Friday, June 21, 2013

Oh, What I've Learned...

For the past two months, all of my school work has been focused literature and French as these were the two courses I was taking.  However, my learning in the past two months extends far past these two subjects, with them being great gateways into further and new found ideologies. Below are the learning outcomes I was expected to meet for my literary analysis class.

1.  Know basic literary terms and methods - Speaking of gateways, knowing literary terms and methods is THE gateway into formal literary analysis.  This does not go to say that without a knowledge of literary terms, one cannot have profound thoughts about literature, but a more accurate analysis is possible if you are aware of the techniques that authors use.  Starting this class, I was not familiar at all with basic literary terms, movements/eras, methods, etc.  I was able to recognize certain basic techniques, but would not have been able to put a name to them.  For example, I was able to recognize when authors spoke about historical pasts, but would never have thought of that as a literary method: allusion.  Authors speak about the past to show its relevance to what they are trying to say.  I think that it also acts as a way of connecting audiences who are aware of certain histories.  A term that I was aware of prior to the course is Tone.  I knew what it meant, but in exploring it on greater levels, I really started to understand it and the craftiness required by authors to create it.  I am now able to identify words, phrases, use of other literary techniques, etc. that are specifically used to create tone.  Tone does not always come naturally out of thought.  Diction is manipulated to establish certain tones. 

2.  Know basic literary genres and representative texts:  What I love about genre is its lack of a rule for what qualifies as genre.  Any two texts that have a similarity can form a new, very specific sub genre.  Genres act as a way of guiding people to works that they know they would enjoy or would like to explore further.  I wrote a post about a very specific sub genre that I named, "Krakauerism." The qualifications? Be a piece of literature written by Jon Krakauer.  Genre can be created on a very broad level, like Non-Fiction or poetry; it can be something a little more categorized, like epic poetry, or it can be created on something extremely specific, like Krakauerism, Head-over-heels-falling-in-love poetry

3.  Write literary arguments - The past three weeks have been devoted to writing a well thought out, researched, and agreeable/arguable literary argument through our final paper.  My topic originated in me writing my personal literary narrative and the comments that I received from others on it.  I can comfortably say that I am proud of my final product and of my topic choice, as I discuss here.  I feel that I created a literary claim that was both arguable by an educated audience as well as agreed with by an educated audience.  Prior attempts at literary arguments can be found here and here.


Let's Review the Writing Process

There was no specific prompt for this final paper, giving us students the freedom to create a topic on something that we have a passion for and enjoy discussing.  I found mine: intended effects vs. actual effects of love poetry on society and the modern mind.  The topic actually arose in writing my personal literary narrative where I discussed my love and infatuation with Francesco Petrarch.  In this situation, I chose my primary literary text first: Petrarch's Sonnet 3 and then thought about it enough to the point where there were enough points that I enjoyed thinking about. I took those points and joined them together to create a topic/argument. After taking my thoughts to the social media realm, I let it stew more and finally came up with this as my thesis:

 Standardized western beliefs of love, both unrealistic and realistic, are deeply rooted in both classical society and ours today.  What should be considered when reading all sub-genres of love poetry, is that the work is almost never eternally true. Love fluctuates, and our society should not be trained to accept romantic literature, movies, music, or romantic art in general as love’s definition because they are inaccurate depictions.


I knew that this thesis had enough fuel behind it where I would feel comfortable discussing it without feeling too repetitive or not having enough to say.  Even after the paper is completed and turned in, I have continued to discuss the topic with friends.  I have new points and ideas about the topic.  That's how I knew it was right for me: if I could always find something new to say about it.  Overall, I am really happy with the way it turned out and the direction that my argument turned.  If you're bored and want a quick read, here's the link to my final draft

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Coming Out. (Not really.)

First of all: I'm SO GLAD that I dropped the writing class I was taking at the beginning of the term to take this one instead.  I think I've learned more from peer criticism and comments than I could have in the other class. Maybe not. But thank you--everyone--for whatever you've contributed to this class: it has contributed to my learning. 

1.  Literary Terms.  This was my weakest spot when I was evaluated mid-term.  Quite honestly, I feel like I had a bit of a downhill ride on improving for the second half of the term, because I'm already quite familiar with drama (The Human Fascination, Climbin' the Fourth Wall, and The Power of Sequence and Music) and non-fiction terminology.  It's poetry and fiction that I struggle with.  SO. Since then I've made a point of reviewing Craft & Voice's outlined terms, as well as the list that was given to us with our study sheet.  I have found that the more poetry and fiction literature that I read, the more connections I make to genre-specific terms. 

