Category Archives: English

That’s Some GoodTrash… (Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes, Part 2)

First of fun things I need to update you about, second general life update.

I have fulfilled a lifelong, bucket list dream. I may not be on NPR, but I have achieved the next best thing. I am a regular host and contributor to the GoodTrash Genre Cast. What is GTGC? It’s a weekly film analysis podcast that has dabblings of pop culture, reviews, and general tom foolery.

This came about by a friend, and host-in-chief, asking me to be on the program for a special Harry Potter episode. Apparently they liked me quite a bit, because starting with episode 80, they invited me back as a permanent host! I am thankful they did, because even though I’ve only been doing this since July 2014, I can’t imagine my life without these friends of mine.

I’d love for you to check out our work. I’d encourage you to start from the beginning, and you’ll hear me eventually. If you notice, my sidebar has an RSS feed of our most recent episodes. If you want to connect using other social media means, look at our Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. I’m sure I’ll expand some of my more inspired analysis on this blog!

Short entry, but I need to watch this week’s film “The Last Stand,” the most recent Schwarzenegger film, so we can record tonight. This month, we’re attempting to watch films no one on our podcast has seen to analyse. I love Arnie so much (“Total Recall” was my favorite movie I had to watch from 2014 for the podcast), so I am glad to get another dose. He’s such a guilty pleasure.

Also, HAPPY NEW YEAR! 2015 is going to be my year.

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Books

A main aspect of my existence as an English major are, of course, books. The acquisition of new books, however, is problematic.

During the school year, I don’t have a lot of time for fun reading–doesn’t stop me from having at least two books I’m starting on at a time though–and therefore multitude of collected books on the ever present “to read” list piles up.

Added a few new babies to that collection yesterday at our University’s Friends of the Library Booksale. Patrons can donate books and the library goes through their collection and pulls out-of-date or old materials for selling.

Some golden finds were the entire VHS collection of “Upstairs, Downstairs,” which I’ve been dying to see for ages, a few Norton Anthologies (sadly, I already have all of the ones I needed although I might go back to purchase any of the modern ones…books on half.com don’t sell themselves!), and a John Updike novel that I almost purchased because we just finished studying him.

However, I feel happy with my selections:

A combination of work and pleasure...

Longman Anthology of World Literature by Women: I am quite excited about this, I’m sure that this will get a lot of use. I frequently choose female authors for my various research grants, breaks up the monotony of the “dead white guys” club.

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging: This came out in 2001. I read half of it whenever I was in the 6th or 7th grade and my mom freaked out and turned it in to the library. It is pretty raunchy for young adult literature, but I think more than ten years separation is enough time. I always wanted to read the sequels too, so here’s my silly-lit for the summer.

A Short History of Literary Criticism: A lot of used book places don’t have a lot of literary criticism books. I have one on my Kindle and the one I used for my Lit Crit class. Best class I’ve ever had as an undergraduate.

Understanding Clinical Nutrition: I’ve been looking for a reliable nutrition source for ages and this textbook came out in 2006. I think the current students at my school are only using the 2009-2010 edition now, so it isn’t really that out of date. As someone who lifts, I want to know why the body works and what could make mine work better.

Of course, these books are in addition to this:

Summer reading....shelf.

I should not add any more books to my ever growing reading list. But I do anyway. I love my paper friends.

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Filed under American Literature, Books, British Literature, English, Purchases, School

Separated

Coffee

via Ben Cumming

 Richard had forgotten why as he packed the last vestiges of his books and papers into the trunk of the car. He continued to forget why as he slept in Angela’s embrace, the closest thing to a free man he had ever been. He had tasted the bold taste of the new and fresh, like the cup of coffee he poured himself as he signed the final paper. He tried not to be reminded of Joann as Angela rummaged around in the refrigerator for the orange juice.

The coffee was hot and bitter.

A/N: This is a continuance of the short story “Separating” by John Updike.

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Filed under American Literature, English, Fiction, Writing

Cranking my Anxiety

I wish I could get this tattooed across my brain.

via Pinterest

Let’s start off with defining some key terms. Pay attention now, there’s going to be a pop quiz later.

Cranking my anxiety v. The act of or initiation of additional anxiety or stressful situations that superceeds any rational thoughts and feelings. Think of a kickstart motorized bicycle.

My counselor told me to journal anytime I feel this way, so here goes.

Part of learning how to make myself a generally healthy person is that I see a shrink once a week through my school counseling center. Boy are we going to have a lot to talk about today.

It’s only 10:00 in the morning, and already my anxiety is through the roof. All of the things that are triggers for me are things that to normal people, with normal thought processes, are just life. To my anxiety, it’s like someone put me on a treadmill after injecting coffee in my veins.

