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By: William Wordsworth
Let's translate the poem into narrative as an example. The work "revisiting" is key, and the first stanza celebrates what is revisited. Look for an example of the sublime in nature amidst the many references to pastoral beauties.
The second stanza wants to suggest that immersion in nature has lasting benefits. Referring to his life in nature, his feelings, and memories of these, he writes "I have owed to them,/ In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,/ Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart" (351, lines 26-28). A few other instances of the benefits of life in nature.
In the fourth stanza we see the homage to youth that might refer back to Rousseau's ideas of childhood. He compares the vibrant and immediate feelings of being in nature as a youth to the more thoughtful and reasoned experience of nature in adulthood. This is a loss, certainly, but he feels it has been replaced with a valuable gift—the ability to have the inner tranquility to experience in his mind and memory that which nature brought and still brings. It is implied that it is this distance from youthful frolic in nature that allows the composition of a poem such as this.
Most commenters would believe that the last stanza is addressed to Dorothy Wordsworth, and is essentially a kind of lecture to tell her that she too will have this double and doubly profitable relationship to nature. Also, there is a sense that the experience of the sublime is heightened when done in the company of a close companion.
Of course, this kind of prose summary of what Wordsworth reveals in his poem is only an approximation—while there is real value in grasping the idea, the greatest value is in apprehending the language of the poem.
By: John Keats

wiki: a personal poem that describes Keats's journey into the state of negative capability. The tone of the poem rejects the optimistic pursuit of pleasure found within Keats's earlier poems and, rather, explores the themes of nature, transience and mortality, the latter being particularly personal to Keats.

This is a more mysterious poem, perhaps because some of its ideas verge on mysticism. Read the poem carefully and you will see that the combination of the darkness, the desire for intoxication, the notion of sound (of the nightingale's song) that is so difficult to locate with precision, and more, induce in the speaker of the poem a sense of connectedness to the world that is not available to his more sensible, logical self.
What do the references to death mean in the poem? Is it another way of losing the self so as to gain access to unknown experience, or is it a human reality in contrast with the almost mythical songbird. How does the mythical sense become established (is that what the historical references are intended to do?

wiki: The nightingale described within the poem experiences a type of death but does not actually die. Instead, the songbird is capable of living through its song, which is a fate that humans cannot expect. The poem ends with an acceptance that pleasure cannot last and that death is an inevitable part of life. In the poem, Keats imagines the loss of the physical world and sees himself dead—as a "sod" over which the nightingale sings. The contrast between the immortal nightingale and mortal man sitting in his garden, is made all the more acute by an effort of the imagination. The presence of weather is noticeable in the poem, as spring came early in 1819, bringing nightingales all over the heath.
The Enlightenment goes beyond any previous era in stressing logic, scientific knowledge, and the intellect as the defining characterizations of the human. One may consider Descarte's famous statement, cogito ergo sum (I think, therefore I am) as a kind of underlying principle for man in the Enlightenment.

1. While an age of thought cannot be dated definitively, let's say the Enlightenment in Europe and the Americas begins around 1650 and lasts until 1789 (the last date being that of the most momentous events of the French Revolution, which belongs to a new era). One marker of the beginning is the execution of the British King Charles I in 1649.
2. The Age of Enlightenment is also called the Age of Reason. It is during this time that knowledge was standardized in the Encyclopédie project in France supervised by Denis Diderot and Jacques D'Alembert (see pages 113-28 for some entries from this text). The English soon followed suit with the early editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica, and both nations developed a standard of language, most famously for English in Dr. Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language.
3. The historical fact of world exploration, the opening up of trade routes, and the flourishing of a large new class of merchants with wealth is instrumental in the Enlightenment spread of literacy. Not to be dismissed is the unfortunate side effects of world travel such as slavery in the New World and the subjugation of native people in areas of imperial conquest and control.
4 An informal institution for the development and dissemination of ideas was found in the "salons," often presided over by women, who saw some increases in educational opportunities. One of the great female writers in the Enlightenment was a Mexican nun named Sor Juana Inés de La Cruz, who argues in her famous "Answer to the Most Illustrious Sor Filotea de la Cruz" that it is through knowledge that humanity gains in comprehending and acknowledging the role of and presence of the creator on this earth.
Satire is a form that flourished in the Enlightenment. One might understand this fact by understanding the gap between the reverence for logic and reason as ideals by mankind and the behavior of humans in the real world. In part, irrational behavior is blamed on passions, which should be controlled by reason—but perhaps that does not explain all. We will see in Voltaire a master of the art of satire.
By: Fyodor Dostoyevsky
"Underground," establishes a style for the novel and is primarily a series of seemingly disconnected musings on life, philosophy, ethics, and behavior.
Of the two sections, Part I is the least eventful, and, except for students who are inclined to philosophy and abstractions, the less enjoyable of the two. It might be more useful to read after Part II, since a purpose for these series of contradictory statements is to have them serve as an excuse for his behavior in the incidents described in Part II.

