November 21st, 2017 by A New Woman

Beloved: Critical Edition

Toni Morrison’s Beloved was one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read. Along with a gritty slave narrative, it also contains elements of commentary on gender relations and superstition. Of these, I think I want to focus on the slave narrative in a New Historicist framework. Because it has such an enigmatic plotline, I want to include both negative and positive responses that it received at the time it was released. There is also a lot of symbolism for which I want to find some analyses of. I don’t fully know what my whole idea for the final product is, but my basic intention is to sort of straighten out and detangle the message that Morrison is trying to send by making Beloved a slave story.

November 20th, 2017 by WHJF207

Critical Edition: Confusion

I enjoyed reading My Ántonia because the characters were challenging for me. They weren’t characters I could easily figure out throughout the book, nor were they characters that I felt I had a solid grasp on by the end of the book. For this reason, I was leaning toward doing a critical edition on My Ántonia focusing on the collision of gender and immigration through the perspective of canon formation? I end this sentence with a question mark because I’m not entirely sure how all of that would come together. My questions for this topic would be: How is gender portrayed in My Ántonia and what effect did that portrayal have on the reader? What was the role of the “immigrant” in the story and what does the conclusion say about what it means to be an immigrant in the United States? Could My Ántonia be included in the canon we know today? If so, who is deciding that it is “worthy” of being included?

That being said, there is a different idea that has been rolling around in my brain since class on Friday. I have really enjoyed reading Solmaz Sharif’s work, and I think it is important and almost hyper-relevant with everything that is happening today. I find Sharif’s specialized word choice to be especially striking when thinking about the word choice the media uses. When a natural disaster hits, such as the last couple of hurricanes, the media frames the events in oddly violent contexts using inherently violent words. Yet when a violent attack by a person on people occurs, the media plays it off as something that can’t be controlled. What if I did a critical edition of Sharif’s work from a modern, New Historicist perspective? My research questions would be something along the lines of: how does Sharif use specific language to shape an argument? Why is Sharif’s work relevant to today? Why is she writing this type of material? Obviously those questions would need to be refined, but this idea is relatively fresh so I haven’t had a chance to explore it in depth.

Is there one that is better than the other? Do you think these would be possible at all? Let me know your thoughts (and thank you in advance)!

November 20th, 2017 by tarwatel

Middlesex Critical Edition

When I read Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides this summer, I was excited to read a novel that transformed many readers’ notions of gender and sexuality, and expected a progressive perspective on the rapidly changing concept of gender.

Middlesex is a novel about an intersex person, Callie, who is raised as a girl and is happy and comfortable with this identity. However, when Callie discovers she is actually “male,” or has male anatomy, she immediately transitions to living as a man, “Cal.” Despite her personal contentment living as a girl, she describes herself as living as someone she is not.

As a reader in 2017, I found this description of gender extremely disappointing. Rather than transitioning because Callie felt like she had a male identity, Callie did simply because she was biologically male. Eugenides reinforces the notion that sex and gender are intertwined and inseparable, in a story that had the opportunity to do the opposite.

In addition, a scene in the novel that particularly stuck out to me was one in which Callie has a sexual experience with a female friend as a young girl. This is used as evidence that Callie is actually male, reinforcing heteronormative ideas about sexuality.

In my critical edition, I would like to explore how ideas about of gender and sexuality have evolved in the 15 years since Middlesex was published. Contemporary reviews of Middlesex were extremely positive, and it was frequently lauded as a groundbreaking novel. Today, however, it seems unfortunate that this story formulated so many people’s ideas of gender and sexuality, as it presents flawed ideas in many ways. Despite being a riveting and provocative story, these downfalls need to be critiqued.

For sources, Judith Butler immediately came to mind. I would also like to use more contemporary writers about gender and sexuality to demonstrate their evolution in recent years.

November 20th, 2017 by choc

A Doll’s House: Critical Edition

I wanted to make a critical edition of A Doll’s House with a focus on Ibsen’s place and role in heavily influencing modern theatre and challenging aesthetic and theatrical traditions and conventions of the time. As one of the most iconic works of one of my favourite playwrights, I wanted to visit my two-time high school reading (once in Korean and once again in English) and discuss it one last time, combining the background on the work and Ibsen I’ve built up so far over many readings and independent investigations with a fresh, more evolved perspective.

I wanted to reference some of Ibsen’s speeches and letters, many of which are available in Cornell University’s full archival edition which can be accessed at I also wanted to peruse Ibsen’s theatrical reviews—especially those for A Doll’s House—that are accessible in the National Library of Norway’s website. Finally, my final concrete idea of which text I was going to use was the very good book written by Toril Moi titled Henrik Ibsen and the Birth of Modernism.

