6 September 2012

Today we had a meta-discussion I like to call “How are we doing?”

At this point in the trimester, most sophomores are becoming aware of the change between 9th grade and 10th grade–between advanced science/math, World History AP and English Honors, you’ve got a lot on your plates. So   today we talked through some of the traditional challenges:

  • Reading and understanding Foster
  • Managing papers/drafts (especially on a week with no Monday!)
  • Discussions and participation

Most people commented on the numerous examples in Foster, the challenges of keeping the papers going in the “background,” and feeling overwhelmed with the general workload of being sophomores. I tried to listen and chime in when it was helpful.

Then we turned our attention to Foster Chapter 11.  Essentially, he says there are two types of violence in literature:

  1. Character-on-character violence
  2. Authorial violence (accidents, storms, etc).

And he says authorial violence happens for one of two reasons:

  1. Plot advancement (this type of violence typically has no weight to it)–like in a murder mystery
  2. Symbolic or Thematic development–like the way Curley’s hand (symbol of power) is crushed or the way Candy’s hand was caught in a cotton gin and he got $100 bucks for it (theme: the world is a cruel place).

Foster also gives us questions to ask when faced with violence in literature:

  1. What does this type of misfortune represent thematically or symbolically?
  2. What famous or mythic death does this look like?
  3. Why THIS type of violence rather than THAT one?

Finally, Foster says that violence in literature is intimate–blood and skin and hair and bodies mingling.  It’s not pretty. It’s not loving.  But it is about as intimate as two characters can get.

Tomorrow as a buoy to your spirits, I’m going to pass out letters from last year’s students. Also, a reminder that common sense definitions for vocabulary words 8-15 and your LFA permission slips are due tomorrow.

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