Wednesday, November 29, 2006
As Percy Bysshe Shelly would put it, "O Snow! O Cold!" ....
Monday, November 27, 2006
Here in Vancouver, money is made and ideology advanced by a heralded display of these unhallowed arts: a profane and exhibitionist sacrilege of flayed dead innocents -- which would have disgusted the Middle Ages -- under the commercialist title "BodyWorld 3."
Shelley's nightmare has come true.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
(lines 428-441)“Wisdom and Spirit of the universe!...”Nature’s experience creates in Wordsworth a pure clean slate, not tainted by the “vulgar works of man” (line 435)Shows how the power of Nature will take him beyond those who came before.
The Vulgar works of man -the works discussed in the book but also the works/workings of the Enlightenment – These vulgar works taint the mind by denying the emotional reaction, the “wisdom and spirit of the universe” (line 428).These vulgar works are inferior because they don’t allow the glory of Nature shine. They cage and dissect Nature instead of appreciating it as a whole
1. 11 443-65esp. 450-65 (p.403-4)
2. -book is about preserving childhood memories perceptions
-passage is central because it explains why that process is important
->not just for an artistic purpose, but the deeper purpose that underlies art (ie. understanding)
-returns to greater powers that are manifested in childhood memories
3. -anticipates change of adulthood & prepares reader not to see it as negative
-reminder to keep first books in mind throughout
Book 2 & overall
L. This reiterated things I already believe about the relevance of literature to society.
A. Human thought processes are the same as natural cycles
eg: flowers start off as seed, slowly grows and develops and the dies. Our thought processis similar when we take time to think about our life or a memory.
L. I don’t know if I believe that poetic genius is an inherent trait or a product of environment, but it’s hard to disagree with Wordsworth’s reasoning & the example he embodies.
J. The text described nature the way I percieved and understood it to be
Lines 97 -> “Oft did I leave...”to line 120 -> “...with highest truth” -he leaves the city to go to nature where he truly awakened to nature, he finds his true self and turns his mind into itself, etc.-central concepts of tranquility, truth, nature awakening, observation/reflection, etc. - Relates to Book two, around lines 479/480 when he knows there is a change but doesn’t know what it is yet until here.-at the end of this passage, he realizes that this is the step leading into a “community” and life, of the “highest truth.”-also he began the search for “universal things,” (the macrochosm), contraries and complimentaries in God and nature.
-In the peripatetic journey, it is essential to avoid remaining idle, in order to further understanding of the world.-Like the poet, educational institutions and other urban constraints must be left to explore nature and ultimately consider/understand a higher truth (“the highest truth (l.120))-this enables the mind to be exercised to its potential.
-Wordsworth’s wider sense of beauty in nature, as opposed to Blacks micro/macrocosm.
line 181-2= “a freshness also found at this time, In human life, the life I mean of those...”
-a precursor to the final statements of Book 13 – the mind of man giving/perceiving the beauty of nature
(title: summer vacation->different context from modern associations->thinking back to Spring throughout Book 4->lines 121-127) of “The Prelude”
(starting line 181)
-passage begins with “freshness”, “human life”, “touched me with surprise” -> passage begins with personal reactions and moves towards universal reaction:
-generality: “pale-faced Babes”, “children of the neighborhood”, “Girls” -> no specifics, no names or associations
-line 67: “the transformation”-> reflects lines 194-6 when can see the newborn baby from the Spring transforming into a toddler stage during the Summer
= most significant passage (p. 447) 11.532-557 -glory of youth p.447 11.532-550 slowly diminishes but can be reclaimed through books that engaged us -doubt – 11.568 What happens when old books (favourites) no longer engage our imagination? then we read great poetry or engage with nature Book -is about fear of death – and doubt -poet sleeping on shore – dream of Arab – stone – geometric truth nature threatens to reclaim all <>Book 5 = most significant passage: p.447 11.532-557 About the power of books – moments of imagination recorded in time. “As the glory of youth fades, the power of books can re-engage us with this youthful exuberance. Our favourite books can bring us back to these moments. Moments of beauty (or truth, imagination) are recorded in books and we can experience/engage them when we read. Books are therefore immortal and timeless, similar to nature’s power, in their ability to affect our minds and imagination.
Cambridge and the Alps: Chapter six clusters together Cambridge and the Alps, illustrating that the detached book-learning experience at Cambridge should not be taken alone, but married to sensual and social experience, (eg. the Alps). Clustered, variegated experience, acts, in Book 6, as a dialectical opposition with the more independent treatment of “Books” in Book 5. Lines 116 -134 – “Sequestered from my outward taste in books...what simplicity and sense.”
