A Change in the Times

I would like to begin this final blog post (yay!) by comparing Cynthia Selfe’s article, “The Perils of Not Paying Attention” to the other two blog posts that we read for this week’s readings. Selfe’s article was published in 1999, and some of the content in the article reflects that. I found it very humors how Selfe explains that many of her English teacher colleagues and students shy away from the use of technology in instructions. Around 1999, as we know, technology was still a child. It had been introduced several years prior, but it was beginning to take hold of our society. Many people were apprehensive about this, as society usually is about change. Selfe says, “After all this time, however, I can spot the speech acts that follow a turn of the conversation to computers-the slightly averted gaze, the quick glance at the watch, the panicky looks in the eyes when someone lapses into talk about microprocessors, or gigabytes, or ethernets” (1999, p. 412). This shows how concerned people during the time were about new technologies.

What I find particularly interesting is that still today, seventeen years later, some people still react this way to technology. My mom is one of them. She has been teaching for over thirty years, so she kind of knows what she is doing. About four years ago her school gave each teacher a brand new, shiny MacBook Pro. SHE WAS TERRIFIED! My mom was a nervous wreck for months. She would break into a profound sweat and her face would instantly turn red whenever someone would mention giving her a computer (it was even worse when she found out that she was also getting a SMART board). This perfectly mirrors what Selfe says about peoples’ reactions to the incorporation of technology.

Luckily for my mom, and everyone around her, she has since learned to use and love her computer. Also like Selfe says, people just need to learn how to use technology. Once this is discovered, technology is not so scary. Also she explains that technology should be embraced. This holds especially true for educators. Selfe says, “I believe composition studies faculty have a much larger and more complicated obligation to fulfill-that of trying to understand and make sense of, to pay attention to, how technology is now inextricably linked to literacy and literacy education in this country” (1999, p. 414). So many amazing things are available through the computer. It opens our students to amazing discoveries and opportunities. As teachers, it is our responsibility to further learning and literacy extension by incorporating technologies into our lessons, assessments, and day-to-day activities.

One of the ways to do this is to incorporate gamification in the classroom. From what I can determine, it involves incorporating game-like elements into the classroom to engage students in learning. Also, it does not rely on typical A, B, C, D, F grades. Instead, it relies on a badge system. As Mascle says in “Why Gamification?, “Gamification, the use of game-design elements for non-game purposes, interests me because I do not want my classes to be about the grade” (2014). I think this is this key aspect. Not focusing on grades is imperative for student comfort and learning. It also helps us as teachers by saving our sanity!

As Mascle also explains, learning ceases when grades are finally given to students. Students feel as if their goals have been accomplished, and nothing more needs to happen. It is time to move on to the next unit, forget what they have previously learned, and get the year over with. This concept should not be foreign to teachers, as they have been students themselves. The problem is, some teachers are so disillusioned from the memory of being a student that they ultimately forget how difficult and tiresome it is. Think about it, students sit on their butts from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Although that does not sound difficult, it is emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting. When teachers incorporate different strategies and systems in their classrooms, students are more likely to be engaged. They do not have to deal with the boring monotony of never-changing strategies, and they will look forward to a productive and encouraging learning environment.

In “Students Respect the Badge”, also written by Mascle, she explains in more detail the badge system. In her classroom, a super hero represents grading criteria. For example, the Wolverine represents “sharp and incisive writing,” and Thor represents “impressive in every way.” I love the idea of implementing this as a grading system. Students are often nervous about typical letter grades. Using characters, colors, shapes, etc. is a much less intimidating way of grading.

I also appreciate that Mascle has her students grade their peers’ blogs. I would love to implement blogs in my classroom, but it is a lot to grade. With over 100 students, grading blogs once or multiple times a week will drive a teacher insane and take away any social life he or she has. Instead, as Mascle does, students know and use the badge grading system to comment on the blogs. The teacher can then look at these badges and present a grade. Of course it is ideal to read through each blog, but that is sometimes an impossible feat. Mascle also explains that she only comments when there is an engaging question or thought. Besides this, students are in charge of grading and commenting. I love this idea to get students engaged with their peers.

With typical essays, only teachers read the work. Students must adhere to what they believe the teacher wants to hear. As a result, they are not really learning. Another problem is that students are not getting feedback from multiple sources. If a student is proud of the work he or she has done, there is really nobody to share it with. Having weekly blog posts allows students to showcase their work. This also pushes students to write to the best of their abilities. Intern, this drives students to be better writing. This is, after all, what teachers strive for.