November 20th, 2017 by kropfm

The Glass Castle– A Critical Edition

I would like to write a critical edition of the novel The Glass Castle.

I first heard of The Glass Castle in eighth grade from a friend. In my English class, we were required to do outside reading either from a list provided by my teacher or students could get a book of their choosing approved by the teacher. The only requirement was that it was “literature.” I had asked to read The Glass Castle, which was approved, but other books, like The Hunger Games, were not. I have always been interested in the line between what is considered “literature” and what is not.

This is the same idea behind our Canon discussion in class. The Glass Castle and others like it (i.e. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Secret Life of Bees) are all powerful books, but are not technically considered Canon in the same way that Shakespeare is. I will use John Guillory’s “Canon” to argue that canon, while important in the long run, shouldn’t be given as much weight or influence in the world of literature as it has in the past, or at least that it should be more inclusive to more modern works.

In the same way that music and film can be considered “literature,” works like The Glass Castle should be considered a type of Canon.

Also, I haven’t worked it out all the way, but The Glass Castle incorporates a lot of “finding one’s identity” and gender and sexuality, it could be interesting to also add points from Judith Butler, I’m just not completely sure how or if it would further my canon argument.

November 20th, 2017 by hrbekm

Critical Edition: The Scarlet Letter

I want to create a critical edition of The Scarlet Letter with a focus on sexuality and gender.

first read this book in my junior year of high school as a standard feature of the American literature curriculum. I was absolutely enamored with the text, for its elegant prose, for its intricate construction of symbols, and for its fascinating take on the conflict between Puritan moral values and human sexuality. In looking at sources for my critical edition, I want to evaluate the text and its relationship to differing conceptions of female sexuality. I expect my argument to become more clear and defined as I dive into the work itself, but for now my intention is to explore what I perceive as the text’s attempt to redefine sexual morality — with varying degrees of success. 

There are several questions I hope to answer as I begin my research, including: What were the conceptions of female sexuality both in Hawthorne’s culture and in the historical culture he was writing about, i.e., 17th century Puritan New England? How much does the text actually reject restrictive ideas of sexuality and how much does it adhere to them through the narrative? How was the text received in its time, particularly with regard to its examination of traditional religious and moral values?

I would also potentially like to look into how reactions to the text have evolved since it was published nearly one and three-quarter centuries ago, and how such a long history of critical review has shaped present perceptions of the text (although I’m not sure yet if this information will fit into the final critical edition).

Lastly, considering this text has been a recurring subject of literary critique for so many years, I anticipate challenges in narrowing down appropriate and useful sources.

November 16th, 2017 by Victoria Wotton

The Phantom Tollbooth- Critical Edition

The first text that I thought of for a critical edition is one of my childhood favorites- The Phantom Tollbooth. When we explored the Lands Beyond with Milo in my fifth grade reading group, our discussion centered on Norton Juster’s critique of the American attitude. I’m not entirely sure where my critical edition will lead me, but I’d like to explore how The Phantom Tollbooth paints conformity of thought and thought process as useless and debilitating, championing self-discovery through literature (and numbers) and the adventures of challenging yourself. Juster’s conveyance of that belief results in viewing the education system as flawed because of the lack of motivation conformity breeds. Maybe I’ll discuss the societal intersections that made it possible for the educational system to both condemn and praise The Phantom Tollbooth, which is now a classic addition to the elementary reading list.

In pages 57 through 63 of “The Rule of Law Through the Looking Glass” by Mary Liston compares The Phantom Tollbooth to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to emphasize each text’s relationship to the authoritative figures in the respective time periods.

Chapter 16 of Nurturing Creativity in the Classroom by Ronald A. Beghetto and James C. Kaufman is an article by Beth A. Hennessey entitled “Intrinsic Motivation and Creativity in the Classroom: Have We Come Full Circle?” In her article, Hennessey discusses the roles of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations in the classroom, arguing that intrinsic motivation is harder to develop and produces better results.

On October 25, 2011, Norton Juster wrote a brief article on The Phantom Tollbooth‘s 50th anniversary and recorded its history, how it served as a means to escape from his own work, and the backlash it faced because it forced children to confront unknown words and ideas.

