17 December 2006

Poetry Sound and Sense posting #2

This blog posting is due before class starts Wednesday, Dec. 20. Good luck...

What is your favorite poem from the packet? Was it the simplistic visual imagery of "The Red Wheelbarrow?" Or Poe's "The Bells," with its emphasis on sounds and rhythm? Share your thoughts on which poem you enjoyed the most and make sure you share exactly why. Use specific reasons, which means pointing out specific lines and/or examples of literary or sound devices. As in past posts, this should be about 150 to 200 words.

10 December 2006

Poetry Sound and Sense posting #1

This blog posting is due before class starts Thursday, Dec. 14. Good luck...

In class, we've had a chance to talk about the characteristics of poetry. It can be difficult to pin down and as we've seen with the wikipedia entry, there is no one agreed upon definition. To help you better appreciate the poems we are reading in class, you should be thinking about your own definition. Post it here. How do you define a poem? What makes a poem a poem? Your response should be a well-developed paragraph with mention of specific characteristics as we've seen in the poetry packet.

04 December 2006

Gamma Rays Post #5 - What type of mother is Beatrice?

This is the 5th, and final homework blog posting of Gamma Rays... Have you completed them all to earn full credit?

Now that we've gotten to see Mrs. Beatrice Hunsdorfer in the play, how would you categorize her as a mother? Go back and re-read the article on dysfunctional families that we studied in an earlier post. Using information from the article, decide what type of parent category Beatrice fits into. In what way will her parenting style affect her children, either now or in the future? Explain your reasoning by pointing to specific examples from the play.

03 December 2006

Gamma Rays Post #4 - "A Dream Deferred" and Gamma Rays

This is the fourth homework blog posting...

Langston Hughes, the poet who wrote "Dreams" from an earlier post, also wrote "A Dream Deferred." In both poems Hughes address the power of dreams. Likewise, Zindel's play The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds deals with the impact dreams have on human beings, both for the power they have to instill hope and the emotional havoc wrought by broken dreams. Now that we've read most of Gamma Rays, read "A Dream Deferred." Which character do you think this poem speaks to the most in the play? Hughes uses several evocative similes. What lines can you connect to incidents and events from the play? Explain your connections.

A Dream Deferred*

What happens to a dream deferred*?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

by Langston Hughes

* deferred = to put off action, to delay

29 November 2006

Gamma Rays Post #3 - "Dreams" and Gamma Rays

This is the third homework blog posting... The calendar says it is due Friday, but we'll extend this one until Monday.

So far in The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, we have been introduced to the Hunsdorfer family - Tillie, Beatrice, and Ruth. Tillie is working on a science project, which has gained her some attention at school. Read the following poem by Langston Hughes. Who in the play do you think this poem speaks to the most - Tillie, Beatrice, or Ruth? Who has dreams? What line or lines stand out that seem to speak directly to her situation? Explain your connections.

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

- by Langston Hughes

28 November 2006

Gamma Rays Post #2 - Marigolds and science experiments

This is the second homework blog posting... Did you already complete the post on good literature?

In The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, Tillie conducts an unusual science project. She subjects three different batches of marigolds to the potentially damaging effects of gamma rays - a topic we addressed in a previous blog post. But why did the play's author, Paul Zindel, choose marigolds as the flower to use in the science experiment? Check out some information on marigolds at wikipedia and then post your ideas about the use of marigolds in the story. What makes marigolds different from other flowers? How might the characteristics or qualities of this particular flower be a symbol that connects to important ideas in the play? Why might have Zindel used marigolds as the flower?

26 November 2006

Gamma Rays Post #1 - Define good literature

One of the most difficult questions you are asked in an English class is "What makes this a good piece of literature?" As we read The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, you can expect that question to come up again. However, before you can come up with a good answer, you should have a clear ideas for a definition of good literature. Let's do that here. Define the characteristics of good literature. Remember to avoid meaningless reasons like "it keeps me interested" or the like. Good literature, by definition, should keep you interested - you have to point out just what the author does to make it interesting. Think about the literary terms we have studied in the short stories. If possible, use some of them to help you craft a concise, clear definition. Once you have your definition, tell us your favorite piece of literature that we've read in class this year. Evaluate your selection using your criteria.

17 November 2006

Connecting Gamma Rays and dysfunctional families

We just read about NASA brief about Gamma-rays and a psychological perspective on different types of dysfunctional families. On the surface, it appears we have two entirely different topics, two different readings, and it might seem like neither of them have anything to do with one another. But what if we went out of our way to come up with a connection, anything? Can we do it? Maybe we need to think about it beyond a literal level. What can we come up with if we stretch our minds and look for any connections? What are the parallels we can draw? Please post your findings here...

14 November 2006

Any happy returns?

In the short stories "A Visit to Grandmother" and "Rules of Game," we meet children and parents who just don't seem to effectively connect with one another. In "A Visit to Grandmother," Charles, after spending nearly 20 years away from his family, finally returns to confront his mother about her parenting style. While Meimei in "Rules of the Game" faces off with her mother over her chess-playing abilities. At one point, Meimei runs away, but she comes back to "ponder [her] next move." What do you think of the way Charles and Meimei handled their conflicts with their mothers? How would you have handled it?

30 October 2006

What's in a name?

Shakespeare asked "What's in a name?" We might ask the same thing after reading Aharon Megged's wrenching short story, "The Name." In the story, three generations of a Jewish family become estranged over the naming of a newborn child. As a result of the differences in the family, the child's mother, at the end feels that her son "was in need of pity and of great love, as though her were alone, an orphan in the world." Do you agree? In what way is the child "an orphan in the world"?

23 October 2006

Who do you think is the better mom?

In "The Lie" and "Teenage Wasteland," we see two different kinds of mothers. Mrs. Remenzel seems to follow the lead of her husband's snobbery when it comes to expecting her son, Eli, to attend the Whitehill School. However, at the end of the story, she doesn't turn as hypocritical as her husband. Daisy in "Teenage Wasteland," struggles with her son, Donny, and with her own parenting. She tries many different approaches to help her son, including hiring a questionable tutor. After reading both stories, which mother would you prefer to have? Why?

20 October 2006

Is it really ironic?

Alanis Morrisette made millions of dollars singing about irony, but didn't really get it right. See for yourself if the examples in her song are actually irony. However, Kurt Vonnegut's short story, "The Lie," contains several strong examples of irony. Consider Dr. Remenzel's words at the beginning of the story and the effect of his actions at the end of the story. How does the irony in Vonnegut's story help enhance its theme?