West Chester University

Spring 2006 and Fall 2005

West Chester University

Fall 2004and
Spring 2005

Spring 2003

Fall 2002

Spring 2002

Fall 2001






Course Syllabi and Announcements
  LIT 165 Syllabus
  LIT 165 Announcements and Assignments
  WRT 120 Syllabus
  WRT 120 Announcements and Assignments

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Spring 2008)
  A Reading of THE TEMPEST

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Rites of Passage (Spring 2006)
  Goals of the Course
  Fundamental Questions about Literature
  Valuing Literature
  Critical Thinking and Reading Literature
  Critical Approaches to Literature
  Literature as ART
  Approaching the Art of Fiction
  Defining the Short Story
  Evaluating Short Fiction
  Craft of Fiction: PLOT
  Craft of Fiction: CHARACTER
  Small Group Exercise
  ARABY by James Joyce
  A note about GIRL
  POE and the art of STORY OF A HOUR
  Notes on Innovative Fiction
  Assignment Sheet for Paper #1
  Fiction and Ambiguity - Your Questions
  Writing Workshop - Short Fiction
  Poetry Journal Project Assignment Sheet
  Defining Poetry
  Reading Poetry
  The Craft of Poetry
  Drama and Tragedy
  Study Questions: DEATH OF A SALESMAN

Notebook for Effective Writing I (Spring 2006)
  Paper #4 Assignment Sheet
  Critical Thinking and Commentary
  Casebook: Evaluating Sources Worksheet
  Selecting Information
  Evaluating Arguments
  CASEBOOK PROJECT Assignment Sheet
  Approaching Persuasive Writing
  Topic Development - Profile Essay
  Generating Ideas for the Profile Essay
  Paper #2 Assignment Sheet
  Profile Exercise
  Objective Writing: Selected Readings
  Writing Workshop: Paper #1
  Expressive Writing in the NYTimes
  Writing Effective Introductions and Conclusions
  Paper #1: IDENTITY
  Expressive Writing
  Open Letter Exercise and Examples
  EMERSON on Individuality vs. Conformity
  Literature related to IDENTITY
  Understanding the 'Rhetorical Situation'

Go Exploring
  Weblog for WRT 120
  Writing Assistance on the Web
  Blackboard at WCU
  WCU Homepage
  WCU's Francis Harvey Green Library

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Fall 2005)
  One Last Look at Imaginary Worlds
  Franz Kafka's BEFORE THE LAW
  Paper #3: Assignment Sheet
  Paper #4: Independent Project
  The Problem of Stability in BRAVE NEW WORLD
  Analyzing Huxley's BRAVE NEW WORLD
  Defining Utopia
  Embarking on Huxley's BRAVE NEW WORLD
  A Reading of Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST
  From today's news (11/3/05)
  Assignment Sheet for Paper #2
  Goodbye to Dante's Imaginary World
  Stepping Through Dante's Inferno: Cantos 10-34
  Stepping Through Dante's Inferno: Cantos 1-10
  INFERNO: Questions/Analysis: Cantos 32-34
  INFERNO: Questions/Analysis: Cantos 18-31
  INFERNO: Questions for Analysis: Cantos 12-17
  INFERNO: Structure
  INFERNO: Questions for Analysis: Cantos 1-5
  INFERNO: Analyzing Canto 1
  Relating to Dante's Inferno
  Approaching Dante's DIVINE COMEDY
  A Little Help with Dante's INFERNO
  Assignment Sheet for Paper #1
  Responses to LEAF BY NIGGLE
  ON FAIRY STORIES: An Essay by Tolkien
  Notes on Axolotl
  Reading Ovid's Tales
  From Myth to Literature: Approaching Ovid's Tales
  Functions of the Genesis Tales
  Analyzing Mythic Tales
  Defining Mythology
  Filtering the Introduction to FANTASTIC WORLDS
  Commentary on LA BELLE DAME SANS MERCI by Keats
  Commentary on DARKNESS by Byron
  Handout: Imagination Poems Set
  What is Imagination?
  Our Course Theme: Imaginary Worlds
  LIT 165 Assignments: Fall 2005
  LIT 165 Announcements: Fall 2005
  Imaginary Worlds: Course Syllabus