1. Line 489-516 2. Describing how and why he is inspired to write such influential works. Development of works through experience and although he was inspired by beauty and nature, it is only in his maturity where he is able to recognize and understand the beauty. seen in: line 121 & 122 “Oh wondrous power of words” 3. Previously be explains his “independent spirit of pure youth” and in book seven this leads to his development of experience, but always, youth must come first
-Lines 375-428; (p.498-97) -image of man against nature leas him to recognize an unconscious love and reverence of human nature -also recognizes that we find evil as fast as we find good, so how can innocence be maintained? -it was when he first looked at man through the beauty of nature, the spirit of things as truth, that he was able to reconcile the existing qualities of good/evil and find love for human kind -this realization takes the form of a peripatetic journey
RESIDENCE IN FRANCE -Lines 192-217; pg 513-514 -Although an Englishman and stranger to France (and her ‘speech’), he was accepted by them (French military officers). -felt “shunned and not tolerated” elsewhere -> England -Although the revolutionists were uneducated, he is entranced by their passion and human connection – their simplicity, and their ability to understand the national rights of the civilians. -Listening to these Officers as poets (their stories of heroes and their deeds) creates for him, a sublime. -Criticizes class system and monarchy in England; implies that “they ought to rule” (->Revolutionists) -Wandering in a different country; accumulating the essence of Paris and the Revolution. Reasoning/Relating his life: as an Englishman/ & England (->imperialism, monarchy, class system)
So much more can be learned through experiencing the world and its people, then sitting in a classroom and reading about it. -Wordsworth puts more worth on human nationalism rather than only French nationalism. *The importance of human connection (mind and passion)
The passage can be read as both what W.W. loves about the Revolution ad what he hates about it. -He loves the people uniting, rising up to overcome their oppressors and their inhumane living conditions -He hates that the result of this uprising is to replace the old system with a new system, that is the exact same. This aspect of the Revolution causes W.W. to abandon his faith in the Revolution. Book 11 begins his search fro a replacement ideology.
Rather than man having to be present for nature to have beauty, we feel beauty does exist, however, for man to see it, he must use his mind (imagination) to interpret it into something beautiful for man.) Although child-like innocence is necessary for imagination to grow, Wordsworth illustrates how experience is also a necessary part of the walk
(P’d to Chapter 9 of Prelude) 1. Lines 307-345 p. 540-1 -his walk through France during time of the Revolution -He sees a united people fighting for the cause of the Revolution -> sacrificed life to bring an ultimate joy and freedom 2. Line 18-35 (p. 509) Because this is England and England appears to be Wordsworth’s ideal. At the end of the passage is Wordsworth leaving for France. He is writing about a former time as if he is in the moment looking back? (By the time this chapter is written, he had already renounced his views) 3. It is Wordsworth in the moment, walking, observing life in France. He determines that life has gone awry. There is too much experience not enough innocence; nature has been disrupted. That is why at this point he supports the French Revolution.
Shannon and Jane.
Having come to the realization that the realities of war contained little trace of the romantic notions that initially attracted Wordsworth to revolutionary France, Wordsworth admits, “I am lost.”
Here everything stops, and by looking inside himself, toward his strength in childhood, Wordsworth begins to move, this time in the direction of compassion and unity – yet weighed down by the experience of having witnessed, and been a part of, terrible things.
Central lines (326-334) of the Prelude 2. We humans contain a reservoir of strength linked to feeling and not to Reason. For Wordsworth, this quality is mysterious, partly rooted in the experience of childhood, and involves a cyclical give and take. 3. Emerging from disillusionment (regarding the outcome of the battling in France) Wordsworth begins to place more value on nature and unity rather than the ideologies of war that involve the breaking up of territories and the division of people – all taking and no giving.
-After the disillusionment of the French Revolution, Wordsworth finds inspiration and peace through applying peripeteia. -Example of education through meditation (of political events), and interaction with fellow man. --
Lines 145-184 pg. 572-573 - Walking on the “public road” inspires Imagination and guides us into eternity and the unknown. The importance and relevance of peripeteia is education of mankind through personal interaction with others. Also, it gives hope, peace and steadiness to pleasure, and heals and calms negative emotions. --
– Central passage
1. Lines 442-448
“Prophets of Nature, we to them will speak/ A lasting inspiration, sanctified/ By reason and by truth, what we have loved/ Others will love; and we may teach them how;/ Instruct them how the mind of man becomes/ A 1000x more beautiful than the earth/ On which he dwells,”
2. The Prophets of Nature are the poetic geniuses who teach others, by example, how to write poetry. This is possible because of Imagination; which is what enables the mind of man to be more beautiful than Nature. (It is the God/Creator type Imagination that is necessary.)
3. It is a conclusion statement about what good poetry is and how to get there. The preceding books lead up to this (your past leads up to your present state). It is the end of the walk through the prelude.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
The image here is the frontispiece to the Great Instauration of Francis, Lord Bacon ("Verulam") and emblamises his rejection of the classical tradition of accepting that the search for knowledge must be limited by our moral capacity to use the fruits of study wisely-- itself a wisdom which was summarised with the Latin tag ne plus ultra -- "not beyond the limit." Bacon's book shows the ship of knowledge sailing beyond the legendary Pillars of Hercules to the defiant call "Plus Ultra!"
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
The paragraph below is the conclusion from one of our mid-term papers, and I include it here, with permission, because it shows very effectively how a concluding paragraph can broaden out from the specific thesis argued in the essay to a stimulating related point for further schoalrly research.
In this particular case, the application borders on the insolent.
