Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Mid-Term Essay Topics

Please choose one of the following topics for your Mid-Term assignment. I have used your own very helpful suggestions from the May 30th lecture.
  1. Does either one of Philip Pullman or Graham Greene more effectively integrate his polemical position into his literary art? Construct your case (there are three possible) using direct quotation from the two novels.
  2. Using textual quotation and your own evaluative judgement, place The Amber Spyglass and Brighton Rock into a dialectical exchange about the subject of God, where either novel artistically represents a dialectical position to which the other is a direct literary response.
  3. Explain some of the ways in which Pinkie's "dividers" in Brighton Rock and Will's "subtle knife" in The Amber Spyglass function as literary devices within their respective texts. Your conclusion can be used to give your estimation of their relative artistic effectiveness.
  4. The lecturer has presented Graham Greene as one of the greatest novelists of the twentieth century, according to the aggregate critical consensus and textual evidence. Compare the form and style of Amber Spyglass to that of Brighton Rock and argue for or against the claim that Philip Pullman is an equally great novelist in this the twenty-first century. If you so wish, your comparative evaluation may be framed around the different genres (children's literature versus adult fiction) to which the two novels belong.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Using textual quotation and your own evaluative judgement, place The Amber Spyglass and Brighton Rock into a dialectical exchange about the subject of God, where either novel artistically represents a dialectical position to which the other is a direct literary response.

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Regarding to this question: so the qoutations from one novel has to be "artisitic" while the quotations from the other novel has to be "direct"? Is that what you meant?

Dr. Stephen Ogden said...

"Artistic" and "direct" are not gramatically or semantically parallel in the sentence.....

Dr. Stephen Ogden said...

"Anonymous" wrote:
Using textual quotation and your own evaluative judgement, place The Amber Spyglass and Brighton Rock into a dialectical exchange about the subject of God, where either novel artistically represents a dialectical position to which the other is a direct literary response.

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Does the subject of the "conversation" have to be directly about God? Such as God's nature, identity etc. Or it could be of any religious reference?
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Response: 1.] Yes. 2.] No.

Anonymous said...

What do you mean by "artistically represents a dialectical position"? Does it mean an idea presented through metaphor or other techniques instead of plainly say "God is bad"?

Anonymous said...

for midterm question #1, is it alright to argue for one author or the other or must we compare and contrast both novels?

Dr. Stephen Ogden said...

Being an exam, I must limit my response to the "read the question a bit more closely for the answer" type...

Anonymous said...

is the midterm rough draft due in the tutorials. Can we hand it in wed lectures so that everybody gets fair amount of time.
thanks

Dr. Stephen Ogden said...

Uhhmm.... read the assignment criteria?

April said...

I'm in the midst of the mid-term paper, and thought I'd offer an inspiring musical suggestion. Have a listen to anything by The Stranglers, particularly the album "Rattus Norvegicus" — it will positively thrust you right into the centre of 'Greeneland'. If this indicates my advanced age, so be it, I stand by the suggestion. The Stranglers ROCK. cheers, happy writing! April.

Adam Nowek said...

April:

If you want the modern equivalent, check out Muse's "Black Holes and Revelations." Sure, the musical styles are diametrically opposed (Muse is more, well, epic and grand and arguably Gothic), but they're also English boys that write lyrics that will destroy your mood in the same way dear Mr. Greene does. Promise!

Dr. Stephen Ogden said...

Dear April: Wow -- that takes me back! I havn't heard R.N. since 79 (I think it was!) Do you have a copy of the album?

Dear Adam: do you have any songs by Muse you can recommend?

Adam Nowek said...

I think you ought to take a good look specifically at the tracks "Knights of Cydonia" and "City of Delusion", both of which are off of the album Black Holes and Revelations. They are, I believe, one of modern rock's best examples of anti-god lyrics (the other being, of course, most of the Smashing Pumpkins back catalogue, leaning towards the Mellon Collie material). Muse are heavily polemical on the entire album in regards to politics and religion. Not only that, Matthew Bellamy is one of the most talented guitarist/vocalist combinations to ever grace the planet; there's some jaw-dropping solos throughout the new album, if you're into that sort of thing.

