From the category archives:

Literature Prep, Genres, Etc

King Arthur Holy Days: French Vulgate

by Dr Davis on March 23, 2016

Speaker: Mark Patterson, Abilene Christian University
“Holidays and Holy Days: The Significance of the Pagan/Christian Calendar in the French Vulgate Account of King Arthur and His Round Table”

legend of King Arthur, 1400 years
continues to inspire

Christian v pagan
Interpret tales during 6th Century when Arthur existed.
Prevalence of skepticism means no one has done it

French Vulgate offers info we need.

Circle in stone, Kay’s knighting, Arthur and his father holding court.
Story of Merlin in old French Vulgate cycle.
Merlin mentions Christian holidays.
Inclusion of holidays indicates importance of date to Welsh/French/pagans.

Christians will not understand the Holy Days from pagan POV.

Symbolism of round table
Round table = middle of the year
Beltane, etc.
Shape of table = Celtic significance

52 seats
one kept empty
52 seats = number of weeks in the year
Arthur’s Round Table arrangement
Arthur has 13. Himself and 12 knights.
This is how many lunar months there are.
Round table = calendar.

“on that Whitsunday the king was of a mind to wear his crown.”
Parallels his son’s coronation on Whitsuntide.

Arthur often interpreted as Christ-figure.

Merlin story doesn’t say when born.
Arthur known to be born in late December.

Pre-date Christianity Samhain, Yule, Winter Solstice

Arthur is Christ-figure, so part of sun-son wordplay.

Uther = Holy Ghost

from CCTE 2016 Literature 5 Biblical Themes

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Orientalism and Edwin Drood

by Dr Davis on March 19, 2016

Speaker: Jasa Rosseau, Dallas Baptist U
“Charles Dickens’ The Mystery of Edwin Drood through the Lens of Orientalism”

Indian sepoys attacked British army because made the Hindus create sacrilege by breaking their religious rules.
This made the empire-building of Britain become heroic, patriotic.
Patriotic plays and shows became common.
Fell in love with India because of the shows/plays.
Orientalism = coming to terms with love of India but based on its place in British empire

Predatory
Imperialistic tendencies
Clear difference between British and other
Foreigner = hunter

Dickens shows that predators are really those who choose vices of Orientalism rather than virtues of British.

Immediate disparity in England (and Jasper’s desires) between England and other

English cathedral tower and Arabic images in dreams

Addiction to opium would have immediately cast him as villain.

Collins says that Brit villains often had lustrous hair and moustaches, but having dark hair means he could have come from India.


Contender for villain:
Neville Landless and Helena (sister), landless orphans


Violence and thievery often given nobility b/c Dickens found injustice in poverty.

Hunter and hunted. Ambiguity.
Questions who is the real predator?

Maybe some of England’s problems due to hunting of England’s prey.

Notes from CCTE 2016.

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Loyalty “Cuthwch and Olwen”

by Dr Davis on March 16, 2016

Tracee Roe, Abilene Christian University speaker
“Conflicting Loyalty in ‘Cuthwch and Olwen’”

oldest known Welsh tale written

Post-colonial dissonance
Welsh against the Norman control

Women all related to Cuthwch’s
Mother
Aunt
Step-mother
Future bride

State of Wales = state of family
Broken, but attempting to heal

Seen in history of Wales
Tribal houses that vied for power through violent take-overs
Small family houses ruled folks

Ruling powers’ emphasis on family (unity and leadership)
Beginning and ending… Ala Leon Jones
Revealed in the Welsh language: interchangeability of words for prophecy and history

Arthur’s power is reliant on past ruler
Storyteller reaches for a non-existent history where country was united under family.

Arthur’s family is strengthened and kingdom has peace.
Only in destruction of last era that new era can begin and peace is possible.

Welsh community … women unite
“Curse your kingdom unless you help me” = emphasis on women, once sterilized, family and tribal line continuance will end

post-colonial ideas are shown in the family and focused on women
conflicting roles of women: family and marriage, pivotal roles Davies, “Writing”


Appearance given in detail. Wealth of detail.

Inherent contrast between flower/Olwen and the power of water/red
Power and submission co-exist amiably in Olwen.
Duality within colonized people. Conflicting loyalties.
Ability to navigate loyalty and betrayal.

story ends focusing on happiness/strength after marriage
coming from destruction and disaster before marriage

Notes from CCTE 2016: Literature 3: Post-Colonial

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Overlooking Spirituality: Wheatley

by Dr Davis on March 15, 2016

Speaker: Brianne Dayley, Texas Tech U

“Overlooking Spirituality: Negotiating Criticism and Content of Wheatley and Larsen”

critics are not primarily concerned with their writing and race/gender and literary tradition
INSTEAD with the tradition and how they write and whether it matches

Wheatley = First published African-American and woman.
Questioning literary quality
Grouping mostly:
1. exploration of work as classical tradition, John Shields “subversive message that she and her black brothers must be free”—but said she doesn’t work as well as could
2. historical, social participation and critique

figure who uses classical and Christian styles:
but perpetuates idea that she reproduces what had already been done

others say race/gender limited her accomplishments

thematic significance is lost by biographical/historical critics

Wheatley’s work shows complex negotiation
conflates boundaries between classical and Christian
tropes of traditions
ambiguous—narratives (classical or Christian), which are favored/preferred/prioritized
Christ sends muses…
Vocabulary—capital letters, emphasis of abstract ideas in order to personify
Not just classical (grace= muse or God’s grace)
Heavenly Art (artistic expression or art/hand of God)
She negotiated places that critics now separate.

