Hey, everyone. (Our first order of business is to come up with a cool name for me to call you all. Ghostbusters is a bit off, and ghostreaders is a bit boring. Extra credit to someone who can come up with a better tag. How about "The Haunted"?) From now on, I'll be putting announcements on this page having to do with course requirements, changes in these web pages, and other matters. I recommend looking here every time you visit the course hauntsite--at least once a week.
Just to let you know: the course pack is not yet ready. I'll announce in class Thursday when it will be in the bookstore for sale. If it turns out that it won't be ready by Friday, we'll read Louise Erdrich's Tracks over the next two weeks, instead of the stories in the course pack. Check here for more details.
A reminder: for next class, you have to (1) check out these web pages and come with any questions about any aspect of the course you may have; (2) join the listserv (depending on your section, en20903 or en20907); and (3) read DuWayne Bowen's One More Story and come to class with opinions that you can back up with evidence (hypotheses) about (a) which story or stories in this collection fit your definition of a "ghost story" (and hence a sense of your own criteria for what makes a ghost story) and (b) the "morals" of the various stories and the more subtle system of values the stories seem to be based upon, along with any significant passages or questions that strike you as interesting.
I've fixed a few minor errors on the main page and radically expanded the "how to join the listserv" page by revising some of the instructions for clarity and adding a long troubleshooting section. Click here to see the reworked "Joining Hauntlist" page. Please be subscribed to the listserv by tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon, so that you can receive reading responses sent out by your classmates. Take advantage of my office hours to handle any email problems the troubleshooting section doesn't cover, or doesn't cover well. I will accept late responses due to technical difficulties this week only; after this week, any late responses will not count toward your cumulative total. It is your responsibility to make sure you are subscribed to the listserv, to participate on it actively, and to contact me if you are having problems you can't solve by yourself. The listserv portion of the course should be an easy A; don't let easily fixable problems fester and potentially affect your final grade.
Remember to come to Thursday's class with ideas about the similarities and differences between the stories that the two narrators in Louise Erdrich's Tracks, Nanapush and Pauline, tell. Focus in particular on the different views of and attitudes toward Fleur offered by these storytellers in the first four chapters of the novel. Think of the kinds of questions and modes of intepretation we've been trying out in the first three classes, and try to apply those that seem most interesting/useful to Erdrich's novel. You don't have to bring anything written to class or necessarily focus on this issue in your reading response, but we'll start a relatively free-form class discussion by comparing and contrasting Nanapush's and Pauline's stories about Fleur, and go on from there, next class.
Hey, everyone. Just wanted to let you know that parts of the course pack--containing a grand total of 3 stories--should be at the bookstore this afternoon. Be sure to buy that ASAP. The Hamlet reading for Tuesday is in that. Also, I've asked the copy center to put the entire course pack on reserve at Reed Library. Just go to the circulation desk and ask for the EN 209 course pack for Bruce Simon's section. Copy what you need--for this coming week, the anthropologist's essay and the two stories by the Chinese writers (and the Hamlet selection if you can't get it at the bookstore)--and return it as quickly as possible so other people in the course can make copies. There are three copies of it on reserve, so you should be able to get ahold of it fairly easily.
I'm going to be away this weekend and not be back in town until Monday afternoon, so if problems arise with the course pack or reading responses or anything, try to solve them yourself or with help from classmates or friends. I'll do my best to help people out on Monday; however, it's likely I'm not going to be in for much of my office hours next week.
A few final observations and suggestions:
OK, see you next week. Have a good weekend, and enjoy the light reading load while it lasts!
I have confirmation that the course pack is available at Reed Library's circulation desk, so everyone is definitely responsible for having finished the readings for tomorrow: Act I of Hamlet and Laura Bohannan's "Shakespeare in the Bush." The readings for Thursday's class--Pu Songling's "Ghost-Girl Xiaoxie" and Yuan Mei's "Butterfingered Scholar Wu"--are also in the packet on reserve, so be sure to copy them as well. I've received mixed word on the availability of the course pack or packs on sale at the bookstore. I'll check it out tomorrow and report back.
OK, the most current and complete information on where you can find the stories due to be read up until the mid-term exam can be found on the main course web page. For other stories in the course pack on reserve at Reed Library (most due at the end of the semester), my advice is to hold off on copying them just yet. I expect that permissions for these stories will come in over the next few weeks, and when they're all in, the copy center can put those stories on sale at the bookstore and save you the time/hassle of copying them from the course pack on reserve.