To start off with, remember that paper-pushy job  I told you about? Well, turns out I misinterpreted an email and started rescheduling appointments. Turns out, the coworker whose appointments I’ve been rescheduling has already done so and I got my dates mixed up. I haven’t gone into the office yet (merely emailed my boss my mistake), so I have no idea what kind of turmoil I’ve caused in the office today already. That was at 7:00 this morning.

Second, I just got out of my American Lit class with my favorite professor. Normally, this isn’t cause for duress, but this time (due to my professor winning an award) we had a film crew in the class.

Despite being really good at English and school, I have this irrational fear of being that guy. Oh, don’t pretend like you don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s that kid, not necessarily the teacher’s pet, who always thinks he (or she, because there are she “that guys”) is right or that what they have to say is worth everyone listening to it.

I already feel like the actual teacher’s pet in this class anyway, so it doesn’t make it any better whenever a film crew is singling me out as “Target #1”. And, to top it all off, I had performance anxiety. In between not being able to say anything at all, I also got all the questions I tried to take a stab at wrong. Of course, now it is going to be documented that I am a huge dumb ass. At the same time, I was afraid of saying anything at all, any extra insights that I normally would have come up with, becasue I didn’t want to look like I was showing off or anything.

I need to lift so badly right now. I need to squat some really heavy weights and just not care about anyone right now. Not even care about me. Just take a vacation out of my own head.

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Filed under American Literature, English, Mental Health

Dreaming Deeply

This is me.

And lately, I have been obsessed with setting goals. Perhaps since I feel like 2012 is going to be such a good, healing year for me, getting started contemplating my goals (and especially writing them down) will help me on my way to success. I have already met one goal so far this year: be able to regain some normalcy in regards to my body image and self worth.

The rest of my goals are much more future focused. Obviously, you see from the picture above that my highest goal right now is to be the general editor for the Norton Anthologies. Encompassed within this big umbrella goal are the steps to this such as acquiring Masters degree, Doctorate, teaching English at a university, developing a school of critical theory, writing a book or five.

I also wish to change and enrich the lives of others through what I do. The last thing I want is for what I accomplish to  not help others or for my work to only help in an academia vacuum.

A friend once told me that he read that a definition of hell is you now meeting the person you could have been if you had only tried harder. I believe it.

That’s not happening to me.

-a.b.

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Filed under English, Goals, School

British Literature as a Foundation for the Americans

This is the wrap-up week for my British Literature online class. I cannot believe that the eighth week of school is upon us and midterms are already here. My block one class will now transition into block two and I will continue to blog as part of my class requirements.

That being said, I would like to conclude this facet of blogging for British literature with some thoughts over what I learned.

Namely the fact that I am irredeemably an Americanist in regard to literature. I had thought that due to my rabid Anglophilia stemming from an early age that I would absolutely detest American literature. I have to admit when I have never been more wrong.

British literature is wonderful. There are things that are authored by the people on this tiny island that cannot possibly be replicated anywhere else–due to class conflicts, cultural norms, and having lots and lots of female rulers.

However, American literature takes the basis of what British literature does and builds on it. It removes all the things that make it inherently stodgy and stale, and add a breath of life to it. There is a refreshed enthusiasm for the craft of words seen in most American literature–the Puritans being the exception not the rule–that is seldom witnessed in British literature. Maybe from my minuscule sampling of this field, I just haven’t found it yet.

-a.b.

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Virgina Woolf and “Triple” Consciousness

Present within Virginia Woolf’s work of “Ms. Dalloway” is the apparent demonstration of stream of consciousness writing. This narrative strategy yields a certain amount of psychological realism within the work versus if it did not have this present. Whenever a work is presented with more psychological realism, it is easier to grasp and understand because the characters and situations seem more relatable.

So, whenever I started contemplating the concept of this stream of consciousness writing, I realized that there was another element present that I had previously not remembered: that of the character Septimus. Septimus could be said to be Clarissa’s doppelganger, or her darker, inner self that she is at war with constantly.

If one contemplates the inclusion of Septimus in the proceedings, you would realize that there are three facets to Clarissa to consider. There is her external, social butterfly. Her internal stream of consciousness and the facet of her personality known as Septimus. Realizing that Septimus, insanity slowly bubbling under the surface, and Clarissa’s normalcy exist side-by-side is a terrifying reminder how close we all are to losing our  minds.

Woolf provides a tragic insight into the human condition using the concepts of stream of consciousness and double consciousness in regard to narrative strategy and style. Partially why we still fascinated with this work is the idea that we are constantly at war with what bubbles under the surface, threatening to take us over.

-a.b.

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Filed under British Literature, English, School

T.S. Eliot: A Hipster from Another Time?

Dr. Hochenauer posted these thoughts on our homepage for our contemplations over T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land”:

The question becomes whether The Waste Land is meant to be read or studied. The poem creates a super-reader who should know several languages and cultures. It’s literary references and allusions are obscure so readers must also be extremely well read. Even then, the subjectivity of the poem renders it almost incomprehensible. It becomes part of a cult of the obscure. It’s obscurity for obscurity’s sake.