2.  Genres and Representative Texts.  I read plenty of non-fiction.  I'm always reading up on new discoveries in National Geographic, as well as replenishing my knowledge of things obscure and unimportant (to anyone but the author and me).  My Goodreads profile boasts mostly non-fiction works, but after this term I've added a Shakespearean play that I've never read before, A Midsummer's Night Dream, and so many poems that I can't count.  I've completely digested an anthology of poems I found in my grandma's old office, and loved every second of it--even when I was reading a poem I hated (the outdoorsy atmosphere might have helped).
 But I could at least recognize the meter, the rhyme-scheme, the application of devices, etc. I think I've found classic poetry to be more affable than I had assumed.  I'm definitely not done exploring the genres that have been presented in this class, and their more specific sub-genres.  

3. Writing Literary Arguments.  Ah!  The whole point of this class.  Learning how to write a literary argument...and be persuasive. Last term I did quite well with the personal creative analysis of a poem, but didn't do so hot with the analytical one.  Here's where I link to My Final Paper...and argue that I've learned a lot about the latter form of persuasive writing in the past few weeks.  I feel my argument used objective supporting evidence, as well as intelligent literary terms to validate my sub-theses.  And the cool thing: I didn't have to use a dictionary to make sure I implemented them properly.  I feel like I could use a lot of them in natural speech.  A triumph, to be sure.  The most important objective of this class (based on the course title), I feel, has been realized.  I'm comfortable writing making a literary argument: casual, or formal. 

4. Creatively and Socially Engage Literature. When I met with Dr. Burton to discuss my progress, he suggested that I +1 some more people on my posts, since I don't have any other social networking resources.  
So I did.  
A couple of success stories: My post, "The Allure of Travel Writing" jumped from 29 hits to 48, and my very personal but analytical "I Can Feel a Hot One" went from 54 hits to 109.  I've had friends call and text me, thanking me for sharing something so personal (because some of my closest friends had no idea that I was even remotely literate. Not kidding).  My friend Cub has since shared with me his own poetry, and a few people have found me on Goodreads because of it!  Way cool.  
I'm slowly remembering books I've read, and adding them to the virtual shelves.  It's definitely not going to stop after this class. Since I'm not going to school next term, I'm stoked to start on my list of must-reads, as suggested by newfound friends and longtime family members. 
The biggest takeaway I have from this class: the importance of process.  In sharing your ideas so that people can help build on them.  I've always been a single-channel student.  The ideas get developed in such a narrow space (my brain, and my brain only) that they have no room to expand and advance, then they get poorly represented in a night-before paper, and sent off to the professor.  In the future, I've vowed to do more idea-sharing. 

5.  New Media and Pedagogy.  As was already mentioned in my midterm post, I struggled with new media and applying advanced technology...but this class has forced me to be more comfortable with it.  And I am now!  I think, given more time in this class, I would probably get freaky-creative with formatting and whatnot, but with what time I've been given, I think the ideas of other students in the class--and browsing other blogs--is how I've come to establish my own style of presentation.  I like it.  But if ever I notice something cool in the way something else has been done, then I'll definitely try it out (e.g. Color choice, picture sequence, etc).  In comparison with my first post (cringe), I've come a long way in understanding how to direct a reader's attention, and keep things appealing for skimmers.  

In conclusion, thank you (if any of them read this) to all of the students in this class.  This has been an incredibly cool way to learn.  Blogging, commenting, sharing, etc.  Self-directed learning.  I've achieved my goal of expanding my appreciation for other genres, and not only have I done that, but I also have a genuine desire to keep reading them.  Something truthful and cheesy (Charly): I think what I've learned in this class will go much further than just a few weeks of summer 2013. 

Thanks, Dr. Burton. 

eight years later (how i met the outcomes)

I found that I had written 25 posts in the month since the midterm, which is not half bad, as far as production goes. I was happy with the trajectory I was on, and mostly wanted to focus on taking my thoughts deeper, as I am slightly manic and had to discard about three post ideas for every one I wrote. I began to focus on the themes of memory and the writings of Wallace Stegner, with lots of support in non-fiction. I served as a fearless team leader for non-fiction week, and those on my team seemed pleased with my input while contributing many valuable insights and readings of their own. (I would love to see a class at the university dedicated to reading travel writing!) I drafted a solid final paper as well as literary analysis. I am proud of what I have accomplished, considering that I had once fled the institution of BYU altogether.

TERMS + METHODS

In assigning a personal essay during non-fiction week, I certainly had to grapple with the terms. If I couldn't explain them, how could the class write them? I was pleased to see such an outpouring of creativity when it came to writing in a scriptural, speech, or travelogue style: these posts became among those with the most views! I was able to gather several terms relating to neuroscience from my personal reading, and building a quote bank helped me analyze Stegner's fiction. As a self-declared reference maven, I've been sounding the depths of literary terms and methods since January! (Seriously, the library's databases are so cool. Go on Simmons OneView's market research database right now. There are wayyyy more espresso drinkers in this country than Mormons, for starters.)

