s “Iconography and the Feminine Ideal” pps. 474 - 483.

9.16.10: Day 1, Long Block.  Blog due by class time.  Details to be announced, but it will involve an elaboration on the the previous class discussions, so take notes.  In class I will introduce the “Heart of Darkness Found Poem Assignment” and we will look at some Modernist Poetry--probably “Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot / (Fighting in the captain's tower / While calypso singers laugh at them / And fishermen hold flowers.”--that’s a Bob Dylan reference if you didn’t know.  Anyway, I digress.)
9.17.10: Day 7.  Class on Universal Theme and Independent reading set-up.

Overall Objective for the week: There will be a strong emphasis on developing philosophical ideas (about the human condition), as well as making themes more complex and variable for analysis.  

Essential Question: Why do we, as human beings, write?

The week of 9.20.10 will be devoted to the “Heart of Darkness Found Poem Assignment” & “the college essay”.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Post-first class & citing my sources. . .

Here's the poem we listened to in class today:



Anyway, thank you.  Have a great weekend.  I'm looking forward too getting started & as promised, here is where I got the idea for the opening activity:


"The Wilderness Downtown": an interactive film by Chris Milk (You need to watch this is google chrome for it to work.)