Brainstorm
Services

EDUCATIONAL
MATERIALS


West Chester University

Spring 2006 and Fall 2005

West Chester University

Fall 2004and
Spring 2005

Spring 2003

Fall 2002

Spring 2002

Fall 2001

 

 

 

Home

Contact

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
  Ambiguity
  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
  WHERE ARE YOU GOING, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? by Joyce Carol Oates
  Our RITES OF PASSAGE Theme
  A note about GIRL
  POE and the art of STORY OF A HOUR
  THE YELLOW WALLPAPER
  YOUNG MAN ON SIXTH AVENUE
  Notes on Innovative Fiction
  Assignment Sheet for Paper #1
  Fiction and Ambiguity - Your Questions
  Writing Workshop - Short Fiction
  Poetry Journal Project Assignment Sheet
  LITERARY SYNTHESIS PROJECT
  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
  Analyzing THE FIVE BEDROOM, SIX FIGURE ROOTLESS LIFE
  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
  Analyzing WAITING FOR GODOT
  Approaching WAITING FOR GODOT
  Paper #3: Assignment Sheet
  Paper #4: Independent Project
  The Problem of Stability in BRAVE NEW WORLD
  UTOPIA/DYSTOPIA Links
  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
  Notes on LEAF BY NIGGLE
  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
  Notes on THE EYE OF THE GIANT
  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
  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
  About SKIN DEEP
  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

 
~~ Commentary: Imagination Poems Set ~~

Darkness

Byron creates an apocalyptic vision of anarchy and chaos, all the result of an “extinguished” sun.  To imagine this kind of cosmic, global armaggedon is frightening, especially in light of the current disaster on the Gulf coast, which makes this poem seem a little too real.  But it is imaginary.  Byron takes what’s happened in New Orleans and makes it pervasive, universal.  It’s an alternative reality, and when we “return home again” from this mental nightmare we may have a slightly different perspective on human nature.  We may see it is a little less high and mighty, a little less exalted, a little less “in control.”  We may feel a little more vulnerable. 

It’s a little like Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown.”  He has this devastating vision of human nature as universally evil and depraved; everyone, including his newlywed wife “Faith” is given over to the devil.  And then he has to go home again and live his life.  His life is trashed.  He’s now suspicious and paranoid about everyone and everything.  Nothing is what it seems.  Everything is hypocrisy and lies.  This is a young man who’s life has been ruined by one night in the forest, one glimpse behind the veneer of Puritan society.  That is something Hawthorne sees and understands and is able to communicate through this story, this fascinating psychological dissection of what Puritanism does to Young Goodman Brown. 

And reading “Darkness” is a little of the same effect.  What lies behind this thin veneer of civilization. Most of the time the veneer seems thick, not thin.  But then disaster strikes, and the curtain comes down.  Is it the Wizard of Oz running the show back there?  What’s behind the curtain?

Discussion questions
  1. When you finish reading the poem, try to discover what the speaker means in the first line: “I had a dream, which was not all a dream.”  (There’s something true here, despite the fact that it was imagined, not lived.  What’s true in your opinion?)
  2. The sun is the source of all life, and it doesn’t need to symbolize anything to give the poem meaning.  The sun goes out, and that’s the end of life.  It’s literally understandable.  But the sun could have metaphorical, figurative meaning also.  What might the sun “represent” or symbolize beyond its literal meaning as a floating ball of powerful thermonuclear gasses?   (Light, understanding, warmth, kindness, wisdom, etc.)
  3. What’s the speaker’s tone?  (Very biblical, prophetic—why?)  Is Byron mocking the prophets or is this serious prophecy?  Should we take what he’s saying seriously, or is he having a laugh?  Both?
  4. Why is the one heroic character in the poem’s narrative a dog?  What’s the implied point there?
  5. Two remaining humans are “bitter enemies.”  Does that seem a little ironic?  Why?  (They have more in common than they have differences.)  Is their death ironic?  (Yes—they die of each other’s “mutual” hideousness.”  Once again, they’re the same.  Why be enemies?  Immediately afterwards the speaker describes how death levels everyone and everything—it’s all equal.)
  6. The poem’s ending is dark, literally.  What’s “dark” about it besides the literal darkness?  (Nature has dominion, not humanity; there’s no relief or salvation from any spiritual higher power; there are no human heroes, no rescues, no spiritual renewal or sign of heavenly reward for all this suffering; it’s catastrophe, devastation, with no hope of renewal, a kind of hell like Dante’s Inferno, as we’ll see.)  What’s the value of reading something “dark” like this?  You may personally like it or hate it, but do you think it’s important or valuable in some way?
  7. Can we relate to this poem today?  Does it seem relevant?  (It seems a pretty accurate description of how things might play out in the event of catastrophic environmental depletion (“extinction”) or disaster.  Is it anything like Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring?
Is “Darkness” making any kind of coherent statement about “imagination”? 

[to be continued]

 

 

 

     

 


Questions? Contact me.

All materials unless otherwise indicated are copyright © 2001-2008 by Stacy Tartar Esch.

The original contents of this site may not be reproduced, republished, reused, or retransmitted
without the express written consent of Stacy Tartar Esch.
These contents are for educational purposes only.