Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Immitating Crane


The best way to learn how to write is often by immitating the style of published and critically acclaimed authors who display their literary prowess by poetic force.

As you read Crane's novel, notice how rich his language is--especially in his descriptions of setting and his protrayal of the inner turmoil with which the young Henry must deal in the face of battle.

For the weekend, I would like you to find a passage--at least two (2) to three (3) paragraphs in length--that struck you as both profound and poetic.

Immitate the style in which the passage was written and rely upon (or even manipulate) Crane's sentence structure to create the framework for your own passage, while changing the subject matter to suit your purpose.

For instance, you could express the inner turmoil--or even happiness--that you feel during the course of the school day; or while at practice for some athletic team, club, or group to which you belong; or while in proximity to someone you either loathe (despise) or love. You could also take a passage the includes dialogue and set something up in which you are speaking to someone with whom you often associate in the context of academic life, social life, or family life. And even still, you could describe some setting relevant to your own lived experience in which you explore the details of your surroundings.

The point of the activity is to have you enter into your own, everyday psychic (i.e., psychological) experiences and explore them by replicating Crane's style of verse.

Post your "immitations" to the blog by the beginning of class Monday morning (12/18) so that we can review them in class. Please indicate the page number on which we can find the passage you choose to immitate.

Enjoy the experience!


Monday, December 11, 2006



Some reminders and project proposals:

1. Pick up Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage and begin reading it for the purposes of class discussion and assignments.

2. Begin working on your revisions for the papers your wrote during our discussion of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I will start in-class conferences on this coming Wednesday to review the writing process with each of you one-on-one. In order to revise thoroughtly, please refer to the comments and suggestions I wrote in response to your first draft essays.

3. Assessment, re:
Transcendentalism -- Emmerson, Thoreau, Whitman, and Dickinson

Instead of an in-class essay exam, I would like you to choose one of the following options that will test your interpretive ability and your ability to think critically as well as creatively. This assignment is due, in class, January 3 upon your return from the holiday recess. As a supplement to the project you choose to complete, please write a one-page reaction sheet explaining the significance of your choice and its meaning to you, personally.

- compose a song with lyrics written in the style of Whitman or Dickinson's poetry. For instance, if you are to write a song based upon Whitman's poetry, your lyrics should resemble his free verse style as well as his physical and emotional appreciation of nature and the world. If you are to write a song based upon Dickinson's poetry, your lyrics should resemble her elliptical style, using a rhythmic structure that uses breaks in lines to allow room for "pause." You should also focus on an abstract theme or quality (i.e., truth, death, beauty) and recreate them using metaphorical images in your lines of lyrical verse. You can record yourself with audio or video tape; or make an in-class appearence to perform your piece. Please be sure to print your lyrics and attach them to your one page essay.

- create a work of graphic art (i.e. drawing, painting, sculpture, computer graphic) that creates a vivid image of some symbol or abstract quality discussed in either Emmerson, Thoreau, Whitman, or Dickinson (i.e. beauty, nature, the soul, God, death, the city, the working man, etc.).

- write an essay (at least two, double-spaced pages in 12 pt. Times New Roman font) in which you mimic the style of either Emmerson or Thoreau. Your composition should be essentially philosophical, in which you theorize about some abstract aspect/concept of life that is relevant to you. What you are trying to express should be the stuff of interior revelation. What do you want to explore that you think we, as your readers, have not yet discovered ourselves about the world, about nature, about society, about school, about family,about the government, about religion, pagan death metal, kelly clarkson, etc.? This is, in essence, an immitation exercise by which you are challenged to become more familiar with reading, writing, and speaking in a more formal, intellectual style.

another essay possibility: write a "take-off" passage in which you spend at least two-pages "taking up" where Emmerson or Thoreau "leave off" in one of their essays. is there an area in their philosophical essays that you think could use some further discussion or elaboration? then write more, immitating their style, as though you were in essence Emmerson or Thoreau. Please photo-copy the original passage from you which you are working--be it a specific sentence, paragraph, or page.

- lastly, you have the choice of composing five (5) poems written in the style of either Whitman or Dickinson. refer to my insight regarding option one concerning their respective thematic styles. if you feel inclined to immitate their line, stanza, and grammatical structures in composing your own verse then please feel free (it is recommended).

Questions? See me in class.