Mascle, Deanna.  “Students Respect the Badge” Metawriting.   15 March, 2014. Web.  8, Dec, 2014

Mascle, Deanna.  “Why Gamification?”  Metawriting.  22, May, 2014.  Web.  8, Dec, 2014

Selfe, Cynthia.  “Technology and Literacy: A Story about the Perils of Not Paying Attention.”  CCCC.  50.3.                      Feb, 1999.  Web.  8, Dec, 2014

Reflection

It was extremely important for me to use this final project as a leaning tool to take into my classroom. Like a lot of assignments I have done for college, I did not want this one to be another pointless assignment that would be deleted from my computer after the semester is over. To ensure this would not happen, I did a lot of research to find a website that I will actually use when I am an educator. I began by searching for online tools that are useful in the classroom. I came across several websites that had lists and explanations of tools and how they can be incorporated in the classroom. Then I spent time using each of the tools that I found interesting.

I first choose a site called Paper.li. The site allows users to make a newspaper from Facebook and Twitter posts. I chose this because the majority of my students will have social media, and I might even create a class Facebook or Twitter. I assumed that students could write posts that would be added to the newspaper, but I was assumed incorrectly. After spending substantial time trying to figure out how to use the website, I finally realized how to create articles. To do so, users search a topic, and a list of names pop up that relate to the topic. Users then choose which people or topics they want for their papers, and their posts will appear on the newspaper. It is not possible to search specific users, so this tool would not work for a classroom.

I then decided Stupeflix would be a better option for this assignment. I had seen someone in another class use the site to make a video, and I loved the results. I spent about an hour playing on the site and understanding how it works. Then I began to create my own video about The Program, written by Suzanne Young. This lead me to the realization that the website would work well with a Professional Book Talk assignment. I then created a teacher example, which included guidelines, instructions, and a student example. I loved the results, and I was very proud of the videos I created.

This most important aspect of this assignment was discovering useful technological tools for my classroom. I love the incorporation of technology in classrooms, but I had yet to spent a large amount of time discovering and learning about these tools. This assignment made me find time to do this, which I found to be extremely beneficial.

Choosing to create a Book Talk assignment that incorporates a movie-making aspect reminds me of assignments that I did in high school. In several of my English classes we were assigned to create a Book Talk and incorporate a visual aspect. I always enjoyed these assignments because I loved showcasing my creativity through PowerPoint. Creating a movie instead of a PowerPoint is another great way for students to explore and engage in technology. Several teachers assign students to create a PowerPoint, so having them make a movie is something new and exciting.

I also did an assignment similar to this in my Young Adult Literature class. Although I chose to create a PowerPoint, a few people in the class made videos using Stupeflix. Their videos created an immediate sense of appeal towards their given books. I found myself wanting to read the books, even though some of them were not my preferred genera.

From this experience I have learned that not all technologies and web tools are appropriate for or work well in classrooms. Teachers need to spend a substantial amount of time using the tools they plan to incorporate in lessons and assignments. I realized how important this is when I discovered that my first web tool, Paper.li, would not work for the final assignment. I apparently had not spent enough time using and learning about the website when I had first chosen it. I learned from this mistake by spending an hour on Stupeflix before I decided to use it. As a result, I was confident and comfortable in my decision to use it for the final project.

I also learned for this assignment how important it is to model technologies and web tools for students. While some students can log on to a computer and create a masterpiece without any instruction, many cannot. Depending on how intricate the web tool is, teachers should spend at least ten minutes, preferably more, modeling how to use the tool. This is an aspect of teaching that all teachers should practice.

I will absolutely be using Stupeflix in my classroom. I will also be using many of the other web tools that people presented during class. I think these tools are fantastic for increasing engagement and excitement for learning. Over the winter summer breaks I also plan on researching other educational tool that can be implemented in the classroom. I strongly believe that the incorporation of technology in classrooms is essential for student learning, especially because our society is consumed by various technologies. It is our responsibility as teachers to find ways to increase engagement and interest in learning. Technology is a great way to do this.

I will also be spending substantial time modeling web tools. I was one of those students in high school who became easily lost when using technology, so I understand the importance of good modeling instruction. I will explain procedures and instructions step-by-step and repeat them if necessary. I will also individually help students who appear to be struggling with the tool. This shows students that teachers do care and want to see them succeed.

This project, along with the class, has taught me to appreciate the many technologies that can be used for education. I had no idea that so many were available. I also had not thought about using many of the websites that I use for my own enjoyment, such as Facebook and Twitter, as being incorporated into the classroom. High school students are obsessed with social media and Internet interactions. Bringing this into the classroom immediately excites students and makes them want to learn and be interactive. It is especially great for students who do not like to speak in class. Allowing them to interact online gives them the ability to openly participate without twenty-something students watching them. Students can also give feedback to their peers on these sites, which instantly boosts confidence. From this, however, I realize that cyber bullying can easily occur. When using web tools and social media, it is important for teachers to monitor student activity. When students know that teachers are monitoring class websites, they are more likely to act appropriately and respectfully online. This teaches students to show respect for others in all situations, especially when online.

Overall, this class was beneficial in giving me confidence to explore many technologies in my classroom. I will take what I have learned and implement it in my classroom. My hope is to teach students the importance of using technology to further their education. I also want to teach students to make wise decisions when using these technologies. When used properly, all students will benefit from the incorporation of technology and web tools in the classroom.