GENRES + TEXTS

For #dramz week, I was able to delve deeper into a genre that is just plain fun. (I did become a dedicated Studio C fan: they use allusion, litote, and repetition, for the record.) I continued my Essayist of the Day series with William James. Considering this man's pedigree (he's the brother of Henry James, whom I cannot avoid in my personal reading, whether I want to or not), I was glad to have the grounding. It was pretty dense, even for me, but indirectly informed my thinking.

ARGUMENTS

I saw the most productivity in this line, which is good, as that was my goal for the midterm: more in-depth analysis. I'm especially proud of the piece on Usher, the Shins, Diphthongs, and Hexameter. It got a good response, along the lines of "only Charly would have that take." The Shins alone are cryptic enough to produce three PhD dissertations. This was my most corpus-based analysis, and hit a lot of the literary terms, not for brownie points, but in strengthening the argument itself.

It was lovely being able to contrast the play version of Holiday, the movie The Philadelphia Story, and the textual version/movie of The Importance of Being Earnest. I'm an artsy person, but don't necessarily take the time to critically compare to this depth unless prompted. I think good reviews go beyond surface questions of "what happened" into the "why." I hope you, the reader, were convinced that Holiday is more like Earnest than Philadelphia Story is! (The conservative status quo vs. progressivism is an obsession of mine, later explored in our final John Donne exercise.)

I was able to put a "Mormon hat" on for Billy Loman and men's roles in society. Both Arthur Miller and Dieter Uchtdorf have this trope of "all the world's a stage" to draw from, which says something about its staying power.

In the fourth-most-popular post on the blog (haha, who am I kidding, it's because of the group assignment ;-)  ), I made an argument that we can use Saussure's ideas about the signified and the signifier to more productively analyze social networks. It was nice to use those PoMo muscles even though, to be frank, I am not really a fan and find the whole movement to be pretentious. A post-modern social construct, though, may need a post-modern toolbox.

Nearly all of my pre-writing for the Stegner paper was about staking claims and making arguments. (More information on how this paper came together can be seen in that post.) My mother always said that I was an argumentative person, so having this debate with myself was a natural outgrowth of my personality. From the pitch, to claiming a thesis, to engaging the counterargument, to seeking a good title, I honed my persuasive writing skills.

I like the flexibility of the English minor: between Persuasive Writing, Writing Fiction, and this course, I feel that I have become a stronger writer and have been able to fashion a minor that will serve me well in my professional writing career. Some of these pieces, like the one on Crossing to Safety, I'd be happy to expand to bona fide reviews.

CR8IV + SOCIAL

I learned some good things about what to do and not do when engaging literature socially. (I am something of a nerd, and more learning in this sphere can't hurt, let's be honest.)

I got dragged to a dinner theater Sherlock Holmes production: analyzing it justified my dislike. I was able to get my writing group's friends' feedback by posting on a message board on which I am a very active poster. I value their opinion and incorporated it into my so-called "tweethis." I even made a Goodreads friend by looking for reviews of Crossing to Safety.

I do not consider myself to be a talented visual artist, but making a sketch of a Stegner quote gave me a structure with which to work.

The most serendipitous social encounter I had was with a poetry slam which I only considered because of classmate Hilary's paper on the subject. Unfortunately, I was thwarted when no poets showed up, but great art is worth going out of our way for.

TOOLS + PEDAGOGY

Adding a Recent Comments widget should be worth at least a 2% grade boost, I'd estimate. :-) It made the daunting task of keeping up with the blog a lot more pleasant, and I hope it was useful to everyone else as it was to me. Further feedback from the class and writing group showed me which tools work for me and which don't. (Facebook: no one cares.)

In general, I felt that I was both learning and teaching. I am an experienced blogger, and was glad to help my classmates, and found the tools of blogging led me to get to know my classmates better than I usually would. I was an early adopter of Goodreads, but integrating it into coursework was really helpful, and got me thinking about genre. Although the class was exhausting, when reviewing it, I put a high percentage for "out of class time being useful to my learning."

In Conclusion

Thanks for going on this crazy journey with me, everyone. I'm not done reading, and I'm certainly not done writing seriously about literature. Follow me on Goodreads. Add me on Facebook. Email me. I'll be starting as a tech writer, but hope to move into reviewing and fiction writing, as well.

With that, I'm done. Enter to Learn. Go Forth to Serve. All that good cheesy stuff.

officially done!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

no agenda but to tell the truth: the story of my paper

Writing "Surmounted, Comprehended, Possessed" was a three-week project, serving as a capstone of sorts for my collegiate career.

One of my favorite aspects was the initial pitch. I was pleased that Dr. Burton found this framework to be useful enough to encourage everyone in the class to sell their story. My ideas were not yet in thesis form, but I was enthusiastic about the material, and I got a lot of feedback at this stage in the game from both classmates and writing friends.

Writing five types of claims was a good way to narrow my scope as well as broaden my interest (funny how that works, huh?). My final thesis finally made an appearance two weeks ago; if I had to sum it up in one sentence, it would be this:

Authors, by creating fictional worlds, rewrite our experience of real spaces: this act of (re-)creation mirrors the act of writing itself.