Remember that our goal for Thursday's class will be compare and contrast the uses of ghosts in the readings from seventeenth-century England and seventeenth- and eighteenth-century China. In a way, the passage of time is as major a difference as the cultural assumptions Bohannan wrote about, so one productive way to treat these pre-modern ghost stories is to think of our group as not so unlike the Tiv facing Shakespeare for the first time. When you're comparing the texts, start with fundamental questions like how the various authors represent what ghosts are, what they do, what they want, and what they mean. Look for patterns--can we come to any tentative generalizations about English vs. Chinese ghost stories? You might also consider the question of which stories you like better or think are good or excellent examples of the ghost story genre. Think of the next few weeks as a continuation of the issues we were discussing during the first two or three classes. Next week we'll be looking at more "modern" ghost stories in which Joyce and Marquez play with the conventions of the ghost story and play off the ambiguity and in-between-ness of the ghost.
Finally, be on the lookout for the assignment sheet on the critical response essay; until that comes up, it's worth your while to follow the links to previous assignment sheets currently available on that page.
I've put up the assignment sheet for the first critical response essay. All I can say is remember the immortal words of Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and "Don't Panic." Read over the options before class, look over the "tips for rewriting" from last semester's first assignment sheet to get a better sense of my expectations, and raise questions in class tomorrow. Feel free to post questions about the essay to the listserv or to send them to me directly over the next few days, as well. I'll be around!
A few important announcements:
Hey, Exorcists (thanks, Claude, I forgot to use this for awhile): the server problems got fixed sometime last night and as of 4:00 today, the final version of the instructions for the mid-term exam and the options for the take-home essay were accessible; just click here for that. I've also revised the mid-term examination page in light of our class discussions today, and added a new frequently asked questions page that features actual questions from last year's and this semester's students. I'll be adding to this page as you ask questions over the next few days, so ask away!
I've also sent out individual "quarterly reports" to each of you that detail how you've been doing and where you need to improve on your reading responses. If you haven't received yours by 6 pm Thursday, please contact me and I'll be sure to re-send it to you.
Hey, exorcistas: just wanted to mention on the web page as well as in class and on the listserv that if you haven't yet picked up your CRE #1, it is available in an envelope outside my office door. Unless you give me a compelling reason for an extension, rewrites are due this Friday if you picked up your paper last week, and next Monday if you picked it up this week. Be on the lookout for "tips for rewriting" on the main critical response essay page; you will have to rely on my comments on your paper and last semester's tips (there's a link to them on the above page) until this Thursday, when I will have time to put up general suggestions and comments on patterns in your papers on the CRE #1 assignment sheet.
My office hours are in major flux this week, as well: W 9-12, 1-2; TH 3:30-6:00; F 9-12, 1-3. Please contact me ahead of time to let me know when you want to come by my office; I can let you know then if someone else is likely to be there. And as usual, feel free to e-mail me questions and ideas. All right, then, good luck and see you soon!
Comments on both the first critical response essay and the mid-term examination were put up today, the first at the very beginning of the day (i.e., just after midnight), and the second this very evening. Please read both at your earliest convenience. And don't forget to try to finish Comfort Woman over the weekend, or that our goal for next week is to figure out the role and function of haunting and possession in Comfort Woman, as well as the means and ends of Keller's use of ghostly matters in her novel. Finally, rewrites for those of you who picked up your essays this week are due on Monday at 5 pm.
We start Beloved next week; please consult the main page for the pages you're responsioble for being ready to discuss that day in class. But let me suggest that it's in your best interest to read ahead and then reread. This is a novel that rewards active, attentive reading and rereading. For Tuesday's class, please come having thought about questions you think Morrison wants her readers to be asking after reading those first 50-some pages of the novel. We'll structure class discussion something along the lines of how we began Comfort Woman.
I highly recommend that you hold off on renting the Beloved movie until you are two-thirds of the way through the novel. If you've already seen the movie, be aware that it is but one interpretation of the novel and is no substitute for coming up with your own "take" on the novel itself. By the same token, just as it is always helpful to hear others' interpretations and compare them to your own, it is also useful to see the movie at some point and to think about what you would have done differently as a filmmaker and what's at stake in the differences between the movie and the novel. In fact, your second critical response paper can be on this topic. Please see the critical response paper main page for the link to the assignment sheet for the second critical response essay, due before you leave for Thanksgiving. It's never too early to start thinking about your next writing assignment.
Finally, please be sure to email me ASAP about whether you would prefer for DuWayne Bowen to give a public lecture on his storytelling starting around 6 pm on Monday, November 15, or starting at some time between 3 and 5:30 pm on Wednesday, November 17. Please let me know two things: 1) the starting times that are best for you and the ons that are impossible for you; 2) whether you'd prefer that he tells a new story and we have a discussion around that, or whether he discusses his storytelling from One More Story and we have a question and answer period following that, or whether we should work out some combination of the two. Thank you in advance for a quick reply on these things, and have a great weekend.