In Animals in Literature, Ancient and Modern, we will explore the roles that animals and animal symbolism play in literature across time and across culture, reaching back into classic folk traditions and extending into the modern literary imagination.* You will read and respond to a range of enduring literary texts from a range of literary genres, such as fables, fairy tales, poetry, fiction, and graphic novels. Through the process of exploring the place of animals in literature, you will also explore and present your own unique ideas and creativity through written expressions, interpretive performances, and formal presentations. For the major written assignments, we will follow the steps of the writing process—prewriting, drafting, revision, and editing. Throughout the semester, we will also sharpen your command of grammar, usage, and mechanics and expand your literary and everyday vocabulary.

* To establish some continuity between the work you did last semester and what we have planned for this semester, I will look for ways, as often as possible, to foster connections to the readings, themes, and concepts you have already studied. Please do not hesitate to call attention to any connections yourselves during our classes or in your work for this semester.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ancient Greek and Homeric Singing

The bards of Ancient Greece, such as Demodokus the blind, would sing the epic poems for the entertainment of their audiences, frequently accompanied by a lyre.
What Demodokus might have sounded like as he sang the story of Ares and Aphrodite to Odysseus and the Phaeacians.

A reading of the opening lines of The Iliad on YouTube. See if you can read along using the text in Ancient Greek and the pronunciation key I gave you.

Check out this website for a range of classical Greek and Roman texts in the original language. It's pretty sweet: you can actually click on individual words to learn what part of speech they are; what gender they are (masculine, feminine, or neuter), what their grammatical function is, how to pronounce them according to latinic script (our letters), as well as what they mean. Check it out:
The Perseus Project

Sunday, May 2, 2010

What LA 2 is up to now...

As part of our unit on Greek mythology, we're all blogging as our divine avatars as a way to engage and demonstrate our learning as well as have some creative fun. Here's the link to my avatar's blog: Artemis, the Olympian Goddess of the Hunt
and here are the URLs for some of the LA 2 students:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Exquisite Corpse Stories!

For those who don't know, an exquisite corpse is a creative work--whether a story, poem, drawing, or other medium--in which multiple people contribute to its creation. The students of LA 2 each contributed a line in the creation of the following stories. Unfortunately one of the corpses has gone missing. Keep your eyes out around VCS.
But here are the other two we created in class last week:

The first corpse:
     I woke up in a daze. I quickly realized that my lemming pinata was missing from my small room. So I jumped out the window and banged my head on the lawn. Then I realized just how stupid I was. I lent it to my buddy, Carl, but he went bowling at Lucky Lanes.
     I went to Lucky Lanes, home of the PINATA-EATING DEMON. When I arrived I could smell the pinata-eating demon. He crept up behind me, but I did a barrel roll, confusing him. I pulled out my anti-demon sword. And he fell over dead! But the moment he died all of his buddies came out and chopped my bowling ball to pieces.
     Then I got so angry that I took my sword and chucked it at one of the demon's buddies. As his limbs fizzed and popped, the demon's buddies ran away.
I am never going bowling again.

 The second corpse:
     Mr. Flemingerberman was walking down the street outside of his house, when a tall man pulled him off to the side. "Hello," he said, "I am here to take all your money as well as your twains and caws." He grabbed all of Flemingerberman's money and rode off, but Flemingber had a plan.
     Flemmingberger, you must remember, was super cool, so he started chasing the tall man. The man pulled a knife and Mr. F pulled a bazooka on tall man. They were about to create mutually agreed destruction. They stood there for hours waiting for the other person to charge. There was so much much tension in the air that oxygen molecules started to look like O3 instead of O2. The city was abandoned, except for the two people.     
     Finally the tall man threw his knife at Mr. F and started to run away. Mr. F dropped his bazooka and pulled on a jet pack. He turned the jet pack on and was about to take off, but then the engine sputtered and black smoke filled the air. He fell into the water, but tried to fix the electric ignition while he was in the water. Needless to say, he was shocked horribly.
     So he started to walk home along the empty roads to have some lunch. And when he got home he was greeted by a knife, a bazooka, and the tall guy saying, "Hello, my name is Javier, my last is Gustavo, and I live on the coast. Hasta la vista, baby!" And Mr. F fell down.
     So the world was a better place.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Audio Version of The Metamorphosis

Hey there,
For those of you who might be interested, I found a audio version of Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" online. I love audio books. You all should check it out. Here are the links:
Hey, I just discovered that the famous cartoonist, R. Crumb, illustrated a biography about Franz Kafka. Here's one of his drawings...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Samuel Bak's Holocaust Paintings

Samuel Bak is a surrealist painter who is renowned for his representations of Jewish experience during and after World War II. His paintings are heavy with symbolism, and piecing together all of the symbols into a single interpretation can be like piecing together a puzzle. If you want to learn more about him, check out the website: Wikipedia/Samuel Bak

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Exquisite (Sonnet) Corpses

Here are LA2's exquisite corpses in the style of a Shakespearean Sonnet:

Corpse #1:
I went on a bike ride past the great frog.
Oh my god, look y'all! A little brown bat.
I am going to hit you with a big log.
I would love to eat many large cooked bats.