Multimedia Learning

I must say, I absolutely loved the digital articles for our readings this month. Usually I do not like newspaper articles (especially from the Ney York Times), but “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek” and “A Game of Sharks and Minnows” easily held my interest. While reading these, I thought about the benefits of having students read similar articles. I have found that asking students to read articles, especially those that come from newspapers, can be an extremely difficult task. Aside from the Sports sections, students find the articles monotonous and tiresome. To be honest, I must agree. Maybe it has something to do with the writing being at an eighth-grade level, a lack of interest in the subject, or the absence of visual appeal, but reading the newspaper sometimes feels like a chore. I do it, though, because I like to be up-to-date with the happenings in the community and in the world. As we have been learning throughout college, today’s students need the visual appeal of technology or pictures in order to become involved with readings. The multi-formatted articles “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek” and “A Game of Sharks and Minnows” is a creative and engaging way for everyone, especially students, to read news articles.

Both of the articles are extremely long, and it is easy to zone out while reading them. Even though they both have creative style, it does not eliminate the fact that the articles are several pages in length. When I first noticed this, I became irritated and, in a way, shut down from the reading. When I began to notice the addition of clips, and other visual elements, I became engaged and wanted to read the articles. The various visual elements greatly help to break up the length of the articles into manageable chunks.

However, “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek” goes into great, and sometimes excruciating, detail about the setting. I found that I zones out at these times. I am one of those people who do not like intense detail in a news article. I think it is more productive and efficient to get straight to the point. This article, though, drones on, and on, and on. It is at these points that the visual designer incorporated pictures and clips to illustrate the text. It felt as if every time my mind began to wander, some new visual element brought me back. I found myself looking forward to what new element was going to pop up.

The same held true for “A Game of Sharks and Minnows.” When I first opened the article, I was greeted with the blaring sound of a boat on the ocean (I had the volume turned up all the way, not knowing that I was about to have audio interaction). After letting out a loud gasp and giving myself a minor heart attack (I’m scared easily), I admired how the text, audio, and visual elements expertly added to the presentation. As with the other article, I found myself zoning out frequently. It went into great detail about various elements, such as the political aspect of fishing, about the are in which they fish, and about the ships. Again, as soon as this happened, I was presented with short clips that accompanied the text. This instantly drew me back in and made me excited to read the next section. I especially liked the section that described how the men fish. The pictures and clips illustrated how the men perform the task. I found myself studying the tools they showed on the chips, which increased my desire to know more about the topic. This is great for visual learners who need to see pictures in order to understand concepts.

Both of these articles are fantastic for students who shy away from reading. It is often hard for English teachers to realize that not every student loves reading as much as we do. The reality is that many people would rather gouge out their eyes than pick up a book or some form or text. This holds especially true for students who are forced to read several texts for various classes within a short time frame. Although it is usually necessary, required reading often takes the enjoyment away from the learning process. Incorporating multimedia text in a classroom can ignite excitement in reluctant readers.

The use of multiple visual elements in the articles creates interest and engagement. Jenny Rue, author of “The ‘Snow Fall’ Effect Dissecting the Multimedia Longform Narrative” says, “While some of these are simple design embellishments, their power lies in the emotional response they trigger as you venture through the story — and I use “venture” intentionally, because this is the feeling that it evokes. Effective design triggers an emotional response which can enhance the story structure.” The design of the article allows students to invest in the story due to its inclusion of pictures, short clips, and other design elements. Students are more likely to enjoy text when it includes these elements because it is a break from the “typical” reading assignment. Also, when students can actually see what is happening in the story, they are more likely to enjoy what they are reading.

Because of the many benefits of multimedia literature, I think it is a great tool for the classroom. It is a great way for students to practice using a variety of tools to create meaning to a piece of writing. Also, it is great for schools who incorporate technologies such as iPads. As “Exploring the Use of iPads for Literacy Learning” explains, students respond well when iPads are incorporated. Although I have not personally looked for apps that allow a person to create multimedia text, I’m sure many exist. This would make multimedia projects a fun and engaging way to increase learning. Students can work in groups to create a multimedia piece for a book they are reading, a topic they are researching, etc. One of the great things about this format is that there are so many topics that students can write about. Then students must use their creativity to utilize pictures, clips, “curtain” effects, etc. to add visual appeal to the text. This engages every kind of learner: the reader, the writer, those who are more visual, and those who work best when using technology. I would love to see the outcome of incorporating a project such as this in the classroom.

References:

Branch, John.  “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek.”  The New York Times.  19 Feb 2012.  Web.  1 Nov 2014.

Greenfield, Rebecca.  “The New York Times Fights “Snow Fall” Fatigue With More Snowfalls–and It’s Working.”  Fast Company.  25 Oct 2013.  Web.  1 Nov 2014.

