Resources for first year students at the U. of Kairouan

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Resources for first year students at the U. of Kairouan

Post by Rachid Amri on Tue Dec 04, 2007 9:57 pm

The following link is a valuable resource that covers key concepts we have discussed in the tutorials during this semester:
http://www.brocku.ca/english/jlye/criticalreading.html

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The Formal Elements of Fiction

Post by Rachid Amri on Sat Dec 08, 2007 6:47 pm

The following link contains definitions and exercises on the elements of fiction: plot, character, setting, point of view etc
http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/virtualit/fiction/elements.asp

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more on the elements of fiction

Post by Rachid Amri on Sat Dec 08, 2007 6:52 pm


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Re: Resources for first year students at the U. of Kairouan

Post by olfa.saidani on Wed Dec 12, 2007 12:36 pm

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red badge of courage

Post by omar_methnani on Mon Dec 17, 2007 11:06 pm

this is a link where one can find the text of The Red Badge of Courage.
http://www.redbadgeofcourage.org/text.html

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Copies of The Red Badge of Courage are now available in Kair

Post by Rachid Amri on Tue Dec 25, 2007 11:42 pm

Dear Students,
The Red Badge of Courage is now available in Kairouan. You can buy it in Ridha El Ajra's library (near Bab El Jalladine) for 4.500.

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GLOSSARY OF LITERARY TERMS

Post by Rachid Amri on Tue Jan 08, 2008 4:34 pm

GLOSSARY OF LITERARY TERMS
TO SERVE AS A PROFESSOR’S COMPANION TO THE FIRST YEAR ENGLISH PROGRAM: INTRODUCTION TO LITERATURE – U. OF KAIROUAN (2007-2008).

I.) WHAT IS LITERATURE?
The term literature literally means the use of letters (from the Latin littera). In Western culture we think of literature as composed of prose (fiction and non-fiction), drama, and poetry.
Over the ages there has been a great deal of controversy over what constitutes literature; even today there’s no total and world-wide consensus. Some scholars argue that literature must be written; others maintain that oral tradition is literature too. In North America today, the term has come to have a broad meaning that, in addition to creative work, includes all the writings pertaining to a specific discipline or area. This is why, when shopping for a car for example, one can overhear a customer asking the salesman if he “has any literature” on such-and-such a make of automobile.
The Free Online Dictionary by Farlex suggests this much broader definition of literature:
1. The body of written works of a language, period, or culture.
2. Imaginative or creative writing, especially of recognized artistic value: "Literature must be an analysis of experience and a synthesis of the findings into a unity." Rebecca West.
3. The art or occupation of a literary writer.
4. The body of written work produced by scholars or researchers in a given field: medical literature.
5. Printed material: collected all the available literature on the subject.
6. Music: all the compositions of a certain kind or for a specific instrument or ensemble: the symphonic literature.
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/literature
According to Wikipedia the Free Online Dictionary, “Popular belief commonly holds that the literature of a nation, for example, comprises the collection of texts which make it a whole nation. The Hebrew Bible, Persian Shahnama, the Muslim Koran, the Indian Mahabharata, Ramayana and Thirukural, the Iliad and the Odyssey, Beowulf, and the Constitution of the United States, all fall within this definition of a kind of literature.
More generally, one can equate a literature with a collection of stories, poems, and plays that revolve around a particular topic. In this case, the stories, poems and plays may or may not have nationalistic implications. The Western canon forms one such literature. More about the Western canon a bit later in this document.
The term ‘literature’ has different meanings depending on who is using it and in what context. It could be applied broadly to mean any symbolic record, encompassing everything from images and sculptures to letters. In a more narrow sense the term could mean only text composed of letters, or other examples of symbolic written language (Egyptian hieroglyphs, for example). An even more narrow interpretation is that text must have a physical form, such as on paper or some other portable form, to the exclusion of inscriptions or digital media.
Furthermore, people may perceive a difference between ‘literature’ and some popular forms of written work. The terms ‘literary fiction’ and ‘literary merit’ often serve to distinguish between individual works. For example, almost all literate people perceive the works of Charles Dickens as ‘literature,’ whereas some critics look down on the works of Jeffrey Archer as unworthy of inclusion under the general heading of ‘English literature. Critics may exclude works from the classification ‘literature,’ for example, on the grounds of a poor standard of grammar and syntax, of an unbelievable or disjointed story-line, or of inconsistent or unconvincing characters. Genre fiction (for example: romance, crime, or science fiction) may also become excluded from consideration as ‘literature.’ More about this also further on in the document.
Frequently, the texts that make up literature cross over these boundaries. Illustrated stories, hypertexts, cave paintings and inscribed monuments have all at one time or another pushed the boundaries of ‘literature.’
Different historical periods have emphasized various characteristics of literature. Early works often had an overt or covert religious or didactic purpose. Moralizing or prescriptive literature stems from such sources. The exotic nature of romance flourished from the Middle Ages onwards, whereas the Age of Reason manufactured nationalistic epics and philosophical tracts. Romanticism emphasized popular folk literature and emotive involvement, but gave way in the 19th-century West to a preference for realism and naturalism. The 20th Century brought ambiguities of the New Novel, situate the reader as the site of meaning, and, as a model of what Barthes calls the ‘writerly text,’ invite re-reading and re-interpretation.”
The Muslim Scientist and Philosopher Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq defined literature as a garment the writer uses to clothe his text in order to make it more attractive.
*** Today’s academics usually believe that the following four components must be present in a text for us to be able to call that text “literature”:
 It tells a story.
 It has an aesthetic factor.
 It can be written or oral.
 It has withstood, or can be predicted to withstand, the test of time.
Students sometimes ask about the lyrics to songs: “Is Ice T’s ‘Cop Killer’ literature? If not, why not? It tells a story, I believe it has an aesthetic component, it’s both written and oral.” The answer to that is that most academics would not consider “Cop Killer” to be literature simply because it can be predicted with some confidence that 25 or 50 years from now nobody will remember the song. Ergo, it won’t withstand the test of time.
Another student of mine ventured that a recipe can be called literature under certain circumstances. When? Well, if the recipe is written in verse, for example. I’d say this one is a judgment call; each of us will have his or her personal opinion about that. I thought the student had a good point.
One of the most common arguments about what constitutes literature comes from academics who maintain that only works found in the Western canon are worthy because they have without a doubt passed the time test. Others want only to value the works in the Classical canon (!).The answer to that is that new texts are being produced with each succeeding generation, and with the proper passage of time, many of those will find themselves in an ever-wider canon – or series of canons. Works now included in the Western canon had not even been written a scant 200 years ago; witness Huckleberry Finn (1884), Les Misérables (1862), Moby-Dick 1852), or War and Peace (1865). What would Aristotle say if he knew?