I was excited to use the lens of Wallace Stegner's writing to prove my point. I had been planning on saving Crossing to Safety for my plane ride to Madison (ten days!); but it didn't last the night. I borrowed the concept of the hungry reader for my paper from Larry Morgan.

Now came outlining and brainstorming time. I always make a quote bank, and defending why I care helped me defend not just the value of Recapitulation, but to flesh out my ideas on how reading physically changes the brain.

My central conceit came from making a sketch of Wallace Stegner's quote about Salt Lake City—just as Dr. Burton is somewhat obsessed with Moby-Dick, I find deep metaphorical meaning in the layout of my hometown—and the chief counterargument I had to address was found in my personal learning in "Does Great Literature Make Us Better?" This made my argument feel more timely and essential.

The turning point in actually drafting the paper came a week ago in searching for a good title. This gave me the three-part structure I was searching for (reader as observer, author as builder, literature changes us). I was able to quickly make notes from all this previously culled information. The central body of the paper came together well, and I used previously-written material in the introduction.

My spirit animal.
It was at this point that the social-learning component got serious. I had been getting comments from trusty members of Team Nonfiction throughout, and my writer friends were mostly interested in discussing the counterargument, so I had Hilary "Slam Poet" Packham read my draft in person. I am so glad I chose someone who could give me a fresh take on the essay: she was the single most-helpful critic, and I hope I was able to give her some Grammar Goddess (LOL) pointers of my own. She was articulate in telling me what was working, and what wasn't.

I also had my grandma read a hard copy. She can spot a dangling preposition like a hawk, having worked as a secretary for over fifty years. She was always able to tell me when I needed to clarify and put things in laywoman's terms, as she has little familiarity with either the author or neuroscience.

The least helpful aspect of my social learning was running it by my boyfriend. Not only did the "assignment" keep getting put off, I started to feel less like a girlfriend and more like a nag. His points were vague, far too late to be of any real use, and made me had a full-blown nervous breakdown. Having him critique my work made me feel like he was criticizing me, and clearly I am too deeply neurotic to take it. The only thing I got out of it was the moving of some paragraphs. In the future, I will definitely keep the romantic and professional spheres strictly separate!

Due to my own personal Charity "Where's Your Ambition, What Are You Doing in Life?!" Lang moment, the conclusion was hard-won, but I am satisfied with it, nonetheless. Here it is:

Through the unfolding sagas of Bruce Mason and Larry Morgan, we not only come to a greater understanding of their characters and of Wallace Stegner, we come to understand ourselves. Mirror neurons light up not just when we experience something, but when we imagine experiencing it. As adolescents and young adults, many readers have their first encounters with the powerful realities of sex, love, and death within the pages of a book. Both author and reader can experience catharsis through edification and consumption.Though reading may not be inherently virtuous or character-building, it does, biologically, demand sustained attention, imagination, and critical thinking. That legere—the sifting, choosing, collecting, judging—is ultimately up to us. As readers surmounting the great bowl valley of life, would we ultimately have it any other way?


it's the final countdown

In the middle of the night, I go walking in my sleep/ I write conclusions, and MLA bibliographies

Obstacles were surmounted. Ideas were comprehended. Hearts were possessed.

Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"Yo, Adrian, we did it. We did it."

This paper has sucked me dry.  Probably because I actually cared for the subject: The Bible as literature.  And I knew there were a lot of people riding (in a bad sense) my ideas.  

It started with my focus: A Raw Thesis! And then grew into a more solid idea: Claiming a Thesis!

From there it actually got muckier...rather than more clear.  Gathering ideas from outside sources via "The Tweethis Experience" made me think harder and dig deeper for more evidence and support for my claim.  

Charly's feedback was, as usual, helpful in sorting out so many ideas and opinions, and I appropriated the progression of my paper up to that point in finally Choosing a Claim to her. When we were asked to try something new to develop our argument, I thought I'd give Schizophrenia a whirl in order to discuss why I wanted to hound the subject I was hounding...with myself. Discussing Genre was the most helpful exercise I could have done.  It helped me solidify the bulk of my argument.  

I, Jamie Clegg, WROTE AN OUTLINE. 'Twas quite helpful.  'Nough said. 

From there I cranked out a few pages of nothing, really.  My First Draft.  And because I was so short on goods, I decided to explore the library.  I Discovered New Material For My Argument, and finally cranked out a FINAL DRAFT...Draft, but.  

Thanks to our peer reviews (Andrew Alston, you're a saint), I have made enormous revisions, and feel more comfortable with the final product.  I distributed it to trusted friends and family, and appreciated all of their honest and straightforward criticism. With everyone's help and ideas, here, tonight, debuts My Final Paper: Teaching the Bible as Literature.  