Himmelman, Jeff.  “A Game of Shark and Minnow.”  The New York Times.  27 Oct 2013.  Web.  1 Nov 2014.

Hutchison, Amy.  “Exploring the Use of the iPad for Literacy and Learning.” The Reading Teacher:  September 2012.  Web.  1 Nov 2014.

The Social Media Debate

We live in a society where people are bombarded with numerous technologies every day. From the moment people wake up, they are consumed by the need and desire to catch up on the news and latest gossip, play games, etc. For students, this aching need is not eliminated when they enter a classroom. Unfortunately, this is when students desire it most. Whether we like it or not, this is our reality. As we have all experienced in practicums, students have extreme difficulty with putting the phones down and paying attention. Although we sometimes pretend not to notice the student who is smiling down at his/her crotch, where a cell phone is residing, we knew they are texting, checking social media, or playing games. The new reality is that students’ brains can no longer learn without the stimulation of technology. This is clear by the blank, mindless stares that accompany lectures, no matter their length. This, as “Embracing Change” explains, is why teachers must be willing to change their currently comfortable way of teaching for a method that allows for engagement and enhanced learning. One way to do this is to incorporate technology into lessons, homework, and day-to-day activities.

All of our readings for this week encourage teachers to try various technologies in their classroom to enhance engagement. As the articles suggest, social media is a great way to do this. The majority of students are obsessed with social media, so they are primarily willing and excited to engage with each other through social media. We have all been required to use social media in the forms of blogs, Wiki, Twitter, etc. for our college classes. Although some of us have challenged this, we have all learned something valuable about this new way of teaching.

Brian Croxall gives a great list of various social medias that work well for classrooms. He discusses the incorporation of blogs for class assignments as a way of encouraging the interaction of students outside of the classroom. This works exceptionally well for classes that only meet once or twice a week. As Croxall explains, it allows students to discuss readings and/or homework for the class, share ideas, or rant about whatever is on their minds. I have personally found it helpful to be able to read what others have posted on their blogs. It allows me to see how others viewed readings, which has ultimately enhanced my learning.

I think blogs would be a great incorporation in a high school English classroom. Students are often required in English classes to read difficult texts and interpret meanings, themes, etc. It is also a certainty that many students will struggle with the texts. Having a class blog can alleviate this confusion and help lessen the struggle. On a class blog, similar to the one for this class, teachers can post additional supplemental materials that will assist students in understanding the texts and/or homework. It is also a way for teachers to communicate with students outside of the classroom. Students can also have their own individual blogs to write posts that encourage sharing ideas and boarded understanding.

Similar to blogs, students can interact on other social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, etc. “Twitter is a Shark Valve,” “Reflections on Teaching with Social Media,” and “A Framework for Teaching with Twitter” focus on using Twitter as an interactive method in teaching. All three articles discuss an increase in student interaction as a result of implementing Twitter in the curriculum. The Twitter Adoption Matrix, shown on “Twitter is a Snark Valve” and “A Framework for Teaching with Twitter,” shows that incorporating Twitter had increased student engagement and learning both in and out of the classroom.

While this is all fine and dandy, I have apprehensions about incorporating Twitter in a classroom. Croxall explains that he integrated Twitter in three of his classes, with only one class was required to post of Twitter daily. The class required to tweet had positive results that allowed students to work together, interact, and have a general interest in each other. In another class, only six or seven students used Twitter. In the third class, students completely stopped using it. I think this says a great deal about the adoption of a Twitter classroom. For one, many students only do it because they had to. When given the option, students did not use it. Perhaps the students did not like using Twitter for class, or maybe they completely forgot. Either way, it is clear that the majority of students only used Twitter when they had to. Although Croxall explains that it did help his classroom, I would like to see more proof that it does increase engagement.

One problem I have with adding Twitter in a classroom is the fact that some people are anti-social media. Although this is rare in high school, it does happen. Likewise, for a variety of reasons, many parents are against their children having social media. For this reason, I would not try it for a high school classroom just yet. I personally do not like Twitter, and, from talking with many people in our class, I know many others feel the same way. I did not have a Twitter before this class because I simply did not want one. I felt as if I was being forced to have something for a class that I did not believe in or want. Although I have gotten used to having a Twitter account, I only use it to make my weekly tweet. And, to be honest, I will probably delete it at the end of the semester.

I understand that many people love the idea of interacting with a class on Twitter, but I personally find it irksome. Perhaps this is because I have not yet seen the advantage of it. I am not against the idea, but I need more substantial proof that it works, especially for a high school classroom. I would be willing to try this in my classroom, but I think it would need several trial periods in order to work properly. I am willing to try this because I want to believe that many students would benefit from having a class Twitter. Similarly with blogs, teachers are able to communicate with students outside of the classroom. It also encourages students to learn about proper social media communication, which will ultimately protect students against a variety of problems that occur because of social media, such as cyber bullying, inappropriate posts, and sharing too much personal information. Overall, I personally do not like Twitter, but I do see its benefits in regard to education.