Blake’s Auguries of Innocence and selections of Goethe’s writings both detail how the microcosm and the macrocosm are apparent separately but also combined in nature. As enumerated in this essay, the observation of nature connects us with not only ourselves and our perceptions, but with the divine as well. We must use our senses of sight and hearing to allow nature her luminance and voice if she is to reveal to us the true quality of the divine. This essay explicated the contextual meanings of the microcosm and the macrocosm, the divine, the particular and the general, and others to show how Blake’s and Goethe’s ideas of nature are fundamentally the same. Personally, however, the opening quadruplet of Auguries of Innocence raises even more questions: if a world is in one grain of sand, does that mean there are millions of different worlds in all the grains of sand? Similarly, if a heaven is in one flower, are there many heavens to be found in all flowers? These questions seem to cross the line into the unknown, the unanswerable. I choose to believe that once we have found our individual versions of the divine in nature our own personal world or heaven then any questions we have will become irrelevant.
Orlando: Women's Writing in the British Isles
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Sunday, November 19, 2006
Blake is a master of intensely crafted short lyric, expemplifed for me by the Auguries of Innocence (the Songs & Innocence & Experience also, of course): "He who shall teach a child to doubt / The Rotting Grave shall ne'er get out;" and naturally the opening lyric which captivated so many of you, "To see a World in a Grain of Sand /And a Heaven in a Wild Flower / Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand / And Eternity in an hour." This latter is, correctly described as a quatrain, but it is also, I believe, a poem in itself.
Wordsworth, no need to emphasise, is master of the long and expansive lyric: the inspired wandering, most especially, of The Prelude, which has its peripateticism on an incalculable compound of levels.
So there is certainly a contrast of poetic mode -- small and large -- understanding , however, that both could, and did, succeed and delight in writing of any length & size. But what connected for me last week was the (perhps merely pedagogical) point that the two men had a focus on nature at the corresponding level. Blake was inspired by the grain of sand; Wordsworth by the Alps, the Lake District; nay, the elements themselves. And this accords with their habits, where Blake was a contented domestic in habit and Wordsworth was a great walker. Praises be.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
The picture here is the AQ from the fourth floor west side staircase, taken today, and reminded me of Shelley's poem:
1607 T. DEKKER & J. WEBSTER West-ward Hoe II. i. sig. B3v, I was so stiffe..I would ha sworne my Legs had beene wodden pegs: a Constable new chosen kept not such a peripateticall gate.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
§ 8. The temperament which admits the pathetic fallacy, is, as I said above, that of a mind and body in some sort too weak to deal fully with what is before them or upon them; borne away, or over-clouded, or over-dazzled by emotion; and it is a more or less noble state, according to the force of the emotion which has induced it. For it is no credit to a man that he is not morbid or inaccurate in his perceptions, when he has no strength of feeling to warp them; and it is in general a sign of higher capacity and stand in the ranks of being, that the emotions should be strong enough to vanquish, partly, the intellect, and make it believe what they choose. But it is still a grander
condition when the intellect also rises, till it is strong enough to assert its rule against, or together with, the utmost efforts of the passions; and the whole man stands in an iron glow, white hot, perhaps, but still strong, and in no wise evaporating ; even if he melts, losing none of his weight.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
The following is the address to the Art History text that was my primary source for my presentation. It also has a chapter on Blake. Nineteenth century art : a critical history -- Stephen F. Eisenman; [with contributions by] Thomas
Crow ... [et al.] London : Thames and Hudosn, c1994. http://troy.lib.sfu.ca:80/record=b1478249a
I cited another text, Gardner's Art throught the Ages in my notes. The library doesn't have it, I wouldn't recommend it anyway if one's particularly interested in Goya, it's very much a survey text. I also used the following texts from the library (primarily for images): Disasters of war : Callot, Goya, Dix ; [exhibition catalogue] /[essays by Antony Griffiths, Juliet Wilson-Bareau, John Willett]. London: South Bank Centre,
Saturn : an essay on Goya / [translated by C.W. Chilton]. New York : Phaidon Publishers ; distributed by Garden City Books,  http://troy.lib.sfu.ca:80/record=b1022689a
Our timing for our reading of the text is suspiciously provident:
It was on a dreary night of November, that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils....
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
It’s hard to remember that Diana’s death spawned one of the first exhibitions of grief pornography, replete with an Elton John-penned theme song and fame predators like Tom Cruise and Donatella Versace jetting in for the funeral. Blair tries, with exasperation and a filial protective instinct, to explain to the Queen why private grief is outdatedI mention this because it shows what I consider the timeless relevancy of Coleridge's dissection in Biographia Literaria of this staged descent into tabloid journalism ("....sundry petty periodicals of still quicker revolution, "or weekly or diurnal:")
In times of old, books were as religious oracles; as literature advanced, they next became venerable preceptors; they then descended to the rank of instructive friends; and, as their numbers increased, they sank still lower to that of entertaining companions; and at present they seem degraded into culprits to hold up their hands at the bar of every self-elected, yet not the less peremptory, judge, who chooses to write from humour or interest, from enmity or arrogance, and to abide the decision 'of him that reads in malice, or him that reads after dinner.'[B.L. Ch. III).