Yo, guys, we did it. We did it.   

reference maven

For the past five months, I have worked at the Humanities Reference Desk on the fifth floor of the library. I am uniquely qualified to find general reference works, because I am supposed to help other people find them.

From the library home page, I went to the drop-down subject guides, and selected English Literatures.

From there, under References, I selected American Literature. I clicked on Gale's Literature Resource Center for Contemporary Authors. I put in Wallace Stegner (shocking, I know) and got a rather extensive biography of him.

I knew most the biographical stuff, and could find that on Wikipedia, frankly. It was the critical analysis which I found more useful. I searched for "ism"  and got environmentalism and individualism. I was able to organically incorporate this quotation about his overall work:

Although admitting that Stegner's fiction is "almost invariably set in the western United States," Richard H. Simpson of the Dictionary of Literary Biography believed that his "main region is the human spirit... Each [novel] explores a question central in Stegner's life and in American culture: How does one achieve a sense of identity, permanence, and civilization--a sense of home-- in a place where rootlessness and discontinuity dominate?"

I am glad that I can use what I teach others to do. The subject guides are well-designed, and Robert Means, the subject librarian, is an affable fellow.

The Story of My Paper

While in the process of finding a text for writing our final paper, I searched for one where I could present a good claim.  I generally looked at material that was new to me. 
 

 It helped so much when I posted “Coming Up With a CompellingThesis” using the guide from Dr. Burton. After coming up with nothing much except anxiety, I took his suggestion and looked to my posts for a familiar text.  That is when I decided to write about Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” because I enjoy his style of poetry.  I had done my reflective post on his poem, “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” and concluded I could come up with a stronger argument with “ The Road Not Taken.”

The Road To My Paper


I posted my five different types of claims and asked for feedback from the class, family members and neighbors, who graciously responded.  It generated some good social interaction with comments from Kimara, Charly, and Dr. Burton who challenged me to come up with a different analysis perspective of the poem.  Family members and a neighbor gave me some great comments through emails.  I displayed the comments in my “On The Road to a Thesis Paper” post, and thanked them for their helpful comments.  I let them know I would combine my evaluation claim and the cause/effect claim to come up with a stronger claim. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

poetry slam: thwarted

When I saw this in SugarHouse, I immediately whipped out my phone and emailed Hilary over at Team Poetry. I had read her essay on slam poetry, which had aroused my interest in the genre.

Such promise! Such excitement!




She told me to go as her proxy, and I would not fail her. After a weekend trip up to Bear Lake and Logan, I told my boyfriend to come check it out with me.

No poetry was slammed that night.

No one showed up. If you're interested in checking the slam scene out, there's more info on what was supposed to happen over on this Westminster College culture site.

Disappointing, but I probably would never have made the effort without Hilary's project to pique my interest. Additionally, their fresh-squeezed watermelon juice is excellent.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Final Outcome of my Learning Outcomes

Since April 30, Dr. Burton has stressed the importance of the five Learning Outcomes we should incorporate into our work. We were to start blogging immediately about our learning outcomes.  For me, just trying to figure out how to blog was a huge obstacle.  With the help of my husband, who also had never blogged, I was able to get two very pathetic blog posts “posted.”  When I learned how to insert a picture into my post, I felt I had something to work around.  Most important, I actually had fun writing my analysis for the short fiction stories we read.  For the first time I can remember, I could write what I thought about something and it counted.  Not having English as either a major or minor in my education, I set about with the first learning outcome with a vengeance.  As my Mid-term Blogpost attests, there were other outcomes that I neglected.  After meeting with Dr. Burton, he suggested that I focus more on outcomes #2 (literary genres) and #3 (write literary arguments).  Since the Mid-term I have. . .  

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Surmounted

Surmounted
Literature is about evoking a world in the mind of the reader. If the author fails to do that—what genre writers call "world-building”—then he has arguably failed the task. How we learn to read, in a post-industrial, highly textual society, is basically how we learn to think, how we learn to be. Psychologist and economist Daniel Kahneman's work on how we think shows us that we have a lot of heuristics we apply to everyday situations—shortcuts, really—and we are often unreliable narrators, even to ourselves.
Wallace Stegner was no cognitive scientist, but he was a particularly astute observer of human nature. We can consider him a model reader, one who has a telescopic view of the bustling city below and the human lives it contains. Much as one would read a text, one can “read” architecture. Recapitulation is grounded in the real streets, buildings, and institutions of Salt Lake City.
Philippe Hamon, a French literary theorist of the realist movement, asked, “Is there a specifically ‘literary’ vision of the city, different from the vision of the architect, the painter, the public health officer, the photographer, the politician?” (“Voir La Ville,” 1994, translation mine). Yes, there is a specifically “literary” vision of the city, and Stegner has perfectly captured what it is like to live through a city, within a city, and without (both outside and deprived of) it.
Courtesy of The Telegraph (UK)


Though we can perhaps never directly know ourselves, literature gives us a heuristic for understanding motive, love, loss, and the effects of time. In this metaphor, we may have to invert the typical image of the author as fly-on-the-wall. Here, the reader is observer and the writer is the builder. The reader, through the book, can survey both her life and society at large in the metaphorical foothills, and the author is down in the valley, erecting hotels and tennis courts with his pen.

