October 26th, 2011

Step by Step, by Saussure.

Posted by sasha in Uncategorized

1. First, let’s read the poem, and try to understand it as a whole. Individual words don’t mean much. Words only really mean something when they are given in relation to other words, so our first step is to look at the poem as a whole to look for meaning.

2. Now we can look at the connotation and denotation of the words in the poem, and we’ll do so by looking at each word in comparison to the other words. What do the words in this line connote and denote? What does this mean for the meaning of the poem as a whole? The conflict that occurs when we try to find which meaning fits is what gives to various interpretations of a poem. We know the meaning of a poem because of these differences.

3. Is there assonance or onomatopoeia and etc. in the poem? Maybe the author uses “sh” a lot while describing a curtain to make the curtains seem like they are swishing in the poem through both descriptions and sounds…according to Saussure’s theories when applied to poetry, saying this would not help you learn the poem’s meaning or explore it’s structure, because these things are arbitrary. When using these theories, maybe one should focus on other forms of literary analysis, like individual words meanings that lend to the meaning of the poem as a whole. So let’s look for structural evidence in the poem for meaning. What words are used? What words could have been used instead of that specific word? How does using that word instead of another change the poem’s meaning?

Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,
But sad mortality o’er-sways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?
O, how shall summer’s honey breath hold out
Against the wreckful siege of battering days,
When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
Nor gates of steel so strong, but Time decays?
O fearful meditation! where, alack,
Shall Time’s best jewel from Time’s chest lie hid?
Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?
Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid?
O, none, unless this miracle have might,
That in black ink my love may still shine bright.

1. The poem talks about “sad mortality,” or death. It eventually claims everyone in the end. However, with the poet’s “black ink,” the love he describes can bypass mortality and live on in the pages.

2. A. Flower
Denotation: A flower is a plant structure.
Connotation: In the poem, it represents something weak and delicate.

B. Honey
Denotation: A kind of syrup(?) that bees produce.
Connotation: Sweet

C. Spoil
Denotation: To rot.
Connotation: The end.

Depending on the meaning the context clues leads you to, the connotation and denotation leads to conflict, which then leads to meaning when they come together naturally.

3. In order to know “sad mortality,” we have to know what its not, as in the first line of the sonnet. We know what it is through its differences, by what it is not.

October 19th, 2011

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3…

Posted by sasha in Uncategorized

That in black ink my love may still shine bright


Though the analysis given on this website gives their evidence strictly from the text, the New Critic would still have a few problems with this interpretation. The emotion that they are extracting the poem doesn’t seem to be strictly from the poem, and this is what the New Critic would disagree with. The emotions they describe aren’t described in the poem. The author is taking liberties here, aren’t they? (According to a New Critic.) Their emotions are leading to the meaning, as opposed to the meaning leading to a meaning, as a New Critic would prefer.
For example, we see it in this excerpt from the website:
“my love = you, the beloved youth; my love for you. The blackness of the ink opposed to the shining brightness of the youth described in the sonnets is part of the miracle of his preservation.”

October 10th, 2011

High-Tech Reading?

Posted by sasha in Uncategorized

To reflect on what we did on the most recent Web Wednesday, I’ll report here a comment I left on the class blog and add a bit more to it. =D

“I did searches on “photograph” and “king” separately, so I made different graphs but each graph had several different synonyms of the word that showed up prominently on my Wordle. A Scandal in Bohemia was written in 1891 or so, so I set my graph from 1830 to 1930 to get a clearer graph. “Photograph” was nonexistent until about 1860, and then it rose slightly but steadily from then on. “King” was on a bit of a steady decline since the beginning of the graph. Were monarchies ending? And the photograph was invented around 1850, right? The graphs opened the window to a lot more research. It was interesting.”

Based on my own experience with it, I really do think that Wordle and Ngram are useful Digital Humanities tools. Looking at and picking out words from the Wordle, then comparing them to words I thought were prominent opened by eyes to the debate over promience vs. importance for the words in the story. It then led me to choose words to put in the Ngram, based on how large they were in the Wordle, or how large I thought they should have been based on the plot. Once I observed the Ngram charts, honestly, the possibilities blew me away. If I hadn’t used them myself, I wouldn’t have seen how important to literary research they could prove to be. I made connections between the time the story was written and its contents… I thought of more possible connections that I could research in the future. I think these tools could really deepen one’s understanding of the writing. I mean, you could always read a book on these things, but this really gives you a place to start looking. Its a focused beginning, instead of just opening a book on “Victorian England.” I connected “photograph” to the time period, just by looking at how the word suddenly appeared around 1860. I wouldn’t have come across that so quickly in a book, right? Alright, let me cut this short, and save the rest for the essay.. o____o

The essay is now posted under the Digital Humanities page, go and check it out! =D

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