WORLD LITERATURE II (ENG
Free Choice Activities
Dr. Diane Thompson, NVCC, ELI
These are a few suggestions for Activity 10. I'll be adding more as
time goes by, especially ones based on questions made up by students. Feel free to select
one, or to make up your own question based on a reading of your choice.
However, if you make up your own question, you need to send it to me for
approval before writing about it. NOTE: if you choose a reading we have not
studied, it must be from the time period covered by World Literature 2. Make a copy of the question to begin your Activity. Post
your response to the Blackboard
Activity 10: Free Choice Forum. I will comment on your Activity on the Forum, and send your grade to you
privately, by email. If you select a double credit option, be sure to note that at the top
of your Activity along with your Activity number.
|Gabriel Garcia Marquez
and Magical Realism: Explore the Macondo site on Magical
Realism and read a story by Marquez (there's one in your textbook, or many in print
elsewhere. My own favorite is his novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude--see
the link to the Annenberg Video on One Hundred Years of Solitude
on the Course Home Page). Examine
the Marquez text you select closely to explain what, exactly, makes it fit the definition of Magical
Realism. Do you think this method of story telling is especially suited to Latin America,
or do you think it makes for great stories anywhere? Support your ideas with plenty of
specific examples from the text you have chosen to read. If you choose a
short story, this is worth up to 50 points. If you choose
One Hundred Years of Solitude, this can be worth double
credit if thoroughly done.
|Read Kafka's, "Metamorphosis," a story about a
man who wakes up one morning to find he has become an insect. Note the details of his
interactions with his family, and how the family situation degenerates during his insect
life and improves after his death. Can you find any ideas about how real families function
in this truly weird story? Give specific examples to support your ideas.
the Underground" is narrated by a neurotic, angry, unfulfilled man who announces
among other things that, "I could not even become an insect. I tell
you solemnly, that I have many times tried to become an insect. But I was not equal even
to that." If you want an interesting challenge, compare this narrator to Gregor, in
who does "succeed," as it were, in becoming an insect. What parallels can you
see between these two men and/or the societies they lived in? Use plenty of specific
details from both stories to support your ideas. Can be worth double credit
if very thoroughly done.
|An Internet Option: Select ten WWW
sites that would be excellent resources for this course. For each one, include the name of
the site, its URL, what it is about, and why and how you think it would add to the course
content. Be sure none of the sites you select is already listed on the
optional www links which are linked to the Course Home
Page. Do not select more than one section from a single site and do
not select pages from Wikipedia.
Tortilla Curtain by J.C. Boyle and write an essay about the
conflict between two cultures--the illegal Hispanic immigrants who camp
in the depths of Topanga Canyon and seek day labor and the well-meaning
(if it does not cost them comfort) Anglo folks who use that labor but
live graciously in a gated community in the high hills of Topanga
Canyon. There are currently (2011) some sharp exchanges about day
laborer sites, illegal immigrants, and the value of helping or expelling these folk, so I
think you will find this book extremely timely.
tells the story of a black American who is invisible, because people do
not see him as a human being. In our increasingly urban mass culture,
many of us may, at times, feel equally invisible and helpless, whatever
our color may be. If this topic interests you, read the novel, and then address the issue of being invisible, both in the novel and in life as you live
and know it. Be sure to use plenty of specific examples from both the book and your
experience to support your ideas.
|Look through Monkey,
a gorgeous Chinese "comic" strip about the monkey king, and
then select an American comic strip that you find on the WWW.
Compare/contrast the two comic strips in terms of style, characters,
story content, meaning or message, if any, artist's intent, etc.
the Annenberg Video Journey to
the West (which is another name for Monkey)
and then read either the selections from Monkey
in the textbook or find a copy online or in a library or through a
bookseller. Get the Whaley translation, which is the one volume version.
Monkey is amazingly popular in China and
elsewhere, both as a serious story about the quest for spiritual
enlightenment, AND as a glorious romp by various supernatural creatures.
What can you, as a modern reader, learn from this book about how to live
and what is important in life? Be sure to support your argument with
plenty of specific examples from Monkey.
some of the articles on NomadNet,
a depressing, yet fascinating, source of news from war-torn,
post-colonial Africa. Compare this modern African world with the
idyllic, although certainly not perfect, world of the Igbo before the
British arrived, as presented in Achebe's Things Fall Apart.
Can you see any connections? If so, what are they? Explain, using
plenty of specific examples from both the news articles and from the
novel. [If you cannot see any connections, this is probably not a good
choice of an activity.]
|Both Achebe's Things
Fall Apart and Yeats' poem, "The Second Coming," deal
with the inevitable breakdown of the way things have been, without any
clear knowledge of what is going to happen next. Yeats was involved in
the revival of native Irish culture (versus English imperialism), and
of course, Achebe was also involved in the issues of English
imperialism versus the native life of his community. Read "The
Second Coming" (in your textbook) and compare/contrast its
attitude toward history and the end of things to that in Achebe's
Heart of Darkness was
one of the British colonial novels that led Chinua Achebe to write
about a very different view of Africa in Things Fall Apart. If
you are curious to contrast the two, read Conrad's novel and then
compare/contrast Achebe's portrayal of the humane, civilized Igbo
culture and Conrad's images of "darkest" Africa. Can be
double credit if you do a thorough job.
|If you have read
Freud's "Dora," you might want to read this intriguing,
elegant murder mystery that starts with Dora's murder and investigates
her family in the context of early 20th century Vienna. The book is The
Fig Eater, by Jody Shields (pub. 2000). It is in a Back Bay paperback
(pub. 2001) and I enjoyed it immensely. If you choose to read it, you can
analyze how it uses the information in "Dora," and the
differences between Freud's interpretation of Dora and Shields' modern
feminist twists. Interestingly, although post-modern, it cleverly uses
modernist devices such as the subjective nature of truth. Can be worth double
credit if you do a thorough job.
the Annenberg Video on The God
of Small Things (see the link
information on the Course Home Page) and then read the book, which is
rather short and beautifully written. There is also a useful study guide
for this book by Paul Brians which is linked to on the Optional www
sites for Unit 4. Do you think the children in the story are beliveable?
Do they think and speak like "real" children? Or do you think they are
made up by the author to prove her point? Explain your ideas in depth,
referring to specific incidents in the book to support your ideas. Can
double credit if you do a thorough job.
(c) Diane Thompson: