Elementary

December 17th, 2011

Cover Letter

Posted by sasha in Uncategorized

Dear Reader,

This is an analysis of, “A Scandal in Bohemia,” a Sherlock Holmes short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This website represents a semester’s worth of work for English 170w, Introduction to Literary Study.
“A Scandal in Bohemia” is a unique Sherlock Holmes story where the famous detective breaks out of his machine-like and focused temperament for a moment, and manages to be defeated by Irene Adler. Not only has Holmes never been bested by an enemy, this is the first time a woman has been an equal to Holmes. There’s a lot to analyze in this story, and there are a lot of different ways to do it. I added a few pages to the website to describe more about the setting of the story and the context. The story takes place in England during the Victorian Era, and a country called Bohemia is mentioned a few times. In terms of revision of the site, I tried to connect previous assignments to the story. I tried to analyze the story in different ways, and the results can be found in the different pages.
I’ve faced different challenges while working on this website, as well as discovering strengths. While revising the website, I’ve covered the learning objective, “develop and use strategies for improving writing and critical thinking through recursive practice, self-reflection, and the process of revision.” I think this learning objective covers aspects that I’ve had difficulty with and did well with. I’ve had the most difficulty with the learning objective, “effectively using web-based technologies,” but handled revision well. When it comes to revising using web-based technology, it combines something I’m good at, and not so good at. I’ve worked a lot on using technology, since I’m not very tech-savvy. There are lots of things I need to work on to fully understand the Digital Humanities, but I think I’ve made some important steps.
A website presents information about a short story in a different way than a final paper can. A website can really encompass different things. I had several different ways of interpreting stories here – I had a Wordle interpreting the story under Digital Humanities, and a Powerpoint interpreting the story in a Freudian way. Each of the assignments shows a different way of seeing the story, while in a final paper, it’s only realistic to include maybe two types of interpretation before tying it all together. I have images, graphs and a presentation. A website is much more visual than a final paper, but it’s also been a huge amount of work.
A hope this website gives a few different views on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s, “A Scandal in Bohemia,” as well as shows the amount of work and revision I’ve put into my English 170W class. I’ve learned so much about literary theories. From the writing I’ve done in this class, I’ve taken away better critical thinking skills that I will definitely apply to future classes in the English Major, and even anything else I read.
I hope my website clearly shows the steps I took- the steps anyone can take – to analyze any work of literature. I hope the theories are clear and simple, and that the site is easy to navigate. As Sherlock Holmes says, I hope it’s all, “elementary.” : )

December 17th, 2011

Bohemian Research

Posted by sasha in Uncategorized

This is the Writing Part from Web Wednesday 11/16

While doing research for, “A Scandal in Bohemia,” there wasn’t much that I could find about Sherlock Holmes and his relationships with women. I thought it was interesting how Holmes is thought to be a logical and rational man, so he therefore has nothing to do with women. As readers, we accept this. So it’s strange when we read the story and find that he acts a bit more tenderly towards Irene Adler. The idea that he might be interested in her is a bit shocking to Holmes followers. That in itself is strange. You’d think you’d be able to find more research about Holmes and his relationship with women, even more information about how Irene Adler is a femme fatale, completely on par with Holmes. I only really found one article that really delved into the issue. Am I searching incorrectly? It boggles the mind, actually. I think I need to try a few different databases. Where are the arguments being made that Irene is a feminist? Is her behavior strange for a woman in a detective story? I can only find facts about her as a character. There aren’t many arguments being made out there, unless my searches aren’t complete. I think I’ll try to research characteristics of Irene Adler. Maybe I’m being too general. I’ll try to do a search for, “psychology of revenge” or something and see where it takes me. Or…is that putting my own interpretation into the research? I should be researching objectively, so I don’t side with one of the arguments I find just yet. I should read them all and then come to a conclusion about Irene Adler’s place in Sherlock Holmes’ mind…

December 17th, 2011

Mania in the Marriage Plot

Posted by sasha in Uncategorized

This is the Writing Part from Web Wednesday 11/30

The Hannas’ house was a hundred-year-old Tudor. . . . Inside, everything was tasteful and half falling apart. The Oriental carpets had stains. The brick-red kitchen linoleum was thirty years old. When Mitchell used the powder room, he saw that the toilet paper dispenser had been repaired with Scotch tape. So had the peeling wallpaper in the hallway. (74)

New Critics look for the meaning of a literary work by looking solely at the literary work. They look at the text’s structure, and they try to find, “tensions and conflicts” in the writing that resolve into the meaning of the piece. In this selection from, “The Marriage Plot,” we can see the theme of, “mania” through the conflicts found in it. The house is old and sturdy, however, it’s falling apart on the inside. It denotes mania through the use of words that demonstrate something falling apart from the inside-out. Eugenides’s word choice is key to the development of the theme. The Hannas live in a house that only a wealthy family could afford, but it is slowly deteriorating. Small details are coming apart, and are held together flimsily, either by Scotch tape, or its not fixed at all. Like the manic Leonard, Madeleine couldn’t tell he was falling apart from the inside out, since he seemed so strong and sturdy from the outside. This passage reflects Madeleine’s perception of Leonard. It’s just reversed, as Leonard’s perception of Madeleine’s house. The mania stays the same. It’s like looking into a literary mirror…

November 9th, 2011

Rumpelstiltskin

Posted by sasha in Uncategorized

I did three columns, raging from Giving, to Equal Exchange, to Taking in the story. I think it’s highly subjective, though. For example, I placed, “Manikin splits self in two” under “Giving” since I consider his death giving the Queen a new life, but I know not everyone would agree with me.

Also, the lines in the columns are related to each other depending on their order in the columns, just as if this chart were lined up across…Though that’s subjective as well, especially since I didn’t have to rearrange many of the lines from the original ordered line-up. I don’t think this worked out too well.

Giving
Manikin trades necklace for spun gold
Manikin trades ring for spun gold
Manikin splits self in two

In the middle
King rejoices
King marries daughter
Manikin makes new promise about guessing name
Daughter/Queen gives birth
Queen incorrectly guesses names
Queen sends messenger out to find names
Manikin rejoices by fire, dancing

Taking
Miller lies to King about daughter
Daughter put in room with task
Manikin returns for promised child
Manikin trades child for spun gold
Queen learns true name

Repetition is what gives this myth it’s structure. The manikin comes to save the girl again and again, until the climax of the story where he wants her to find out his name. The repetition “grows” and that’s where we get our “structure,” as Levi-Strauss says, “The function of repetition is to render the structure of the myth apparent.” The repetition is what moves the story along, and this way the story moves along is what we call it’s structure.

November 2nd, 2011

Freud’s Dream-Method

Posted by sasha in Uncategorized

“A dream-thought is unusable so long as it is expressed in an abstract form; but when once it has been transformed into pictorial language, contrasts and identifications of the kind which the dream-work requires, and which it creates if they are not already present,can be established more easily than before between the new form of expression and the remainder of the material underlying the dream. This is so because in every language concrete terms, in consequence of the history of their development, are richer in associations than conceptual ones. We may suppose that a good part of the intermediate work done during the formation of a dream, which seeks to reduce the dispersed dream-thoughts to the most succinct and unified expression possible, proceeds along the line of finding appropriate verbal transformations for the individual thoughts.”

When treating literary works from the point of view of Freud’s Dream-Work there are two things we should keep in mind.

1. Dream-thoughts are given to us in visual form, since we cannot dream abstract things. This is the same as when we read a literary work. If the author doesn’t want to literally say that his work is about social issues, he’ll use a metaphor to help us visualize it in another way. So, we shouldn’t take anything at face value. Anything can be a metaphor. Look for metaphors when reading.

2. Metonymy is very important in Freud’s Dream-Work. Because of the way our language is set up, even concrete meanings have varying associations, and it comes across in our dreams as well as in our literary works. We should look for associations we make when reading, because this lends to our interpretation. This could possibly skew what meaning we get from the piece.

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

http://www.shakespeares-sonnets.com/sonnet/65

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

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

September 21st, 2011

Web Wed.

Posted by sasha in Uncategorized

So, we’re all done with our second Web Wednesday! I was significantly less stressed out this time, since I brought my laptop along with me. I have a nice spot in the Student Union in my club room (SciFi Anime Club! Come visit us, we’re a really active club!) and I finished my work in a very timely manner.

I was surprised when we were to comment on Second Life. o__o  I didn’t know that there were classes actually being conducted in the game. I play a lot of MMRPG’s online, at least I used to, so this was a surprise to me. These things are massively distracting! They literally suck you in. You’d think that being absorbed in something would help you to focus…that it’s a great way to get students to focus on the classwork online, but it’s more like…you’re absorbed in the gaming aspect. For a bit of a shameful example, I’m guilty of checking my favorite online blogs while ignoring the Eng170w blog and twitter. ): And adding on to this, one of the learning goals is, “Understand the conventions of and appreciate the skills required for the English major.” Well, Second Life certainly isn’t a conventional tool for English majors! It was fun to learn about it, and I appreciated that it’s a possible way for students to study and experience literature.

I think that in today’s Web Wednesday, we accomplished the goal, “Effectively use web-based technologies in order to read and publish academic writing.” We did web-based research on Second Life, and now we’re commenting on it. We also analyzed the Yeats poem together online, and published our interpretations of word’s connotations and denotations. Have I understood the goals properly? o___o I think I spent most of the first Web Wednesday just learning the ropes of having class online. Now that I’ve got the tech aspects pretty much down-pact, I feel like I learned a more, literature-wise, or maybe even more so English Major-wise. I think the highlight of the class was the Second Life mini-lesson. I learned that there are different ways to study literature, whether it be out hybrid way, the traditional way, or the Second Life way, totally engrossed in the virtual world…That’s kind of scary, isn’t it?

Ok, I for one, welcome our new computer overlords. D:

September 1st, 2011

First Post!

Posted by sasha in Uncategorized

Hi everyone~! How’s everyone doing on our first Web Wednesday? I’m having technical difficulties… Anyway, I’m really excited for us to start working on our short stories! I picked a kind of wet, cobblestoney English theme, because I was hoping to do some Sherlock Holmes! I had it mind since I took a look at the syllabus, and then bam! It’s in the list of short stories online. I hope it’s Englishy enough to do. : ) (Can you imagine with me, that Sherlock Holmes is looking for little details on the sidewalk in the banner?)

Listed are a couple of Sherlock stories, A Case of Identity, A Scandal in Bohemia, and the Red-Headed League where I think ginger-haired people are the bad guys of the story? Even though these stories were once only for entertainment and came in pulp magazines, I think they do have a lot of literary value. People study Sir Arthur Conan Doyle religiously, and some people even think Holmes was a real man… and even though the author himself didn’t think Holmes was a worthy subject to write about and preferred to write about history… I really love to read detective stories because of his work.

If Sherlock Holmes isn’t the right choice, I wouldn’t mind going for some Fitzgerald. His short story, “The Ice Palace” is really haunting, I think, and it’s timely, I think. I have a ton to say about Fitzgerald’s work. He’s definitely my favorite author. I’ll have to hunt, though, for something I haven’t read by him as yet…

Thanks for reading, everyone!

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