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GLOSSARY OF LITERARY TERMS 2

Post by Rachid Amri on Tue Jan 08, 2008 4:35 pm

II.) POETRY
Diction: A writer’s choice of words, phrases, sentence structures, and figurative language which combine to help create meaning.
 Poetic Diction refers to the way poets sometimes employ an elevated language and/or syntax that differs significantly from common speech and writing of their times, choosing words for their supposedly inherent poetic quality. Since the 18th Century, however, poets have been incorporating all sorts of language into their work, and the poetry of today demonstrates no significant difference between the diction used in verse and ordinary speech.
 Formal Diction is a dignified, impersonal, and elevated use of language that follows the rules of syntax exactly and is often characterized by complex words and a lofty tone.
 Middle Diction maintains correct language usage, but is less elevated than formal diction; it mirrors the speech of educated people.
 Informal Diction is the plain language of everyday use and ordinary people. It can include contractions, idiomatic expressions, slang, and simple, common words. (Think Ogden Nash – “Candy is dandy/but liquor is quicker.”)
Syntax: The ordering of words into meaningful verbal patterns such as phrases, clauses, and sentences. Poets often play around with syntax and change conventional word order to place emphasis on certain words. Emily Dickinson, for example, writes about being surprised by a snake in “A Narrow Fellow in the Grass,” and says, “His notice sudden is.” In addition to the alliterative hissing of the s-sounds, Dickinson also manipulates syntax so that the verb (is) appears at the end of the line, emphasizing the unexpectedness of the snake’s appearance. Examples of manipulated syntax appear everywhere in Mother Goose: “Old King Cole was a merry old soul/A merry old soul was he.” Here the desired effect is one of rhythm.
Poetic idiom/usage: The choice of certain words for emphasis, illustration, or reinforcement. Alliteration and assonance are examples of this.
Denotation vs. connotation: Denotation is the dictionary meaning of a word. Connotation is what the word, because of our shared cultural, ethnic, or religious baggage, suggests beyond the denotative sense. An example could be the word “gay.” If my mother as a young girl had said to my grandmother that she was going to attend a gay party, I’m sure my grandmother would have said, “Go ahead, have a wonderful time; I’m glad you feel the party will be gay.” If my daughter tells me she wants to go to a gay party, I’d suggest a serious talk about her life choices. Of course, today the second meaning of “gay” is also to be found in most dictionaries.
Figures of speech: These are ways of using language that are different from the literal, denotative meaning in order to suggest additional significance and/ or effects. Figures of speech may say one thing in terms of something else, such as when a funeral director is called “a vulture,” or the pen made to represent the art of writing. Some major types of figures of speech are known as tropes:
 Symbol: A person, object, image, word, or event that evokes a range of additional meaning beyond and above its literal significance. Usually the additional meaning is more abstract and/or philosophical. Symbols allow the rhetorician to evoke complex ideas without resorting to painstaking and convoluted explanations that could detract from the beauty and/or spontaneity of the poem or story. The use of symbols (among other tropes) is a significant feature that often sets fiction apart from non-fiction (inluding the essay). Symbols are used to suggest or reinforce meaning. In “The Story of an Hour” (Kate Chopin), the author uses the season of spring as a symbol of new beginnings for Mrs. Mallard (duck) when she believes her husband has died, and she’ll again be free to swim in the pond of life.
a.) Conventional symbols have meanings that are widely recognized and usually transcend borders of ethnicity, language, and culture. Some examples would be the swastika, a heart, or a crown.
b.) A literary or contextual symbol can be a setting, character, action, object, name or anything else that maintains its literal significance while suggesting a meaning beyond. Such symbols go further than conventional ones, gaining their symbolic meaning within the context of a specific work. Think Melville’s Moby-Dick where both the whale and the color white assume significance specific to the story, significance that might not transfer automatically to other works featuring a whale, white or otherwise.
 Simile: A common trope that draws an explicit comparison between two things using words such as “like,” “as,” “than,” “appears,” and “seems.” The effectiveness of a simile is frequently created by the difference between the two things being compared. An example would be “Mr. Wilson’s moonshine is as strong as a mule’s kick to the guts.”
 Metaphor: A trope that draws a comparison between two dissimilar things without using words such as “like” or “as.” Metaphors are often subtle and powerful, transforming people, places, things, and concepts into what the writer imagines them to be. Think of Macbeth asserting that life is “a brief candle.”
a.) Implied metaphor is a subtle or suggested comparison; the elements being compared are not explicitly stated. Saying for example that a man “dug in his heels” and “brayed his refusal to move” would be a metaphor suggesting the man’s behavior is like that of a mule. In contrast, if the man is said to be “stubborn as a mule,” the man is directly compared to a mule, and we therefore have a direct metaphor.
b.) Extended metaphor is a sustained comparison that runs like a leitmotif throughout a poem or story. Think of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s dappled things.
c.) Controlling metaphor not only runs throughout an entire work, but determines the nature or form of that work. Think Anne Bradstreet’s “The Author to Her Book” where the book is a controlling metaphor for a child.
 Metonym: A type of metaphor in which something closely related to an idea, thing, subject is actually used instead of that thing, idea, subject. We speak of “the White House” when we mean the president, his entire team, and all the havoc he may wreak on a daily basis. A common use of metonymy is also when a principal character (protagonist) represents an entire class of people. Think of Paul Auster’s Moon Palace with Marco as a metonym for America/the New World.
 Synecdoche: is a metaphor in which part of something is used to signify the thing in its entirety. A gossipy person could be called “a wagging tongue,” or a well-endowed woman might be referred to as “The Bosom” (I believe Jane Russell, the well-endowed movie star of by-gone eras, was sometimes called this; at least I remember my father referring to her that way, but then he thought of himself as a bit of a wag).
Tone: The author’s implicit attitude/stance towards the elements in his work, as revealed by word choice, syntax, and selection of tropes, among other devices. The tone of a work can be just about anything – sad, angry, ironic, sad, bitter, nostalgic, happy, optimistic, etc.
Image: A word, phrase, or trope (especially a simile or metaphor) that engages the senses, suggesting mental images involving sight, sound, taste, feelings, or action. Images offer sensory impressions to the reader, and also convey emotions and moods through verbal pictures.
Apostrophe: An address, either to someone who is absent and therefore cannot hear the speaker’s speech or read the writer’s words, or else to a non-human audience, such as a skull, a book, a rose, etc. Used to allow the speaker/writer to unveil his emotions.
Paradox: Something that appears contradictory but turns out to make perfect sense. Paradox is supposed to make the reader think, think, think. An example could be the lines “Death, thou shalt die” in Donne’s poem “Death, Be Not Proud.” Here Donne explains that death is only an intermediary condition between earthly existence and eternal life in the bosom of man’s Creator. Death therefore does not have the power to end things; this fact, Donne feels, causes death itself to cease to exist or to die. The seeming paradox is proven not to be one, after all.
Oxymoron: An abbreviated form of paradox where contradictory words are used together, such as in “such sweet sorrow,” or in the title of Fyodor Dostoyevski’s story, “An Honest Thief.”
Allusion: A brief overt or covert reference to a person, place, thing, event, or idea, usually in literature or history. Allusions can refer to other literary works, to incidents in holy books (the Bible, Coran, Talmud, whatever), or to past events. Allusions draw on the shared knowledge and/or experiences of reader and writer, and serves as a short-cut in communication between writer and reader.
Allegory: A literary piece having more than one meaning. Usually an allegory will tell a surface story, but have deeper implications that are revealed only upon re-reading and reflection. Allegories usually rely on intertextual elements to convey meaning (see intertextuality under Fiction), frequently use flat characters representing larger groups, and often have a didactic purpose.
Irony: A literary device using contradictory statements or events to reveal a reality that is different from what initially appears to be true.
a.) Verbal irony is when a character says one thing but is known to mean or think another.
b.) Sarcasm is a strong form of verbal irony, calculated to hurt or unmask someone (a severe form of criticism).
c.) Dramatic irony involves a discrepancy or difference between what a character believes to be true, and what the reader/audience knows to be the case. Often found in classical drama, and builds suspense as the reader/audience waits for the character’s inevitable downfall.
d.) Tragic irony is a form of dramatic irony found in great tragedies such as Oedipus Rex (on our program), where Oedipus searches for the cause behind the plague that strikes his city, and ultimately ends up finding himself.
e.) Situational irony refers to the incongruity between what the reader/audience expects to happen, and what actually does transpire. If a seemingly happy and successful character suddenly hangs himself that would be situational irony (I’m still trying to come up with a genuine example from some text).
f.) Cosmic irony occurs when a writer uses God, destiny, or fate to undermine the hopes and expectations of a character or of mankind in general. An example would be if a character believes God will answer his prayers, or that the fates intend him to be successful, and he then realizes that God is absent/uncaring/non-existent, and that it is his fate, in fact, to fail.
III.) Humor: Different types.
Caveat: Humor is like a dog – different breeds of dogs may look different, but under that fur and them fleas (sorry for the Texas drawl), there’s still a hound. In other words, some form of humor is present in anything that makes us laugh.
a.) Adviser: Character in some comedy acts or in Punch and Judy shows who give advice. Example: advice to people who want to buy a puppy? Don't.
b.) Anecdote: A story that helps make a point. Not all anecdotes are humorous.
c.) Aside: A remark, given outside the center of the action/events, usually to comment on the action/events.
d.) Banter: Good-natured teasing back and forth; exchange of witty remarks.
e.) Blendword: Blending two or three words to make a new word. Ex: smog for smoke and fog; also known as a type of neologism.
f.) Blue humor: Rude or dirty humor based on taboo subjects like sex, body parts, and bodily functions.
g.) Blunder: A foolish mistake that can make a person the object of laughter.
h.) Burlesque: A strong form of satire. Burlesque ridicules other texts, people, situations, ideas, etc..
i.) Parody: A humorous imitation of another, usually serious, work in order to deflate the original. Can be used as a form of literary criticism to expose the defects or pretensions of a text (think of Shamela as this type of comment on Pamela).
j.) Caricature: An exaggeration of a person’s mental, physical, or personal traits, usually to make fun of that person/character.
k.) Comic relief: A humorous scene, line, or incident that releases tension in an otherwise serious work. Think of Hamlet joking with the grave diggers.
l.) Conundrum: a word puzzle that can’t be solved because the answer is a pun or play on words. For exmple, Why do cows wear bells? Because their horns don’t work.
m.) Epigram: A clever, short saying about a general group.
n.) Freudian slip: a funny statement, revealing the writer or speaker’s true feelings, which apparently slips out; yet, it can be a deliberate device.
o.) Hyperbole: An extreme exaggeration.
p.) Irony: See above.
q.) Joke: A short story or anecdote ending with a funny climactic twist.
r.) Practical joke: A trick played on another person (think whoopee cushions et al.).
s.) Recovery: a combination of blunder and wit where a character makes a mistake and then saves himself with a fast correction.
t.) Repartee: Quick, clever replies and retorts. The most common form is the insult.
u.) Slapstick: Silly, childish antics that result in laughter. Jerry Lewis is the master of slapstick, as are the Three Stooges (for those familiar with old US television).
v.) Understatement: Intentionally minimizing or down-sizing something large and/or important. Also called meiosis (litotes is a form of meiosis or understatement where the speaker expresses less emotion than he feels).
w.) Wisecrack: Any clever remark, usually involving wordplay, about a particular person or thing.
x.) Wit: humor, irony, sarcasm, satire, repartee. Wit is funny because of its unexpected components.