As for thoughts on the lyrics, I've always felt that Bellamy uses the concept of imaginative truth in "Knights of Cydonia", in that this song could be from the point of view of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. "City of Delusion" is more of a polemical attack directed upon the church and its' believers, but regardless is a worthwhile lyrical consideration in our discussion. I'll leave my analysis open at that point, however, and hear out your opinions.

Lyrics to "Knights of Cydonia": http://www.lyricszoo.com/muse/knights-of-cydonia/

Lyrics to "City of Delusion": http://www.lyricszoo.com/muse/city-of-delusion/

Audio samples from Black Holes and Revelations: http://www.amazon.com/Black-Holes-Revelations-Muse/dp/B000FVQYYK/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/102-4653138-7908966?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1180988059&sr=8-1

Dr. Stephen Ogden said...

Dear adam: that is well appreciated. I'll look those up directly.
I'd seen my beloved XTC ("Generals & Majors" easily in my all-time top five) with anti-God lyrics, but Smashing Pumpkins, who I also love love love, I had never experienced that way (I have most of theirs on vinyl, btw.)
Can you exposit the SP anti-God?

Adam Nowek said...

I'd love to! I'd also love to do a musical dialectic essay, but, hey, I can't have everything go my way, can I? ;-)

As for the Smashing Pumpkins anti-god, I find it most prevalent on Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (arguably one of the best albums to ever emerge out of the 90's, but that's another debate altogether..). The iconic track "Zero" I find to be the most scathing in terms of things. The band goes silent for these lines:

emptiness is loneliness and
loneliness is cleanliness and
cleanliness is godliness and
god is empty
just like me


Corgan is equating religious indoctrination with brainwashing. Perhaps he (or the supposed character whose point of view this song may be from) was previously forced into religion at a young age, much like many children tend to be if their parents hold religious beliefs. If this is the case, then Corgan recognises that the only way to "get through" to someone thoroughly committed to their religious beliefs is to assert negative attributes upon their deity of choice. Much of the rest of the song seems to deal with trials and tribulations of romance, so I'll leave those alone.

Additionally, in "Bullet With Butterfly Wings", Corgan mentions that "Jesus was an only son for you." Sixty-second research on Google leads me to believe that Jesus being an only child is the belief of the church, and that the notion of Jesus having actual brothers and sisters is simply an attack on Christianity (see: http://www.scborromeo.org/glad/c11.htm ). While this is not anti-god, per se, there's more than a couple of people on this planet that vehemently believe that Jesus is the son of god. Corgan's bitter tone of voice when he sings "for you" cast a critical, condescending tone upon those that hold this belief.

And, although not truly anti-god, "Tonight, Tonight" appears to be very pro-humanist, as opposed to the religious option. The words are promoting people feeding off one another for inner strength, rather than some divine spirit:

we'll crucify the insincere tonight
we'll make things right, we'll feel it all tonight
we'll find a way to offer up the night tonight
the indescribable moments of your life tonight
the impossible is possible tonight
believe in me as i believe in you, tonight


And, gosh, I would love to give Mellon Collie a spin on my record player. And if you ever manage to get your hands on a copy of Machina II, let me know. ;-)

Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

how will you deduct marks for being late?

Dr. Stephen Ogden said...

Dear Adam:

My thoughts are that you should become a professional music journalist as a hobby: you take me back to the golden age Lester Bands & Cameron Crowe (hours of delight I had from my weekly Creem magazine: it is now all attitude & formula.)

I seem to remember that Corgan professes some kind of spirituality -- perhaps as a method of dealing with his depression -- but I'm not sure. I'm going to read the lyrics to "Siamese Dream" to see if my gauzy sense is legitimate or not before I develop your point.

Machina II I didn't even know of (my salad days of music saturation are gone) but I will now keep an eye out for it. I'll try to get my MCatIS vinyl back from a so-called friend & lend it to you!