[Ch. XIII] The Imagination then I consider either as primary, or secondary. The primary Imagination I hold to be the living power and prime agent of all human perception, and as a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM. The secondary Imagination I consider as an echo of the former, co-existing with the conscious will, yet still as identical with the primary in the kind of its agency, and differing only in degree, and in the mode of its operation. It dissolves, diffuses, dissipates, in order to recreate: or where this process is rendered impossible, yet still at all events it struggles to idealize and to unify. It is essentially vital, even as all objects (as objects) are essentially fixed and dead. FANCY, on the contrary, has no other counters to play with, but fixities and definites. The fancy is indeed no other than a mode of memory emancipated from the order of time and space; while it isblended with, and modified by that empirical phaenomenon of the will, which we express by the word Choice. But equally with the ordinary memory the Fancy must receive all its materials ready made from the law of association.
[Ch. V] Our various sensations, perceptions, and movements were classed as active or passive, or as media partaking of both. A still finer distinction was soonestablished between the voluntary and the spontaneous.Our inward experiences were thus arranged in three separate classes, the passive sense, or what the School-men call themerely receptive quality of the mind; the voluntary; and the spontaneous, which holds the middle place between both....
Aristotle .... admits five agents or occasioning causes: first, connection in time, whether simultaneous, preceding, or successive; second, vicinity or connection in space; third, interdependence or necessary connection, as cause and effect; fourth, likeness; and fifth, contrast. As an additional solution of the occasional seeming chasms in the continuity of reproduction he proves, that movements or ideas possessing one or the other of these five characters had passed through the mind as intermediate links, sufficiently clear to recall other parts of the same total impressions with which they had co-existed, though not vivid enough to excite that degree of attention which is requisite for distinct recollection, or as we may aptly express it, after consciousness.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Nationalism in this view is favourable attitude toward one's country (or, in the etymological definition, '‘people united by common language and culture’) turned to political action. This necessarily involves direct concern with borders. Also, invariably, though here not necessarily, nationalism leads to the belief that one's nation is superior to other nations. Patriotism, or, to coin a term, matriotism, is on the other hand a love for one's nation -- one's countryside, language, customs, people, and achievements -- that is expressed personally: through art, community participation, family or the like. *
The question arose whether nationalism implies Imperialsm. I answered that it does not. I suggest that nationalism can take one of three forms: imperialist, realist or isolationist. Imperialism is the conquest and ongoing direct rule of another nation: Rome provides the template for Imperial power. Isolationism, such as is practiced today by North Korea and formerly by pre-Meiji Japan, as its name implies tends to avoid influence from, and preferably contact with, other nations. Realism is the doctrine of interference in the affairs of other nations for the sole benefit of one's own, with neither responsibility for nor interest in the governance, welbeing -- nay, even survival -- of that nation suffering the interference.
I also suggest that it might be academically useful to distinguish imperialism from colonialism. I think that it is possible to conceive of Rome as imperial but not colonial: that is, it would conquor and govern, but rather than populate with Romans would require the conquored people to follow the laws and adminstrative regulations of Rome. This, at least, is how I read my Gibbon and my New Testament. Colonialism, in comparison, sees other nations as expansive and available land where members of their home population (perhaps, excess or unwanted population) move to live, and live according to their home nation's law. Hence, of course, colony.
(In this latter case, it might be more a matter of two different types of Imperialism than of colonialism being a seperate form of nationalism. I'd be glad to hear your thoughts.)
Let me conclude by stating my personal position in this area, to head off any possible misunderstanding; and that is that I, with Orwell, see myself as disavowing all these nationalisms and preferring patriotism ....or matriotism as the case may be.
* in this conception, military means are valid in direct defense to one's nation, as police force is valid to defend one's family from attack. With Coleridge and Wordsworth, I have come to recognise "....the Social Sense / Distending wide, and man beloved as man" as a fanciful hope of youth that once met with real experience will immediately and permanently be "....afflicted and struck down." [To William Wordsworth. Words in italics technical terms from Coleridge & Blake respectively.]
Sunday, October 22, 2006
I will, in fact, add additional Office Hours permanently after this coming week. I currently have five hours each week, with one hour every day of the week. Thinking over possible ways to accomodate everyone's schedule, it seems that if I have one day, mid-week, where there is a long block of time that goes beyond any one two-hour class I can remove that occasionally-stated reason for non-attendance.