According to the ideas conveyed here, it seems as Eliot is trying to establish a culture of meta-knowledge–a required amount of precursory ideas that the reader must comprehend before his ideas are digestible. Now, as a poet who wishes to convey their ideas to a wide audience to touch a multiplicity of people, why would he wish to do this? As someone who admittedly does not know much about Eliot and his history, it seems as if he derives an extreme pleasure from the concept of knowing that he has such a wide knowledge base beyond the realm of the average individual.

Eliot, in this regard, I believe shares a lot of attributes of the trendy “hipster” youth social group. One popular definition of hipster that has cycled around my peers is that a hipster is someone who tries very hard to appear as if they have gone to no effort at all.

I think that there are elements of Eliot’s poem “The Waste Land” that can be applied to this definition. Eliot makes his poem difficult to understand seemingly for the reason of making it “obscure for obscurity’s sake”, an avant-garde realization made by Dr. Hochenauer. Eliot seems to be re-defining what it means to be a poet and why it means to be a poet in this work in a way that’s purposefully dense to make the reader frustratingly search for answers.

-a.b.

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The Greatest Expectations of All

“Great Expectations” serves as one of the noblest forms of social critique: that of one that gives examples of what it means to improve. Dickens uses his writings to comment upon the societal expectations of the day. Pip possesses the greatest expectations: that for himself. He desires to become this lofty gentleman and Dickens uses this to satirically critique the normal way of thinking of the time.

Pip desires an education and wealth so that he can move forward in society, and yet he realizes whenever he receives these gifts that he is no better off than what he was previously. One of the overall themes of this work is the concept that you can receive happiness at whatever level that you are currently at. You don’t have to be the wealthiest or most intelligent person on Earth–those are things that can alienate you even more from the people you care about.

Overall, the Victorian era shifted in its focus from a society reliant upon a Romanticized view of God and providence, to that of hard-work and almost a Darwinian determinism. It is very difficult to rise above one’s circumstances. As we see in the novel, Pip tries to do so and whenever he “succeeds”, he feels ghastly for treating his friends and family members in such an abominable way.

In a slightly related note, this past week was also Charles Dickens’ two hundredth birthday.

I wonder if he expected the notoriety that he received.

-a.b.

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Say it over and over and over again…

Say over again, and yet once over again,
That thou dost love me,
Though the word repeated
Should seem a “cuckoo-song,” as dost treat it,
Remember, never to the hill or plain,
Valley and wood, without her cuckoo-strain
Comes the fresh Spring in all her green completed.
Beloved, I, amid the darkness greeted
By a doubtful spirit-voice, in that doubt’s pain
Cry, “Speak once more–thou lovest!” Who can fear
Too many stars, though each in heaven shall roll,
Too many flowers, though each shall crown the year?
Say thou dost love me, love me, love me–toll
The silver iterance!–only minding, Dear,
To love me also in silence with thy soul.

-Elizabeth Browning

It is tempting upon first reading to write this off merely as the insecurities of being female, especially when relating to one’s significant other. It is very tempting to do this as a female who has experienced precisely the same anxieties about feeling loved or being told enough that she is.

However, we should be careful as students of literature to not just slap a label of “oh-well-she’s-a-woman” on this. This is a poem that I think everyone can relate to, even though it was penned hundreds of years ago. And when I mean everyone, I mean everyone.

Although I have not been inside the mind of a male–I’m sure a very frightening place–I can relate from my own experience with my ex-boyfriend that men can be just as insecure about relationships as women can. In fact, I just hate reiterating the idea that this beyond just a female trait. This trait is a human trait. People across the planet are insecure about how they feel about their relationships. If we consider the idea that all gender is a social construct anyway (probably a topic for a different entry) then we should realize that it is perfectly normal and acceptable to have feelings of doubt in this regard. In fact, it is probably very healthy in a relationship to do this. If one was just secure about everything, then I think there would be a lack of willingness to keep trying. Insecurities exist for a reason.

Recently, in my relationship with the gentleman I am dating, I experienced this severe anxiety demonstrated in this poem. After awhile, I had to realize that I should pull myself up out of my pit of dispair to realize that what I was feeling was unfounded. Due to his style of caring not being verbally demonstrative, I had to adjust myself to being in a relationship that mainly demonstrated caring through his actions, not his words.

And I’m okay with this. In fact, I think it’s helping me a lot more than either of us realize.

So, perhaps my suggestion to Browning’s speaker is to keep this concept in mind. Not every syllable he or she utters has to be full of the throws of adoration. People demonstrate love and caring in different ways. Maybe his touch says he loves you? Maybe her smile says she cares? And maybe, over time, they will learn to express how they feel toward you in a verbal way. But if it is unnatural to them, who is to say you should try and change who they are to make yourself feel better?

-a.b.

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