April said...

Dr Ogden,
Thrilled to hear you love (and remember...) the Stranglers. I do have Rat. Norv. on vinyl, which is very sad, since we haven't had a record player 'round these parts for some time. I will, I suppose, have to try and find it on CD (or Limewire or something). I too, LIVED for each new issue of CREEM. Actually, I wanted to be Lisa Robinson, (specifically Lisa Robinson on tour with Led Zeppelin...) Boy Howdy!

Adam, thank you for the tip re: 'Muse'. I will drag my old and lazy arse out of the late 70s, and attempt to assimilate something NEW!

Dr. Stephen Ogden said...

Dear April:
Oh, glory! Lisa Robinson is an ideal indeed! What did you think of "Almost Famous"? And I retreated back to the seventies about three years ago when everything I was hearing seemed .... formulaic?, canned? I fell head-over-heels in love with two bands, Roxy Music and Wishbone Ash, who I knew only in passing before, and who I can't seem to stop conceiving of as being fresher, more daring, more independent, more creative, more audacious, more joyous, more big, more avant garde even, than anything of this decade. They both, I can't help thinking, drew from a dimension of originality and marketplace independence -- following a muse solely -- that is impossible for the mono-culture today.

Anonymous said...

where should assignents that are late be submitted to? since the actual draft was suppose to be handed in in lecture

retrodeathpixie said...

I just re-watched Almost Famous and love it all over again. Though those kids are looking pretty young now that i'm not fifteen anymore. My mom would be pretty worried too!
will check out roxy music and wishbone ash...unfortunatly i have stolen internet (and you get roughly what you pay for in the wireless world) so my music stealing abilities have been limited of late. might have to find a hard copy *gasp*

Dr. Stephen Ogden said...

Late assignments must be put in the TAs' mailbox at the English Department, unless specific arangements are made otherwise.

April said...

Dear Dr. Ogden,
Where to begin? “Almost Famous” is a beloved film in my home. Every time I watch it, all that crazy joy (almost pain) of my young obsession with rock comes crashing back. I sympathise completely with your retreat into the 70s, as I never really left them. Like you, I have confronted the ugly spectre of “new music”. I have recoiled in horror and rage at the gutless, prefab, corporate-conceived, uninspired ENNUI of what passes as pop music these days. Fear Not! There is a veritable treasure trove of riches available for us to plunder and delight in all over again, and it has not passed its sell-by date.
I am a fellow fan of Roxy Music.The song: “Prairie Rose” (last song on “Country Life”) is big, lush, and has that special air of elegant depravity I so love. When I was but a teen, my then boyfriend’s mom found his “Country Life” album, and burned it in a fit of outraged Catholic propriety, (my album cover is still intact). Remember how cool and important album cover- art was? I find it difficult to get lost in a CD booklet. “Wishbone Ash” were always on the periphery for me, but I’ll find some tunes on your recommendation. If life expectancies continue to increase, I’ll possibly end up in a nursing home — at 100 years old — cranking out Iggy and the Stooges at top volume and languishing in a comfortable H. habit. That’s what comes of a youth tainted by William S. Burroughs, dangerous pharmaceuticals and 70s rock.
I remain, nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita...

Adam Nowek said...

Dr. Ogden:

I'll heed your suggestion. It's certainly not the first time someone has told me that music is my life!

Also, I would love to borrow your copy of Mellon Collie, if you shall allow it. If there is one thing better than a record, it's a record that's been shown a lot of love and respect over the years.

Machina II may be next to impossible to find, though! ;-) Only 30 vinyl copies were ever made (no CD's!), so it's only available through downloads, for the most part. If you really, really want it, I could give you a bootlegged copy. Just don't tell anyone at Virgin Records...

Dr. Stephen Ogden said...

Sounds like Corgan wants another "Butcher Cover" ;--)

I'll send Guido round for my MC...

And please do keep me in mind with your music journalism: send me copies or links if you should remember me.