Our Class

Our Class

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Your Groups (Don't worry! Due dates for essays will arrive soon.)

The Lady Bugs: Anne, Rachael, Jaci, and Jessica

The Question Marks: Natalia, Andrea, Andrea, and Eric

The Red Pandas: Rachel, Kriste, Lucy, Tom, and Jasmine

Must Love Dogs: Ashley, Erin, Andrew, Lauren, Brandon

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


First Year Seminar: Visiting Writers Series

Spring, 2012

From the FYS Visiting Writers Series course to our readers:

If artists are prophets, Cassandras, the “canary in the coalmine,” what are they telling us about ourselves, our communities, our world?   What are they saying about identity, love, friendship, vocation, and meaning, for instance?  What are they saying about how we create community, how we live in a specific place at a specific time with people like or unlike us?  What are they saying about family, home, the way we live in harmony or the lack of it?  And what happens when we move beyond ourselves and our individual communities and see other communities, other selves?  What are they saying about our relationship to time, to the natural world?  What are they saying about violence, about war?  Self, community and world: it’s a bit of a simplistic rubric, perhaps, but it should do its job in focusing our thoughts. 

Because we intend to have a lot of them.  Thoughts.  And we intend to share them with you.  If you attend the events or you’re a reader and happen to stumble upon this blog, please join in the discussion.  If you’d like to know about the writers who are visiting the Butler University campus in the spring of 2012, we hope you’ll come here.  If you don’t attend the events, we hope to make you feel as welcome as though you were here.

And so, we’ll return to our questions:  What are these writers saying?  What are they not saying?  Are they issuing warnings?  Are we heeding them?  Should we?  Do we agree with them?  And what do we want to know about?  Do we learn something about economics, for instance?  About human psychology?  About other cultures? About writing? About our attitudes toward the natural world?  Toward religion?  About—ok, let’s say it—about the meaning of all of this: this world, this one life and how we’ll spend it.

The Vivian Delbrook Visiting Writers Series brings six literary writers to campus each semester.  While this course is concerned primarily with literary writers, other writers visit the Butler University campus as well.  This semester, with the opening of the Effroymson Center for Creative Writing, we will have the opportunity to talk to a literary blogger, to a screenplay writer, to a graphic novelist, and others.  Some of us may attend lectures sponsored by the Woods Science Lectures series.  We’ll be all over, reporting on what we see. 

In order to create content for this site, and in an attempt to engage you in conversation, we’ll be doing the following:

a.       Attempt to answer the above questions and post our responses, remembering that the books exist in relation to the rest of our lives and to the lives of others.

b.      Review the individual books. (including vlogs and a review of the available reviews)

c.       Report on the writers’ visits (including videos and photos)

d.       Keep a journal of in-classes responses to the work. (We’re writers too. Sometimes we’ll post our own work.)

e.       Introduce you to the writers’ work (including our own book trailers)

Please come back and come back often.   

Books We’re Reading This Semester:

Simon Armitage, Seeing Stars.  Knopf. ISBN 0307594831

Simon Armitage, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Norton 0393334155.

Nicole Krauss, The History of Love.  Norton 0393328627.

Linda Gregg, In the Middle Distance. Graywolf 1555974392.

Maile Meloy, Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It. 1594484651.

Jhumpa Lahiri, Unaccustomed Earth. Vintage 0307278255

When We’ll Be Reaing What aka What We’ll Be Reading When:

            First, Maile Meloy.  The book jacket says each character is caught between two opposing forces.  What are these forces?  Salon magazine calls her our best Cassandra.  We’re obsessed with Cassandras.  It’s the year of the end of the Mayan calendar, right?  So, anyway, what is she saying?  Do we agree?  We’ll let you know.

Thursday, January 19—Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It.  (“Travis, B.” “Red From Green.”

Tuesday, January 24—Both Ways (“Lovely Rita,” “Spy vs. Spy,” “Two-Step,” “The Girlfriend,” “Liliana”)

Thursday, January 26—Both Ways (“Nine,” Agustin,” “The Children,” “O Tannenbaum”

            Second, Simon Armitage.  OK, so why a new translation of Sir Gawain?  How is it different from other translations?  And what does it have to do with us?

            And we’ll try to walk you through Armitage’s darkly comic and brilliant poetry. 

You may see us go off on an aside about Anne Waldman.  She’s visiting Butler this semester too, and we’ll be looking at a poem or two.  I mean, she was friends with Ginsberg and Kerouac.  Did you know that Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts, also owns the typed scroll of Kerouac’s On the Road?  And somewhere in here we will have had the Super Bowl in Indy.  See how everything is connected?  Let’s hope this is true of Sir Gawain and Seeing Stars.  

Tuesday, January 31—Sir Gawain

Thursday, February 2—Sir Gawain

Tuesday, February 7—Sir Gawain/Seeing Stars

            Wednesday, February 8—Anne Waldman

Thursday, February 9—Seeing Stars

Tuesday, February 14—Seeing Stars

Thursday, February 16—Seeing Stars

Tuesday, February 21—Seeing Stars

            Tuesday, February 21  Simon Armitage

Third, Natalie Krauss.  The History of Love  is about a translator and we will have just been talking about translation.  We’ll see if there are any connections.  The book is also about love, and we will have just finished with Valentine’s Day.  Some of us will be happy and some bitter and some just glad to have it out of the way, but that’s another story. 