Accordingly, I will have a three-hour Office Hour block on Wednesdays, effective November 1st, from noon to three o'clock. My Office Hours schedule with be then as follows:
Office Hours: AQ 6094 -- Tuesday 10:30-11:30; Wednesday, 12:00-14:55; Thursday 10:30-11:30, Friday 12:00-12:55. Bring your coffee and discuss course matters freely. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Please only use your SFU account for email contact. In urgencies, I may be reached on my cellular telephone at 604-250-9432
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Friendship is a social expedient, like upholstery or the distribution of garbage buckets. It has no spiritual significance. For the artist, who does not deal in surfaces, the rejection of friendship is not only reasonable, but a necessity. Because the only possible spiritual development is in the sense of depth. The artistic tendency is not expansive, but a contraction. And art is the apotheosis of solitude. There is no communication because there are no vehicles of communication. Even on the rare occasions when word and gesture happen to be valid expressions of personality, they lose their significance on their passage through the cataract of the personality that is opposed to them. Either we speak and act for ourselves - in which case speech and action are distorted and emptied of their meaning by an intelligence that is not ours, or else we speak for others - in which case we speak and act a lie.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Thursday, October 12, 2006
I have found out that many of the books that I have put on course Reserve at the library are being listed under my other course this term. I have submitted a form to have this fixed, but until then, please click on this link to the Reserves list -- the titles you may find helpful will jump out at you. I'll post here directly the problem is solved.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Monday, October 09, 2006
The collection of books on course Reserve has been chosen to be a mix of standard & new approaches to Romanticism, with a general but not merely introductory tenor, with the odd specialty title in cases where classfellows with a certain interest may miss a specifically valuable scholarly work.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Update II: the link to the syllabus now corrected: thanks to "Achillez" for the detection.
The criteria for the mid-term essay are detailed in the syllabus. The three topics are as follows. Write on one topic only.
1.] Romanticism is perfectly a literary sensibility, but with the additional quality of an active philosophy that re-visions the scientific approach to nature. Working from the opening quadruplet of Auguries of Innocence, show how Blake's system, as he called it, harmonises with Goethe's conception of scientific method.
2.] Explain Kant's category of "synthetic a priori" in terms of Coleridge's attribution of universal and necessary truth to Art.
3.] Blake depreciates and Coleridge appreciates the physical world. Reconcile these two ostensible contraries in a unified understanding of Romanticism.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
.....procedures regarding assignments handed in outside of class. The new procedure is as follows: Department staff do not date stamp assignments handed in outside of regular class time; nor does the General Office any longer maintain a sign-in procedure for such assignments. Instructors are therefore strongly advised to have students hand in all assignments during class meeting times, or during their office hours. Please do not encourage your students to slip papers under your office door.
Coleridge gave many talks as a literary critic, usually with a few drops of laudanum in his drink. An observer remarked that he "spoke so wonderfully because he was absolutely spontaneous. He would think about his subject beforehand but not about his words. He relied on his passion to inspire him. As a result his lectures were riveting to his audiences and completely terrifying to himself."
In conclusion, while seeking release from unbearable physical pain, opium turned what was a physical affliction into a mental one, plaguing his mind and shattering his character overall. In his later years he is recorded saying, "The stimulus of conversation suspends the terror that haunts my mind."
Nobody stuffs the world in at your eyes.I can't begin here to describe the excellencies of easily our greatest poet. Consider picking up some volume of hers for your indugence.
The optic heart must venture: a jail-break
Monday, October 02, 2006
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Romanticism can be seen as a rejection of the precepts of order, calm, harmony, balance, idealization, and rationality that typified Classicism in general and late 18th-century Neoclassicism
in particular. It was also to some extent a reaction against the Enlightenment and against 18th-century rationalism and physical materialism in general. Romanticism emphasized the individual, the subjective, the irrational, the imaginative, the personal, the spontaneous, the emotional, the visionary, and the transcendental.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
"Many Sweeps’ Boys were parish children or orphans, although others were sold into the trade by their families. Some grew up to be Journeymen (assistants to the Master), the remainder were put out to various trades to attempt to become skilled at other work.In London there was the London Society of Master Sweeps with its own set of rules, one of which said that boys were not required to work on Sundays but must go to Sunday School to study, and read the Bible. Conditions for the children were harsh and sometimes cruel. Some were forced to sleep in cellars on bags of soot and washing facilities rarely existed. Cancer of the testicles was a common illness amongst the boys and was contracted from the accumulated soot."
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
At our Thursday colloquium, you will all put your heads together in a student-led round-table format and analyse Jerusalem in terms of the previous works: There is no natural religion and All religions are One; Auguries of Innocence; The Marriage of Heaven & Hell; and Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. I believe that with your combinded insight and intellectual, a valid & perfectly comprehensible picture of this superlative work of literary genius will appear.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
More to come on Blake's engraving of the tiger in the illustarted poem ....
Update: Dr. Harris mentioned during his slide-show of Blake's illustrations the non-ferocity of the tiger illustrating The Tyger from Songs of Experience. Now, there is something about the specific expression on the tiger's face that still eludes me. However, I believe that the general conception of the tiger in Blake's vision is as a children's illustration. This interpretation harmonises the poem directly with The Lamb from Songs of Innocence -- which is quite clearly child's verse, and has been universally presented as such within the Anglosphere print culture -- as part of a design for a child audience. Such as design has an impeccable literary pedigree -- Dickens & Tolstoi for two -- but is, shall we say, not currently favoured by academics.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
On Tuesday we will make a list of the subjects that you favour -- mainly, as discussed, some of the Romantic poets whom we are not able to address ourselves to in detail in lecture -- and assign groups of interested scholars. The only firm criteria that I will have for the mode of your engagement is that it must be set in terms of how your subject, in specific detail, was a Romantic.
