Monday, March 29, 2010

Dickinson en Deshabille

Billy Collins, the former U.S. poet laureate, has a poem about Dickinson that you may appreciate, given the last few we studied. I cannot find a recording of Collins reading it, but here is the poem plus a reading of it by Garrison Keillor.

Collins' own reading of his poetry is always entertaining. If you've never read or heard him, start with this one, "The Lanyard," among poetry's great odes to motherhood.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Quiz 7 (Take-Home; due Monday, 3-29)

(The quiz originally scheduled for Friday is now moved to Monday. For Friday, we will discuss those Dickinson poems in which death proves conspicuous.)

We will devote next Monday’s discussion to what is perhaps Emily Dickinson’s most famous and most complex poem: “My life had stood—a Loaded Gun” (Pearson 209-210). None of her poems has attracted a broader range of interpretations than this one. What I want you to do for Monday is to develop your own. Do so by answering the following questions first:

Who or what is speaking in the poem?
What is the “Life” to which the speaker refers?
Why is this “Life . . . A Loaded Gun”?
Who is the “Owner”?

Read and reread the poem, testing as you do various possibilities until you find a combination that seems to work. You might think back over the other poems we have read and discussed to assess whether this poem seems to belong to one or more of the thematic categories we have identified. Once you have settled on a set of answers, develop an interpretation of the entire poem in which you explain how your understanding of its metaphors work.

Monday, March 22, 2010

With Emily ... the Skipper, too ... the Millionaire, and His Wife!

Apparently my singing Emily Dickinson was so bad that Abby Morgan (section 002) decided we needed a proper version. Here it is, complete with visuals:

Well done!

Week 8 Lectures

DOWNLOAD 3-19 lecture.

DOWNLOAD 3-17 lecture.

DOWNLOAD 3-15 lecture.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Paper #2

Here is the handout for your second paper, due Friday April 2.

On Exploring. Lying About It. . . .

Stacie McDaniel (section 001) sends along the following link to's very funny (and also very smart) take-down of some of Europe's most famous explorers, including our very own (we get to claim him now) John Smith.

Quiz #6

For Friday, read the Dickinson poems in the Pearson anthology, pp. 187-191. All are more-or-less about poetry itself. For your take-home Quiz, think about one way in which, different though they are, Whitman and Dickinson may be thought of as similar. Discuss by way of specific references to the poetry of each. (~500 words, due at the beginning of class)

Whitman, Pitch Man

As part of a recent ad campaign, Levi's used two Whitman poems, "Pioneers! O, Pioneers!" (1865) and "America" (1888), to promote its brand. (Both poems were eventually incorporated into later editions of Leaves of Grass.)

Here they are. What do you think? What would Whitman have thought?

Note: the first commercial uses what may be the only recording we have of Whitman's voice.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Week 7 Lectures

DOWNLOAD 3-5-10 lecture.

DOWNLOAD 3-3-10 lecture.

DOWNLOAD 3-1-10 lecture.

Additional Poe Texts

In lecture I referred to Poe's review of Hawthorne's Twice-Told Tales, in which he offers his view that effect is the most important aspect of any literary work, and his essay, "The Philosophy of Composition," in which he explains (truthfully or not) how he composed "The Raven." Here are links to those works.