Two women writers: Katherine Mansfield and Jean Rhys (deadline: 6/22)

Answer one of the following questions with 200-250 words:
1) Why are the two sisters in "The Daughters of the Late Colonel" unable to deal with the challenges of the everyday life on their own? Why don't they have the ability to make decisions for themselves? What causes their indecisiveness and child-like timidity?

2) "Class" is a central issue that is been contemplated in Mansfield's "The Garden Party." How does Mansfield criticize the middle-class gentility and its pretentious snobbishness in the story?

3) In Rhys' "The Day They Burned the Books," the narrator is a white girl who only partially understands the painful entanglements of class, race, and cultural prejudice.  How are these issues reflected in the story?


An Interview with Ireland's first female president (deadline: 5/23)

We have spent two weeks discussing Ireland, her relationship with the UK, and the lives and works of  two famous Irish writers--James Joyce and W. B. Yeats. In the following link, you can listen to an interview with Ireland's first female president and a former United Nations high commissioner--Mary Robinson. In this interview, she talks about Ireland's social class gap, gender imbalance, Catholicism, the transformation of Ireland, and her advocation for "climate justice."  Listen to the story and write down anything that inspires or interests you in this interview.


E. M. Forster's "The Other Boat" (deadline: 5/8)

John Lennon's words perfectly summarize the message of Forster's "The Other Boat," which is published posthumously in 1972 because of the forbidden subject of racial transgression and homosexuality.

Answer ONE of the following questions with 200-250 words:

1) How does the story illustrate the ways in which imperialist racism goes hand in hand with homophobia and sexism?

2) How does the story explore the possibilities and limitations of human relationships when human beings are constrained by various forms of discrimination, prejudice, and bigotry?

3) How do you interpret the ending of the story? On the surface, the story does conclude unhappily, with the murder of the seductive Cocoanut and the suicide of the transgressive Captain March. However, is it possible to offer an alternative way of interpreting the ending?


A Room of One's Own (deadline: 4/7)

Answer ONE of the following questions with 200-250 words:

1) Conventional wisdom tends to lead us to assume that art belongs to a certain abstract and transcendental realm that is detached from life and the concrete conditions of its production. How does Woolf subvert this kind of belief in A Room of One's Own?

2) How does Woolf complicate the idea/tradition of fiction writing and of history making, which used to be considered as gender-neutral in the history of humanity?

3) Why does Woolf assert that "It is fatal to be a man or woman pure and simple"? Why does she insist that "one must be woman-manly or man-womanly" (2489)? What author or authors illustrate this kind of androgynous mind for Woolf, and why?


Heart of Darkness (deadline: 3/22)

Answer ONE of the following questions with 200-250 words:

1) How does Conrad's Heart of Darkness radically cast in doubt epistemological and ethical certainties that were believed by his Victorian predecessors?

2) If the focus on the unconscious can be said to be one of the main characteristics of modernist literature, how is this reflected in Conrad's Heart of Darkness?

3) In Heart of Darkness, certain characters are flat, while certain characters are round.  Give us at least one example of each type of character. Explain the reason why they are flat or round.


The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (deadline: 1/18)

Please answer ONE of the following questions with 200-250 words:

1) How did Doctor Copeland name his children?  What kind of expectations did he have toward his children? Why did he think that his children have failed to live up to his expectations?

2) On page 186, Singer had a dream in which Antonapoulos knelt at the top of the steps.  The other characters formed a hierarchical relationship with Antonapoulos.  How do you interpret this strange dream? How do you relate this dream to the tragic ending of the novel?

3) How did the four characters’ reactions toward Singer’s death suggest their personalities?

4) On page 13, Biff admitted that he had an infatuation with the “freaks” who came into his café.  How did he treat those freaks? If himself was a freak as well, how freakish did he behave? What particular freakish behaviors did he have, especially after his wife’s death?

5) This novel can also be understood as Mick Kelly’s painful entry into adulthood.  Why did Mick have to give up her dream of becoming a music conductor or composer? How did Mick’s experiences reflect the fate of young women during the late 1930s in the South?