Lecture 16 - Who's Speaking, and What Do They Say? (23 May 2012)


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Sixteenth lecture for my students in English 104A, UC Santa Barbara, spring 2012. Course website: http://patrickbrianmooney.nfshost.com/~patrick/ta/s12/index.html

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Lecture 16 - Who's Speaking, and What Do They Say? (23 May 2012)

  1. 1. Lecture 16: Who’s Speaking, and What Do They Say? English 104A UC Santa Barbara Spring 2012 23 May 2012“It is a common sentence that Knowledge is power; but who hathduly considered or set forth the power of Ignorance? Knowledgeslowly builds up what Ignorance in an hour pulls down. Knowledge,through patient and frugal centuries, enlarges discovery and makesrecord of it; Ignorance, wanting its day’s dinner, lights a fire with therecord, and gives a flavour to its one roast with the burnt souls ofmany generations. ” —George Eliot, Daniel Deronda, ch. 21
  2. 2. Some administrative matters● We have a visitor today! Please ensure that she feels welcome.● Lecture slide shows 2-8 have been posted and are available from the course website. (There is no slide show for lecture 1.) ● I will post approximately one new slide show each evening, until all are posted.● Remember that I am fully enforcing the grade-limiting factors on paper two – even though I did not on paper one.● Remember that you must take at least five quizzes in order to receive a grade above D+ for the quarter.
  3. 3. A few words about the final exam● Monday, June 11, 4-7 p.m.● Worth 30% of total grade for the quarter.● Although I empathize with people who have difficult handwriting, if I can’t read an answer, I can’t grade it.● Bring blue books● Three sections: 1.Term identifications (pick eight, eight points each). Explain where term occurs (by naming both the text and its author), what it means, and what its significance is. 2.Quote identifications (pick nine, four points each). Identify author, text, speaker, and (in 1-2 sentences) what its significance is. 3.A comparative essay (fifty points), approx. 2-3 pages.
  4. 4. Sample term identifications“Section 1. Name/idea identifications. Pick 8 of thefollowing terms. Explain, in approximately four to fivesentences, where the term occurs and what its definition is,as well as what its relevance and/or significance are. (Eightpoints each.)” ● Theodore Roosevelt Babbitt ● Signifier/signified
  5. 5. Sample quote identifications“Section 2: Quote identifications. Pick 9 of the following passages.Identify the name of the work from which the quote comes, the authorof the work, who is speaking in the passage quoted, and, in 1-2sentences, describe its broader significance to the work from which itis drawn and/or the larger concerns of the course. (4 points each.)” “And still he missed it, even set – sitting right there in his own office and actively watching Flem rid Jefferson of Montgomery Ward. And still I couldn’t tell him.” “Loneliness, far from being a rare and curious circumstance, is and always has been the central and inevitable experience of every man.”
  6. 6. Sample quote identifications (notes toward answers)“And still he missed it, even set – sitting right there inhis own office and actively watching Flem ridJefferson of Montgomery Ward. And still I couldn’t tellhim.” (This is the whole of chapter 11 of WilliamFaulkner’s The Town.)“Loneliness, far from being a rare and curiouscircumstance, is and always has been the central andinevitable experience of every man.” (This is from theeditor’s introduction to book four of Thomas Wolfe’sYou Can’t Go Home Again – it is not from The HeartIs a Lonely Hunter.)
  7. 7. Essay questions● There will be three or four options. You will pick one (and only one).● Essay will be worth one-third of your total grade on the final.● You will be required to write on at least three texts, including at least two novels.● You should be able to construct a high-scoring answer in two to three pages (if your writing is of average size).● Be sure to pace yourself in the earlier sections so that you have enough time to write a strong essay.● Although I am not explicitly going to penalize you for spelling/grammar errors, it is often the case that very high- scoring essays are extremely well written.
  8. 8. Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) ● Published first poem, Boston Herald, age 8. ● First suicide attempt, 1953; treated with ECT and psychoanalysis. ● B.A., Smith College, 1955; received scholarship to study at Cambridge University. ● Married poet Ted Hughes, 1956 (two children: Frieda and Nicholas).
  9. 9. ● Plath and Hughes separated in September 1962, shortly after the revelation of Hughes’s affair.● Much of Plath’s best-regarded work is written during the next five months● Committed suicide, 11 February 1963.● Major works: ● The Colossus and Other Poems (1960) ● The Bell Jar (1963) – Plath’s only novel ● Ariel (1965) – this is the source of today’s selections.● Key terms (for our purposes): ● Confessional poetry ● Autobiographical fiction
  10. 10. Confessional Poetry● Term first used by M.L. Rosenthal, 1959. “in these poems there are depths of the self that in life are not ordinarily acknowledged and in literature are usually figured in disguise. Traditionally, between the persona of the creation and the person of the creator a certain distance exists, and this has been so even for lyric poets and their utterances, habitually inclined to the first person as they are.” (writing on poet Robert Lowell; “Two Poets,” Kenyon Review, 1959)● Poetry has, for a very long time, sometimes been written with an intimate, personal tone. ● However, confessional poetry goes further and relates events that are traditionally seen as shameful and/or that transgress fundamental boundaries governing what is acceptable in speech.
