Seminar # 5 (Chopin or Dostoevsky, Conrad, and 20th Century)
URL of this web page: http://web.cocc.edu/cagatucci/classes/eng109/seminar5.htm
DUE: See ENG 109 Course Plan

To earn full points for Seminar #5, you must:

1.       Submit complete Seminar #5 Written Preparation Notes, which will be collected at the end of class on the date due - be sure to keep a copy of your Seminar #5 Written Prep Notes for yourself!AND . . .

2.       Be in class to engage in Seminar #5 In-Class Participation, summaries of which will be recorded in an in-class Seminar #5 Group Report to be collected at the end of class on the due date. 

Seminar #5 Topics - Content Requirements for Written Prep. Notes - For full points, be sure to address all three parts!

Part 1.  Chopin or Dostoevsky - Choose one of the following topics:
Topic: Chopin. 
Analyze at least two significant elements of "The Story of an Hour," using relevant literary concept/s (e.g. epiphany, narrator, point of view, irony, setting, metaphor or imagery, theme, characteristics of literary realism).  Be sure to illustrate your selected elements by citing specific passages of Kate Chopin's short story.
OR
Topic: Dostoevsky. Explain the main reasons why the Grand Inquisitor does not welcome Jesus's return to earth.  Please cite relevant passages/sections of "The Grand Inquisitor" that address these main points in the old man's argument.  Also comment on Jesus's response: i.e. his silence and his parting kiss. 
Part 2.  Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness - Choose one of the following topics:
Topic: Foreshadowing in the opening of Heart of DarknessCompare Marlow's opening frame story of the ancient Romans who first came to Britain (Conrad 1368-1370; prt. 1) to significant aspects of the main story of the Europeans in Africa that follows.  Explain and illustrate some significant ways in which the opening frame story foreshadows and parallels Kurtz's and/or Marlow's experiences in the "heart of darkness."  Be sure to cite specific passages from the novel to illustrate/support your points of comparison.
OR
Topic: Marlow's Lie.  Near the end of Part 1 of Heart of Darkness, Marlow asserts his hatred of lies and pretense to his listeners aboard the Nellie (Conrad 1384-1385; prt. 1).  Yet at the end of the novel, Marlow tells an explicit lie to Kurtz's "Intended" about Kurtz's last words (Conrad 1420; prt. 3). Review Marlow's interview with the "Intended" and respond to these questions:  What is Marlow's lie?  Despite his hatred of lies, why do you think Marlow lies to Kurtz's fianceť? What does Marlow fear might happen were he to tell the truth?  What does, in fact, happen?  Be sure to support/illustrate your responses by citing relevant passage of the novel.
OR
Topic: "The horror! The horror!"  Marlow is profoundly affected by Kurtz's dying words and decides that Kurtz is indeed a "remarkable man" (Conrad 1414; prt. 3). Marlow believes that Kurtz's last words express "a supreme moment of complete knowledge" (1414), and Kurtz's summation and judgment of himself (1415).  Offer your interpretation in response to the following questions:  What "truth" does Marlow believe Kurtz has "glimpsed" (1416) about himself at his moment of death?  Why does Marlow judge Kurtz's final cry "an affirmation, a moral victory" that will keep Marlow "loyal to Kurtz to the last" (Conrad 1415; prt. 3) ? 
OR
Topic: African Wilderness.  Cite and interpret at least 3 significant descriptions of the African jungle/wilderness, selecting specific passages from each of parts 1, 2, and 3 of Heart of Darkness. Use these selected descriptions to explain Marlow's attitude toward the African wilderness and its influence on Europeans like himself and Kurtz who dare invade Africa and journey into the "heart of darkness."
OR
Topic: Women Characters in Heart of Darkness Select and cite some significant specific passages from the novel that describe its female characters: the women Marlow encounters in the Company office, Marlow's "excellent" aunt, Kurtz's white fianceť (the "Intended"), and Kurtz's African woman.  Analyze these passages and compare/contrast these supporting characters to explain what they contribute to better understanding the novel and/or Marlow's attitude toward women.
OR
Topic: Marlow's Attitude/s toward Black Africans. Select and cite some significant passages from the novel in order to interpret Marlow's attitude/s toward black Africans. Be sure to include in your selections Marlow's characterizations of the twenty "cannibals," whom Marlow admires for their "Restraint"; and the African "helmsman," who is killed and for whom Marlow feels a "claim of distant kinship" (see Conrad 1390-1402; prt. 2). Consider also how Marlow's characterizations of black Africans compare/contrast to his characterizations of white Europeans in Africa--and/or Marlow's attitude toward Kurtz--whom Marlow judges to lack restraint and for whom Marlow develops a strong feeling of kinship.

See also: Cora' Agatucci's "Heart of Darkness Reading Guide." 

Part 3.  The 20th Century - Address the following topic:
In their introduction to "The Twentieth Century," Davis and others assert that William Butler Yeats's "The Second Coming" (1920)  "capture[s] the spirit of the age" (1352) and that Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (1899; 1902) represents "central themes of the twentieth century" (1361).  Summarize and explain two or three characteristics of "The Twentieth Century" from your reading of Davis and others' introduction that seem particularly relevant to understanding Conrad's and Yeats's  literary works. 
See also: Cora Agatucci's "Literary Modernism and Conrad's Heart of Darkness."

Works Cited

Agatucci, Cora.  "Heart of Darkness Reading Guide."  [Handout]  English 109: Western World Literature:
         Modern. Central Oregon Community College, Spring 2007.

Agatucci, Cora. "Literary Modernism and Conrad's Heart of Darkness." [Handout.] English 109:
         Western World Literature: Modern. Central Oregon Community College, Spring 2007.

Chopin, Kate. "The Story of an Hour."  [1st published 1894.] Rpt. in Western Literature in a World
         Context. Vol. 2. Ed. Paul Davis and others. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995. 1152-1154.

Conrad, Joseph.  Heart of Darkness. [1st published 1899; 1902.] Rpt. in Western Literature in a
         World Context. Vol. 2. Ed. Paul Davis and others. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995. 1367-1421.

Davis, Paul, and others, ed.  Western Literature in a World Context. Vol. 2: The Enlightenment through
         the Present. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995.  

Dostoevsky, Fyodor. "The Grand Inquisitor" from The Brothers Karamazov. [1st published 1880.]
         Trans. Constance Garnett. Rpt. in
Western Literature in a World Context. Vol. 2. Ed. Paul Davis
         and others. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995. 1041-1054.

SPRING 2007 ENG 109 Syllabus | Course Plan | ENG 109 Home Page

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URL of this page: http://web.cocc.edu/cagatucci/classes/eng109/seminar5.htm
Last Updated: 25 January 2011  

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