Hi everyone. I hope the dog days of summer aren’t getting you down. I wanted to call attention to the second installment of the podcast episodes that came out of this class. In the latest episode of Et in Arcadia Ego, Nneka Udechukwu talks about mountaintop removal and the pastoral. You can click here to download/listen to an episode, or you can find it over on iTunes.
Give it a listen, leave some feedback, and keep on thinking about pastoral!
I’m not going to lie, I got a little teary-eyed when I read the part in American Pastoral where Merry spotted the Swede and when “she raced across the street, this frightful creature, and like the carefree child he used to enjoy envisioning back when he was himself a carefree child – the girl running from her swing outside the stone house – she threw herself upon his chest, her arms encircling his neck.” (Roth, 230) I am definitely a daddy’s girl. My dad and I are very much alike, both very stubborn, so we’ve had our share of arguments and at times, we’ve really disliked each other. But, I love my dad, and now more than ever since I am older and in college away from him. Continue reading →
Every day it seems like science and technology is taking over quite fast. Back in the past, it was more about writing books, art and creativeness but now more people are getting fascinated about developing and creating new technology. It is not surprising that even the energy industry has been affected by this craze. In the pastoral period, people cherished the landscape, the trees, and the mountains and now companies are taking it all away by ripping off these priceless assets. During the last two decades, mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia has destroyed and severely damaged more than a million acres of forest and buried nearly 2,000 miles of streams. People in these regions die periodically from heavy metal poisoning, lung cancer and other pulmonary diseases. It is sad that we are trading our peace and serenity of nature for a flat landscape just to get money, of which we can get from other sources.
Being raised as a Christian, I know that the Bible calls the end of times Armageddon. This is also commonly known as Doomsday, or Judgement Day. This is the day where Jesus comes back to takes his believers to Heaven with him, and leaves the non-believers to go through a long period of torment on Earth. At the end of this time, Earth and all sin will perish. I also know that in the Bible it says that no one is supposed to know when this day will come. As believers, we are supposed to be ready at any time for the coming of Jesus. However, there is a man who believes he has calculated the end of time and claims to know when this day will come.
Doomsday is scheduled for tomorrow, May 21, 2011. Are you ready?
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 →
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 →
Ever since I was a little girl, my favorite Disney Princess has always been Ariel from The Little Mermaid. Not only is Ariel a beautiful Princess who lives under the sea with her friends Flounder and Sebastian, but she lives the princess life as the King’s daughter with a large collection of treasures left in the sea by the humans. I have always imagined how wonderful life under the sea would be. I longed to be able to breathe under water and swim as I pleased. Life as a princess and as a mermaid seem like a pretty cool life to live. Continue reading →
The opening scene of Shakespeare’s rumored last play, The Tempest, opens with a dangerous, chaotic storm. The opening scene contrasts to the second scene in which you meet Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan, and his daughter, Miranda. The scene is replaced by a feeling of wonder and amazement, a feeling that is critically maintained throughout the play. Miranda questions Prospero about her past while upholding this admiration of the new world. While Prospero is intentionally made to feel prosperous and godlike, Miranda is meant to seem naïve and full of wonder. Her character, full of whimsical amazement contrasted with the stark ruling attitude of Prospero represents the underlying pastoral tension represented in the play. In the final act, Miranda exclaims: 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?