
Chair Poet?
 'Poetry is the journal of
a sea animal living on
land, wanting to fly in
the air.’
Carl Sandburg

Howl
Themes, Forms, and Devices
Author Introduction:
Gloria Anzuldua
AGENDA
Discuss “
Discuss “Howl” in groups for five minutes
…was a turning point in American literary history. Ginsberg
created a new, radically different, space and style for writin...
“Howl” represents the birth of the 1960’s counterculture,
endeavoring to extoll its ethics explain its meaning, celebrate ...

Postmodern Aspects
• A collapse of the distinctions between high and low culture.
• Consider the lines: “Mohammedan ange...
• Altered states of consciousness: Part II of Howl was written
under the influence of peyote.
• Many of the effects of the...

Discussion
QHQ

 Why does Ginsberg begin most of his lines with “who” in part 1
of Howl?
 Why does each “chapter” have long seemingly ...

 Why is there so much madness in this poem? Does this go
with his theme of capitalist society failing, because
everyone...

 Who are the “best minds” of Ginsberg’s generation?
 What is “who” and “I’m” represent about the
message of Ginsberg a...

 Why is the title significant for the readers?
 Does the title “Howl” have any real relation to the
content of the sto...

 Read Gloria Anzuldua pp. 837-38 La conciencia de la
mestiza/ Towards a New Consciousness pp. 838-49
and “El Sonavabitc...
Elit 48 c class 35 post qhq
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Elit 48 c class 35 post qhq

  1. 1.  Chair Poet?  'Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air.’ Carl Sandburg
  2. 2.  Howl Themes, Forms, and Devices Author Introduction: Gloria Anzuldua AGENDA
  3. 3. Discuss “ Discuss “Howl” in groups for five minutes
  4. 4. …was a turning point in American literary history. Ginsberg created a new, radically different, space and style for writing, and he pushed back against the narrow modes of expression acknowledged by the literary establishment. Ginsberg’s poem, which must be heard to truly be appreciated and understood, reclaimed the strength and influence of the poet’s singing voice; it denied those who insisted poetry in print was most important. Ginsberg used chants to modulate moods and build rhythmic power through systems of sound, compelling audience participation. Allen Ginsberg’s first public performance of “Howl” (1955)
  5. 5. “Howl” represents the birth of the 1960’s counterculture, endeavoring to extoll its ethics explain its meaning, celebrate its beauty, and defend its ostensibly aberrant and rebellious behavior. The driving force of the poem is the message of community and tolerance as parts of an ideal America. He is one of the first to acknowledge sexual “deviants,” radical activists, extraordinary, unconventional artists, and experimenters with forbidden substances. Ginsberg wanted a country that accepted eccentricity and individualism. He wanted to redeem the society he saw as built of greed and materialism. Themes
  6. 6.  Postmodern Aspects • A collapse of the distinctions between high and low culture. • Consider the lines: “Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated” and “angel headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo.” Ginsberg fuses the high imagery of the angelic and celestial with the ramshackle tenement rooftop, with beat slang and pop language. • A fragmentation of the self: a de-centering of the individual as subject. • Whilst Part I begins with an affirmation of the subject – “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed” – the “I” is soon dissolved in favor of the “who.” Each descriptive line is no longer the sole possession of the subject. They all occupy a general, rather than individual space. After only a few lines of the poem, the self is completely consumed by the descriptive ‘other’: there is no anchored ‘I’, no centered subject.
  7. 7. • Altered states of consciousness: Part II of Howl was written under the influence of peyote. • Many of the effects of the new drugs of the post-war period could be seen as ‘de-centering’ the subject (through hallucination or otherwise) in a postmodern way. • Pastiche: One good example of pastiche is the channel-flipping viewer: a successive chain of images appear onscreen but are not connected by any meaningful narrative; rather it is the sensations of the surface images that the viewer consumes. • If we read “Howl” looking for the sensations created by the language, we can see the disruption of the grand narrative. Ginsberg flips through images so fast we can barely collect them much less understand them. He also uses shocking scenes and offensive language to drive us from moment to moment. This pushes individuality and eccentricism across or beyond the modernist grand narrative and disrupts our understanding of the world.
  8. 8.  Discussion QHQ
  9. 9.   Why does Ginsberg begin most of his lines with “who” in part 1 of Howl?  Why does each “chapter” have long seemingly never ending sentences and how does it impact the reading?  Why doesn’t “Howl” keep the traditional meter or rhythm of the poem, but instead keeps a stream of consciousness writing?  Could the ceaseless text be an aesthetic device to describe the unending bombardment of the world we live in, and perhaps serve to belittle the reader and make one realize how small one is? Form
  10. 10.   Why is there so much madness in this poem? Does this go with his theme of capitalist society failing, because everyone is going mad by the in obtainable dollar, that is also repeated a few times.  Is the footnote Ginsberg’s acceptance of his own insanity?  Looking at the examples of madness – what has driven the geniuses mad?  If we all have this howl inside of us, is there any certain instance when a howl might be more powerful than another? Madness
  11. 11.   Who are the “best minds” of Ginsberg’s generation?  What is “who” and “I’m” represent about the message of Ginsberg about the time period he wrote “Howl”?  What is the significance of the city Rockland in Howl?  Why does Ginsberg include so many religious allusions? Was it for Ginsberg’s own sake or for his readers that he included these religious allusions? Meaning
  12. 12.   Why is the title significant for the readers?  Does the title “Howl” have any real relation to the content of the story?  Is there any sort of traditional sense to be found in the poem?  What do all the thought’s in “Howl,” come together and say?  Why he is insulting beliefs of some people, to make his point? Meaning
  13. 13.   Read Gloria Anzuldua pp. 837-38 La conciencia de la mestiza/ Towards a New Consciousness pp. 838-49 and “El Sonavabitche” pp. 858-62  Post #33: Choose one  QHQ: La conciencia  Discuss themes or meaning in “El Sonavabitche”  Discuss Postmodernism, or Feminist Theory, or Minority Theory in terms of Anzuldua HOMEWORK
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