The virtue of Goethe is that he was an unchallenged universal genius -- of the calibre of Leonardo da Vinci -- and so his conception of science has supreme weight. I was very happy to have found the edition that we are using when I was putting our course together. Someone deserves our thanks for putting this compendium of salient observations into one manageable volume.
Friday, September 22, 2006
Monday, September 25th, 7:00 pm, Room 7000, SFU Harbour Centre
This event features a talk from British Lad-Lit author Robert Twigger, with a response panel to follow. Twigger – who has won the Newdigate Poetry Prize and the Somerset Maugham Award for Literature – occupies a literary terrain where a masculine performative identity is developed for post-colonial men through a variety of Empire-class male adventures. He has gained a consequential readership among non-middle-class males, and his books have proven to be appealing movie material. Big Snake, the author’s hunt for the world’s biggest python, is now a National Geographic film, and Miramax is currently preparing Angry White Pyjamas – a literate reflection on the twelve months that Twigger, a self-described “scrawny Oxford poet,” spent among the Extreme Right in Tokyo in brutal training for a black belt in Yoshinkan aikido – for world-wide movie release.
Twigger set on Canada as the Empire setting for his newest lad-lit book: Voyageur, just released, takes the form of a recreation of Mackenzie’s trek in a birch-bark canoe from Lake Athabasca to Bella Coola. Fittingly, then, the author has chosen the SFU English Department to give his literary ideas their first open academic airing, here, at our Colloquium. Peter Dickinson and Steve Collis have agreed to participate on the response panel, joining Rebecca Wigod, Books editor for the Vancouver Sun.
You are all very welcome to attend and, if you wish, contribute your response to Robert Twigger’s talk, as there will certainly be opportunity for moderated response from the floor.
- Rosy Cross: the central symbol of the Fraternity of the Rose Cross, i.e. the rosicrucian order. The homepage of the Rosicrucian Archive is littered with terms like mystery and hidden meaning.
- Manichean: a metaphysic of Persian origin of perennial attraction to gnostics. Absolute dualism: Good and Evil are opposing gods of co-equal power.
- Apocryphal Christian writings: (apocrypha = Gr. "hidden") Non-Biblical documents, real or fraudulent, dated to early centuries AD. To gnostics, this extra-biblicality is suppression and, then, secrecy and proof of power. To non-gnostics, they are documents that, where they are not fakes, merely did not pass the criteria of the various editing panels set by the early Church to compile a compendium of works into one authorised anthology eventually called simply The Book -- or in Latin, Bible. Gnostics at times intimate that Christianity hides the apocryphal writings. The Catholic encyclopedia has an extensive treatment. The texts are widely available: here online for instance. The Book of Mormon is an example of an extra-Biblical text that has illuminati qualities. One other major non-Christian text may also come to mind here.
- The illuminati: simply, enlightened ones. The Conspiracy Archive has a treatment. Freemasons are illuminati; "New World Order" is an illuminati jargon.
- Kabbalah. A Judiac mystical tradition. Pop singer -- and perennially interesting person -- Madonna (or Madge, to the press in her adoptive home, England) is a practicing Kabbalist. On Kabbalism's sometime claim that mere open sexual practices have been exaggerated into charges of sexual deviancy to cover supression by the Church: right here in Vancouver, one Ivon Shearing, leader of the Kabalarian Society, was convicted by B.C. Supreme Court in 1997 on two counts of rape, three of sexual assault, four of indecent assault and three of gross indecency involving seven teenage girls between 1966 and 1989. You can read an account and estimation of Kabbalism in the transcript of a trial at the Supreme Court of Canada against Shearing. Quotation: "The accused was the leader of a cult which believed that enlightenment is reached through ascension by steps of consciousness. He preached that sexual experience was a way to progress to higher levels and that he, as cult leader, could be instrumental in enabling young girls to reach higher levels through sexual and spiritual contact. He was charged with 20 counts of sexual offences alleged to have occurred between 1965 and 1990. Two of the 11 complainants were sisters who had resided with the accused at the cult’s group residence while teenagers .... the Kabalarians are a secretive society whose original philosophy seems to have been reduced by the appellant to a hodge-podge of spiritual fantasies (e.g., having sex with disembodied minds). Kabalarians believe that enlightenment is reached through ascension by steps of consciousness. Sexual experience, the appellant says, is a key way to progress to the next level. Perhaps not surprisingly, the appellant preached that he, as the leader, could be instrumental in enabling young girls to reach these higher levels through sexual/spiritual contact with him."
Gnosticism, as detailed in lecture, is a catch-all term covering an overlapping complex of institutions, ideas, and traditions; characterised generally by a shared sense of secrecy and conspiracy.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Thus productively humbled, I accordingly apologise.
Friday, September 15, 2006
The assignment, then, will be for a creative scholarly (if that is not a pleonasm) presentation of any one of the major or minor English Romantics; Wordsworth, Coleridge and Blake excluded. I will consider an exception in the case of Wordsworth, if a convincing argument were made in writing and none of the poems assigned in the syllabus were included.
Keats, Byron and P.B. Shelley would be required to be among the Romantics chosen by our six class Groups.
