LIT 165 Syllabus
LIT 165 Announcements
LIT 165 Assignments
WRT 120 Syllabus
WRT 120 Announcements
WRT 120 Assigmments
Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Spring 2005)
Adieu to Imaginary Worlds
One Last Look at Imaginary Worlds
ASSIGNMENT SHEET: Paper #3
Notes on 'Before the Law'
Samuel Beckett Links
Notes on 'Waiting for Godot'
Approaching 'Waiting for Godot'
Notes on 'Axolotl' by Julio Cortazar
Notes on 'EPICAC' by Kurt Vonnegut
ASSIGNMENT SHEET: Paper #2
DIRECTIONS: Independent Project
Suggested Readings: Independent Project
Character Analysis: Brave New World
Analyzing the Brave New World
Embarking on the Brave New World
A Critique of BRAVE NEW WORLD
Inferno: Final Destinations, Cantos XXXII-XXXIV
Inferno: Malebolge, Cantos XVIII-XXXI
Inferno: Questions/Analysis, Cantos XII - XVII
Structure in the Inferno: Analysis, Cantos V - XI
Inferno: Questions for Analysis, Cantos I - V
Introducing Canto I
Approaching the Divine Comedy
Relating to Dante's Inferno
Our Goals for Studying the Inferno
Assignment Sheet: PAPER #1
Leaf By Niggle
Responses to Leaf By Niggle
'On Fairy Stories' by J.R.R. Tolkien
Notes on Ovid and 'Metamorphoses'
Analyzing the Mythic Tales
The Four Functions of Myth
Myth and Metaphor
Myth - Links
Filtering the Introduction to 'Fantastic Worlds'
'La Belle Dame Sans Merci' and 'The Zebra Storyteller
Introducing the 'Imaginary Worlds' Theme
Alice In Wonderland
Notebook for Effective Writing I (Spring 2004)
Conference Schedule: 4/21 and 4/26
Commentary: Following Up Your Response
Critical Thinking and Commentary
Casebook: Evaluating Sources
What is Argument?
Parts of an Argument
Casebook Assignment Sheet
Rubric for Evaluation of Writing
Assignment Sheet: Essay#1
Short Stories About Identity
Thoughts on Stories About Identity
Poems About Identity
Understanding the 'Rhetorical Situation'
ENG Q20: Basic Writing (Fall 2004)
ENG Q20 Syllabus
Frederick Douglass Excerpt
How to Detect Propaganda
George Orwell's Politics and the English Language
Propaganda Analysis Exercise
Weblog for WRT 120
Writing Assistance on the Web
Blackboard at WCU
WCU's Francis Harvey Green Library
Inferno: Questions for Analysis
Cantos XII - XVII ~~
XII, Violence against Others
- Notice the vivid
description which emphasizes the blasted, vertical nature of the landscape.
- Notice the familiar
structure: the Minotaur threatens/Virgil protects. A new wrinkle to Dante's
relationship with Virgil emerges more evidently: Virgil appears almost omniscient
in his ability to read Dante's thoughts. What's the significance of this ability,
do you think? It crescendos in Canto XVII, when Dante is paralyzed by fear
of Geryon, choking on his words, dumbed by fear, yet Virgil knows what he
wants to say and responds protectively.
- Notice Dante's
address to the reader. Compare it to his addresses in other rare places (VII
and VIII, for instance). Does his speech here represent any kind of thematic
development, do you think?
- Another new
wrinkle: the Centaurs are demons who participate in the punishment of the
sinners, who are immersed in a river of boiling blood, a pretty obvious contrapasso.
What's the significance of this progression?
VIII, the Suicides
- Virgil continues
to be inside Dante's mind. When he observes Dante's "mistake" concerning
the wailing voices, and his bewilderment, instead of explaining he instructs
Dante to break the branch from the tree, knowing the result. Why doesn't he
simply explain that the trees are the souls of the suicides, as he explains
the contrapasso of other areas?
- Dante is frozen
with dread when he hears the trees speak. Why this reaction?
- The suicides
sin because they succumb to despair, the sin Dante was in danger of succumbing
to in the dark wood of Canto I. Dante is overwhelmed with pity for Pier della
Vigne, a counselor to Frederick II, just as he was overwhelmed with Francesca's
story in Canto V. Is this a regression from what we had been observing as
his progress in his battle against pity?
- Francesca and
Pier are similar in their misuse of language. Their rhetoric hides their own
responsibility for their sin. What other connections can you make between
the imagery of this Canto and earlier Cantos, especially Canto I?
- Notice that
the Harpies, who represent the demons in this area, do not threaten Virgil
and Dante. Why not?
- The spenders
appearance at the end of the Canto might be confusing to some: these are people
who, like the suicides, willfully cast away their possession, purposely destroyed
their earthly possessions, which was considered violence against oneself.
- The anonymous
suicide who speaks at the end of the Canto gives a bit of the history of Florence
and demonstrates his wrongheadedness in attributing Florence's continued fortunes
to Mars, a false god. Yet, the more poignant point he brings out: while Florence
has been rebuilt many times, survived many wars and disasters, he took his
XIV, Violence against God
- Blasphemy is
pretty easily understood, but nevertheless, the point is hammered home three
times; once by Dante, then Capaneus, then Virgil.
- The contrapasso
is particularly devious, as the sinners are punished within sight of mercy,
the protection that Dante and Virgil enjoy.
- Notice the great
relationship between Dante and Virgil. This signals Dante's progress. He takes
no pity on the sinners here.
- When the leave
the blasphemers, who are writhing on the burning sand within eyesight of protection,
they come to a "amazing stream." Virgil says nothing he's seen so
far has been worth more note than this little stream, which fills Dante with
curiosity, and he emphasizes his hunger for knowledge, a good sign that he
will learn much.