The Technological Classroom

Due to our changing society, it is inevitable that technology will become a huge aspect of teaching. While the majority of us were growing up, technology was just beginning to make its way into the classroom. Now, it is pivotal in not only keeping students’ attention but to engage them in interactive learning.

Reading “Technology and Literacy: A Story about the Perils of Not Paying Attention” was fascinating to me because I remember the changes to my elementary school classroom (gaining computers and computer classes) as they are described in the article. The article states that there were two kinds of teachers when this change was happening: those who were pro-technology and those who were against it. No matter the stance, as Cynthia L. Selfe states, deciding to use technology in the classroom no longer matters. Instead, teachers have to pay attention to technology and become accustomed to it. This is especially true in today’s educational world. Unlike how we were all raised, students today are raised basically from birth knowing how to use technology. It is to the point that students can no longer pay attention without the use of technology. I personally think the growing use of technology in schools is a fantastic way to engage students and promote learning.

“Exploring the Use of the iPad for Literacy Learning” explores the issue of adding technology in the classroom in a manner that is both informative and enlightening. Before reading this article, I had apprehensions about using iPads in the classroom. Personally, I am not a huge iPad fan, although I do have one. For some reason, I find them irritating. But, considering the technological world we live in, mobile learning seems to be imperative to student achievement. It was interesting to read that students preferred reading on the iPad as opposed to reading a book. It allows students to become involved with the reading by highlighting, stating words, explaining words, etc. This is extremely beneficial for students who struggle with reading comprehension. Instead of being afraid to ask for help and risk looking stupid, students can use functions on the iPad to help them grasp readings that would be difficult while reading a book.

This article also gives specific apps that are useful in the classroom. Popplet, a graphic organizer app, would be fantastic for day-to-day activities for a variety of subjects. Not only is this app a great learning tool, but it also allows students to guide their own learning. They can create a graphic organizer that makes sense to them and will help them learn. Another great benefit to using an iPad is that students would become more engaged in learning. I have done research that explained students today have a difficult time paying attention in school because it is boring to them. At home, students are bombarded with technology (computers, TV, video games, etc.). If schools and teachers were to integrate technology into their classrooms, students’ attention would greatly increase. This would ultimately promote learning. After all, that is what every teacher wants. Instead of resisting technology in classrooms, teachers should welcome the opportunity to expand engagement.

Similar to the addition of technology to classrooms, the idea of the flipped classroom is intriguing. At first, the though of filming oneself teaching and putting it on YouTube for students to watch the night before class seems a little ridiculous and intimidating. After all, the thought of school bring up images of sitting in a classroom, listening to a teacher teach. “Upside Down and Inside Out: Flip Your Classroom to Improve Student Learning” encourages understanding and increases interest in the flipped classroom. Before this article, I had never heard of a flipped classroom. To me, the concept seemed to be something from a futuristic sci-fi movie. Then, after reading the article, the idea seemed more appealing to me.

The article specifically states the flipped classroom was performed in a math class. I can see where this would be beneficial to students, especially to those who have problems with math comprehension. Unlike listening to a teacher in person, students are able to stop a video and re-watch a section that is troublesome to them. To someone who doesn’t understand math, this is a great opportunity to expand learning by having the ability to focus on a single unit at a time. In class, teachers have to teach to a group, not just an individual. A consequence to this is that some students will fall behind. As everyone knows from personal experience, it is extremely difficult to catch up once fallen behind. For some students, asking questions during or after class is intimidating. They would rather fall behind than ask a “dumb” question and be laughed at. This causes students to become discouraged and quit. Watching lectures online is one way to eliminate discomfort in learning.

It is also helpful to students to be able to work on homework in the classroom instead of at home. With this, students are able to get personalized attention while completing homework. If a student still does not understand the material that was discussed on the video, they are able to get individualized help. Similarly, a teacher will be able to distinguish which problems are causing trouble to many students. The teacher can then address the class as a whole in order to perform a reteach. This not only helps the students, but it allows the teacher to learn from the students.

Although using a flipped classroom makes sense for math, I am not sure how it would work for an English class. While math is based on irrefutable facts, English requires a different kind of thinking. There is not a single truth in regard to literature. Likewise, English requires discussion and critical thinking. In this sense, having a traditional classroom would be more beneficial. I think there are some aspects of English, such as grammar, that would benefit from using the flipped classroom method. Perhaps it would be possible to do a semi-flipped classroom for English. I would be interested in trying this and learning more about it. The article states that flipped classrooms increase student learning and achievement compared to traditional classrooms. Perhaps, with more research, schools will begin exploring the flipped classroom.