What are some of the odd statements and positions in Part I?

There is a kind of ridicule of the "Man of action." In order to justify this position, the underground man has to ridicule even logic, especially the logic that claims man will always act in his own best interest. The proofs of this are compelling—we are convinced by the end of part one that man indeed often acts against his best interests (witness man's constant state of warfare, for one).

The underground man makes an argument that this is a good thing, that if everything was decided on the basis of logic, then a version of free will would disappear. "Two Plus Two equals Five is sometimes a very good thing," claims the underground man.

The style is a kind of circular reasoning that allows the underground man to claim a loophole in any positive assertion he makes. This pattern is established in the very first section, when he says "I think my liver is diseased. Then again, I don't know a thing about my illness. . ." It is a pattern of thinking, or at least of arguing, that is maintained throughout.

Another thing about the style is that the text comes off as a kind of address to an imagined audience, the "gentlemen" who seem to sit (at least in the underground man's mind) as judges of his thoughts and actions. Keep this element of judgment in mind as you read the novel.
By: Fyodor Dostoyevsky
"Apropos of Wet Snow," is a series of memories about incidents that occurred ten or so years prior to the narrative.
Part II is a series of memories about incidents that occurred ten or so years prior to the narrative. The underground man is (understandably) obsessed with these incidents, with his main focus using his philosophy of self-destruction enabled by free will to justify his actions. His actions and the choices he makes will be frustrating to the logical mind -the student who sets goals and engages in appropriate actions to meet these goals. Remember, that with the arrival of realism in literature, with the common man as the proper subject of literature, that Dostoevsky gives us the first literary "anti-hero." (Readers who have read the exploits of Raskolnikov in Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment will recognize the type)

Here are some prompts to assist you in your reading of this section:

The section is structured in four parts: (1) the incident with the soldier who insulted him; (2) the lead-up to the dinner party and the dinner itself (which redefines "awkward);" (3) the discourse with Liza, where the blustering U-Man makes himself out as a hero; (4) the meeting with Liza in the U-Man's apartments, where he is unmasked, but where Liza's reaction is far from what he expects, since she reacts with compassion rather than with derision or the need for revenge.
Don't forget the judges. The U-man is constantly addressing these "gentlemen" to justify himself.
Pay attention to the use of the images of the face through which the U-man judges others and himself. Early on, it is obvious—later his use of the face is more subtle. Notice some of the descriptions he makes, for instance, of Liza's face at certain crucial moments.
Between part one and two, there is a sub-section on the U-Man's daydreams. Note that his most rhapsodic dreams have him in the position of a hero, which is a position that almost relies on his demeaning of others.
The U-Man is obviously a coward. He claims not to be afraid of physical punishment. Do you buy this? How else is he a coward? Think about what he protects about himself when he refuses to open himself to the possibility of love.
Despite his position as "anti-hero," are there not some opinions held by the U-Man that show him to be more morally upright than others in the story?
Of course, there are many places to read interpretations of Notes form Underground both online and in the library. It is our position that the best place is in the text itself, for a student who does a careful reading and reflects on it with some degree of sophistication (rather than simply condemning the U-Man as a loser).

A 1995 film version sets the film in the modern world of the corporate office in a compelling and useful way. It stars Henry Czerny as the U-man, and John Favreau as Zherkov. The modern version of the "yellow stain on the trousers" is brilliant. The ending, where the U-man gets his "revenge" on Liza is fairly brutal—let the viewer be pre-warned.

A YouTube search will also reveal that the novel has been adapted for the theater and played in several locations.
As should be obvious, there is nothing that tethers an author to his or her particular age. Logic has not been abandoned post-Enlightenment, the attributes of individualism and connection to nature that flourished in the Romantic Period has not come to an end. Writers still use the intricate interplay of inner and outer life that is central to the modernist aesthetic. And, more than any other type of literature, Realism continues to have a great appeal to readers, because there are an infinite number of realities to convey in fiction.

The talented realist does not simply transcribe what is seen, verbatim, or document events chronologically. Strategies of representation might involve mixing the time frame of events within a story or novel, or choosing objects, phrases, devices such as letters, news articles, or songs as a focus within the tale. There is always the choice of what gets presented in a story and what is (purposefully) left out.

Realism helps us to contemplate realities experienced by others. The contemporary realists chosen for this reading shift us temporally to a time that, though within a century of ours, might as well be called "ancient." Two stories take us into a consciousness of a narrator newly arrived to America, and one of these stories explores sexual identity along with ethnic identity.