  11. 11. “to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human prose and stand before you speechless and intelligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet confessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm of thought in his naked and endless head, “the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown, yet putting down here what might be left to say in time come after death.” – Allan Ginsberg, Howl, sec. I● Other notable confessional poets: ● Theodore Roethke ● Anne Sexton ● John Berryman
  12. 12. On “Daddy” You do not do, you do not do Any more, black shoe In which I have lived like a foot For thirty years, poor and white,5 Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.● Note the direct language consisting of short, simple words. ● As the title suggests, this is the monologue of a child – or someone who, in one way or another, takes the position of a child.
  13. 13. Otto Plath● Daddy, I have had to kill you. You died before I had time--- Marble-heavy a bag full of God, Ghastly statue with one grey toe (lines 6-9)● I have always been scared of you, With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo. And your neat moustache And your Aryan eye, bright blue. Panzer-man, panzer-man, o You--- Not God but a swastika (lines 41-6)
  14. 14. ● So I never could tell where you Put your foot, your root, I never could talk to you. The tongue stuck in my jaw. It stuck in a barb wire snare. Ich, ich, ich, ich. (lines 22-27)● Theres a stake in your fat black heart And the villagers never liked you. They are dancing and stamping on you. They always knew it was you. Daddy, daddy, you bastard, Im through. (lines 76-80)
  15. 15. Some of the more controversial bits● And the language obscene An engine, an engine Chuffing me off like a Jew. A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen. I began to talk like a Jew. I think I may well be a Jew. (lines 30-35)● Every woman adores a Fascist, The boot in the face, the brute Brute heart of a brute like you. (lines 48-50)
  16. 16. On Ted Hughes● And then I knew what to do. I made a model of you, A man in black with a Meinkampf look And a love of the rack and the screw. And I said I do, I do. (lines 63-67)● If Ive killed one man, Ive killed two--- The vampire who said he was you And drank my blood for a year, Seven years, if you want to know. (lines 71-74)
  17. 17. Ted Hughes, on Sylvia Plath● “Your exaggerated American Grin for the cameras, the judges, the strangers, the frighteners” (“Fulbright Scholars”)● “Nor did I know I was being auditioned For the male lead in your drama, Miming through the first easy movements As if with eyes closed, feeling for the role. As if a puppet were being tried on its strings, Or a dead frog’s legs touched by electrodes.” (“Visit”)● “the swelling ring-moat of tooth-marks That was to brand my face for the next month. The me beneath it for good.” (“St Botolph’s”)
  18. 18. Philip Roth (1933-) ● Probably best known for Portnoy’s Complaint (1967) ● Novels are frequently set in or around Newark, New Jersey, and often concerned with questions of Jewish identity and culture ● The Human Stain (2000) won the PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction and the National Jewish Book Award (both 2001) ● Last novel of a loosely connected trilogy including American Pastoral (1997) and I Married a Communist (1998)
  19. 19. The Human Stain (2000)● As in many of Roth’s novels, Nathan Zuckerman is a primary character.● Coleman, in class: “Divine Muse, sing of the ruinous wrath of Achilles . . . Begin where they first quarreled, Agamemnon the King of men, and great Achilles.” (4)● This is also a rather difficult novel, although for reasons other than some of the other novels we’ve read this quarter. We also insist that politics demands complex thinking and that poetry is an arena for such thinking: a place to explore the constitution of meaning, of self, of groups, of nations,—of value. ―Charles Bernstein, “Revenge of the Poet-Critic” (1999)
  20. 20. “the ecstasy of sanctimony” (Roth 2)● The (semi-)public secret of Coleman Silk’s affair with Faunia Farley occurs against the backdrop of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, when “life, in all its shameless impurity, once again confronted America.” (3)● “‘Look,’ I [Nathan] said, ‘Delphine Roux—I won’t pretend I understand why she should care so passionately who you are screwing in your retirement, but since we know that other people don’t do well with somebody who fails at being conventional, let’s assume that she is one of these other people.” (40)
  21. 21. “I am a seventy-one-year-old man with a thirty-four-year-old mistress; this disqualifies me, in thecommonwealth of Massachusetts, from enlighteninganyone.” (32) “He [Coleman, to daughter Lisa] then asked lightly, ‘Would you care to know how I am?’ “‘I know how you are.’ “‘Do you?’ “No answer.” (59)“Mark’s doing. It had to be. Could not be anyone else’s.[…] Coleman had no more idea how Mark could havefound out about Faunia than how Delphine Roux oranyone else had, but that didn’t matter right now.” (60)
  22. 22. The charge of racism● Coleman: “Does anyone know these people? Do they exist or are they spooks?” “I was using the word in its customary and primary meaning: ‘spook’ as a specter or a ghost.” (6)● The public reaction to this comment is also tinged by what narrator Nathan Zuckerman calls “the ecstasy of sanctimony.”
  23. 23. Looking back at several of Omi & Winant’s concepts may be helpful here ... ● “Race is a concept which signifies and symbolizes social conflicts and interests by referring to different types of human bodies.” (55) ● “a racial project can be defined as racist if and only if it creates or reproduces structures of domination based on essentialist categories of race.” (71)
  24. 24. On education“What is the major source of black suffering onthis planet? They know the answer withouthaving to come to class. They know withouthaving to open a book. Without reading theyknow—without thinking they know. Who isresponsible? The same evil Old Testamentmonster responsible for the suffering of theGermans.” (16)“What do you do with a kid who can’t read?Think of it—a kid who can’t read. It’s difficult,Daddy.” (59)
  25. 25. A reminder...Bring blue books to the final!