19-20 January 2012

19 January – Large group discussion of MLK Jr’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”

20 January – Please read three essays I passed out yesterday (see below).  Journal about and prepare to discuss them on MONDAY our usual writing day has been moved to TUESDAY next week.

  • Laurence Perrine “The Nature of Proof in the Interpretation of Poetry”
  • Vladimir Nabokov “Good Readers, Good Writers”
  • “The Student, the Fish & Agassiz”

The prompts for Perrine and Nabokov are typed on the front of the packet that contains both essays.  The prompt for Agassiz is a bit more simple: How might this parable work as a metaphor for critical reading.

There is a massive typographical error in one paragraph, the one in which he interprets Emily Dickinson’s poem.  It should read: The poem is a description of a sunset. The “ships of purple” are clouds. The “seas of daffodil” are skies colored golden by the setting sun. The “fantastic sailors” are the shifting colors of the sunset, like old-fashioned seamen dressed in gorgeous garments of many colors brought from exotic lands. The sun sinks and the wharf (the earth where the sun set- the scene of this colorful activity) is still. Thanks to Maisie H for pointing it out to me! A corrected version of the essay is available online at this site.

1st WARNING:  Many students feel Nabokov is arrogant and Perrine is pedantic.  That’s normal.  Try to work around your feelings so that you can access what they’re offering us.  It really is good stuff, despite them strutting their feathers a little (okay a lot).
2nd WARNING: Nabokov, Perrine and Agassiz will now occupy a similar place to Foster.  This is NOT an assignment to skimp on.  If you don’t know this stuff, and “know it good,” the rest of our time together this year is going to be difficult, and your final journal interview impossible.

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