Tuesday, April 28, 2015

For Wednesday: Finish Persepolis

For Wednesday's quiz--our very last!  We'll write on ONE of the following...

What kind of rules of behavior/morality do the police and other officials enforce in Marjane's daily life?  Why is the government so concerned about many of these little details, especially since we consider them harmless—or even necessary for our normal existence?  

How is college remarkably different in fundamentalist Iran than here at ECU?  Why might this highlight the entire point of college (at least in America), which the regime in Iran is fundamentally opposed to?  

How do these women express their values and identity in a society that really doesn't allow them to?  What secret signs and codes do they use to show defiance, without overtly flaunting authority?  

Throughout the book, Marjane's grandmother is the voice of reason and morality.  What is surprising about her advice/outlook on life?  What rules and lessons does she try to teach Marjane, and why does this help her decide to once more leave Iran?  

Friday, April 24, 2015

For Monday: Persepolis II

Discussion Questions for Persepolis II: Chapters "The Soup" to "The Veil"

We'll have a quiz on ONE of these questions.  Remember, too, that we only have 1 week left, so missing classes and quizzes at the very end is a sure way to lower your grade.  :(  

1. What are Satrapi’s preconceptions of the ‘West,’ the land of freedom, democracy, and Marxism?  How do her experiences in Austria contradict many Iranian/Middle Eastern ideas of the outside world?

2. Likewise, how does the West conceive of or understand Iran/The Middle East?  What does it mean to be “Iranian” in Austria, and how does she come to terms with the West’s picture of the East?

3. What is her greatest crisis of identity as she ‘comes of age’ in Austria?  How does she learn to adapt or fit into European teenage culture?  How might this relate to our own pressures to conform and find our social sphere in America?

4. Why does Satrapi ultimately decide to return home, knowing the repression and possible fate that awaits her there?  Clearly, this is the most important decision of her adult life, so how does she explain why she makes it?  

Monday, April 20, 2015

For Wednesday: Persepolis I: The Story of a Childhood (pp.3-71)

Persepolis is broken up into two books, with Part I dealing with her childhood, and Part II dealing with her adulthood.  We'll read half of book I for Wednesday, and finish it for Friday.  Here are some questions that might show up in your in-class quiz on Wednesday:

* In her Introduction to the book, Satrapi writes that “I believe that an entire nation should not be judged by the wrongdoings of a few extremists.  I also don’t want those Iranians who lost their lives in prisons defending freedom…or who were forced to leave their families and flee their homeland to be forgotten.”  How does a comic book/graphic novel help her do this—that is, memorialize those who are forgotten in place of the more visible extremists? 

* Why do you think Satrapi tells her story from the perspective of a child?  Since a child knows very little about politics, religion, or war, this would seem a very limited perspective to discuss history and extremist governments.  What does it allow her to do, say, or reveal that an adult narrator might not? 

* Consider the style Satrapi uses to illustrate Persepolis: some have criticized it as childish or crude; others have compared it to ornate Persian art.  Why do you think she adopted this style?  Why isn’t it more realistic?  Why draw an autobiography that resembles the Peanuts comic we looked at in class?

* Where do we see the young Satrapi coming of age in the first 71 pages?  What is she forced to see and/or understand about life in the new Iran?  Similarly, how does a comic book help us communicate this aspect of her autobiography to us?   

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

For Friday: Tarzan, Chs. 23-28 (Conclusion)

Here are some last questions to consider for Tarzan, one of which will greet you on Friday.  Also, be sure that you have--or have ordered--The Complete Persepolis--for next week, since we'll be starting that almost immediately.  

What ideas and concerns most prevent Jane from embracing her love of Tarzan?  Are these fears realistic--or racist?  Can she truly not love a man who is, at heart, a "half-caste"? Or does she fear what society and civilization will do to his soul?  

How is Mr. Canler a "civilized" version of Terkoz?  How, in the "concrete jungle," does he plan to bear her off to be his wife?  

Has Tarzan become civilized by the end of the book?  Though he retains much of his "ape-like" nature, he can speak French, wear clothes, use a knife and fork, and drive an automobile through the wilds of Wisconsin.  What do we imagine will happen to him after he leaves Jane's side?  Will he revert to being the King of the Apes...or will he settle down to be a respectable Englishman?  

Why does Tarzan renounce his heritage (which is now scientifically) confirmed at the end of the book, telling Clayton, "My mother was an ape, and of course she couldn't tell me much about it.  I never knew who my father was" (277)?  Is this a satisfying and/or appropriate ending to the book?

Monday, April 13, 2015

For Wednesday: Tarzan, Chs. 18-23

We'll open with one of the following questions as an in-class quiz response on Wednesday: 

Though Jane falls madly in love with Tarzan, how does she understand what he is?  Is he an ape?  An Englishman?  Civilized or savage?  What makes her think so, and will her evidence convince her father and her lover, Clayton?

Waiting for the prolonged death of torture, the Frenchman D'Arnot reflects, "He was a solider of France, and he would teach these beasts how an office and a gentleman died" (199).  Why does Burroughs contrast his nobility and stoicism with the "rolling demon eyes" of the natives?  Is this another racist passage in the book, or is Burroughs merely trying to illustrate the inhumanity of man to another men?