As a side-note, I make the claim that if, as hoped, students take from this course a reading list for their future as a reader, I would imagine that these stories will make quite a few of these lists.
Literary modernism is a distinct aesthetic born from historical developments as well as advances in the history of philosophy and thought. Courses in backgrounds of modernism will inevitably point to Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud as integral parts of the movement into modernism. Students will benefit from reading the section in the anthology on Modernity and Modernism, 1900-1945. From that section, any test questions will come from pages 9-13, "Modernism and World Literature." The remainder of the section should be considered "recommended, but not required."

Here are a few points that should help students understand some important attributes of modernism:

Historically, urbanization, the industrial revolution, and the unprecedented horrors of industrialized warfare in WWI provide the backdrop.
Faith in the nation and the church is greatly diminished.
A complaint about Realism is that showing the surface reality is just a small percentage of reality. Showing what exists beneath the surface is equally important. Freud is instrumental in pointing to the existence of the subconscious, the unconscious, and the dream as very real components of human existence.
The real as defined by religious authorities is called radically into question. It is up to man, and particularly the artist, to fulfill the role of creator. If there is a sacred order, it will be created in art.
Authors employ radical techniques of fragmentation, disruption of chronology, the poetic utterance within prose, of multiple references to classics of literature, to construct works of literature that are difficult to approach and understand. (Virginia Woolf, especially in her fiction, is one of the writers who exemplify these techniques). Detractors find this approach elitist and sterile; advocates cite the active reading practices necessary to read the work with profit.
Born and lived in Czechoslovakia as a German-speaking Jew. Not a Czech speaker (alienating him from some Czechs). Not a Yiddish speaker (which alienated him from some Jews). Not religious, per se.
A difficult relationship with his father. Father was a no-nonsense, take-charge, ham-fisted successful businessman. Young Franz was a "sensitive lad," not the kind of son such a man hopes for. Once, when Kafka had published a volume of stories and had given it as a present to his father, he discovered it eight months later in his father's home, the pages uncut.
Difficult relations to women. Underlying fear that he would be inadequate to their expectations, but more so, that the demands of marriage would interfere with his devotion to writing. Said once that his ideal existence would be deep in a castle, with writing material, and food once a day. A famous statement: "Literature is an ax for the frozen sea inside me."
Difficult relation to health. Dies at 41 years of age, of the disease, TB, that killed Chekhov. Was ill for a great deal of his adult life. Was in the range of 6'1" and weighed about 135 pounds. Often had unusual diets or cures for his illness. One involved Fletcherization, another involved milk.
Kafka's heroes almost all alienated, isolated, alone, at the mercy of forces that are beyond their or anyone's understanding. When asked of the seeing hopelessness of his vision, he said, "Oh, there is hope, an infinite amount of hope, just not for us."
Kafka had three sisters, all of whom died at the hands of the Nazis in the concentration camps.
On his deathbed, he made his great friend Max Brod vow to destroy his unpublished works.
By: Franz Kafka
"The Metamorphosis" is Kafka's most well-known work, representing for most readers who Kafka is as a writer. This is somewhat unfortunate, since in the modest volume of his life's work there are a great number of stories and novels that are immensely interesting. The Trial is his most fully realized novel, and, among his short works, "In the Penal Colony," "The Hunger Artist," and "Report to an Academy" are marvelous exercises in darkly imaginative literature. For those to whom he appeals, his volumes of letters and diary entries are as fascinating as many authors' fiction.

Most people one asks will represent "The Metamorphosis" as "a guy gets turned into a bug." This reflects the first sentence of the story, which provides the situation. But beyond the situation, there are rich and poignant investigations into the nature of work, of the family, and of the alienated condition of modern man (one might add, of modern man who gives up the struggle against the forces and rather meekly succumbs).

Tone of the story. How does Gregor react to his new situation? Rather calmly, given the circumstances. The manifestation of horror comes from outside, from those who happen to gaze upon him.
Pay close attention to the description of voices in the first part of the narrative. This is a large issue throughout Kafka—especially in the distinction between human and animal voices.
Other places where the distinction between human and beast are made: in the relationship to nourishment, in the debate about whether to change Gregor's room to suit his present condition, and in the reaction to Grete's violin playing at the end.
Father and son. Here, the demise of the son from the breadwinner and family leader leads to a resurrection of the father. Pay close attention to any scene that includes the father.
Role of the sister. Grete, (pronounce it Greta) too has a revitalization. Why is this? Had Gregor done his best to infantilize her, and now when has a task (to take care of what used to be her brother?) Pay attention to the very last scene that has to do with Grete, and review the implications of the story's title.
Role of work. Why had Gregor remained in a job that he detests, and that he insists is killing him? My greatest question for the story is: is Gregor's sacrifice a laudable self-sacrifice for the good of his family? Or is it a way for him to accept a limited kind of life, with no risk or great satisfactions, and to have this situation as an excuse ("I could have been something, but I gave my best years to...)?
Note the relatively privileged situation of her birth. Despite this privilege, she was not sent to good schools, as her brother was.
Note the family dynamics between Leslie Stephens, her father, and Julia, her mother, and its influence on the mental health of young Virginia.
Woolf and her sister Vanessa (Bell) at the center of arts, culture, and intellectual life in England and Europe.
Woolf and her husband, Leonard, established the influential publishing house of the Hogarth Press, (who would publish, among other things, the first English translations of Sigmund Freud).
Everyone knows the simple facts of Woolf's death. Students are encouraged to consider the depth of feeling that must have been present, and the weight of history, both personal and public.