The project would present the selected poet in an intellectually significant and revivifying manner: presented, that is, in a meaningful and stimulating contemporary context.
...boredom was literally nonexistent until the late eighteenth century - that is, it came into being as Enlightenment was giving way to Industrial Revolution. While its continental cousins "ennui" and "Langeweile" are older, they were not used synonymously, that is, in the modern sense that combines an existential and a temporal connotation, until about the same time. This linguistic convergence reflects experiential transformations that were transnational in nature, for modernization literally altered the quality of human being in time. In the course of the nineteenth century, even as the temporal rhythms of everyday life were being revolutionized by technological and economic developments, a new, secular interpretation of human temporality was gaining ground. Faith in a coming redemption and in a divinely ordered eternity was increasingly being displaced by enlightened belief in human progress toward an earthly paradise; religious vocabularies of reflection on subjective existence were being eclipsed by a radically different language grounded in bodily materiality....Boredom epitomizes the the dilemma of the autonomous modern subject, for whom enlightenment has also meant fragmentation - for whom modernization and scientific progress have caused, in Max Weber's term, the "disenchantment" of the world such that history and religion can no longer anchor identity in the fabric of collective meaning.
I have put Elaine Pagels' The Gnostic Gospels on course reserve, as an example of a true-blue conspiritorialist's take.
However, for a proper scholarly treatment, we have Rethinking ""Gnosticism"" : An Argument for Dismantling a Dubious Category by Michael Williams available from our eBrary. If you are truly interested, I strongly recommend you begin here.
To see a gnostic in action, read Thomas Vaughan's COELUM TERRAE Or The Magician's Heavenly Chaos here online. Thomas, brother of the poet Henry vaughan, wrote proxily such works as Anthroposophia Theomagica and Anima Magica Abscondita (the titles of which tell you very much about the gnostic sensibilty) under the pen-name "Eugenius Philalethes." Dr. Alan Rudrum, SFU Emeritus Professor, is the leading authority on Thomas Vaughan, and edited his collected works for Oxford UP. See his "Thomas Vaughan” in The Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism, to be published by Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands (in press).
There is also an excellent argument from the New Left Review for Blake's antinomianism as a legacy of his fellow-traveller status with the dissenting sects, also available online.
A perennially relevant account from a true Blake devotee is found in imp and curmudgeon sui generis Malcolm Muggeridge's classic A Third Testament, which I have put on course Reserve.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
September 14th: J.L. October 26th: E.M. & J.B.
September 19th: I.L. October 31st: J.G. & L.C.
September 21st: T.S. November 2nd: S.Y. & J.S.
September 26th: C.G. November 7th: R.S. & M.T.
September 28th: C.L. & M.G. November 9th: C.A. & C.G.
October 3rd: J.Mc. & S.C. November 14th: M.Z. & N.P.
October 5th: S.C. & A.A. November 16th: A.K. & M.M.
October 10th: D.S. & T.R. November 21st: P.S.
October 12th: P.M. & E.B. November 23rd: C.M.
October 17th: A.W. & R.S. November 28th: S.Mc.
October 19th: S.C. & L.S.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Supplementary resources works are available on course reserve. A Virtual CoursePackage of background articles on Romanticism and Science will be read in support of the primary texts.
Week One: September 5th - September 7th
William Blake: Auguries of Innocence.
There is no Natural Religion /All Religions are One.
Week Two: September 12th - September 14th
William Blake: Marriage of Heaven & Hell.
Week Three: September 19th - September 21st
William Blake: Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience.
Goethe: On Science.
Week Four: September 26th - September 28th
William Blake: Jerusalem.
Week Five: October 3rd - October 5th
Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Apologia Pro Vita Sua; Lines Written at Shurton Bars; The Eolian Harp; Biographia Literaria.
Week Six: October 10th - October 12th
Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Duty Surviving Self-Love; Frost at Midnight; Dejection: an Ode.
Week Seven: October 17th - October 19th
Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Prose selections from The Major Works, pp. 543-603, 660-685; To William Wordsworth.
Week Eight: October 24th - October 26th
William Wordsworth: Preface to Lyrical Ballads (1802); The Tables Turned; To a Sky-Lark; Surprized by joy - impatient as the Wind; Ode ('There was a time'); Lines above Tintern Abbey; The Ruined Cottage.
Week Nine: October 31st - November 2nd
William Wordsworth: Ode to Duty; Michael; The Prelude.
Week Ten: November 14th - November 16th
William Wordsworth: The Prelude.
Week Eleven: November 14th - November 16th
Mary Shelley: Frankenstein.
Week Twelve: November 21st - November 23rd
Mary Shelley: Frankenstein.
Week Thirteen: November 28th - November 30th
Course summary and recapitulation.
Nb: There is a three percent per day late penalty for assignments, documented medical or bereavement leave excepted. For medical exemptions, simply provide a letter from a physician on letterhead which declares his or her medical judgement that an illness prevented work on the essay over the assigned three week period.
All assignments are to be placed in the Instructor's mailbox outside the English Department Office.