- The Old man
of Crete, a mountain in Crete, is a powerful image of decay; how does this
image relate to the present story?
Canto XV, Brunetto Latini and the Sodomites
- Another brutal
test for Dante, as he's surprised to see his former master here. Battle against
pity once again.
- This is Ring
3, Violence against Nature and Art. Debate rages about the meaning of this
Canto. Although "sodomy" is basically "homosexuality,"
the sinners featured here didn't all have a reputation for homosexuality.
Rather than admit that Dante was "outing" some of these famous men,
some critics insist that "sodomy" really refers to a class of sins
associated with the city, Sodom, and they define "sodomy" as "sacrilege."
Read closely, do a little research, and decide for yourself!
- Notice how Dante
seems to be very sure of himself in this Canto. He proves he's lost his disorientation
and knows the true purpose of his journey. The fearful, ignorant man who quarreled
with Virgil (Reason), pitied Francesca, Farinata, and the Suicides seems to
be receding. He's taking a long view of things and not concerning himself
with earthly bad "fortune." You really see this when he replies
in lines 78-93. Dante humors Latini, but makes it clear that he's learned
not to see eternity in his work, but in spiritual transcendence. When Latini
"wins the race" at the end of the Canto, he has won a pyrric victory,
and it's sad.
- Brunetto's character
closely parallels Dante's (as many of the main characters who are pitied do).
If we understand Brunetto's sin not as simple "homosexuality" but
as "sacrilege, we can see that Dante is observing how he went astray
by being too worldly. The fame he seeks (his notion of "eternity")
has to do with earthly fame for his book rather than spiritual transcendence.
It's a short view, as opposed to Dante's growing long view. Brunetto's eternity
therefore is hell. He sins in an intellectual, scholarly way, putting man's
knowledge ahead of spiritual revelation. Brunetto's work, The Treasure, is
very parallel to the Comedy. Studying how they are similar and different reveals
much about Dante's purpose.
and XVII, Geryon and "Truthfulness"
- The weirdly
linked wrestlers at the beginning of Canto XVI once again tests Dante's pity,
as he admits he'd like to "join them," but knows he'd be badly burned
if he did.
- Distances are
a little surreal, as the waterfall that opened the Canto seemed far off and
by its middle, with only a little travel, seemed so close as to be deafening.
- When the travelers
turn towards the right, that is one of the rare times when they don't turn
left. This links the Canto with their right turn at the Gate of Dis.
- When Dante observes
Virgil's action at the cliff's edge (he throws Dante's belt into the abyss),
he puts it together that "some strangeness surely will answer from the
deep"-but notice he isn't afraid or doubtful. Progression?
- Then, Dante
acknowledges that Virgil is able to "not only observe the action, but
see the thought as well!" Is Virgil a mindreader? Is this some kind of
progression we're observing between the two?
- Study the section
where we see Geryon coming up from the abyss. Here's a really significant
theme that's explored as Dante prepares to introduce Geryon: the relative
"truthfulness" of the Comedy as a work of "true fiction"
and not "fraud" (lies, deception, etc.). Dante emphasizes that the
image of Geryon is almost too incredible to describe, because it will seem
like a lie. But he asserts that it is true. What he really means is that this
vision of Geryon is authentic "revelation," an his poem is an authentic
testament; allegorical truths come wrapped in seemingly false imagery. Revelation
(think of the word "vision" to get rid of the religious connotation-an
author's "vision of truth") is communicated by poetic imagery which
may not be literally true but is allegorically true. If we don't make this
distinction, if Dante doesn't make this distinction, he might be accused of
the very fraud he's going to describe in the next circle, the sin that Geryon
represents. But here Dante asserts that poetic truth is as valid as literal
truth, and that the Comedy is true, despite its obvious imaginary substance.
- Geryon's flight
down into Malebolge is a major division in the text, a graphic marker that
signals the division between Circles seven and eight, violence and fraud.
Geryon is especially vivid and memorable in this Canto, because this is a
major division in the text.
- In what ways
does the action and imagery of this canto link to the Canto VIII, when the
travelers stood before the gates of Dis? What are the significant similarities
and differences that might reveal progression and development of character
- Virgil leaves
Dante to parlay with Geryon, sending him off to encounter the usurers alone.
What's the significance of this separation, in your opinion?
- We are midway
through the book; there's a real convergence of themes, motifs, and developments
in this Canto. See if you can recognize them. Notice Dante's power as a poet
capable of revealing this "truth" powerfully, articulately. He can
acknowledge the poem's fictiveness (it has the face of a lie) while boldly
declaring its underlying truth. This is quite a different poet from the one
we originally encountered in the dark wood-the poet who fumbled for words
and couldn't describe anything. Dante is beginning to surpass Virgil is both
his grasp of the truth and in his poetic power. There are still setbacks ahead,
but it's a hopeful midway point. Just as Christianity has surpassed the pagan
Gods of the Roman Empire, the brilliant student will surpass even his brilliant
- Until now the
demons in the seventh circle have posed no real threat to the travelers and
need no rebuke (except maybe the Minotaur). The pilgrim is more enlightened,
less apt to quarrel with reason, and less encumbered by confusion and the
threat of despair. But now Dante is paralyzed with fear of Geryon. How does
he react? Does he master his fear or does it master him?
- Dante's sensory
description of his flight on Geryon is famous for its sublime believability
in a time before flight was possible for humans. The imaginative power of
our poet shines through! The fact that Dante was able to ride Geryon symbolizes
his power to overcome the sins of fraud that Geryon represents.
- Consider why
Geryon is a fitting symbol to represent "fraud."