Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fwd: Joseph Conrad: Online Text and Audio Files

I have to say, if you guys like listening to audio books, then definitely listen to this reading of Joseph Conrad's The Heart of Darkness. It's certainly a compelling story despite Conrad's disconcerting use of the N-word and dehumanizing, if generally sympathetic, representations of black Africans. The way I see it though is don't take Achebe's or my word on the matter. Decide for yourselves whether there are grounds for The Heart of Darkness's status as "great" literature or not. After all, didn't Achebe write in "An Image of Africa," "as a sensible man I will not accept just any traveller's tales solely on the grounds that I have not made the journey myself."

LoudLit: (You can also download these files at the website and then listen on your Ipod. Here's the page:
Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Three-Corpse Meal

Thought I'd post the results of our compound-sentence EXQUISITE CORPSES! from today's class:

First corpse:

Once upon a time there was a pretty princess named, Vivien, and
my dog is going to the vet tomorrow; however,
they found a basket of clementine and took it. Whereby,
I have ants in my panties and pelvic hair, yet
everyone thought she was a slut [ouch...such a harsh word!]

Second corpse:

The echo of the shrill cry filled the open field, and
the little boy was scared; however,
Billy started hunting for the deer. Whereby,
The neon-blue leaked through the glass, yet
Joe the farmer sold his duck.
The bright-orange dragonflies danced on the icy water, but
the potato was larger than the puppy.

Third corpse:

Triangles are the best, and
Longcat is long; however,
sex-ed is a very important part of a teen's life. Whereby,
Bill and Joe were happy, yet
the cupcake was delicious.

[Sheer brilliance...all three! G]

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Monday's reading HW

The details for Monday's reading assignment are posted below the Monty Python video.

Monty Python's International Philosophy Football

Here you go guys,
Much of the critical theory that you've learned about so far this year has been influenced to one degree or another by these cats. Hegel and Marx are certainly standouts on the German side!
Thanks, Josh!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Reading Assignment for the Weekend

Hello LA5 crew,
For this weekend's homework, make sure you've read up to page 119 in Things Fall Apart, which many of you might have done already, and I would like you to read Chinua Achebe's essay, "An Image of Africa", which can be found in the LA5 Google Docs. You can simply follow the link below:
You can print this out yourself or read it off your computer, taking notes somewhere else. The PDF displays vertically though, so not sure if there's a way to rotate it--you might just have to print it out anyway.

This is the essay in which Achebe really takes to task Joseph Conrad for his representation of indigenous Africans in The Heart of Darkness. Optionally, you can look at (or listen to) Conrad's story as well by using the following links:

Text of
Heart of Darkness:
Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Audio of Heart of Darkness:
Part 1 (2 links):

Part 2 (2 links):

Part 3 (2 links):

Email me if you have any questions.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Online Readings for Tomorrow's Class

Hey there,
Here's what I'd like you to look over for tomorrow's class. We will be discussing representations of Africans (blacks) in colonial-era literature for children; well, actually, you will be discussing this topic. How Africans are portrayed in colonial literature is a huge focus in postcolonial criticism, as you probably gleaned from Tyson, and as you will read in Chinua Achebe's criticism of "The Heart of Darkness." As you look at some of these children's stories, keep in mind those ideas from colonialist ideology that we discussed today (such as, blacks as primitive, savage "children" that need a hand from white Europeans to "grow up" and develop into civilized people and nations) and think about your discussions from last semester about images of women in advertising. What different ideas does this literature seem to present about Africans? For tomorrow's class, you will have to 1) complete the Subject / Predicate handout, 2) look over the different links concerning colonial images of Africans in children's books (below), and 3) come to class with at least five questions about the representations of Africans you looked at. Please make sure that these are open-ended questions with no simple yes-no answers. Ideally, you want to write questions that will generate a lot of response in a discussion. We will use these questions tomorrow to drive our discussion activity, so please come prepared. Extra credit for those who post other cool links on the topic of "Colonialism in Children's Literature".
  • Read "The Story of Babar" online (This website shows pages from de Brunhoff's original manuscript in French. There are arrows to move from page to page. The text is in French and is handwritten. However, just click on "read this page" and a translation will appear along with the French text. You can also click on "see the published text" and you will be able to view the final version of the pictures along with French and English text. This link wasn't working this morning, so stay tuned--I will scan my copy of "The Story of Babar" and upload it to Google Docs.)
  • Adam Gopnik's New Yorker article questioning the common postcolonial reading of Babar.
This image comes from "The Travels of Babar." Babar and Celeste are attacked by a group of "cannibals".
The actual word used in the French is not "cannibals" but "les sauvages" (the "savages"...a term that was wildly used to describe tribal Africans during colonial times)
Gregory R. Askew
Language Arts Instructor
Vermont Commons School

Saturday, February 6, 2010

What kind of place is Nigeria today? Neocolonialist violence?

The accusations against Shell Oil in the death of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists:
Check out this site:
...and watch this YouTube video:

Shell Oil's official statement on the state execution of writer, activist, and environmentalist, Ken Saro-Wiwa:

What kind of place is Nigeria today? What do you think?

Friday, February 5, 2010

This just speaks for itself...

Hegel's dialectic

Here's a picture of G.W.F. Hegel and a diagram that provides a pretty straightforward way to think about his historical dialecticism (and the odd teleological twist he adds to the end...i.e. "the end of history," which the diagram describes as a synthesis that doesn't evoke an antithesis.)

Thanks for a great class today.
Gregory R. Askew
Language Arts Instructor
Vermont Commons School

Happy Belated Birthday Betty Friedan

Meant to post this yesterday, Betty, but better now for the feminist critics of LA5 than never.
The link is to an excerpt from The Feminine Mystique, a highly influential book that kick-started the "second wave" of feminism in the 1960s.
The Feminine Mystique, Chapter 5, at the

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The lead New Historicist: Stephen Greenblatt

Here's Stephen Greenblatt, the "founder" of New Historicism, on Charlie Rose. If you get bored of his interview, Mary Louise Parker, the beautiful and from "Weeds", comes on after.

Gregory R. Askew
Language Arts Instructor
Vermont Commons School

Zizek on relevance of Marxism today

Well, I stumbled upon this on YouTube while looking for stuff on Marxism. You've all been invited to add content to the blog, so if you find things yourselves on the critical theories we've been discussing, then by all means share it with the rest of us! So what do you think of Zizek? While I was at UVM, he visited a class I was taking, and one of the students asked if he was a "coke-head". Watch the video and you'll know what he was getting at!
See you tomorrow.

Metric: Patriarch on a Vespa

And for you feminists in of the coolest feminist songwriters I've come to know. Here's a song by Emily Haines and her band Metric called "Patriarch on a Vespa"

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Lacanian-Marxist theorist, Slavoj Zizek, on Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men

Here's a youtube link with that Slovenian philosopher I referred to in class analyzing the film Children of Men. I wonder what you guys will make of this character.