Possessed

Possessed
            In Stegner’s Crossing to Safety, we have another largely autobiographical author avatar. In reminiscing about a life marked by voracious reading, Larry Morgan states:
Anyone who reads, even one from the remote Southwest at the far end of an attenuated tradition, is to some extent a citizen of the world, and I had been a hungry reader all my life (p. 254).

There are three main ideas that we can draw from this passage. First, that readers, by flexing the muscles of their imaginations, and becoming immersed in the world that the author creates, become citizens of the world. It was Mark Twain, in The Innocents Abroad, who said that travel is “fatal to prejudice;” Larry Morgan had already been stretched beyond the mesas of Albuquerque by reading Milton and Dante. Second, Stegner is engaging a deep and broad literary corpus or canon.  Stegner is not easily contained by –isms:
Although admitting that Stegner's fiction is “almost invariably set in the western United States,” Richard H. Simpson of the Dictionary of Literary Biography believed that his “main region is the human spirit” (Gale Literary Databases, Contemporary Authors).

He is no mere genre writer. Third, the question which deserves the closest analysis: how is a hungry reader different from an avid one, or a merely attentive reader?
            The idea of literature as nourishment can take us far in our analysis. Ideas are not merely ephemeral; the books we read shape our very neuronal structure. Neuroscientist Stanislas Dehaene, in his Reading in the Brain, proposes that far from being a tabula rasa, our brains use neuronal recycling to learn to read. In reading, we adapt brain regions originally primed for other tasks (object recognition, for instance): astoundingly, the same brain regions decode the written word, whether it’s represented by the Roman alphabet, Egyptian hieroglyphs, or Japanese kanji.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Final Draft...Draft.

Me, right now.  
Thanks to some great suggestions made by Charly, and reading my last draft aloud, I've completely reorganized my paper.  Deconstructed and reconstructed.  Or...just constructed?

I don't know.

But.  I'm going to finish up with the last point and conclusion tomorrow, when my battery and brain aren't dead.  Here's the link to what has come about thus far.

I haven't even done basic editing yet, but I'm quite thrilled with the direction it has taken in the past 24 hours(!), thanks to suggestions from friends, family, and peers(!).  Thanks a million, everyone that has helped me thus far.

Discovering new material for my argument!

I go to the library after class everyday, and have never considered looking through the actual books....until I compiled the thesis for this paper.  I've combed through multiple online sources, and felt content with my findings.

A couple of days ago I decided to hike up to the fifth floor, and when I arrived, quads burning, I decided not to disrupt the silence by asking for help.  (Also, I was...being prideful.)

I meandered through the shelves and thumbed through some interesting titles, when I stumbled upon the row of books I was looking for.  But I didn't pick those up.  I pulled out the ones below them, and awkwardly sat on the floor in my skirt.

Compilations of classic speeches!   I snapped pictures of the Table of Contents in each one, and noted that Christ's Sermon on the Mount was listed in nearly every single anthology.  If His words managed to make it this far, into anthologies published by Norton and the like, shouldn't they be studied in schools like Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, or Abraham Lincoln's?

Maybe I won't use it in my argument, but it helped to get the ball of my thought process rolling.  Still a work in progress, but now when I can't think, I flip through pages of fifth floor books.  It gets the idea juices flowin'.

I did end up getting to Harmon & Holman's Handbook to Literature, though.... SO HELPFUL for my discussion of genre!  I highly recommend it.  As an English major, I just bought it on Amazon so I have my own copy for the rest of my degree.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Blessed Literature


This process of sharing our thesis socially has been interesting.  I shared my five different thesis claims with my neighbor and was happy with the great comments he provided.  When I included him in the next step, he mentioned that Robert Frost’s poem, "The Road Not Taken" had kept him up at night.  Not intending for him to lose sleep over my homework, I was hoping he and his wife still liked me.   


I was pleasantly surprised on Sunday morning in our Gospel Doctrine class when my neighbor who is the instructor, passed a copy of Frost’s poem to each class member to read and analyze in the context of our pre-mortal and earthly life.   
Robert Frost in Church


He was able to incorporate the metaphor of choosing a path into our lesson very effectively.  In fact, one woman raised her hand to tell him that he had taught a really great lesson, which made him feel good.   I was pleased as well.  I was happy he shared the poem I am writing about with our Ward members. 


 

Maybe Dr. Burton is right that what we find interesting and good in literature we should share with others who will most likely be grateful for the enrichment.