WIKIPEDIA- Woolf suffered from severe bouts of mental illness throughout her life, now thought to have been bipolar disorder,[4] and committed suicide by drowning in 1941 at the age of 59.

The sudden death of her mother in 1895, when Virginia was thirteen, and that of her half-sister Stella two years later, led to the first of Virginia's several nervous breakdowns

The death of her father in 1904 provoked her most alarming collapse and she was briefly institutionalised.[8] She spent time recovering at her friend Violet Dickinson's house, and at her aunt Caroline's house in Cambridge.[13] Modern scholars (including her nephew and biographer, Quentin Bell) have suggested[14] her breakdowns and subsequent recurring depressive periods were also influenced by the sexual abuse to which she and her sister Vanessa were subjected by their half-brothers George and Gerald Duckworth (which Woolf recalls in her autobiographical essays A Sketch of the Past and 22 Hyde Park Gate).

Throughout her life, Woolf was plagued by periodic mood swings and associated illnesses. She spent three short periods in 1910, 1912 and 1913 at Burley House, 15 Cambridge Park, Twickenham, described as "a private nursing home for women with nervous disorder".[15] Though this instability often affected her social life, her literary productivity continued with few breaks throughout her life.
sets out to consider the subject of women and fiction, and chooses to do so in what seems to be a very material way. Rather than speak of the very few poets and novelists who made their name in British literature up to her time, Woolf considers the legions that might have if they had the same advantages as men: beautiful, well-equipped schools, choices in whom to marry, what to do for an occupation, the opportunity to earn sufficient money to "purchase" the leisure time necessary to write. With an income of 500 pounds a year and a room of one's own in which to write and think, the young girls to whom she speaks in her lectures on the subject could find themselves in a position to become great writers.

It is a sensible enough idea. The romantics among you will object, that "all the true writer needs is a scrap of paper and the nub of a pencil, stale bread and water, and genius will win out. And maybe an example could be found of this having occurred. But for Woolf, "One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well" (348). (Visitors to Austin's original Central Market location can find this aphorism above the cash registers).

But with Virginia Woolf, the simplicity of the idea (let women eat well, and they will write well) seems almost secondary to the manner in which the idea is conveyed. Here are a few movements in the essay to consider, if not for their inherent richness, at least for the midterm examination:



Two meals are described—the opulent fare at the luncheon in the men's college, and the spare supper in the woman's college. This allows a series of reflections on the ease of obtaining money for male education vs. the awful difficulty of doing the same for women's colleges.
343, etc. contains a commentary on poetry that goes through one's mind (like songs do today?) along with the assertion that so few poems of her day are the equal to Tennyson's, for instance. This is due, in part, according to Woolf on WWI.
On page 353-4 there are a series of subject headings of books written about women (exclusively by men). Taken together, they form a hilarious assortment of misguided and wrong-headed assumptions. Woolf's commentary is even more comical. As is her discussion of Samuel Butler's comment that "Wise men never say what they think about women" (354).
This trip through men on women segues into a graphic representation of a Professor X, accompanied by a more complete speculative history of the good professor. (Note: the writer of these notes is going to insist that all this is extremely funny, and suggest that if students do not share this opinion, they might re-read, read more slowly, or at least get another opinion (perhaps in asking another person to read this and ask them why the person has found anything of humor in any of this).
On 359, the story of how the author was indeed bequeathed the requisite 500 pounds per year. Note what event is concurrent with her hearing the news, and which she felt more monumental (at least to herself). (And it might be that when you are encouraged to "note" something, it is a reference to future test materials. Maybe not.).
In Chapter 3, there is a discussion of the essential role of women as characters in literature, and the comparative dearth of women in history. Here another aphorism is delivered seamlessly: "She pervades poetry from cover to cover; she is all but absent from history" (363). By the way, you can find 99 quotes listed from this volume alone here (Links to an external site.). A search of the internet can uncover thousands of Woolf comments that readers have found "quotable."
Another extended move Woolf makes to offer proof the unequal playing field for women writers is the creation of a sister for William Shakespeare, Judith. As gifted, as prone to linguistic acuity, from the same environment and historical period, this imagined sibling of the bard fails to flourish. Pay attention to the fate that befalls her every step of the way in life.