5/10 – Slaughterhouse Five Ch 2-4

Today we’ll talk about Slaughterhouse Five Chapters 2-4. You’ll start in small groups and then — if time permits– we’ll move to a large group discussion.

Today we’ll also sign up for lab book interviews, which will be the last seven days of school (May 23-May 31).

  • Signing up for a time is a binding magical contract, kind of like when Narcissa makes Snape swear the unbreakable vow. There are NOT make-up times available, since lab book interviews are scheduled all the way until the very last day of school. You have been warned.
  • If you miss class today, you’ll need to sign up for a time ASAP.

5/8 SH5 Chapter 1

If you have 2nd and 3rd period free on May 10 (Wednesday), you are welcome to join my English 9 classes for a professional workshop on Romeo and Juliet’s balcony scene, lead by a team of actors.

Today we’ll take a short reading quiz over Chapter 1. Then we’ll have a discussion over what you’ve read, likely starting with your lab books or your own interests and roaming toward the things I’ll highlight.

If time permits, we’ll also watch a short Crash Course video about the novel. That will set you up well for reading chapters 2-4 (due Wednesday; Tuesday is a reading day).

Key notes:

  • Chapter 1 functions more as a prologue than as a legitimate chapter. Some people identify it as a “key” to the rest of the book.
  • The four key subjects: war, death, family, writing/art/being an author could easily be amended to include time/clocks (thanks, first hour).
  • Some people noticed that the narrator has a “flat affect” in discussing things that are quite emotional. That in fact, Mary O’Hare is the only person who expresses the passion or fury we would expect. We’ll hold off talking about that until you’ve read the next several chapters.
  • I highly suggest keeping tabs on “so it goes” as you read–what things/people get a “so it goes” (and which ones do not)?

5/5 – SH5

Today I’m going to talk very briefly about the three things we’re focusing on as readers of Slaughterhouse Five:

  • Irony. The book is ironic. It is both full of situational irony AND written in the ironic mode (Billy Pilgrim is a protagonist who “possess a lower degree of autonomy, self-determination, or free will than ourselves” who cannot overcome a situation we might see as relatively minor).
  • Nonlinearity. The book is not linear. You are not asked to read many books that are not linear, and so following the constellations of this book will be very helpful in developing your reading muscles.
  • Political will. The novel is a novel of great political will. In particular, Vonnegut was anti-war, and this is an anti-war novel. I’m not interested in preaching any position on war, but rather in exploring how an author like Vonnegut communicates his anti-war message without becoming preachy/didactic.

Then you’ll have the rest of the period to read Chapter 1 and do your lab book prompt about it:

The opening chapter addresses four key subjects: war, death, family, writing/art/being an author. Choose ONE of these concepts and put together a “case” (interpretation) of what you think Vonnegut is saying about the concept and how you know. Use specific passages and quotes to help you.

5/4 – Irony

Today I’m going to start class by offering you this poem, “Truant” by Margaret Hasse.

Then we’re going to spend most of the day on this quiz.

DO NOT CLICK on that link until you are in class and taking the quiz! Because…

  • You are only permitted to take it one time.
  • The quiz collects a timestamp, so if you take it outside of your class period, it will flag your quiz as potentially dishonest.

At the end of class, you’ll check out SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE. You do NOT need to start reading until tomorrow.

However, if time permits, we’ll go over the quiz together.

5/3 – Reflection, Motifs, and Irony

Quick survey on gender neutral restrooms here.

Part I: Reflection

Today we’re going to do some reflection on the work we did. Educational research tells us that we are more likely to benefit from an experience if we reflect on it. Happiness research also tells us we are more likely to be happy if we express gratitude for our good experiences.

So we’ll start by making a list – individually and together – of the things we enjoyed from this month-long process. By “enjoyed” I don’t necessarily just mean “things that were fun,” but rather “things that were worthwhile.”

Then I’ll also ask you if there are 1-2 things you think I could shift to make this experience even better for next year’s students.

Part II: Motifs

Next, I’m going to ask you to do some ACADEMIC thinking about the learning experience you just had. We talked a lot about motifs, but not necessarily what those motifs meant. So I’m going to give you a matching exercise–matching motifs to their themes.

Then, you’ll tape that matching exercise into your lab book and write a lab book entry about YOUR SCENE. Identify one of the motifs that was present in your scene and how your scene connects to the theme that goes with that motif.

Part III: Irony

Next up is our final novel of the year, Slaughterhouse Five. It is rife with irony. So I’m going to ask you to read one more chapter in How to Read Literature Like a Professor, “Is He Serious? and Other Ironies” (p 235-244). You do not have a lab book prompt for this reading, but I am going to ask you to be ready for a quiz over this material tomorrow.