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GLOSSARY OF LITERARY TERMS 3

Post by Rachid Amri on Tue Jan 08, 2008 4:36 pm

IV.) DRAMA
From the Greek dran’ or dram, meaning “to do” or “to perform.” The term can refer to a single play, to a group of plays, or to all plays as a genre. Drama is designed to be performed on a stage, in a theatre, before an audience (for an exception, see Closet drama below). Actors assume roles of characters, speak lines/dialogue from a script, move according to stage directions between places that have been blocked, and perform prescribed actions/reactions. Play is a general term used for a unit of drama, a playwright is the person who writes the script for a play, and a director is the person who casts the play, then puts together and orchestrates the entire shebang. If actors forget their lines, they’re helped by a prompter who is usually hidden beneath the footlights. (In postmodern drama, the prompter can be a member of the cast.)
Closet drama: A play intended only to be read, not acted upon a stage.
Comedy: A work intended to interest, involve, and amuse the reader or audience, in which no irrevocable disaster occurs, and that ends happily for the main characters.
a.) High comedy: refers to verbal wit such as puns or wordplay.
b.) Low comedy: is generally associated with physical action, has less dialogue, and is not as intellectually engaging as high comedy.
c.) Romantic comedy: involves one or several love affairs that must overcome obstacles (like disapproving parents, mistaken identities, deceptions, illusions, etc.), but overcomes all of them to end in blissful union. Our own A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a perfect example of a romantic comedy.
Tragedy: A work tracing the downfall of a courageous, often noble, character who confronts powerful forces within or outside himself with dignity, revealing the breadth and depth of the human spirit in the face of failure, defeat, and usually death.
a.) Revenge tragedy can be traced back to Greek and Roman plays (particularly to Seneca – ca. 3 BC – 63 AD). Revenge tragedies feature a murder that must be avenged by someone close to the victim. Often the victim’s ghost appears to demand revenge and/or retribution, and some sort of dramatically expressed madness is involved. These tragedies end in the deaths of the avenger, the murder, and a great number of other characters (think Hamlet as an example of Shakespearean revenge tragedy).
Tragic hero/heroine (defined by Aristotle et co.) has the following characteristics and destiny:
 Noble birth; a king or leader of men (there are also female heroes, especially in more modern literature).
 Demonstrates hamartia (a fatal weakness or character flaw that will result in his undoing). The most common is hubris (great, overwhelming, blind confidence in the ability to know).
 Suffers peripetia (a reversal of fortunes directly caused by hamartia).
 Goes through hell and high water on his way down the slope
 Is doomed from the start and can do nothing to reverse his fortune.
 Discovers his own fate to his enormous sorrow, fear, and despair.
 Understands what has caused his fate and its associated doom (i.e., recognizes his hamartia).
 Arouses feelings of fear and empathy in his audience.
 Is physically or emotionally wounded; most often he ends up as dead as Texas roadkill.
 His itinerary allows the audience to experience catharsis (the purging of their own feelings of sorrow, fear, and despair).
According to Wikipedia, The Free Online Dictionary: “A tragic hero usually has the following sequence of Great, Good, Flaw, Recognition, Downfall, and more often then not dies at some point in the story.” If we can change the spelling of “then” to “than,” and hope that the death occurs towards the end, rather than “at some point” in the story, we can go with Wikipedia’s outline.
Chorus: Greek tragedies (especially those by Sophocles and Aeschylus) often feature a group of actors whose role is to comment on the action taking place on the scene, clarifying motives, etc. for the audience. Usually expressing traditional moral, social, and religious beliefs, they guide the audience in how to interpret unfolding events. The chorus existed through the 16th Century, and is still used by more modern playwrights (think T.S. Eliot and his Murder in the Cathedral).
Deux ex machina: Comes from the Greek, meaning “God from a machine,” and refers to the ancient device of lowering an actor, playing the role of a god, on a wooden platform from the rafters to the stage where he could solve all manner of problems. Today the term refers to unlikely turns of event, fantastical gimmicks and contraptions (think James Bond or Inspector Gadget), etc. that save characters from certain doom in the nick of time.
Anagnorisis: From the Greek, meaning discovery or recognition, the term is associated especially with Aristotelian tragedy. The moment of anagnorisis signals recognition of the antagonist (or antagonistic forces) by the protagonist in a play or story. Remember that antagonistic forces can reside within the protagonist himself (see tragic hero).
V.) FICTION
Great literature vs. popular text; or, how the canon exploded and the West(ern) was won.
Reams of paper and gallons of ink (not to mention immeasurable masses of hot air) have been expended upon discussion of what constitutes worthwhile literature, and what is merely fodder for the feeble minds of the unwashed masses. Great literature was supposedly contained within a “canon” (the official list of “authorized books”), and anything not in said canon was worth neither reading nor teaching. For an exhaustive (and exhausting) list of Harold Bloom’s Western Canon, please consult the following website as well as the reference in the footnote: http://www.interleaves.org/~rteeter/grtbloom.html
Lots of people (like me, for example) would like to include writers such as Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, N. Scott Momaday, and Paul Auster in the canon. However, I’m gratified to see that Eco and Chopin have both made it in. I’m glad also to be able to report that more and more universities are today actually encouraging faculty to teach outside the canon, and even to consider alternate canons, such as those composed of recent literatures from other horizons, or the works associated with specific ethnic or minority groups (women, Chicanos, gays and lesbians, Native Americans, and Blacks, f. ex.).
As mentioned earlier, one pervasive distinction has to do with so-called “popular fiction.” Traditionally, popular fiction comprised the following types of text:
 Detective fiction
 Western novels/stories
 Romance novels (including those known in the publishing trade as “bodice-rippers,” i.e. books relentlessly aimed at the climactic, ahem, scene where the hero rips open the heroine’s bodice, exposing her expectantly palpating bosom to his ardent gaze).
Today it is generally recognized that some very fine writing can be happily housed within the categories above. Think Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, Collins’s The Lady in White and The Moonstone, McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove and McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, and even Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre (a typical piece of 19th Century chick lit, sez I).
Formula Fiction: Fiction written, as the name implies, is composed according to a pre-determined formula or pattern. Harlequin Romances, among other mass publishers, feature this type of story. Writers, who can churn out five to ten books a year, write on commission (typically US $3000.00 -- $5000.00 per book), and follow an unvarying chapter-by-chapter blueprint provided by the publisher. Most formula fiction writers assume romantic and/or exotic pen names (many men write under female names), and some earn a very good living indeed.
Romantic literate vs. realistic literature:

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Romeo and Juliet: Criticism and summaries!

Post by olfa.saidani on Thu Feb 21, 2008 8:38 pm

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Re: Resources for first year students at the U. of Kairouan

Post by Iibtihel on Mon Feb 25, 2008 10:41 pm

Plot Summary

The Red Badge of Courage is a fictional psychological portrait of a young soldier named Henry Fleming, tracing the thread of his emotions and reactions to events that transpire during an unnamed battle of the Civil War. Henry is an average farm boy from upstate New York, who dreams of the glory of battle that he has read about in school. He has enlisted in the 304th New York regiment, which fights for the Northern (Unionist) forces.

The novel opens with Henry's regiment in camp by a river, where they have been for several months. Rumors of upcoming battle fly among the men but are largely unfounded, and the perpetual anticipation throws Henry into a bitter interior fight. He questions if he has the inner strength and courage to become a good soldier and is unsure whether or not it is in his realm of capability. He knows battle only through schoolbooks and soldiers' stories, and fears the possible ridicule of his peers, should he be deemed a coward by running from battle.
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The northern army is finally put on the move and marched across the river, where they meet with Southern (Confederate) forces. Henry's regiment is initially put in a reserve position, and he is able to witness battle before actually coming in contact with it. Finally his regiment successfully repels a charge by the enemy, and Henry feels relief and elation at his feeling of success. The enemy charges again, however, and Henry flees, in the belief that his regiment will be overrun. This sends Henry on a long day's journey along the battle lines, in which he bitterly reproaches himself for running, but at the same time tries to justify what he has done. He witnesses battle, then journeys into the surrounding woods, where he finds a decaying dead man in a clearing. Running away from the body and back to the battle, Henry takes up with the procession of wounded men trudging to the army's rear for care. There he meets his friend Jim Conklin from his regiment, who has been shot in the side. He cares for Jim with another man, called the "Tattered Soldier," until Jim dies in a field. The Tattered Soldier's repeated questions regarding Henry's supposed injuries anger and embarrass Henry until he leaves the Tattered Soldier alone to die in a field, a fact that later haunts Henry.

Leaving the Tattered Soldier, Henry witnesses the charge and subsequent retreat of a Union regiment. The men retreat right through the spot from which Henry is watching the battle, and a man that he stops to ask questions about the charge hits Henry in the head with the butt of his rifle, injuring him. Having been wounded by his own comrade, Henry is only able to stumble toward the rear. He is later helped back to his depleted regiment by a cheerful soldier whose face he never sees. Back in camp, Henry meets up with another man from his regiment named Wilson. Henry senses an incredible psychological growth and maturation in Wilson since their first days in camp, and envies him. The two become great friends.

The next day the battle continues, and Henry's regiment is placed on the edge of some woods and ordered to defend it. Here Henry achieves the classic valor for which he has sought; he fights so hard and courageously that both his comrades and his command look up to him. Later, while looking for water, both Henry and Wilson overhear a general speaking poorly of their regiment, saying he can spare them for a charge because they fight so poorly. This angers them, and creates in Henry the desire to show up the command. The regiment is sent in to charge for the first time, and amid heavy casualties, Henry saves the regiment's flag when the color bearer is shot. He becomes, along with Wilson, the noncommissioned leader of his regiment. The charge essentially fails at first and Henry's regiment is forced to retreat. Then however, they are charged by a Confederate regiment, and Henry's regiment repulses them, eventually taking their regimental flag. Even though the generals reproach the regiment's command for failing in the charge, Wilson and Henry are considered heroes in the classic sense, at least externally.
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Re: Resources for first year students at the U. of Kairouan

Post by Iibtihel on Mon Feb 25, 2008 10:43 pm

Major Characters

Henry Fleming (the 'Youthful Soldier'): Henry is the main character in the story, and his experience is that around which the story of the battle is narrated. Henry is an average 1860's teenager, who comes from a small New York farming family. His father has died a premature death. He is forever wrestling with his own internal dilemmas concerning courage, fear, and manhood. The story of the battle becomes Henry's story of growing up.

Jim Conklin (the 'Tall Soldier') : A northern soldier and friend of Henry Fleming, who is forever talking about unfounded rumors of troop movements. He is wounded and later dies on the first day of battle. Henry finds him in the line of wounded men walking to the rear of the battle - he has been shot in the side and Henry watches him wander off and die in an open field.

Wilson (the 'Loud Soldier'): A man who Henry Fleming initially resents but then befriends in battle and later comes to respect greatly. They essentially become the non-commissioned leaders of their regiment on the last day of the battle. Their regiment charges and Henry, with Wilson at his side, takes up the regiment's colors (flag) when the color bearer is killed. Wilson is responsible for capturing the opposing regiment's colors after the successful charge.
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Minor Characters

Bill Smithers: A soldier who falls during the first march out of camp and gets his fingers stepped on while trying to retrieve his rifle. He goes to the hospital and is mentioned throughout the novel by members of his regiment.

The Youth's Company's lieutenant (Hasbrouck): The youth's immediate commanding officer. He is shot through the hand during the first day of battle, but stays on to lead his men. He is later shot in the arm, during the second day's charge.

The 'Tattered Soldier': A wounded man who tries to befriend Henry as he marches with the line of wounded men to the rear. The Tattered Soldier follows him and with him watches Jim Conklin (the Tall Soldier) die from an earlier gunshot to the side. He repeatedly asks Henry where he is shot, but this makes Henry angry and ashamed since he has not yet been wounded. Henry leaves the man wandering aimlessly to die alone, a fact that later haunts Henry.

The 'Man with the Cheery Voice': A Union soldier who befriends and helps Henry back to his regiment after the first day's battle. Henry never sees the man's face.

Corporal Simpson: The officer in Henry's regiment who takes care of Henry's head wound after the first day of fighting. Henry claims that he has been shot, even though he was actually hit in the head with the butt of a rifle by another Union soldier.

Jimmie Rogers: A soldier in Henry's regiment who is shot through the body in the forest on the second day of battle.

Colonel MacChesnay: A colonel in Henry's regiment, who leads the second day's charge and is afterward reproached by the high-ranking officer who called the regiment a lot of mule drivers.
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Re: Resources for first year students at the U. of Kairouan

Post by Iibtihel on Mon Feb 25, 2008 10:44 pm

Topic Tracking: Fear of Battle

Chapter 1

Fear of Battle 1: Henry's first reaction to the thought of battle once he is stationed in camp is a confused one. He is having a hard time reconciling the images of war that have been idealized in schoolbooks, of Greek soldiers cutting a valiant profile through battle, with the drab reality of day to day life in a muddy camp. He is scared of having to live up to the Greek ideal because he doesn't know if he possesses the "strength" he thinks it would take to fight bravely. At the same time, he questions the existence of the ideal at all, for in the present day, camp is nothing like a storybook. He though he would feel the heroism of lore once he enlisted, but perhaps it is simply something he has constructed within himself.

