Looking Ahead: Back to the Future

On Friday, we’re going to be watching parts of the Robert Zemeckis film, Back to the Future (1985).  Lately, the 1980s have been on a lot of people’s minds for a lot of reasons.  Think about what was happening in our country, the world, and in our culture that could have caused anxieties about the distance between the past and the hope for a future.  In order to prepare for Friday’s class, you may want to read about Reaganomics, the savings and loan crisis, the Cold War, and the films of John Hughes.

It also wouldn’t hurt to explore some of the links and videos below. Continue reading


Man vs. Wild-erness

“It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.”
-Chuck Palahniuk

Human beings are shaped by their experiences, yet no two people perceive the same circumstance with equal result. Differences in perception lead in turn to differences in thought, action, and behavior; when two  personalities are brought together, conflict results. Conflict does not necessitate strife and discord, but can merely represent a summit of minds, a collusion of varying opinions. As Chuck Palahniuk states, “We learn so little from peace.” It is  when stressful situations strike that one can learn about themself, mature, and return the better for it. 

In pastoral literature, this developmental truth is no less ubiquitous. Despite the idyllic countryside setting that is typically associated with classical pastoral poems, such as in Virgil’s Eclogues, struggles abound. The standard ‘man vs. man’ conflict that typifies the rise of a hero or maturation of a protagonist in a literary epic is still present, but the calm quietude of nature adds another character to any pastoral scene. Continue reading