Here comes Dave with the mood of a sad slave.
I can't believe this is the accepted norm.
I once met a guy named Maggle Mamave.
My god! I really hate this uniform.

I like to hit people with a big club.
I spilled. Good thing I have some pam on hand.
The sub was on the screen with the dumb sub.
I am totally all the way a man.

It's so cold. I wish it was sunny May.
And so he slept throughout the whole, big day.

Corpse #2:
I am a large troll; I live in a bog.
Here comes a cat in a flimsy white cap.
My eyes cannot see through all of the fog.
I hit my friend with a baseball bat.

He lived in a very small and dark cave.
Hi there, kids. Did you know my name is Norm?
I have a slave who lives in a large cave.
The  dorm was scared because of the big storm.

I want to go take a small, quick tub.
I drove a nice car. It was a minivan.
Look here, Mommy, I'm swimming in the tub.
He will hit you with the black cooking pan.

We ran outside so we could run and play.
Since the month is may we should make way.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Your recent posts

Great posts, Miles, Mitchell, and Baxter.
Here's an interview with Art Spiegelman from The Comics Journal. In it he says some interesting things about his use of animals to represent people. I would like everyone to read this interview for Thursday's class. Here's the link:

And...little did I know before, but Art Spiegelman is also the creator of the Garbage Pail Kids, wickedly fun collector's cards from back when I was a little younger than you guys. This one's called "Greaser Greg." "Google" the GPKs and maybe post your favorites!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ridiculous Propaganda

Because Hitler will hitchhike with you!

Sent to me by Baxter to be posted.


Watch me! I'm just another form of propaganda!

From Baxter
Posted by Miles

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Today's Discussion

I meant to tell everyone that you guys did a fantastic job today. I was totally impressed with the display of intelligence and courtesy as you wrangled with such a key question for understanding and enjoying Maus.

Here's my belated contribution to the discussion...the quotes at the beginning of Maus I and Maus II. What do they suggest as to why Spiegelman chose to represent the different groups of people as animals?

Maus I:
"The Jews are undoubtedly a race, but they are not human"
Adolf Hitler

Maus II:

"Mickey Mouse is the most miserable ideal ever revealed... Healthy emotions tell every independent young man and every honorable youth that the dirty and filth-covered vermin, the greatest bacteria carrier in the animal kingdom, cannot be the ideal type of animal... Away with the Jewish brutalization of the people! Down with Mickey Mouse! Wear the Swastika cross!"

- German newspaper article, mid-1930's


U.S. Made Propaganda

During WWII Propaganda was not used solely by Nazi Germany. The U.S. also used it to convey their point. The U.S. made multiple posters and cartoons illustrating either the Germans or Japenese being less then sensible. One example that fits this exactly is an image of Hitler as a pig. As you can see he is shown much bigger than the other pigs. He also has very sharp teeth to show his ferociousness.

In another poster put out by the U.S. there is a gorilla shown front and center with a crown to symbolize leadership. The gorilla is holding a women in a robe in one hand and in the other with a club in it. I personally believe the women is shown in a robe to symbolize vulnerability. It may also be noted that the gorilla is walking on water. On one part of the water it is calm and where the gorilla is standing the water has become wavy. It can also be seen that where the gorilla is standing there is the word America. And this was all just a enlistment poster for the U.S.

The last poster I found interesting had a double headed monster ripping apart New York city. One of the heads has red beaty eyes, fangs and blood coming out of their mouths with a war helmet that has a Swastika on it. The other head has the fangs and the blood too except wearing a Japanese war helmet. The monster has green skin in my opinion symbolizing difference and evil to some of the public viewing the poster. This also happens to be an enlistment poster with text simalar to the one above.

Finally, The most surprising thing was that two of three of these propaganda pieces were enlistment posters. Unlike the eternal Jew video these pieces were much clearer about making the German and Japanese forces look cartoonish while the Eternal Jew mad Jews look more like cold blooded merchants. Though, they both accomplished the same task. Making the viewer have a hatred to the opposing force.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Anti-Semitic Nazi Propaganda: The Eternal Jew (1940)

In 1940, after the invasion and annexation of Poland by Nazi Germany, the Nazis released the rabidly anti-Semitic "documentary" The Eternal Jew. In the film, the Jewish people are portrayed in a horribly distorted light. In one sequence they are compared to hordes of rats swarming Europe and bringing with them all of the worst ills of society.The film stands as a thinly veiled argument for why the Jews should be exterminated. In the final scene of the film, we find Adolf Hitler himself giving a speech to the Nazi party that is tantamount to a call for genocide.

Here is a link to a Wikipedia article about the film:
The Eternal Jew

Here is the first part (1/7) of The Eternal Jew on YouTube, in which the basic "character" of the Jew is introduced and ridiculed:

Here is the second part (2/7) in which Jews are compared to rats (6:57):

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Friday, February 5, 2010

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

LA2's blog: Spiegelman Interview

Hey guys,
So we've got a blog! And you're all welcome to join me as authors of the content. So, if in your browsing of the internet you find stuff that relates to the work of our class, then please-please-please share it with the world through our blog!! Okay...I'll kick it off. Here's an interview with Art Spiegelman, the author of our first text.