Chapter 2
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Fear of Battle 2: Fear remains, for the first part of the novel, an internally constructed phenomenon. Henry is not afraid of battle itself - he cannot be, for he has never been in battle before. He is sick with anticipation and expectation; both are eating him alive. The fear here is as bad as it is at any other point in the book; not because of the immediate threat of death, but because of the unreconciled walk into the unknown.

Chapter 3

Fear of Battle 3: Henry is caught in limbo here - the anticipatory fear has reached a point where it ebbs and flows in his mind as he alternately wants it to go away, and tries to justify it. Here Henry reaches a point of self-assured justification.

Fear of Battle 4: This is the first time that real, visceral fear is evident in a soldier. In a way this is the proof Henry has been looking for - the Loud Soldier has let Henry know that he is not invincible, and Henry has evidence that others share his fear.

Chapter 4

Fear of Battle 5: The fear glimpsed in the Loud Soldier becomes more generally evident; the difference between the veteran regiments and the youth's untried regiment also reveals itself. There is a great difference in the way each one reacts to battle - the initial reaction of the new regiment is outright fear, while the outward reaction of those who have already seen battle and witnessed death, is to respond with biting sarcasm and black humor.

Chapter 6

Fear of Battle 6: Just as Henry's internal doubts follow cycles in the novel, his reactions to battle are just as confused. In the moment of fighting he is an invincible machine, in the moment afterward he feels joy and control over the aggressors, and in the next moment he feels the enemy to be overwhelming him completely.

Chapter 11

Fear of Battle 7: The burst of courage that Henry feels is purely produced by the actions of those around him; he feels compelled to be like the idealized warriors he perceives the men in front of him to be. Yet, his internal doubt of being able to fulfill the social expectations that he feels ultimately holds him back from acting on this burst of courage.

Chapter 12

Fear of Battle 8: With Wilson's newfound maturity comes an acceptance of battle, which is neither the quaking fear of the new regiment or the biting sarcasm of the veteran soldiers. This is the first glimpse of the true internal strength that Henry searches for within himself. It is a glimpse of something that does not surface often among the soldiers who have found it, for Henry sees that the veterans often cover up this internal strength with a cocky sarcasm that is both imposing and difficult to see through.

Chapter 17

Fear of Battle 9: "Fear" of battle has perhaps given way to something more subtle; with Henry's acceptance of battlefield reality comes a more pervasive feeling of injustice that Henry felt on the previous day when he felt pushed along by his regiment. This feeling is one of a desperate helplessness, breeding an all-encompassing hatred. This sense of hate, ironically, helps Henry to achieve the storybook ideal of the warrior, and find inner peace.

Chapter 20

Fear of Battle 10: Throughout this entire sequence of charge, retreat, and charge, Henry and the rest of the men are spurred on by the sense of the collective that they had discovered the day before. Although this sense of the whole grips the men both for the advances and the retreats, Henry and Wilson's lead under the regimental flag becomes a rallying symbol for this collective and, ultimately, leads to their sense of success when they overtake the enemy.

Chapter 23

Fear of Battle 11: At this point, Henry's fear has given way almost completely, and has been replaced by a need for some type of justice in the face of Henry's own command, and against the enemy, be that through victory or death.
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Re: Resources for first year students at the U. of Kairouan

Post by Iibtihel on Mon Feb 25, 2008 10:44 pm

opic Tracking: Maturation

Topic Tracking: Maturation

Chapter 1
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Maturation 1: The Red Badge of Courage is a story of a psychological growth into manhood, through the medium of war. The characters, for the most part, remain generic nameless and faceless portraits of men. Henry, the main character, is almost all the time referred to as either "The Youthful Soldier," or "The Youth." In the first chapter, Henry's first musings are a starting point for his psychological growth - his inexperienced thoughts are full of theoretical ideals. He has no idea about the "truth" of war or manhood, but can only speculate from his schooling and reading.

Chapter 2

Maturation 2: Comparing this example of Henry's internal dilemma to previous ones, a cyclical thread begins to form. The psychological debate in the novel takes on a redundant air early on and keeps that trend throughout. Henry keeps going back and forth, struggling between what he thinks at any given time and what his emotions are telling him to do. Here, he second guesses everything he has deemed right up to this point - his enlistment, his desire to leave home against his mother's wishes, etc.

Chapter 3

Maturation 3: This is another twist on Henry's cyclical mental torture. He is proceeding from one overwhelming emotion to the next: from excitement, to doubt, to adulation, to self-pity, to fear, and finally, to helpless defeat.

Chapter 5

Maturation 4: Although Henry remains thoroughly internal in his thinking, he becomes, for the first time, something more than a helpless individual, able only to compare himself relative to others. He enters a place where the larger ideal is more important than individual survival. The change is momentary, however - as happens time and time again in the novel, a psychological step forward is accompanied by a large step backward, as Henry follows up this realization by fleeing.

Chapter 8

Maturation 5: After his flight from battle, Henry still struggles with two opposing forces: what his conscious mind is telling him to do in the moment (to run), and what the instilled emotional ideals about war are telling him (to value a Greek notion of courage and valor). He first tries to justify his flight through natural means: his actions were purely an instinct to survive. Despite these justifications, he feels ashamed around the men who stayed in the battle long enough to be wounded. He is still a long way off from any inner reconciliation.

Chapter 10

Maturation 6: Although Henry seems to have made little headway on the inner maturity and courage he desires, he acknowledges that the societal pressures he feels are overwhelming to the point of superseding the desire for life itself. While the instinct to run, like the squirrel from the pine cone, is "natural" (and in that sense justifiable), competing social pressures are enough for Henry to face death willingly. The natural instinct to survive is overridden altogether - Henry actually feels as if he wants to be wounded, and that he wants to die. Such an outcome would be heroic in the eyes of others.

Chapter 14

Maturation 7: Henry first encounters the experiential manhood he has been struggling toward (albeit unknowingly). He sees new qualities in his friend that he perceives as good; he envies them and for the first time, sees a tangible glimpse of the inner strength he desires to find in himself.

Chapter 15

Maturation 8: Although the tone of this passage is still largely naïve and smacking of cocky, youthful inexperience, Henry has taken a turn for the better. He has seen the soft assurance of his friend Wilson, and is heading in that direction himself. His basis for the assurance he feels might be misplaced and founded on feelings of superiority, but Henry has undoubtedly undergone a huge psychological turn since he was first languishing in camp.

Chapter 17

Maturation 9: Henry comes to a major realization - that the mental boundaries and subsequent anguish he has put himself through were little more than that - mental boundaries. To this point, he has allowed his internal reflection to be mapped onto his perception of reality. When he thinks of the enemy as fierce, unstoppable beasts, he allows that belief to color his interpretation of events that transpire. Now, however, he realizes the discrepancy between belief and empirical reality. Henry has found the strength of the heroic ideal he once placed on a pedestal. His inner self has become less conflicted and confident.

Chapter 18

Maturation 10: Henry has suddenly come to a realization in this instant. His jumbled psychological interior has taken a back seat; the emphasis has gone from personal justification to humility in the face of reality. He seems to be developing qualities he saw in Wilson, when he changed. It isn't simply that the content of his thinking has changed, the entire method by which he perceives events has changed along with it.

Chapter 20

Maturation 11: The notion of manhood as a grim, calm sense of confidence is one echoed as the ideal throughout the novel; it is a far cry from the idyllic mental images of manhood and war that led Henry to the army in the first place. This confidence is reflected in the calm, down to earth demeanor Henry observed in his friend Wilson, and the same sense he feels after the battle, when he casts off his idealistic notions of bravery.