HBLL FUN

The library is my stomping ground, well, the fifth floor of the Harold B. Lee Library is my stomping ground, but we have a definite love/hate relationship.  I love being there because it's one of the few places that I can really focus on academics. I hate being there because of too much time spent there, and the knowledge that focus is to come when I go there.  Lucky for me, the Humanities reference section is on my home floor, so I have constant access to it.  I have only used the reference section for one other class, so it was nice to see what else it had to offer me.  I went through several books and guides on literature and flipped to each's romance, poetry, and love sections.  I got some really useful information from them about romance's background.  Thanks to technology, I just took pictures of the material I needed instead of having to make a copy!

Same goes for the library website.  For a class I had last year, the professor created an online subject guide for our research, and it really helped.  I grew to recognize that you really have much more validity if you cite valid sources.  Plus the information can really help your argument! 

Rough Rough Draft

Here is my very rough draft of my essay so far.  I am still working out the construction of it as a whole.  I want to switch around ideas from the intro and put them into the body paragraphs.  I love writing the intros because I always think of more arguments when considering the broader subject of my topic first. 



           

lit coma: Crossing to Safety (a review)

selfies in the computer lab
I spent the weekend in a kind of novel-reading coma. I was deeply offended that my copy of Crossing to Safety was two days late. So, rather than waiting til the plane ride to Wisconsin, as I had intended, I jumped into this thing like a chocoholic does into a See's store.

Aaaaaaagh this book is so good. There is my inarticulate, primal response. It just blindsides me with its ... language. Its imagery. Its believability. And its characters!

Charity Lang is not only one of my favorite characters in literature, she is perhaps the one I most relate to. Some may think that this is not particularly flattering to myself; however, it is true. She is beautiful and bossy, intelligent and controlling, idealistic and yet power-hungry. I am all of these things. Her need to acknowledge what a fun time she is having, in order to have fun? Yep. Her attempts to shape her husband into what she wants him to be? Indeed. Even her childrearing theories are remarkably like my own (untested) ones.

Not only was reading this book an unparalleled pleasure for me; not only did I make a new friend in my new locale who I think will pretty much become Larry Morgan to my Charity (a close, platonic relationship between two married couples) due to commenting on his review on Goodreads; I also found evidence for my argument!

Anyone who reads, even one from the remote Southwest at the far end of an attenuated tradition, is to some extent a citizen of the world, and I had been a hungry reader all my life. p. 254
Ding. Ding. Ding. Thank you for writing my paper for me. ;)

Whichever work you have chosen to analyze, I highly recommend reading other works by the same author. Not only is it fun, it can help you understand the author a lot better.

Searching for a Good Title

In case you can't tell, I enjoy creative, provocative titles. At the risk of being obscure or pretentious, a good, eye-catching title can really "sell" your story or essay.

I like my titles to either be clever, explanatory, or (ideally) both. Looking at the printouts of our blog posts (which I was sure to gather in because I wanted to read people's comments!), I have settled on

Surmounted, Comprehended, Possessed

I like this title because it is a direct allusion to Stegner's essay "At Home in the Fields of the Lord," and I think it also provides a good outline for my paper. I've been wrestling with the ideas of author as observer or builder, the neurological underpinnings of memory, and the text of Recapitulation itself. These are nice punchy verbs which really encapsulate these ideas of three ways Wallace Stegner, his avatar Bruce Mason, and we, as readers, interact with text.


  1. We surmount it. We get up above it: in my sketch, I drew the reader in the Salt Lake foothills with a telescope. Literature broadens our horizons.
  2. We comprehend it. I have absolutely loved reading essays about how we interact with literature, from Borges to William James to Oscar Wilde (a post on the latter soon, as his ideas are important to this essay, although it's hard to imagine two men more unlike each other than Stegner and Wilde. ;-) ).
  3. We possess it. This is that personal connection Dr. Burton's always hounding us about. The idea that great literature does, indeed, make us better: or at the very minimum, shape who we are.
I will spend roughly two pages on each concept. About a page of textual exposition, and another page proving the point argumentatively. Embedded in all three claims is a Cause/Effect argument. 

I'm more excited to draft this thing, the last paper of my college career. And it all began with a good title!

Been on this Road Awhile

Working so closely with Robert Frost's poem The Road Not Taken the past weeks, I have decided to memorize it for one of my personal learning outcomes (#4).  


This way I will be able to share it with family and friends while providing some information and analysis I have been working on. 

It Happened on the Road


Getting my  thesis draft to this point has been challenging.  

At the same time I have had questions answered about the text I decided to write on.  Researching BYU's library provided some sound analysis to help me fulfill my claim about Frost's ability to make us think one way while  he moves us on in a different direction.  

This is only a draft.  I still have much to do.  I appreciate and invite your comments to help guide me along this road.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Supporting my policy claim: The Bible should be taught!

It's definitely a draft.  But I feel like the ball has started rolling....

On a very gradual decline.

But  it's coming.  Any and all forms of criticism and comments are welcome, and I believe in reciprocity.