 

 

Ahhh, The Struggles of Young Love

 

 

In “Araby,” James Joyce suggests that everyone experiences a desire for love and change, but these desires are frustrating and limited. The glamor of new love intertwines with the drudgery and monotony of everyday life. Joyce represents this through the narrator’s boyhood crush. Mangan’s sister, the person of his affection, fills the narrator with joy and feelings of young love. Lets be honest, he is borderline stalker. “Every morning I lay on the floor in the front parlour watching her door. The bind was pulled down to within an inch of the sash so that I could not be seen. When she came out on the doorstep my heart leapt. I ran to the hall, seized my books and followed her.” (2632). The poor guy is madly in lust for her. The narrator can’t go a moment without thinking of her, yet these thoughts must compete with the dullness of his life. What he wants most from this one-sided relationship is a change to his everyday life. He is bored and irritated with his daily schedule. This is clear through the language the narrator uses, such as his description of “tedious intervening days”. Mangan’s sister is his opportunity for change.

Then the big day finally comes. It is the day the narrator finally gets the opportunity to woo Mangan’s sister with a beautiful gift from the bazaar. Yet things are not going well for him. The day starts with the narrator’s uncle blocking the boy’s view of Mangan’s sister. He begins to have a gut feeling that something is wrong: “and already my heart misgave me” (2634). Unfortunately for the narrator, he is delayed in leaving for the bazaar by his Uncle’s drunkenness and forgetfulness. These delays indicate that love is unattainable for people, especially for the narrator. He has big dreams for love, but these dreams are shattered. After finally getting on train and arriving at the bazaar, the narrator is thwarted by empty stalls, ugly vases, and flowered teacups. These were not the exotic novelties the narrator was expecting to help him woo his love.

It is at this moment that the narrator realizes his expectations for love are misguided and meaningless. The narrator, in a fit of depression and realization, states, “Gazing up into darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger” (2635). The boy’s epiphany helps him conclude that he was so largely driven by a longing for change and love that he released his self worth. The narrator is so angry with himself that he cannot yet contemplate his actions. We have all been in this situation before: you make a stupid decision in regard to love (possibly making a fool of yourself in the process), and all you can do is cry because you are so angry. This is exactly how the narrator is feeling. We see that Joyce is making this story plausible for all readers. He uses a first-person narrative, never giving a name to the narrator, so readers can incorporate themselves as the narrator. Mangan’s sister also remains nameless, as though she is any girl. Likewise, she is never given a full description. This allows readers to fill in their own desired picture of the sister (possibly of the reader’s own love interest). This makes the story universal to all readers, suggesting that everyone experiences frustrations in regard to change and love.

In a way, Mangan’s sister seems diabolical and heartless for denying the narrator’s request for going to the bazaar but still silently asking for a gift. Considering she is nameless and faceless, I wonder if Joyce is suggesting that women are in charge of mens’ suffering in regard to love and change. (Hmmm, doesn’t that sound familiar?)

Truth and Knowledge are Power

“Ode on a Grecian Urn” signifies is based on the idea that truth cannot be found through knowledge and logic. Instead, truth in conveyed through emotions. This is opposite of empiricism, which we discussed in class. While other Romantic poets and authors began discussing that truth truth is discovered through knowledge and experimentation, Keats illustrates that truth is not as complex as people make it to be. Instead, the only truths that we know are those that we feel. Likewise, truth is expressed in beauty. Beauty is subjective to each person, as is truth. We see this as the urn speaks in lines 49-50: “’Beauty is truth, truth is beauty’-that is all ye know o earth, and all ye need to know.” Again, Keats is bashing all empiricists who believe knowledge is gained through experimentation. Keats is claiming that truth comes from within. Similarly, Keats believed that the greatest truths can only be conveyed through silence. The urn, which is a symbol for wisdom, has been sitting in a room for thousands of years. Nobody has discovered its infinite wisdom and truth yet, for only a truly wise and emotional person can unhinge its secrets. This illustrates that not everyone discover the greatest truths. Instead, only someone subjective and emotional will be able to uncover true knowledge. We see this exemplified through all of the images on the urn. For example, the second stanza depicts a man gazing upon his beautiful love. “She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss, for ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!” (19-20) Although the man can never kiss her, for she is frozen in time, he will never grieve because her beauty is eternal. The speaker can see man’s love through the way he gapes at his love. Because of this, their love will remain forever. Their love and her beauty are the only truths. Beauty and truth are equal in the eyes of the beholder.