1. Mid term paper, twenty-five hundred words: due midnight October 23rd. Assignment sheet with choice of topics will be blogged on October 5th. Criteria include literary analysis, engagement with course themes and writing mechanics. [Note that these dates afford you flexibility. If your mid-term schedule is crowded, you are free to submit your paper at the deadline, which is approximately three weeks after the assignment sheet is distributed. If you prefer to get a critical response to your paper earlier in the course, you can submit yours as soon as you like after the assignment is blogged.]
2. Group field school project: Essentially, your group of classfellows will spend some time looking at an application of modern science, defining how it operates on materialistic, mechanistic and atomistic principles, and then re-visioning the large-scale practice along Romanticist lines -- using the understanding of Romanticism that you gain from lecture and your readings. How you organise your project and present your conclusions is entirely free for you to decide: you may want to use a blog format, or construct a White Paper for example.
Here are some areas of focus for you to consider choosing from (You may want to add your own special interest:)
- Darwinian evolution (the doctrine of natural selection.)
- University Science practices: Physics, Chemistry Departments &c.
- Animal use in science testing.
- Nuclear development.
- Urban planning and land development.
- Modern psychology.
- Modern Western medicine: surgery, drugs, &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;c.
- "ADD" & "AD-HD" model of boyhood: ritalin & dextroamphetamine.
- Human genome project.
- Transgenic foodstuffs.
- Cybercolonialism & virtual realities.
3. Individual class research presentation: sign-up schedule handed around in seminar. Prepare and deliver a five-minute-maximum oral presentation on a subject that helpfully elaborates some interesting background feature to the Romantic movement. Consider, for example, the social or geographical situation, the domestic & international political situation, the biographies of relevant public figures, or the work of major or minor Romantic writers or intellectual progenitors not on our reading list.
The criteria include research comprehensiveness, relevency and contribution to the class' understanding; with an emphasis on the cohesiveness, clarity, comprehensibility, organisation, timing and other acknowledged elements of effective oral delivery. Hand in a copy of your rough notes at the conclusion of the representation. You will receive a sheet with Instructor's analysis, comments, and your assignment grade, a week after your presentation.
4. Final Paper, thirty-five hundred words: due December 4th at midnight. Topic to be discused and approved in writing with the course instructor. There is also an available option for a Creative scholarly paper, provided that strict failure standards are detailed and approved by the Instructor in writing, in advance.
The course is designed to provide an experiential engagement with the themes and materials declared in the course outline. In addition to information and and analysis in lecture, a variety of opportunities for students to experience different informative facets of the outlined subject area will be presented.
Course requirement weighting:
10% Individual presentation
20% Group Field School Project
20% Mid-term essay (2500 words)
40% Final essay (3500 words)
Nb: “Participation" requires both contributions in seminar discussion and attendance and punctuality at lecture and seminar.
[UPDATED] Office Hours: AQ 6094 -- Tuesday 10:30-11:30; Wednesday, 12:00-14:55; Thursday 10:30-11:30; Friday 12:00-12:55. Bring your coffee and discuss course matters freely. E-mail to email@example.com Please only use your SFU account for email contact.
In urgencies, I may be reached on my cellular telephone at 604-250-9432.
Thus to the eternal question of what follows postmodernism, Cairns Craig suggests the term postoppositional. He also analyses the place of postcolonialism.
I might add here that I know the flower & fruit of the horticultural model -- I read my students' essays at the end of every term, and it is ecstasy: there is almost univeral understanding amongst them of the material, sure, but, more importantly, of the wider context. And the point is that it seems to happen, not quite in spite of Instruction, but certainly the body of knowledge has been created from strategic nodes that I present, rather than from an entire intellectual building that I construct to completion, brick by individual brick.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
We will also need to make sure, through seminar, that we have a clear understanding of the position that Blake elaborates with characteristic potency in There is No Natural Religion. We can not be deceived by the brevity of the work: consider these works as artistic embodiments of the sensibility expressed in the opening quartet to Auguries of Innocence.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
- There is no Natural Religion
- All Religions are One
- Auguries of Innocence
- Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience
- The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
There will be specific detail to come, but I'd like to give you an introductory sense of the Group Project this term. I am certain that you will find this a very exciting and memorable assignment: I know for my part, I'm looking forward very much to seeing your compleated projects.
Essentially, your group of classfellows will spend some time looking at an application of modern science, defining how it operates on materialistic, mechanistic and atomistic principles, and then re-visioning the large-scale practice along Romanticist lines -- using the understanding of Romanticism that you gain from lecture and your readings. How you organise your project and present your conclusions is entirely free for you to decide: you may want to use a blog format, or construct a White Paper for example.
Here are some areas of focus for you to consider choosing from. You may want to add your own special interest.
- Darwinian evolutionion (the doctrine of natural selection.)
- University Science practices: Physics, Chemistry Departments &c.
- Animal use in science testing.
- Nuclear development.
- Urban planning and land development.
- Modern psychology.
- Modern Western medicine: surgery, drugs, &c.
- "ADD" & "AD-HD" model of boyhood: ritalin & dextroamphetamine
- Human genome project.
- transgenic foodstuffs.
- Cybercolonialism & virtual realities.