Notebook for Effective Writing I (Fall 2005)
  Paper #4: Independent Thinking/Reading/Writing
  Casebook Preparation Checklist
  Casebook Assignment Schedule
  Evaluating Sources for the Casebook
  Casebook Project Assignment Sheet
  Notes on Rational Argument
  Assignment Sheet: Objective Writing
  Reviewing Elements of the Profile Essay
  Writing the Profile Essay
  Readings: Objective Writing
  Assignment Sheet: Expressive Writing
  Rubric for Evaluation of Writing
  Emerson on Individuality vs. Conformity
  Mind-map: Identity
  Understanding the 'Rhetorical Situation'
  Assignments Page
  Announcements Page
  WRT 120 Course Syllabus for Fall 2005

ENG Q20: Basic Writing

Go Exploring
  Weblog for WRT 120
  Writing Assistance on the Web
  Blackboard at WCU
  WCU Homepage
  WCU's Francis Harvey Green Library


~~ Beatrice ~~

These notes are very incomplete; I plan to add to them if time allows.

Literary critic Harold Bloom entreats us to remember that the exaltation of Beatrice from object of desire to heavenly angel in The Divine Comedy (we really only see her briefly in the Inferno) is completely outrageous, that she is the poem's "spectacular invention, triumphantly placed inside Dante's Christian machinery of salvation—the key figure that sets Dante's will in motion, providing impetus and strength. "What is Beatrice but Dante's symbol of divine grace, the essence of love, the force of love, the positive movement that love produces, the essence of salvation?"

To understand how Dante arrives at his creation of Beatrice, it helps to know a little bit about his background as a poet in the courtly love tradition, as well as a little bit about his relationship with the real Beatrice of Florence.

Dante had only a passing acquaintance for this great love of his. Apparently he saw her once when they were both nine years old, again when they were 18, and her occasional "hello" when they passed in the street was enough to sustain him his entire lifetime. If she made an indelible impression on him, it was one he absorbed from afar. They were only acquaintances and never lovers, and, in fact, Beatrice is said to have snuffed him once, possibly having caught wind of one of his "affairs." It was generally known that the love poems he circulated were addressed to her, though as convention demanded he disguised them, and she was probably a little disgusted with rumors of his behavior. Her disdain devastated Dante to the core. La Vita Nuova (The New Life) was a book of poems Dante wrote to and about Beatrice after her death—she died young, at the age of 25—and it was celebrated as a great work, earning him his reputation as a courtly love poet. When Beatrice died, he wrote in La Vita Nuova, he claims to have had a vision of her after her death that was too powerful to write about until he was "ready." We assume that vision is the Beatrice we meet in The Divine Comedy, the Beatrice who sits beside "Rachel of old," and is very high up in heaven, indeed.

In La Vita Nuova Dante celebrates Beatrice's beauty, which is unsurpassable, and not merely for its physical radiance but especially for its spiritual depth. Beatrice is "heavenly perfection." (Think back to—or forward to, actually—Alymer and Georgiana in "The Birthmark.) Beatrice's unsurpassed beauty is not her only supernatural quality:

  • The angels want her; heaven is incomplete without her
  • She's graciousness personified, she defines the meaning of graciousness
  • She cures/freezes evil by her goodness
  • Merely greeting her bestows heavenly grace
  • She is "something new"-the best that nature can provide; she defines beauty, beauty doesn't define her
  • Her gaze is a penetrating "shot of love" (to use Bob Dylan's phrase) that even Virgil can attest to

The courtly love tradition was a kind of poetry written by aristocratic men to aristocratic ladies, a very elite form with lots of rules and conventions. It was highly stylized, courteous, and proper. The spirit of it was the poet's attempt to experience earthly love that would be as close to heavenly love as possible. Earthly love was associated with lust, procreation, and the demands of the flesh, whereas heavenly love was associated with more purely spiritual matters. In Beatrice, Dante brings heavenly and earthly love together; she's an analog of the force of love, the power of love to convert and to save. When Virgil and Beatrice converse in Canto II, it's in the language of courtly love poetry, which is striking because Virgil is a pagan; but notice the tone of extreme courtesy and propriety. You can notice, too, that when Francesca tells her tale in Canto V, her language alludes to Dante's earlier love poetry, but this time in an ironic, almost mocking, self-critical way.






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