“Goblin Market” is a social critique of the patriarchal view of women during the Victorian period. The poem begins by listing 29 various fruits. Personally, I viewed these fruits to be a symbol for the forbidden fruit that Eve ate, as described in Genesis. Laura states to her sister, “We must not look at goblin men, we must not buy their fruits: who knows upon what soil they fed their hungry thirsty roots?” (42-45). We see here that Laura is warning her sister not to eat the fruit, for its consequences are unknown. In this poem, the forbidden fruits are a symbol for sexuality and knowledge. During the Victorian era, women were to be chaste, honorable, and quiet. They only needed enough education to be able to hold a suitable conversation. Women who had their own views of politics, life, etc. were undesirable. Likewise, if women were too sexual, they were shunned. This is reiterated when Laura becomes so overcome with desire that she gorges herself on fruit. “I ate and ate my fill, yet my mouth waters still” (165-166). Here, Laura is presenting the fears for women if they become educated or sexual. If women became educated, they would be able to rise against men, thus becoming more dominant. And we all know how men felt about that! Similarly, men only wanted to marry virgins. If women were not, they were considered whores. When Laura desires more fruit butt cannot have it, she becomes deathly ill. For eating the fruit, Laura bares the consequences degrading societal norms. Once she gave into temptation, there was no returning. This is what men feared if women were to be educated: they would become so consumed with knowledge that they would raise to power. Even though Laura is ill, she feels no remorse for eating the fruit. The only thing that can save her is to taste the again. This is crucial for her rehabilitation into society. It is important to note that Laura continues to think of the fruit for the remainder of her life. “Laura would call the little ones and tell them of her early prime.” (548-549). Although she no longer craves it, it will always be apart of her. This mimics the reality of discovering sexuality and education. Rossetti here is explaining that women should not fear sexuality and knowledge, but they should be cautious of it.

Mental Disruption

            In “The Lady of Shalott,” we have a hermit who is terrified of leaving her loom because some person said she would be cursed if she ever left. Although she has no idea what the curse is, it has scared her enough to never leave. So here she is, day after day, weaving fabric for a curse that is possibly false. The Lady states, “I am half sick of shadows” (71). She here explains that she is half sick of weaving and watching people walk by. They get to enjoy their lives, while she is forced to make fabric every day. The other half of her is terrified that the curse will come true if she leaves. Therefore, she is torn on which act to follow. Then, alas, one day she hears the lovely song of dashing Lancelot (he sure does cause a lot of problems in English literature). She is instantly mesmerized by his song and is basically hypnotized to walk to the mirror. In this act, the Lady leaves her responsibility for curiosity the possibility of love. Once she gets up from the loom, it is clear that she becomes consumed not only with Lancelot, but also with herself. The repetition of “she” (“she left…she made…she saw…she looked”)(109-113) explains that she no longer cares for her responsibilities because she has become consumed with her own desires. When this happens, the mirror cracks. This is when the Lady realizes she is in BIG trouble. At this point, she assumes the curse has begun. So, she thinks that she might as well go find Lancelot because the curse is coming for her anyway. This increases her curiosity as to what lies outside of the castle. It is clear from the Lady’s repetition of “Camelot” that is in wonder of this city. Therefore, she decided to visit it, as she assumes the curse is coming for her. She then floats down the river to Camelot and dies for a love that she will never get to experience. But hey, at least Lancelot thinks she is pretty and says a prayer for her!

            Switching to Robert Browing, I must say that “Porphyria’s Lover” and “My Last Duchess” are my favorite poems for this week. Apparently I am feeling a little dark this week. During the Victorian era, women were supposed to be subordinate to men. This idea was conflicting with the truth that a woman reined over the country. These two poems exemplify the power struggle between men and women during he Victorian period. Both of these men obviously have some severe mental issues. Their significant other brings these issues forward. Both of the women in the poems are strong females, who the men think to be dominant in the relationship. In “Porphyria’s Lover,” the man becomes angry when she puts his head on her lap. She professes her love for him, and he replies with, “too weak, for all her heart’s endeavor, to set its struggling passion free” (22-23). He is angry that she asserted dominance, so he professes that she is weak. We also see a male dominance struggle in “My Last Duchess.” The Duke states, “She thanked men-good! But thanked somehow-I know not how- as if she thanked my gift of nine-hundred-year-old name with anybody’s gift” (31-34). The Duke presumes that she is promiscuous for being friendly to people. After all, she is only supposed to be friendly with him, or so he thinks. The two men in the poems believe that their women have the power, and this obviously cannot do! Women during this period were supposed to be subordinate to men (even though a woman was reigning). In order to regain that power, the men kill the women. This immediately makes the men more dominate, which ultimately rights the females’ injustices.

Cycle of Despair

           “Chimney Sweepers” focuses the harsh abuse of child labor from the greedy upper class citizens, as well as the parents who sold them to exploit their innocence and loyalty. Blake uses two speakers in this poem to convey this message: a man who finds a boy in the snow, and the boy himself. The first image we see is that of a small child crying for his parents in the snow. The child asks the person where his parents are, and the speaker says his parents are in church, praying. Here, is the first time we see Blake’s criticism of parents. He claims that parents continue with their daily lives while they needlessly send off their children to do intense, demeaning labor. Instead of caring for their children, parents are using them as slaves, forcing them to work for very little money and taking away their innocence. This is reinforced when the child says, “They clothed me in the clothes of death and taught me to sing the notes of woe” (7-8). Blake plays with the image of “clothes of death” to portray a double meaning. People can take this as either the uniform of a chimney sweeper or that the child is laying in a coffin, waiting for death. Personally, I think it is the latter. It is clear that the boy realizes the unfairness of his parents and society, which has taken in goodness to exploit his labor. Blake again plays with imagery in the third stanza. Readers see the child playing, singing, and being a well-rounded, normal child, similarly to how his parents see him. Then we are faced with the stark reality that the child is miserable and falsely portraying happiness. The child again blames his parents for the misery that has become him. Blake here is criticizing parent who claim to be godly people. While they are rejoicing in church, they greedily send their children to make money. In this sense, we can also see that this poem is a personal critique against God. He is supposed to be all-loving, yet he allows innocent children to be used for money and convenience.