November 11th, 2017 by mudds

The Snake

(Page 22 in my copy)

As we examined the hole with two entrances, I decided to take a look to the left of me, to a large rock just outside of arms reach. The sight which greeted me chilled me to my core and I couldn’t help but let out a scream of terror. Laying there on the rock was one of the largest snakes I had ever seen. I could see its beady black eyes piercing me, and I felt goosebumps rising across my arms and my hair stood on end. My first instinct was to run, but I knew that if I moved, the snake would strike. I wanted to call to Jim, to warn him the snake was there, but all that came out was an “Oh my God” in Bohemian. Jim whirled around and after a moment of absolute stillness, he rushed forward and beat the snake to death with a savagery that I had not seen him display before. It both scared and awed me, that Jim would become a completely different person in order to protect me. Unbidden, tears came to my eyes as I went to him,

“O Jimmy, he not bite you? You sure? Why you not run when I say?”

Still in a foul mood, he rounded on me, “What did you jabber Bohunk for? You might have told me there was a snake behind me!”

“I know, I am just awful, Jim,” I sobbed. “I was so scared.” I tried to wipe his face with his handkerchief, as he looked unwell, but he snatched it from my grasp and began to do it himself. Hiding my hurt, I tried my best to comfort him, “I never know you was so brave, Jim. You is just like big mans; you wait for him to lift his head and then you go for him. Ain’t you scared a bit? Now we take that snake home and show everybody. Nobody ain’t seen in this kawntreee so big snake like you kill.”

November 9th, 2017 by A New Woman

Thinking of Home

Book I, Chapter VI from Antonia’s perspective

One lovely fall afternoon, Jim and I settled on the bank by the badger’s den for our reading lesson. By this time I knew nearly all the English I needed to talk about nearly anything with Jim, and as we sat in a patch of sunlight, he told me that winter was in the air. In my thin dress and bare feet, I felt the chill when I wasn’t in the sun-warmed grass.  Sitting above the badger’s nest reminded me of the dogs that the men in Bohemia used to train to dive into badger den’s and kill the creatures. Men and dogs in Nebraska did not care about the badger. Dogs in Bohemia were greatly rewarded for hunting a badger, but badgers in Nebraska are simply ignored. How strange.

Rabbits were dancing through the prairies, very much alive, but it seemed as if all the little bugs and things that had once filled the summer air with their buzzing had faded away with the season. Suddenly, as Jim and I watched, a lone survivor appeared from the buffalo grass. A frail green grasshopper, he made a feeble attempt to hop into a patch a bluestem before I picked him up.

“Good afternoon, sir,” I sang to him in Bohemian. “Pick up your head, pick up your feet, sing us a song!”

And he did. Before I knew what was happening, tears were streaming down my face in time to his raspy chirping melody.

Jim was quite alarmed. “Are you alright? Is something wrong?” he asked.

I shook my head and sniffled. “In my village at home,” I explained, “there was an old beggar woman who went about selling herbs and roots that she had dug up in the forest. If you took her in and gave her a warm place by the fire, she sang old songs to the children in a cracked voice, one like this cricket.”

“This makes you sad?” Jim wanted to know.

I sighed. “Her name was Old Hata. I used to wait by the door of our house for her every day to give her the candy and baking that my mama and I had made.”


November 9th, 2017 by WHJF207

Negotiating the Terms

Pg 148 from Ambrosch’s perspective, (although he most likely would not be thinking in English)

I scan the fields and watch Ántonia work. By now, she is strong with lean, farmer’s muscles. Her determination to be outside with the plants is not something that surprises me. My father’s extra love and admiration for her sparked this drive in her to be whomever she wants. Ironically, he would never want her doing this. I chuckle to myself. He’s dead now.

My attention shifts to the trip I must make to Black Hawk this afternoon. Mrs Harling is making preparations to have Ántonia move to Black Hawk to work for her. Does she not understand that Ántonia is mine? Does she not understand Ántonia must remain here, no matter what?

Later in Black Hawk

“Mrs. Harling do you not see that my family is in desperate need for this money. There is no reason that Ántonia should keep all of her allowances when she is being housed and fed by you. Plus, it isn’t proper for a woman like her to be working at all!”

“Ambrosch, listen to me. It is not proper for a woman to be doing the work she is doing in your house. A woman must know how to bake bread and clean up, not milk a cow. She will be learning more here than she will there, and earning every cent I give her. And to make sure of it, I will be keeping fifty dollars a year for Ántonia’s own use should she choose to use it.”

This woman will certainly make a fool of my sister. They will dress her in that unreasonable and make fun of her voice! Her skin is darker, her hair longer. She doesn’t think like they do. Certainly they want one of two things: to make my sister a joke or to turn her into another one of them. I won’t have either one. She will not be staying in Black Hawk. My father would never have wanted this either!

 “Fine, Ambrosch, I will pay your sister 3 dollars a week and and dress her as well. I expect her next week.”

We need those three dollars a week. Living here is bound to catch up with her at some point. I cannot have Ántonia for myself forever.

“That’ll do.”

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