【英史assignment #2】Heart of Darkness & The Hours (deadline: 5/4)

Write an essay (250-300 words) based on ONE of the following questions:

1. In Heart of Darkness, what does Kurtz represent to Marlow? Why does Marlow want to meet Kurtz? What does Marlow learn from his meeting with Kurtz?

2. Discuss Heart of Darkness as a quest narrative. In what way is this a journey into the self? What does it mean to enouncter the "heart of darkness?" How do the African people and landscape reflect Marlow's state of mind?

3. In the movie The Hours (adapted from Michael Cunningham's 1999 Pulitzer-winning novel of the same name), the lives of three women of different generations are interwoven with one another. Inspired by Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, Cunningham creates characters whose characteristics and traits are drawn from the major characters in Mrs. Dalloway. Discuss the major characters in The Hours. How are they different from or similar with the characters in Mrs. Dalloway?

4. If one of the themes of Mrs. Dalloway is about guarding the privacy of one's soul against the violation of institutional violence (be it love in the form of normative marriage, religion, medical-psychiatric institutions, militarism, etc.), how is this theme explored in The Hours?


【文讀assignment #1】Family: An Album (deadline: 4/24)

Write an essay (250-300 words) based on ONE of the following questions:
  1.  Compare the portrayal of the parent-child relationship in any two poems in our week 8’s readings, focusing especially on the poems’ tones and themes.
  2. What words in Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays” suggest the son’s feelings toward his father and his home? What words indicate that his attitudes have changed since the time depicted in the poem? Write an essay in which you compare the speaker’s feelings, as a youth and then later as a man, about his father and his home.
  3. Kelly Cherry’s “Alzheimer’s” uses contrasts—especially before and after—to characterize the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease. What evidence does the poem provide about what the man used to be like? What specific changes have come about? How does the setting of the poem suggest some of those changes?
  4. Jimmy Santiago Baca’s “Green Chile” uses different chiles to symbolize different generations’ attitudes toward Mexican culture. What different qualities do the red and green chiles have? Which words in the poem help personify the chiles? How fully do these words reflect the differences between the speaker and the grandmother?


【英史assignment #1】The Picture of Dorian Gray (deadline: 4/20)

Discuss the differences between Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray and the 2009 movie adaptation of the novel. How are they different? Which version has the most impact upon you or appeals to you the most? Why? Write an essay of 250-300 words.


Assignment # 3: Flannery O'Connor's violent epiphany (deadline 1/4/2016)

In her short stories, Flannery O’Connor brings her characters to a moment of epiphany when it is no longer possible for them to return to the old ways of life.The proud are humbled, the ignorant are enlightened, and the hypocritical are forced to recognize that the discrepancy between their smug surface and its hollow spirituality is the proof of their inadequacy in the eyes of God.  For O’Connor, this epiphanal moment can only be achieved by violence and destruction: “In my own stories I have found that violence is strangely capable of returning my characters to reality and preparing them to accept their moment of grace….  We hear many complaints about the prevalence of violence in modern fiction, and it is always assumed that this violence is a bad thing and meant to be an end in itself.  With the serious writer, violence is never an end in itself.  It is the extreme situation that best reveals what we are essentially” (“On Her Own Work”).

In the three stories we read (“A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” “Good Country People,” “Everything That Rises Must Converge”), can you find any “moments of epiphany” which are produced in extreme violent situations? How do these violent situations “reveal” the hidden message of God? What mysterious transformations have the characters undergone when they are shocked into an awareness of their smug ignorance? Write an essay of 250-300 words. 


Assignment # 2: Compare and Contrast: (deadline: 12/8)

Write an essay (250-300 words) based on ONE of the following questions:

  1. “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1892) and “The Story of an Hour” (1891) were written during the transitional period in which issues of women’s civil rights and suffrage were hotly debated and women’s access to higher education and entrance to careers outside of domestic work demanded. These two stories provide valuable insights into the predicaments of married middle-class white women in the late 19th-century America. Compare and contrast these two stories and their similar or different ways of protesting against the limited and constraining roles allotted to women during that time. Why do both two stories take place inside a house, and almost entirely within one room of that house? Why do “patches of blue sky” or gazing out a window play a significant part in the action? 
  2. Alienation is the theme of both “A Hunger Artist” and “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings.” Compare and contrast these two stories; examine the details that describe the two protagonists’ loneliness and frustration; their futile interactions with the people that surround them. Why is the panther more popular than the hunger artist? Similarly, why does the spider girl “defeat” the “haughty angel who scarcely deigned to look at mortals”? If these two stories are allegorical, what kind of message do these two authors want to deliver to their readers?  


Assignment #1: Maupassant, Poe, Wharton, and Hemingway (deadline: 10/16)

Write an essay (250-300 words) based on ONE of the following questions; cite relevant texts to prove your points:

  1. The ultimate irony of Maupassant's "The Jewelry" comes at the end of the story. Once the secret of Madame Lantin's jewelry is revealed, what details from earlier in the story take on a different significance?
  2. "The Cask of Amontillado" is a chilling story, but Poe uses humorous elements as Montresor recounts his experience with Fortunato. Discuss Poe's use of irony and black humor in the story. 
  3. Write an essay that compares and contrasts the differences (e.g. personalities, lives, facial features, opinions about their daughters, etc.) of Alida Slade and Grace Ansley in Edith Wharton's "Roman Fever."
  4. Find the first indication in "Hills Like White Elephants" that the two main characters are not getting along. What is the first clue about the exact nature of their conflict? Why are they going to Madrid? Why do the characters refrain from speaking about it explicitly?


Postcolonial Voices: (deadline: 6/17)

Write an essay (250-300 words) based on ONE of the following questions; cite relevant texts to prove your points:

  1. In Katherine Mansfield's "Garden Party," what do we learn about Laura when she talks to the workmen about the placement of the marquee? How sure of herself is she? How does she demonstrate confused feelings toward the workmen? Describe Laura's thoughts and feelings when she visits the Scott family and views the corpse. Why does Laura think Scott's dead body is "wonderful, beautiful"? What has Laura learned by the end of the story?
  2. In Jean Rhys's "The Day They Burned the Books," why does Eddie say that he doesn't like daffodils? What do these flowers mean to both Eddie and the young narrator? How do they both feel about the English--and why? What do Mr. Sawyer's books represent to Mrs. Sawyer? Why does she want to destroy them?
  3. In Alice Munro's "Walker Brothers Cowboy," what is the narrator's attitude toward Nora? Compare her description of Nora with her description of her mother. How does our view of the father change when he visits Nora? How does the narrator's view change? Does she feel estrangement or a greater sense of fellowship?
  4. In Margaret Atwood's "Death by Landscape," referring to Lois's collection of paintings of the Canadian wilderness, the narrator says, "Looking at them fills her with a wordless unease." What makes Lois uneasy? What is her relationship to nature? Why is she both drawn to and repelled by nature? What does she see in the paintings?