Chapter 24

Maturation 12: Henry has made his final step to maturity, and achieves the values he observed Wilson to have found earlier. He has tested himself and found that he can cast off the evils of battle and social expectations, and this has led him to an easy sense of confidence and inner peace that he labels as true manhood.
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Re: Resources for first year students at the U. of Kairouan

Post by Iibtihel on Tue Mar 04, 2008 5:36 pm

Critical Paper on The Sandbox by Edward Albee
The Sandbox by Edward Albee

The story in The Sandbox by Edward Albee, unfolds in an interesting, atypical way. It begins with Daddy and Mommy walking onto a mostly bare stage that has only a sandbox and a young man in the corner who is stretching. Next Grandma enters, babbling like a small baby. She is placed in the sandbox by Mommy and she begins to speak incoherently. A musician is called onstage to play a clarinet. In between these scenes, Mommy and Daddy discuss

. . .
They begin to really ignore her and in between she converses with the young man doing calisthenics in the corner. He eventually takes her away to death. The music, symbolizing her life, ends. The sandbox never again opened, and they never saw her again. Grandma’s babbling and incapacitated state is meant to show the innocent incapable state of the newborn and the elderly alike. He symbolizes death, as is proven by his words in his conversations with the old woman. Mommy and Daddy ignore her, as many people do when they don’t want to deal with their elderly parents or young children. They had taken for granted everything she meant to them. They had spent their time and money on themselves, denying her everything she needed and wanted. The musician plays a song throughout; a song that Mommy and Daddy often hush. The young man in the corner stretches and talks to the old woman.

The large sandbox in the middle is meant to symbolize a coffin and its permanent nature of keeping someone inside. In the end, when the young man takes Grandma away from Mommy and Daddy, there is unspoken death.
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Re: Resources for first year students at the U. of Kairouan

Post by Iibtihel on Tue Mar 04, 2008 5:37 pm

Analysis of "Sandbox"
In Edward Albee's play the "Sandbox" two of the major characters were very intriguing. Mommy and Daddy's relationship is a classic example of how Albee mixes ordinary people and grim humor.

Mommy is fifty-five, a well-dressed imposing woman. Daddy is sixty, a man of small stature with gray hair. Mommy is the natural born leader of the two. she is the decision maker of the family. Daddy never disagrees with Mommy. He does whatever she desires. She is the one who made the decision to put Grandma in the "sandbox" the remaining hours of her life. Mommy made this decision to remove some of the stress out of her own life.

Mommy is the one who made the decision to start the music in go

. . .
she is the decision maker of the family. He also comforted Mommy when the death of her mother was at hand. He exhibited this characteristic by asking Mommy if Grandma was comfortable in the sandbox.

Mommy and Daddy's marriage was one of tolerating each other instead of being based upon mutual affection. She is the one who made the decision to put Grandma in the "sandbox" the remaining hours of her life. Toward the end of the play we see a spark of hope for their marriage as they comfort each other in their time of grief. It was as if she wanted the whole world to stop in her own troubled times.

Mommy and Daddy's marriage was one of tolerating each other instead of being based upon mutual affection. He exhibited this characteristic by asking Mommy if Grandma was comfortable in the sandbox. Albee puts a light hearted twist on common day occurrences in his play. Mommy made this decision to remove some of the stress out of her own life.

In Edward Albee's play the "Sandbox" two of the major characters were very intriguing. Daddy is sixty, a man of small stature with gray hair.
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Re: Resources for first year students at the U. of Kairouan

Post by Iibtihel on Tue Mar 04, 2008 5:38 pm

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The Sandbox
THE SANDBOX

The sandbox by Edward Albee is a play that conveys an underlying message of elderly care, senility and death. The characters of the play each take on a personal outlook and each with a roll in life. The play is hard to understand. Each person has to pull out his or her own meanings.

Pointing out the dysfunctional family, Edward Albee begins his non-direct approach to the subject of death and burial. The characters Mommy and Daddy are husband and wife they paint a picture of a typical bossy older woman and a submissive husband. “Mommy” has

. . .
Her daughter took her in after she married and the grandma lived with them until she died. the chore of caring for her own mother.

After the Mommy and Daddy place the grandma in the sandbox they just sit and wait for her to die.

The grandma seems to be old, fragile, senile and difficult to care for. All are connected with getting old, death and burial. The young man lets grandma know her time has come to die. Albee’s silly way of presenting this play, we still see the symbolism of the characters and props in the play. This symbolizes her death and burial. She was married young, raised a family and worked on a farm.

The young man in the story represents the angel of death. But we are faced to look down memory lane and see what type of life grandma had.
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Re: Resources for first year students at the U. of Kairouan

Post by Iibtihel on Tue Mar 04, 2008 5:38 pm

Edward Albee
In his play, “The Sandbox,” Edward Albee expresses his feelings of disappointment regarding the way our society treats the elderly. Albee cleverly conveys his ideas and opinions in the form of an allegory. After reading the play once through, it seems humorous and almost silly if you picture the literal meaning of the grandmother being thrown into the sandbox with a toy shovel, a young man doing calisthenics, and the emotionless bickering between Mommy and Daddy. However, after looking closer at the play, one finds deeper and more depressing meaning in this bizarre drama. Albee portrays Mommy and Daddy as self-involved and selfish people who cannot be bothered with Grandmother. Mommy is the most dominant of the pair and finds it to be second nature to direct Daddy and take charge of their actions. Grandma seems to be at the mercy of Mommy and Daddy and sarcastically relays the story of how poorly she is treated.

At the beginning of the play, we get a taste of the unusual relationship between Mommy and Daddy. Immediately, one may think that the names “Mommy” and “Daddy” suggest that they have kids of their own. However, after reading the play my feeling was that Mommy and Daddy did not fully understand the parent/child

. . .
Mommy does not hesitate to take charge as she cries out, “Let’s get on with it” (p. Mommy attempts, again, to dismiss her guilty conscience saying that it is “hard to be sad… she looks… so happy” (p. 35), and tends to boss Daddy around by reminding him that it is “Whatever I (she) say” (p.

It is clear, in the beginning of the play that Mommy and especially Daddy want to get the funeral over with. 36) and tries to grab attention by screaming, “GRAAAA!” (p. When the supposed time has come for Grandma, Daddy says that they’ve got to be brave and Grandma laughs, mocking the suggested notion that they will really be affected by Grandma’s death. Also, when Grandma tells the Young Man to not go away and he responds “Oh, no” this implies that the Angel of Death is taking Grandma this time without a doubt (p. Of course, by now, it is obvious that Grandma is dead. Perhaps, we, as a society, should think twice before we choose to ignore our conscience and spend more of our efforts in expressing compassion like Grandma at the end of the play as she softly remarks, “You’re… you’re welcome… dear. He convinces me of this notion through his allegory approach. relationship as they lacked the compassion typical of a parent and, therefore, likely did not have kids.
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Re: Resources for first year students at the U. of Kairouan

Post by Iibtihel on Tue Mar 04, 2008 5:39 pm

the sandbox
In reading Edward Albee's "The Sandbox" directly out of the text, it seemed to be a trite and dull play. I was left with feeling after I read the play in the book, that if anything this boring could get published so could I some time in the future. Yet, to see it performed live by my fellow classmates, it revealed much of the dynamics of that family. In being able to see it performed among my classmates; my actual opinion of the play did modify. I was able to be more open and understanding to the message and the actual motivation of the play.

My original opinion of this play was that if was of a family that was too busy to care about the needs of the elderly grandmother. It had managed to rap itself so tightly in the daily bind not to care about any actual me

. . .
It is has some streaks of optimism, because the play makes the assumption that it is possible to communicate with other people. That this society has a problem with how to treat the elderly, how to respect the wealth of knowledge that they have.

In seeing the play performed live I grew to understand that my original assumption was precise yet, there was more going on than I read. A family that had established itself to a point that having to contend with the grandmother throws the entire situation off. It would be the definition of the song the "Little of Lady from Pasadena" how as we get older we do slow down but grow.

