Remember that our exam will be on Friday, May 27. The goal of the exam is twofold: (1) to make sure that everyone is on board with understanding the course content and (2) to encourage everyone in their essay writing. Don’t see this exam as a process isolated from writing formal essays.
Texts: By the time we take the exam, we will have covered Psalm 23, Virgil’s Eclogues, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, various paintings (Poussin, Dupre, Ruisdael, Innes, and others), Jonson’s “To Penshurst,” Marvell’s “The Garden” and “The Mower, Against Gardens,” Carew’s “To Saxham,” Milton’s “Lycidas,” Wordsworth’s “Michael,” Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, and Thoreau’s Walden (“Economy”).
Our secondary texts are Gifford’s “Three Kinds of Pastoral,” Marx’s “Shakespeare’s American Fable,” and Williams’s “Pastoral and Counter Pastoral.” Continue reading →
Happy weekend everyone. Assuming that we’re all left behind after the upcoming rapture this weekend, we’ll have to deal with our upcoming readings and assignments, unfortunately. Here’s a list of what’s ahead.
During the hustle and bustle of the spring semester, former UK professor, famous poet-farmer, and environmental activist Wendell Berry staged a sit-in/sleep-in protest at the state capitol building as a way to draw attention to Kentucky’s destruction of its natural landscape. Berry has long been a critic of mountaintop removal coal mining in Kentucky, citing the ecological damage and social pollution it brings as a travesty against the Commonwealth. With hundreds of other protestors, Berry lead a week-long resistance in the state’s main legislative building at Frankfort. The events and movement were organized under a grassroots group called Kentucky Rising, which launched a blog to organize the resistance to exploitative mining practices.
Wendell Berry reads an older copy of The Tempest while protesting/sleeping at the capitol in Frankfort (February, 2011). This photo belongs to the Kentucky Kernel and was taken by Brandon Goodwin.
“Obviously, we are determined to stop the abuses of the coal industry, and to that end we are determined also to keep this conversation going,” Berry said in a statement that was posted on the Kentucky Rising blog. Continue reading →
2. Free-form article deadlines. I should point out that there are cut-off deadlines for the free-form articles that you all should post to the blog. The first one is a week from today, Monday. May 23. This means that each person should have posted at least one free form article to the blog by this point. For a sample of what these articles should or can look like, see my earlier post on green grass. Continue reading →
In addition to reading a couple of Marvell poems for Friday, we will be thinking about some representations of pastoral in Renaissance landscape painting and American landscape painting from the 19th century. This gallery is for your preparation in advance of the class. Feel free to take some notes, look up information on the paintings, leave comments, make connections, and otherwise get a jump on Friday’s discussion.
Jacob Van Ruisdael, The Jewish Cemetary (ca. 1655)
On Thursday, we’re going to be looking at Raymond Williams’s chapter, “Pastoral and Counter-Pastoral” comes from his famous book, The Country and the City. Williams is best known for his analysis of that key pastoral tension, the distance between the country and the city, in terms of labor and class structure. After reading Williams’s chapter, consider the following questions as you prepare for discussion.
According to Williams, why is the country always dependent on the city, and vice versa? Continue reading →
Here are some things to keep in mind as we move toward the end of The Tempest. We’ve already got a good framework in place when it comes to the pastoral. After reading Virgil’s Eclogues, we should have come to realize that a very typical pastoral dynamic is deep sadness, which is a basic emotion that is complicated by a number of factors, including bitterness, frustration, guilt, a sense of one’s own culpability, or a fear.
We see this pastoral dynamic, what we might call an elegiac attitude, in The Tempest over and over. In Act 5, Scene 1 Prospero reaches a point where he says:
But this rough magic
I here abjure; and when I have required
Some heavenly music (which even now I do)
To work mine end upon their senses that
This airy charm is for, I’ll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms of the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound
I’ll drown my book.
The stage direction says that solemn music is playing in the background, one of the many moments in the final two acts of the play in which sounds, hearing, listening, and music supplement the elegaic tenor of the pastoral drama. Continue reading →
Here’s a list of our reading schedule and supplementary documents for the upcoming week (May 16-20). On Monday and Tuesday, we’ll be finishing up The Tempest. Although not required, I encourage everyone to browse through some of the critical articles in the back of the Norton Critical Edition volume. There are historical documents and sample literary critical approaches to the play.
A word of advice on reading Shakespeare. The text will take you more time than usual work through. If you are having problems understanding what’s happening, don’t be afraid to consult aids like the No Fear Shakespeare.
In our first week of class, we worked toward defining pastoral as a genre. It is highly stylized poetry, usually singing contests, where shepherds sit in a rural landscape and lament lost land, loves, and the complications of life. There are other markers of this convention, but you get the idea. Shakespeare’s The Tempest is a drama, which has its own set of conventions, so we cannot refer to it as pastoral in the strict sense of the word. Continue reading →
Note: This is a sample free-form article, a model for the kinds of writing that you can do.
I’ve been thinking about green grass a lot lately, and I wonder if there’s anything about the human attraction to green grass that is intrinsic to the pastoral? Why do we like grass, and why does our grass have to be green? Does green grass connote a state of simplicity that we as human beings tend to long for? Furthermore, are there any negative ecological or social effects to valuing green grass like we do?
As you read, try to index Gifford’s argument. What are some of the uses for pastoral in literature? What does pastoral help us think about? I apologize that pages 6-7 are out of order. They appear at the end of the scan.
Hi everyone. Welcome to ENG 230 Introduction to Literature at the University of Kentucky. This is an extremely condensed summer session, a four-week romp through the Western canon, with a focus on pastoral literature. Please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with what’s on the blog. On the right-hand toolbar, you’ll find links, course, documents, and information for further research.
Between now and Wednesday’s class, each person needs to sign up for a unique WordPress account. I’ve sent an e mail invitation to everyone in the class. Continue reading →