Because there was no way I could read Eagleton in a week…

Here’s the review on Eagleton’s Sweet Violence by playwright Howard Brenton. Brenton succinctly breaks down Eagleton’s argument on contemporary tragedy and links this directly to Sarah Kane’s Blasted at the review’s close.

Hope this helps,



Should Blasted be staged?

The prompt below is a fictional scenario. You should not necessarily write anything formal before our next class meeting on Thursday, March 26th to begin this response, but you should keep the assignment in mind as you read the essay on Blasted for Thursday. Think about your position, and how the Saunders article may or may not help your argument – perhaps note this down in your double-entry notebook as you read. You might also begin collecting some outside research using Evernote. Track your response to the Saunders essay using your double-entry notebook and keeping track of quotes that you want to use (no matter which side of the debate you fall on!).

The theatre department at LaGuardia has announced auditions for its next production: Sarah Kane’s Blasted. You have noticed flyers appearing from various student groups protesting the show, saying that such depictions of violence are not appropriate. In an era of trigger warnings on campuses and college rape scandals in the news, some say the play could challenge viewers (and not in good ways). You heard one person in the cafe line say that too many students might have immature reactions and not “get it,” thinking the violence is “cool” at a time when video games and movies glorifying blood and gore are popular.

The student newspaper has heard that our class is reading Blasted, and wants to publish an opinion forum (much like the NY Times‘ section “Room for Debate”) on whether or not Blasted should be staged. You must write an 800 word opinion piece addressing the larger LaGuardia community, using scholarly and critical responses to support why or why not the theatre department should mount this production, and further issues that may or may not touch upon the production’s reception. Feel free to include current events that are relevant to your position.

The rubric is available here.

Should you want to use any of the Helen Iball that we looked at on Monday, here’s the citation:

Iball, Helen. Sarah Kane’s Blasted. London: Continuum, 2008. Print.

You’ll begin writing this response in class on Thursday, March 26th. Bring in a rough draft for peer review on Monday, March 30th. You will upload a draft to share with me on Thursday, April 2nd.

For Thursday, March 19th – Responding to Poetry

Read all three poems from the schedule (T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men,” Lorca’s “Dawn,” and Yeats’s “The Second Coming”). Then –

I. Choose ONE of the three poems (whichever one strikes your fancy).

II. Read the poem twice more, once silently and once aloud. Hear the voice of the text and begin to form an oral interpretation.

III. Render parts of the text aloud with various purposes:

  • to gain a basic, clear understanding;
  • to reinforce what you take to be the author’s intended emphasis;
  • to dramatize the power of the text;
  • to exaggerate or parody the voice.

Bring in the following response (just as a free write, try to restrict your written response time to 5 minutes): What did you notice about the different readings? What questions do you have now about the poem?

This free write is in place of a double-entry response.

(Assignment adapted from Lynn Hammond, “Using Focused Freewriting to Promote Critical Thinking.”)

Reminders for Monday, March 16th

Thanks for your biopoems today, I look forward to reading them! Come ready to discuss/defend your choices from the biopoems on Monday, when we’ll talk more in depth about Octavia Butler’s “Speech Sounds.”

If you are pressed for time, read only chapter 5, “The End of the Future,” of Gwendolyn Foster’s Hoarders, Doomsday Preppers, and the Culture of Apocalypse. Both chapter 4 (“Embracing the Apocalypse”) and 5 are in your course packet, but focus on chapter 5 if you have to pick just one for our Monday meeting. Create a couple double entry notebook entries on the Foster chapter(s) as well.

Make sure you download Camscanner and the Dropbox app for our Monday class: we’ll go over how to upload informal writing (like your double-entry notebooks) to Dropbox as possible portfolio artifacts.

You need to check our syllabus/schedule on this site regularly to make sure you know what is due.




Random Things of Interest

This article – “Rewriting the Future: Using Science Fiction to Re-Envision Justice” – over at the blog thenerdsofcolor came up on my Facebook feed. I thought it might be of interest (especially as we’re talking about Butler’s “Speech Sounds” tomorrow). It also touches upon some of the initial discussions we’ve had around dystopian/post-apocalyptic lit thus far. An excerpt:

In her unfinished manuscript of Parable of the Trickster, the final in the Parable series, Octavia Butler wrote,

There’s nothing new
under the sun
but there are new suns.

The science fiction — or speculative fiction, fantasy, horror, magical realism, etc. — we humans create doesn’t appear out of the ether. Whether it’s Hunger Games, Harry Potter, or Star Wars, these fantastical worlds end up exploring issues like war, racism, gender oppression, power, privilege, and injustice. There is nothing new under the sun. But as Butler so deftly tells and shows us in her novels, these new suns offer us infinite new opportunities to re-envision our current world.

And then there’s this post-apocalyptic Charlie Brown and Snoopy (from over at boingboing). Just because.



See everyone tomorrow,


For our Thursday, March 12th meeting:

Have a draft of your 25-word abstract of Schmidt’s article. You’ll get time at the start of class to edit/refine these in groups. Remember that the abstract must be one sentence, with exactly twenty-five words, summarizing the main argument of the article.

Read Octavia Butler’s short story “Speech Sounds” and create at least 3 entries in your dialectical notebook in response to the story (new folks: check out page 56 onwards in the very first course packet article called “Active Reading” for more information/examples on how to set up a double-entry/dialectical notebook).

Skim Judith Little’s introduction to Feminist Philosophy and Science fiction: Utopias and Dystopias if you have time (it’s right before the Butler story in your course packet).