EN 501 Building Textual Interpretation

Assignments for 11/12 and Extra Credit

November 6th, 2018 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Remember, next week we will meet in the downstairs Library Classroom.

Read Griffin, Chapters 8 and 12, Quantitative Methods and Digital Humanities (guest lecture: Dr. Tonya Howe)

The second 1/2 of the class will be a workshop to prepare to post a full draft of your annotated bibliography and proposal on Canvas by 11/17 for feedback before submitting the final copy on 11/21.

New Extra Credit options are posted on your MU Commons Extra Credit site, and they include watching Shakespeare in Love (Hussah’s adaptation from this week), Michael’s TED talk on Shakespeare and hip hop, reflecting on The Fall if you went last Friday, and/or posting your own adaptation from this week along with a reflection paper (see details on the Extra Credit page). You may submit extra credit through the link on Canvas assignments, or email it to me directly. If you post it on your blog, just email me the link to the page where it is posted.

The last 2 options for extra credit this semester will be the Career Panel featuring MA in English and Humanities alumni on 11/27 at 5:30pm, and the Humanities Colloquium speaker from the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture on 12/6 at 6pm.


Blog/Canvas posting for Nov. 5th

November 1st, 2018 · No Comments · Uncategorized

For class on Monday, 11/5, your assignment is to

1.) find a sample adaptation (you might review the final project options and dissuasions in the PPT we discussed last class, as well as assignment materials on Canvas, including the grading rubric.

Your adaptation should build off your coursework in EN 501 in some way–the easiest connections to make are those through adaptations of Shakespeare or Othello, since that’s where you have done the most reading and research. However, you have also studied articles on film adaptation, cultural adaptation,

2. Find a critical source about your adaptation using the library databases (it could help to review notes from our library workshop and remember your Canvas course page has Library Resources that are targeted toward this particular course).

3. Post a sample proposal, an MLA style citation of your critical source, and one paragraph annotation of your source on the Canvas Discussion Board, based on your adaptation research for class.  It might help to review the links on the assignment sheets on MU Commons and Canvas to help evaluate your source, cite it correctly, and add a 1-2 paragraph annotation of how it offers insight into your subject.

It’s fine to post on your MU Commons blog for Monday night as well; just make sure you also post on Canvas.


Erickson and Harlem Duet

October 21st, 2018 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Apologies for the technical difficulties this week. A couple of options for your response post this week:

1. Take any paragraph in the posted Erickson article and apply it to a specific scene in Harlem Duet.  In particular you might consider his argument about the legacy of Othello, and to what extent you agree or disagree with his observations about Harlem Duet.

2. Time and national identity in Harlem Duet: based on Erickson’s analysis of the recurrence of the Othello-myth in various forms, what impact do you see chronology and/or national identity playing in 1-2 specific scenes of Harlem Duet?  Why do you think Sears uses time in the way she does, and what might be some challenges to staging her vision?


YouTube Shakespeares

October 15th, 2018 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Rowan Atkinson YouTube Hamlet

RSC Othello Rap

Hamlet is Back

Upstart Crow


Adapting Othello: Blog Post Prompt

October 12th, 2018 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Choose one of the passages below, describe in 250 words or less its context, meaning, and a brief moment of application to a text or performance from class. Your discussion should include
a.) the major author, theorist, or reading from which this passage is taken, and a summary of its meaning/importance,
b.) an identification of the key elements or themes within the passage, as applied to a relatively short (50 words max) quoted example from a play, novel, or film on the syllabus thus far (in other words, choose a passage from a play to explicate using one of the critical passages below).

1.) While it is true that the male characters never actually appear on stage, their influence resonates in every aspect of the women’s behavior. The majority of the play’s action is driven by the male characters, from the opening scene (in which Emilia steals the handkerchief for Iago) to the closing scene (in which Desdemona prepares for bed on the night of her death). Vogel’s women define themselves through their relationships to the men in their lives.

2.) YouTube Shakespeare works rhetorically through imitation, parody, and irony. YouTube restricts the length and size of videos to ten minutes and two gigabytes of material, so the venue automatically encourages an aesthetic of brevity, which in turn is congenial to parody. YouTube parodies are constructed—as examples of this genre often are—through selection and condensation of the parent text. Sometimes YouTube authors focus on a single scene; sometimes they squeeze an entire play into a few minutes…[If you pick this passage, identify it and then locate a YouTube video that supports or refutes this observation re: Othello, and connect it to the play itself]

3.) We have a peculiar inability in our country to understand the contexts of things; when it comes to art, we interpret troublesome works in the most literal and simple-minded way. In the aftermath of Columbine, Washington legislators called on Hollywood to police itself, and rumbled about possible national censorship. Miramax caved in by suppressing this film.


Pondering our Midterm Format?

October 9th, 2018 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Midterm Exam: Building Textual Interpretation format
The guidelines below are just to get you thinking about the exam. We will work more on specific review strategies over the next 2 weeks.

On the exam, you may review assigned readings, your own blog posts, and primary materials as needed, but you are not to ask questions of others or share ideas. The exam should take no more than 5 hours, and I will ask you to submit it within 48 hours of starting it. 