            Blake wrote “London” also as a critique against citizens. As opposed to concentrating on a single location and person, this poem concentrates on the surroundings of London. All around, the speaker hears echoes of misery, fear, and blood. Blake again uses imagery to the encompass oppression, depression, and poverty that consumes the city. Blake likewise alludes that the government is also to blame for the mistreatment and misery of the people. He adds this commentary by mentioning the places where gloom is seen, such as blood running down the palace walls. Unlike in “The Chimney Sweeper,” the speaker is not focused on a single person. Instead, he/she sees and hears remnants of the people. Buy doing this, Blake alludes that citizens are to blame for their own despair. The speaker states, “The mind-forg’d manacles I hear:” (8), meaning that minds are more powerful than the physical restrains that people are faced with. The final stanza is critical in expressing the sequence of misery. A prostitute gives birth to a child, thus regenerating despair. The final line, “And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse” (16), indicates that love (the newborn) combines with death to create a never-ending cycle of despair.

Weakness and Race

Although I enjoyed all of the readings for this week, I particularly enjoyed the point of view that we see in “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd.” This is the first time that we truly see a woman standing up for herself to a man. As I stated in my previous blog, the nymph represent what I’m sure many women of this time period would have wanted to say to a man but were not able to due to circumstances. Ralegh gives us the impression that women of this time period were strong, autonomous individuals who were capable of making decisions for themselves. The nymph states in lines 19-20, “All these in me no means can move/ To come to thee and by thy love.” We see that they nymph is not moved by the shepherd’s false profession of deceptive gifs. In a way, the shepherd is trying to buy her, just as a prostitute is bought. But the nymph refuses to believe his deceptions.

On the other hand, we see how reliant women are to men in Othello. We see this first when Desdemona pleads her love of Othello to her father and the duke. She states, “ I do perceive here a divided duty,/ To you I am bound for life and education both do lean me/ My life and education both do learn me/ How to respect you; you are the lord of duty;/ I am hitherto your daughter” (lines 170-174). Here we see that women are presumed as property and thus have a duty to the men in their lives- first to the father, then to their husband. We then see multiple examples much later in the play that expresses a woman’s response to how they were treated as property. Emily states, “Let husbands know/ Their wives have sense like them. They see, and smell,/ And have their palates both for sweet and sour,/ As husbands have. What is it that they do/ When they change us for others? Is it sport? I think it is” (lines 92-97). Emily is a similar character to the nymph in that she outspoken and independent, although she is only this way in the presence of women. In the end, Emily’s openness is her demise, as it would have been during the Renaissance period.

We also are introduced to another core issue during this time period: racism. It is stated early in Othello that our main character is black. I think the greatest thing we learn from this play is how simple-minded people can be when it comes to race. A prime example of this is how Iago often describes Othello as Black Othello. Another example is seen as Othello pleads his case to the duke, he explains how Brabantio used to respected him and invite him over so Brabantio could listen to Othello’s stories. Brabantio found Othello to be an honorable and courageous man until he wed Desdemona. From then on, Brabantio expressed that Othello was a dishonorable man full of witchcraft because he is black. After all, how could a woman possibly fall in love with a black man if it were not for witchcraft? Brabantio states, “ A maiden never bold;/ Of spirit so still and quiet that her motion/ Blushed at herself and she- in spite of nature,/ Of years, of country, credit, everything-/ To fall in love with what she feared to look on?” (lines 94-98). Here we see that Brabantio found it inconceivable that his devoted and beautiful daughter could ever fall for such a monster as a black man.

We see more examples of racism throughout the play, although many of them are not as outright as the example just stated. We hear from many characters the qualities of Othello: strength, honor, and devotion. Although these qualities are stated, another statement about his race soon follows them. We see this especially in Iago, who states he hates Othello because it is unimaginable that a black man could be his superior. It is wondrous to the characters that Othello could be all of these qualities because of the hindrance of his race. We see that the racism and deceptiveness eventually becomes too much for Othello, and he succumbs to the monster that the characters, especially Iago and Brabantio, presume that black people are. Similar to what we see today, many people cannot look past a person’s race, no matter how true their character or accomplished their past may be. Unfortunately, this is something that humanity has faced throughout history, and it will likely continue long after we are gone.