How does Burroughs describe the courtship of Tarzan and Jane?  What is unusual about it?  Why does Jane, herself, occasionally feel ashamed of it (and initially repulse him)?  Consider passages such as this one: "What a perfect creature!  There could be nought of cruelty or baseness beneath that godlike exterior.  Never, she thought had such a man strode the earth since God created the first in his own image" (184).

Writing of the fight between Tarzan and Tarkoz, Burroughs notes "Jane Porter...watched the primordial ape battle with the primeval man for possession of a woman--for her" (175).  How is the same battle being enacted, more symbolically, between Tarzan and Clayton?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

For Monday: Tarzan, Chapters 13-17 (pp.107-158)

For Monday, continue reading Tarzan, Chs. 13-17

We'll start class with one of the following questions...

Chapter 13 is entitled, "His Own Kind": what does Tarzan learn of his own kind in these chapters?  Has he found the noble race he is descended from?  Or does he begin to realize that he is the "only one" of his kind?

Burroughs engages in some very broad and dated humor in these chapters, notably with the servant, Esmerelda, and the two professors.  Do we still find these touches funny, or have they become difficult for modern readers?  Why does almost no modern version of Tarzan include these passages?

Is Jane Porter another "Alice Clayton" type of woman: refined, delicate, and helpless?  Or, being American (instead of English) is she a more modern woman who is a worthy companion for the "King of the Apes"?

At the end of Chapter 17, Tarzan plays peeping tom at Jane's window, until he is "rewarded by  the sounds of the regular breathing within which denotes sleep" (158).  He takes advantage of her slumber to steal the manuscript she had been working on.  Why do you think Burroughs adds in this "love interest" element, and do you feel it is consistent with Tarzan's character?  Would the "forest god" sneak around trying to peep at a half-naked woman and steal her letters? 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

For Friday: Tarzan, Chs. 7-12 (quiz questions below)

For Friday: Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes, Chs. 7-12

Your quiz question will come from one of the following…

How does Burroughs continue to test the racial identity of Tarzan throughout these chapters?  Is he still a man?  An Englishman?  Or has he become truly an ape, a creature of the jungle no longer bound by human laws? 

How does Tarzan learn about his human heritage?  How does this change the way he sees himself as the “white ape” of his people?  What advantages does this give him?  

In what way is the story or character of Tarzan satirizing the “civilized” world of man and/or England?  Clearly Burroughs considers Tarzan superior to most humans, whether in Africa or in England: why is this?  What qualities or abilities does he have that puts lesser men in the shade? 

How might this book (according to these chapters, at least) be a reflection on the nature of man himself?  Why might Tarzan be a metaphor for who “man” is and how he came to be civilized?  What does his character and adventures teach us about ourselves, or perhaps our ancestors thousands of years ago?  

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Quiz Questions for Tarzan, Chs.1-6

Quiz Questions for Burroughs’ Tarzan, Chs.1-6

NOTE: Don’t answer these on the blog this time.  Instead, one of these questions will be an in-class response/quiz on Wednesday.  Try to keep up with the reading so you can answer it, since you won’t be able to make it up later.  

Why does the book open with a “frame narrative,” that is, by someone claiming to have found this story “in the form of a musty manuscript”?  Why not simply tell the story from Tarzan’s point of view?  How does this change how we read or respond to the work, especially for readers in 1914?  

Do you think Lord Greystoke and his wife, Alice, represent a noble ideal of British culture or a parody of it?  How can you support this from the early chapters of the novel?

How are the apes depicted in the novel?  Are they too humanized (with names that almost sound normal, such as Kala, etc.) or are they too bestial?  How do you think he wanted his audience to respond to them, especially given the ideas of nature and race we discussed on Monday?

In the Chapter, “The White Ape,” Burroughs writes, “It was nearly a year from the time the little fellow came into her possession before he would walk alone, and as for climbing—my, how stupid he was!” (37).  How does this chapter challenge his audience to see “man” in a different light?  What challenges and virtues does Tarzan have when removed into a different society?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Extra Credit: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival

Remember, no class this Friday: instead, you have the option to go to the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival.  Here is a link to the schedule of readings: http://ecuscissortail.blogspot.com/2015/01/2015-scissortail-schedule-of-readings.html

Attend at least ONE session and respond to the questions below either on this post or bring it to class next week.  You must answer ALL the questions for the extra credit, not just 2 of 4 as usual!  :)


1. Discuss the manner in which one of the authors presented his/her works.  How did he/she read it, perform it, or explain it?  How did this help you appreciate the work or understand it?  Would you have responded to it the same way if you had encountered it in a book? 

2. How do you feel the three works on the panel worked together?  Were there any similar themes, subject matter, ideas, or points of view?  Did one work help you understand another?  Or did they clash in an interesting way?  Why do you think these works were presented together?

3. How did the poet(s) read their works differently than the prose writer(s)?  How does poetry read differently than prose (novels, stories, etc.)?  Which performance did you find most interesting—the poetry or the prose?  Why?  Do you think it would be the same on the page?

4. Discuss one of the works that you responded strongly to—either with surprise, love, admiration, or even disgust.  Why did the work evoke this response from you?  Did other people in the audience seem to respond/react the same way?  Did the author want this response—or do you think he/she might be surprised by it?