Critics have dismissed the religious exploration and used it to explain the unfinished/under-developed (as they understand it) investigation of gender and race.

Notes from CCTE 2016: Literature 3: Post-Colonial

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CCTE 2016: Carmen Tafoya

by Dr Davis on March 10, 2016

Carmen Tafoya spoke on the exclusion of students from learning from her own experience.

Teacher couldn’t say her name. Finally, “Carmen Tortilla”

didn’t fit what standard textbooks
didn’t include us
We were invisible.
Cops were scared to go into. City Council said we didn’t need a library, because we didn’t even read English.
We were searched everyday—and at lunch—for knives.

Loved literature. Loved books. Loved reading. Loved anything that had to do with story.
Where was I going to get books to read?
Finally got a library on our side of town. (Buena Vista Street)
My mom said she’d take me once a week. 2 mile walk both ways.
Got my five books. Read them all. Couldn’t go back till the next Tuesday.
Learned (by reading the boring pages) that all books come from New York.

Wanted to be a writer. If books are from NY, I need to write about NY.
So I wrote about New York… I had no clue what it looked like or what you could do there. I was stuck.

I had nothing to write about, because our stories weren’t published.

When students say “have to read for class,” they haven’t read the right book yet.

We were hungry for our culture, for a reflection that looked like us.
Mirror of society—don’t see themselves on television or in books.
We grew up so hungry for something that had to do with us.

I made good use of the library. Looked for Mexican-American. Nothing. Looked for stuff on Mexico. Haciendas… Read about Spain. Then France, because next door to Spain. Took French, because it was related.
I kept reading and reading and searching and searching until I found it.

The traditional canon was not made for us.
… made for a very small percentage of the world’s people.
… lied. It told us that we were all separate.

Poem that people can see themselves joining in it.
“This River Here”
full of me and mine, you and yours
right here, or maybe a little farther down
my great-grandmother washed the dirt
my grampa washed the sins out of his congregation’s souls
“I see Indians! I see Indians!” he threw pebbles at her. One day she got mad and threw them back. … After they got married…
right here we pour out picnics
weeping lady haunting the river—“I need my children.” ??
stories haunt us… scrapes in different places… married you and I …
It was right here and right here we stand. …or maybe a little farther down.

All from one skin
All from one little country
95% male
women props to be added when needed

Women have been keeping us alive.
Even the act of feeding someone becomes a statement of culture and civilization.

What is the canon?

Canon = teaching people how to stay alive
Survival instructions
How to deal with depression and loss
How to saunter sassy

Traditional canon beautiful.

Tell the stories of men in difficult situations.
Rich. Brilliant.
Excluded works.
World literature in our canon.

Her writings include
“Feeding You”
“Tortilleria”

I purchased one of her books and enjoy it immensely.

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What College Students are Reading

by Dr Davis on February 1, 2016

Quartz has an article about the Open Syllabus Project that uses online syllabi to examine what we are assigning in university.

Plato, Hobbes, Machiavelli, and Aristotle overwhelmingly dominate lists in the US, particularly at the top schools.

In the US, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein is the most taught work of fiction, with Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales a close second. In history titles, George Brown Tindall and David Emory Shi’s textbook, America: A Narrative History, is No. 1, with Anne Moody’s Coming of Age in Mississippi, a memoir about life as an African-American woman in Jim Crow America, at No. 2. The Communist Manifesto is the third most taught in history, and is the top title in sociology.

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Literature Helps with Mental Health

by Dr Davis on January 30, 2016

The Independent.uk has a story about how literature can help with mental health problems.

Stephen Fry, Sir Ian McKellen and Melvyn Bragg have each given deeply personal interviews to academics as part of a free online course which considers how poems, plays and novels can help us to understand and cope with deep emotional distress.

The trio discuss their experiences of some of the six themes – stress, heartbreak, bereavement, trauma, depression and bipolar, ageing and dementia – that make up “Literature and mental health: Reading for wellbeing”. Each man also describes how the work of literary greats such as Shakespeare, WH Auden and Philip Larkin have helped them during troubled times.

Related posts:
Mental Health and Comics
Health/Illness Writing
19th C Psychology Texts
The Art of Madness

Related materials:
Teaching the Taboo: Reading Mental Health and Mental Illness in American Literature

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Literary Map of English Language

by Dr Davis on November 26, 2015

Literary history of the English language in one map:

lit map of English language

It moves through time. It starts in 1800 and moves through to this year.

The article also has Kalev Leetaru’s map of locations mentioned in conjunction with the American Civil War between 1855 and 1875. I find that interesting, since the Civil War didn’t start till 1861.

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Coin Wishing Tree

by Dr Davis on October 13, 2015

See the Coin Wishing Tree, with info.

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15thC Cats

by Dr Davis on October 8, 2015

cats 15th century

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