This book is also about displaced persons and war.  Some of us are new to Krauss and some of us are already fans.  A few of us are also fans of her husband: Jonathan Safron Foer.  The film of his book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is being released on January 20th.  Tom Hanks is in it. The History of Love is dedicated to him—to Foer, not Hanks.  Two writers living together? Wonder what that’s like.  Wonder what they did on Valentine’s Day.  If we find out, we’ll let you know.

Thursday, February 23—History of Love

Tuesday, February 28—History of Love

Thursday, March 1—History of Love catch-up day

Tuesday, March 6—History of Love

            Tuesday, March 6  Nicole Krauss

Thursday, March 8—History of Love

SPRING BREAK—We’ll be away this week.  Sorry.  We know you’ll miss us.

Fourth, Linda Gregg. Linda Gregg is a real heavy hitter. She teaches at Princeton University, and her poems address spiritual and emotional issues. (Who would have thought—another poet focusing on life’s big questions?) She will be one of the writers in residence, so we’ll have her around for awhile. Be ready to pick her brain and ask plenty of questions. While reading In the Middle Distance, we’ll try to discover how Gregg feels about loss and longing. Are her feelings similar to ours? Will her poems provide catharsis or make us sad?

Tuesday, March 20—In the Middle Distance

Thursday, March 22—In the Middle Distance

Tuesday, March 27—In the Middle Distance

            Tuesday, March 27—In the Middle Distance

Fifth, Jhumpa Lahiri.  We’re excited.  I mean, it’s Jhumpa Lahiri!  We’re going to be reading her latest book but a few of us will have read Interpreter of Maladies for extra credit.  Not that we need the extra credit.  It just gives us an excuse when our non-literary friends ask us why we’re reading that book that we don’t have to read over spring break.

Thursday, March 29—Unaccustomed Earth

Tuesday, April 3—Unaccustomed Earth

            Tuesday, April 3  Maile Meloy (Woo hoo! We’ve been waiting.)

Thursday, April 5—Unaccustomed Earth

Tuesday, April 10—Unccustomed Earth

Thursday, April 12—Unaccustomed Earth

            Monday, April 16  Jhumpa Lahiri

Tuesday, April 17—Presentations

Thursday, April 19--Presentations

Tuesday, April 24--Presentations

Thursday, April 26—Presentations

Assignments and Class Rules. Unless you’re in the class, you can ignore this.  If you’re in the class, obviously, this is an important part.  The point-of-view shifts here.  What has been ‘us’ is now ‘you’ and the ‘we’ is the instructors:

1.      Attendance is mandatory.  We will be keeping track and assigning points. Email us if you’re sick.  If you’re sick a lot, you really should see a doctor and withdraw until you feel better. We’ll be here next year.

2.      Discussion is part of your grade.  This includes speaking as well as listening and responding to what others have said.  It includes knowing names.

3.      There will be reading quizzes.  We can’t discuss if we haven’t read.  And OUR readers will be so disappointed.

4.      This is new:  For each class, you’ll be bringing in typed quotes from the required reading, when the reading is prose.  You should have a page or two of them.  It’s busy work, but not.  The quotes will be following a thread.  Your thread can change, but it will be tied to one of the questions.  (See above.)  The quotes should be from throughout the reading selection. If you do this well, your writing and your final project should be easy because of this. 

5.      When the reading is poetry, #4 might change to a different overnight assignment. Doug will let you know. 

6.      For each book, you will write one of the four types of papers: introduction to the work and reviews, analysis/review of the book, analysis/review of the event, answer to one of the major questions.  You will do one of each at some point in the semester.  That’s six assignments.  And for one of the written assignments, you will substitute a digital assignment. We will know in advance, for each of the authors, the type of piece you will be writing. 

7.      Each of you will serve on an editorial committee to choose the best assignments to upload to the blog. 

8.      You will complete plagiarism and library tutorials.  (Available on Blackboard.) 

9.      Final group presentation and individual paper on your findings from the semester.

10.  A specific journal for in-class writing.  To be turned in periodically and at the end.  Bring it with you each day to class. 

11.  Attendance at VWS events and other campus lectures for extra credit (if you write something for the blog.) 

Vivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writers’ Series

Spring 2012

Anne Waldman, poetry

Wednesday, February 8

Eidson- Duckwall, Robertson Hall

7:30 p.m.

Simon Armitage, poetry

Tuesday, February 21

Krannert Room, Clowes Memorial Hall

7:30 p.m.

Nicole Krauss, fiction

Tuesday, March 6

Reilly Room, Atherton Union

7:30 p.m.

Linda Gregg, poetry

Tuesday, March 27

Krannert Room, Clowes Memorial Hall

7:30 p.m.

Maile Meloy, fiction

Tuesday, April 3

Reilly Room, Atherton Union

7:30 p.m.

Jhumpa Lahiri, fiction

Monday, April 16

Reilly Room, Atherton Union

7:30 p.m.