Here's the link to the Google Doc.  Hope it works!  Can't wait until everyone's ideas come together.  These will be incredibly interesting to read when they're finished, I think.

A Plug for an Outline.

Mmkay.  In all my years of taking English classes--whether required or not--I have never made an outline.

Ever. Whether...it was required or not.  I stubbornly assumed it was a waste of time. (Never had good grades in high school English classes.)

But as I was trying to organize this "critical mass of mess" for my final paper, I decided, with some humility, to throw one together on Saturday.  It has helped immensely.  I used color to divide concepts and supporting points, so my eye can go straight to them when I'm typing up my more formal ideas, but didn't worry too much about the way my thoughts were written.

Page one of the outline. 

If Mr. Thompson, Mrs. Cross or Mrs. Horstmann saw this..... 

They'd say, I told you so. 




Frost’s Style of Poetry


It has been debated which poetry sub-genre Robert Frost identifies with.  The Oxford English Dictionary gives us examples that illustrate how Frost is a blend of at least three sub-genres of poetry.  Having been compared to Romantic poets such as Wordsworth, who said in 1800, “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings; it takes its origins from emotion recollected in tranquility.”   And Keats who in 1817 stated: “The poetry of earth is never dead…a voice will run… about the new-mown mead; That is the Grasshoppers.”  Frost is said to have been influenced by Emily Dickenson, who crafted her poetry with a tool box of poetic devices according to BYU’s Emily Dickinson Lexicon.

 
Frost was influenced by whom?

Frost is also thought to have leaned towards transcendentalism, which means to pass over or go beyond (a physical obstacle or limit); to climb or get over the top (of a wall, mountain).  The religio-philoshical teaching of the New England school of thought represented by Emerson and others that exalted character, thought, or language; also that which is extravagant, vague, or visionary in philosophy or language; idealism. 

In 1842 Emerson said: “What is popularly called Transcendentalism among us, is idealism.”



Modernism has been noted as stylistic of Frost’s poetry.  This is the tendency or movement toward modifying traditional beliefs and doctrines in accordance with modern ideas and scholarship.  A usage, mode of expression, peculiarity of style, etc., characteristic of modern times.  Later more generally, an innovative or distinctively modern feature.



It could be that Frost was influenced by all three sub-genres of poets to bring us his memorable poetry.  Knowing this information will help me understand more about Frost's style of writing and the tools he used to help when I write my thesis paper.




Sunday, June 9, 2013

Searching the Harold B. Lee Library


 
Watching Dr. Burton maneuver through BYU Library’s web site, I just knew it would be interesting and help me find some information for my thesis paper.  What I did not know is how long it was going to take me to find any information at all.  I spent hours trying to find something  about “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.                                  
I   f  i  n  a  l  l  y  was successful in finding Poetry Criticism by Ed. Michelle Lee. Bol. 71. Detroit: Thomson Gale, 2006. 
BYU Library

I think I found what I had been searching for—an explanation for how Frost was able to craft his poem so as to create personal reactions in readers that caused them to interpret the poem in their own way. 


I also found Emily Dickinsons Lexicon that had Noah Webster's 1844 American Dictionary of the English Language (ADEL) that is right from BYU.  I found much of the site difficult to manage, and it took a long time.  I'm sure it has everything to do with my computer skills.

The main thing is that I was successful in finding help with what I was searching for and I emailed the site to myself, so I can access it easier.  I have been reading it to see how I can use the information to help me prove the thesis in my paper.

BYU’s Harold B. Lee Library is an amazing resource for all who are privileged enough to have access to it.  I just need to get better at using it on line.

“Religion On Steroids"


As part of my personal learning to fulfill # 2 (non-fiction genre) and #3(write informally about my reading) outcomes, I read an article in BYU Studies Vol. 49, No. 2, 2010, by Thomas B. Griffith entitled Mere Mormonism.  This is an adaptation of C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity and his classic exposition of the fundamentals of the Christian faith.  Humbly claiming to lack the skill to pull off such a fete, Griffith succeeded in identifying what is at the heart of the Mormon experience in an attempt to provide an introduction to the faith. 
I especially found his take on our relationship to others intriguing, as he begins this section with:  “For a people who believe that God is near and that he is not silent, Latter-day Saints place surprisingly little emphasis on the contemplative life.  Our primary focus, instead, is on relationships with other people.”  Claiming that LDS members like people and building communities is what they do best.”  Griffith uses the beehive as the closest thing LDS have as an icon.  He says, “Mormon life is profoundly social, and activity in the Church involves us deeply in the lives of others because in Mormonism God is served best—and perhaps only—by serving others.”  “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17).
Griffith tells how Sunday is hardly a day of rest for committed Mormons.  Beyond the three hour service, Sunday is filled with activities that begin with early morning planning meetings for those with leadership responsibilities and includes choir practices, training meetings, visits to each other’s homes, and evening activities for the youth—and that is only the first day of the week!