The exam consists of 6 short answer/essays of 250 words, and 2 longer essays of up to 1500 words. You will cite any outside sources that you use to arrive at answers, including websites (although you should not need to use websites). You will list all sources you use (including plays) on a Works Cited page.

Part I: Passage Identification and Context (30 points)

Who said it? What does it mean? You will be given a list of key passages from works we have read. Choosing from this list, you’ll describe in 250 words or less their context, meaning, and a brief moment of application to a text or performance moment from class.

Your discussion should include
a.) major authors, theorists, or reading from which this passage is taken, and a summary of its meaning/importance,
b.) an identification of the key elements or themes within the passage, as applied to a relatively short (50 words max) quoted example from a play, novel, or film on the syllabus thus far.

Example: “Any student of auto/biography, or anyone attempting to research auto/biography, would do well to read Stevenson on Plath and note the presence of ‘the others’ (be they individual or collective) in the work.”

You would start to approach this passage by first locating it in your reading, then describing its meaning and context, and finally applying it to a work we have read. For example, you might apply this passage as an potential approach to study Athol Fugard’s Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek and discuss this play as a reflection of his South African cultural context and/or an expression of the artist’s struggle to create OR you might apply it to the “Confessions of Nat Turner” to examine the rhetorical context of his “confession.”

Part II: Two Essays (70 points, 35 points each essay, limit each essay to 1500 words maximum)

You will choose two essay topics and develop essays with a clear thesis and supporting discussion of assigned questions, based on evidence drawn directly from excerpts from plays/fiction/memoir on our reading list.  Make sure to use examples from at least 3 primary sources we have read.  You may combine ideas you have used on your blog with other new angles of approach, but do not reiterate postings or paragraphs verbatim.  Identify the author and title of the work from which the passages are taken at some point in your essays. Include a Works Cited page at the end.


Blog post prompt: Desdemona and Emilia talk back!

October 4th, 2018 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Take some extra tim for your posting this weekend: due Tuesday, 9/9 by noon (don’t forget class will meet on Tuesday evening).

Take any one of the 3 adaptations of Othello we are reading this week and either explicate a scene, using either a posted article that we have read (or are reading for next week), or using Shakespeare’s text.

1.) Using textual analysis, explicate a scene relative to the correlating scene in Shakespeare’s text. What changes in the adaptation in terms of language, values, or theme? To what effect for the audience?

2.) Using a chapter we have read about approaches to textual interpretation, or the posted article about the specifc adaptation Desdemona: A Play about a Handkerchief, consider how a specific scene from one of these plays “talks back” to the culture that performs it, to an earlier culture, to gender politics, or to discourse itself.

Whichever approach you take, cite specific scenes from the plays themselves, use page numbers and MLA format, and try to use this post to get some feedback on your integration of sources.


Week 5 Blog Post: Annotated listing of primary and secondary source

September 25th, 2018 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Using the worksheet from class to spur your ideas, search for a primary source item in an archival collection (Marymount’s Gomatos collection, one of the consortium libraries, Library of Congress, or the Folger) that would enhance a potential project on Shakespeare, or on Othello, or on an adaptation of Othello.

Once you’ve located a primary source that would interest you, list a bibliographic citation of it and explain what approach it might enhance (close reading of a text? ethnographic approach? potential subject for discourse analysis?), how you would examine it (on-site or digital?), how it might enhance a specific research project on a topic, and what databases/search strategies you used to find it (include the specific words you used to search, along with any boolean and/or, quotation marks, advanced search, or just browsing with a general subject heading).

THEN find a secondary source that would enhance your understanding of the primary source, using MLA or JSTOR, and include a bibliographic citation of the secondary source and a 1 paragraph summary of how this source might enhance your understanding of the primary source you located.


Week 4 Blog Post ideas

September 19th, 2018 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Follow the links that I posted before class on Monday on MU Commons of actors performing and discussion Othello, and then discuss how these performance videos affect your own close reading of one of the scenes in Shakespeare’s Othello. How does seeing actors talk about, interpret, and perform scenes change your ideas (or reinforce them) regarding character, theme, or other aspects of this play. Then find one additional performance clip and link it to your blog, discussing how you think it enhances our understanding of the play.


Discuss how Watson’s essay on Othello’s “double diction” connects one of the approaches to textual interpretation that we’ve discussed via the essays in Griffin. Connect a specific passage of an essay in Griffin to a specific passage of Watson, or connect Watson to Bedford’s chapter on Shakespeare’s language. How do these materials re-focus, challenge, or enhance your analysis of language in the text?


Materials from Monday, 9/17

September 19th, 2018 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Here are links to the websites Joey showed us in class on Monday:

Open Source Shakespeare


To follow up on this presentation, I thought you might enjoy seeing this PBworks site on Digital Humanities tools called the DH Toychest (makes it all sound fun eh?). It’s a Wiki where people can add links to the tools they discover or create, and it really captures the breadth of the field, with tools for everything from data visualization to mapping to textual analysis tools like Voyant and Open Source Shakespeare.