Also a problem with dealing with the elderly is dealing with the fact that they are closer to death. The roles of parenting have changed the child has now become the parent. It is a family that is dealing with having to cope with an elderly parent. It is a family that is adjusting to the change of a loved one.

The play is a good example of a family dealing with change and transition. I found the play to be a good look at the current trends in society. It about a family has to cope and re-adjust their lives to manage the new person. The play allows the reader from dark humored perspective understand the pain an anger of old aged. Death is an actual theme that I could tell throughout the play.
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Re: Resources for first year students at the U. of Kairouan

Post by Iibtihel on Tue Mar 04, 2008 5:40 pm

Sandbox
Canndice Green English 102 November 29, 1999 In reading Edward Albee's "The Sandbox" directly out of the text, it seemed to be a trite and dull play. I was left with feeling after I read the play in the book, that if anything this boring could get published so could I some time in the future. Yet, to see it performed live by my fellow classmates, it revealed much of the dynamics of that family. In being able to see it performed among my classmates; my actual opinion of the play did modify. I was able to be more open and understanding to the message and the actual motivation of the play. My original opinion of this play was that if was of a family that was too busy to care about the needs of the elderly grandmother. It had managed to rap itself so tightly in the daily bind not to care about any actual
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Re: Resources for first year students at the U. of Kairouan

Post by Iibtihel on Tue Mar 04, 2008 5:41 pm

Biography of Edward Albee (1928-)

Edward Albee

Edward Albee was born in Washington, DC on March 12, 1928. When he was two weeks old, baby Edward was adopted by millionaire couple Reed and Frances Albee. The Albees named their son after his paternal grandfather, Edward Franklin Albee, a powerful Vaudeville producer who had made the family fortune as a partner in the Keith-Albee Theater Circuit.

Young Edward was raised by his adoptive parents in Westchester, New York. Because of his father's and grandfather's involvement in the theatre business, Edward was exposed to theatre and well-known Vaudeville personalities throughout his childhood.

From early on, Edward's mother Frances tried to groom her son to be a respectable member of New York society. The Albees' affluence meant that Edward's childhood was filled with servants and tutors. The family Rolls Royce took him to afternoon matinees, he took riding lessons, vacationed in Miami in the winter, and learned to sail on Long Island Sound in the summer.

In 1940, twelve-year-old Edward entered the Lawrenceville School, a prestigious boys' preparatory school. During his high school days, he shocked school officials by writing a three-act sex farce entitled Aliqueen. At the age of fifteen, the Lawrenceville School dismissed Edward for cutting classes. Hoping to inspire some discipline in his wayward son, Reed Albee enrolled Edward at the Valley Forge Military Academy. Within a year, Valley Forge had dismissed Edward as well.

Ultimately, Edward attended Choate from 1944 to 1946. Even as a teenager, Edward was a prolific writer. In 1945, his poem "Eighteen" was published in the Texas literary magazine Kaleidoscope. His senior year at Choate, Edward's first published play Schism appeared in the school literary magazine.

After graduating from Choate, Edward enrolled at Trinity College, a small liberal arts school in Hartford, Connecticut. While there Edward irked his mother by associating with artists and intellectuals whom she found objectionable. During his days at Trinity College, Edward gained a modicum of theatre experience - although it was onstage, as an actor, rather than as a writer. During his sophomore year, in 1947, nineteen-year-old Edward was dismissed from yet another school. This time, Trinity College claimed that he had failed to attend Chapel and certain classes.

Despite his mother's objections, Edward moved to New York City's artsy Greenwich Village at the age of twenty. He supported himself by writing music programming for WNYC radio. In 1953, young Albee met playwright Thornton Wilder. Later, he credited Wilder with inspiring him to become a playwright - advice he did not follow for a few more years. Over the next decade, Albee lived on the proceeds of his grandmother's trust fund and held jobs as an office boy, record salesman, and Western Union messenger.

In 1958, Albee wrote his first major play, a one-act entitled The Zoo Story. When no New York producer would agree to stage it, Albee sent the play to an old friend in New York. The play was first produced in Berlin. After its success abroad, American theatre producer Alan Schneider agreed to produce The Zoo Story off-Broadway in a double bill with Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape. This early association with Beckett served to cement Albee's connection to the Theatre of the Absurd. In fact, The Zoo Story was at the time of its production hailed as the birth of American absurdist drama.

Immediately, Albee became perceived as a leader of a new theatrical movement in America. His success was in part predicated on his ability to straddle the two divergent traditions of American theatre - the traditional and the avant garde, combining the realistic with the surreal . Thus, critics of Albee can rightfully see him as a successor to American playwrights Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, and Eugene O'Neill while at the same time unmistakably influenced by European playwrights like Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter. Albee has also called Ring Lardner, James Thurber, and Jean Genet important influences on his writing.

Throughout the following years, Albee strengthened his reputation with a series of one-act plays, including The Death of Bessie Smith and The Sandbox, which he dedicated to his beloved grandmother, in 1960. In 1961, The American Dream dealt with themes that would be drawn upon in Albee's later career. That same year, Albee adapted an unsuccessful production of Melville's short story Bartleby with his friend William Flanagan.

Despite the success of his original work, Albee's adaptations - Carson McCuller's The Ballad of the Sad Cafe in 1963 and James Purdy's Malcolm in 1965 - have not been critically or popularly successful. Critics described them as being static representations of literary works, simply transplanting existing scenes from the books to the stage.

Albee's real successes have always come from his original and absurdist dramas. His first three-act drama and the play for which he is best known, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, was produced in New York in 1962. Immediately it became popular and controversial. When its nomination for a Pulitzer was not accepted unanimously by the prize committee, two members of the Pulitzer Prize committee resigned. Nonetheless, the play received the Tony Award and New York Drama Critics Circle Award.

After the failed McCullers adaptation in 1963, Albee's original drama, a dream play called Tiny Alice, opened in New York. That same year, Albee joined with two friends in creating an absurdist group called "Theater 1964," which produced, among other things, Beckett's Play and Pinter's The Lover at Cherry Lane Theatre. After Malcolm closed after only five days, Albee rebounded with the success of A Delicate Balance in 1966. For this play, he received the Pulitzer Prize.

Albee continued to write plays throughout the 1960's and 1970's. Everything in the Garden, adapted from a play by Giles Cooper, was produced in 1967, followed by the original plays Box and Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung in 1968, All Over in 1971, and Seascape in 1975. For Seascape, Albee was awarded a second Pulitzer Prize. Counting the Ways and Listening which initially debuted as a radio play in England was staged in New York in 1977.

Throughout the 1980's, Albee's playwriting career failed to produce a substantial commercial hit. Plays from this period include The Lady from Dubuque (1980), an adaptation of Lolita (1981), The Man Who Had Three Arms (1983), Finding the Sun (1985), and Marriage Play (1987). During this time, Albee also taught courses at various universities and maintained his residence in New York.

In 1994, Albee experienced a much-awaited success with the play Three Tall Women. That play earned Albee his third Pulitzer Prize and his first commercial hit in over a decade. Three Tall Women also won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award. Albee's most recent productions have been Lorca Play in 1993 and Fragments: A Concerto Grosso in 1995.

Edward Albee is a member of the Dramatists Guild Council and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He teaches courses in playwriting every spring at the University of Houston, the venue where Lorca Play was initially staged. Albee himself sums up his career thus: "I have been both overpraised and underpraised. I assume by the time I finish writing - and I plan to go on writing until I'm ninety or gaga - it will all equal itself out. You can't involve yourself with the vicissitudes of fashion or critical response."
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Re: Resources for first year students at the U. of Kairouan

Post by Iibtihel on Tue Mar 04, 2008 5:43 pm

Through his one-act play The Sandbox, Edward Albee has extended the allegory; his characters not only exist as symbols, but are more than vaguely aware of themselves as such. As caricatures rather than characters, they maintain a consciousness of their presence on stage as well as the stereotypical rules and emotions they are meant to display. Specifically through Mommy and Daddy's vacuous and immediate shifts to "appropriate" attitudes, Edward Albee issues his value statement. In effect, Shakespeare's assessment that "All the world's a stage,/And all men and women merely players" has been reanalyzed and extended by Albee, culminating in a work which declares the conventional conception of death as affected and contrived.

Almost deceiving in its straightforwardness is the opening note on Mommy and Daddy and the "pre-senility and vacuity of their characters." Daddy's ensuing questions as to what is to be done, and Mommy's resulting composed answers set in motion the implication of an end-of-life ritual whose spiritual meaning has long since passed away. At one point, Daddy asks Mommy if they should conduct a conversation. Mommy responds, "Well, you can talk, if you want to...if you can think of anything to say...if you can think of anything new." Daddy's rejoinder in the negative establishes early on that his and Mommy's existences, and therefore actions, are hackneyed, artificial, mundane, and devoid of any true, personal meaning.

By the air of preparation which pervades the play, and by Grandma's death in the end, a connection is made, and The Sand Box is duly noted as Albee's address on custom surrounding the coming of life's passing. The creation of an W W W W W W in which the actors are aware of their presence of stage breaks ground for Albee's take on society's engagement in role-playing. Requesting appropriate background music, and making remarks on lighting, Albee's characters cannot escape discredit regarding the genuine. Similarly, Albee greets the close advance of death with the suitable stereotypes of sudden darkness, violin playing, "a violent off-stage rumble," and Mommy's brief tears.

Inevitably, the sincerity of Mommy and Daddy has been cast in doubt and all subsequent words and actions bear resemblance to conventions. In a remarkable shift of attitude, Mommy declares to Daddy: "Our long night is over. We must put away our mourning..." They do so by gazing at an inanimate Grandma and casually observing how "It's hard to be sad... she looks... so happy." Mommy's hesitation, and Albee's exclusion of a stage note recommending a serenely content-in-death Grandma, indicate the affected nature of Mommy's statement, and inherently, that of The Sand Box, as a whole.
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Re: Resources for first year students at the U. of Kairouan

Post by Iibtihel on Tue Mar 04, 2008 5:44 pm

Plot

Beginning with brightest day, the Young Man is performing calisthenics (which he continues to do until the very end of the play) near a sandbox (or sandpit) at the beach. Mommy and Daddy have brought Grandma all the way out from the city and place her in the sandbox. As Mommy and Daddy wait nearby in some chairs, the Musician plays off and on according to what the other characters instruct him to do. Throughout the play, the Young Man is very pleasant, greeting the other characters with a smile as he says, "Hi!". As Mommy and Daddy cease to acknowledge Grandma while they wait, Grandma reverts from her childish behavior and begins to speak coherently to the audience. Grandma and the Young Man begin to converse with each other. Grandma feels comfortable talking with the Young Man as he treats her like a human being (whereas Mommy and Daddy imply through their actions and dialog that she is more of a chore that they must take care of). While still talking with the Young Man, she reminds someone off-stage that it should be nighttime by now. Once brightest day has become deepest night, Mommy and Daddy hear on-stage rumbling. Acknowledging that the sounds are literally coming from off-stage and not from thunder or breaking waves, Mommy knows that Grandma's death is here. As daylight resumes, Mommy briefly weeps by the sandbox before quickly exiting with Daddy. Although Grandma, who is lying down half buried in sand, has continued to mock the mourning of Mommy and Daddy, she soon realizes that she can no longer move. It is at this moment that the Young Man finally stops performing his calisthenics and approaches Grandma and the sandbox. As he directs her to be still, he reveals that he is the Angel of Death and says, "...I am come for you." Even though he says his line like a real amateur, Grandma compliments him and closes her eyes with a smile.
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Re: Resources for first year students at the U. of Kairouan

Post by Iibtihel on Fri Mar 07, 2008 9:34 pm

the sandbox by Edward Albee
The plot:
Beginning with brightest day, the Young Man is performing calisthenics (which he continues to do until the very end of the play) near a sandbox (or sandpit) at the beach. Mommy and Daddy have brought Grandma all the way out from the city and place her in the sandbox. As Mommy and Daddy wait nearby in some chairs, the Musician plays off and on according to what the other characters instruct him to do. Throughout the play, the Young Man is very pleasant, greeting the other characters with a smile as he says, "Hi!". As Mommy and Daddy cease to acknowledge Grandma while they wait, Grandma reverts from her childish behavior and begins to speak coherently to the audience. Grandma and the Young Man begin to converse with each other. Grandma feels comfortable talking with the Young Man as he treats her like a human being (whereas Mommy and Daddy imply through their actions and dialog that she is more of a chore that they must take care of). While still talking with the Young Man, she reminds someone off-stage that it should be nighttime by now. Once brightest day has become deepest night, Mommy and Daddy hear on-stage rumbling. Acknowledging that the sounds are literally coming from off-stage and not from thunder or breaking waves, Mommy knows that Grandma's death is here. As daylight resumes, Mommy briefly weeps by the sandbox before quickly exiting with Daddy. Although Grandma, who is lying down half buried in sand, has continued to mock the mourning of Mommy and Daddy, she soon realizes that she can no longer move. It is at this moment that the Young Man finally stops performing his calisthenics and approaches Grandma and the sandbox. As he directs her to be still, he reveals that he is the Angel of Death and says, "...I am come for you." Even though he says his line like a real amateur, Grandma compliments him and closes her eyes with a smile.
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Re: Resources for first year students at the U. of Kairouan

Post by Iibtihel on Fri Mar 07, 2008 9:36 pm

Edward Albee
In his play, “The Sandbox,” Edward Albee expresses his feelings of disappointment regarding the way our society treats the elderly. Albee cleverly conveys his ideas and opinions in the form of an allegory. After reading the play once through, it seems humorous and almost silly if you picture the literal meaning of the grandmother being thrown into the sandbox with a toy shovel, a young man doing calisthenics, and the emotionless bickering between Mommy and Daddy. However, after looking closer at the play, one finds deeper and more depressing meaning in this bizarre drama. Albee portrays Mommy and Daddy as self-involved and selfish people who cannot be bothered with Grandmother. Mommy is the most dominant of the pair and finds it to be second nature to direct Daddy and take charge of their actions. Grandma seems to be at the mercy of Mommy and Daddy and sarcastically relays the story of how poorly she is treated.

At the beginning of the play, we get a taste of the unusual relationship between Mommy and Daddy. Immediately, one may think that the names “Mommy” and “Daddy” suggest that they have kids of their own. However, after reading the play my feeling was that Mommy and Daddy did not fully understand the parent/child

. . .
Mommy does not hesitate to take charge as she cries out, “Let’s get on with it” (p. Mommy attempts, again, to dismiss her guilty conscience saying that it is “hard to be sad… she looks… so happy” (p. 35), and tends to boss Daddy around by reminding him that it is “Whatever I (she) say” (p.

It is clear, in the beginning of the play that Mommy and especially Daddy want to get the funeral over with. 36) and tries to grab attention by screaming, “GRAAAA!” (p. When the supposed time has come for Grandma, Daddy says that they’ve got to be brave and Grandma laughs, mocking the suggested notion that they will really be affected by Grandma’s death. Also, when Grandma tells the Young Man to not go away and he responds “Oh, no” this implies that the Angel of Death is taking Grandma this time without a doubt (p. Of course, by now, it is obvious that Grandma is dead. Perhaps, we, as a society, should think twice before we choose to ignore our conscience and spend more of our efforts in expressing compassion like Grandma at the end of the play as she softly remarks, “You’re… you’re welcome… dear. He convinces me of this notion through his allegory approach. relationship as they lacked the compassion typical of a parent and, therefore, likely did not have kids.
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