Cover Letter / Introduction

December 19, 2011

Dear Reader,

This little corner of the internet is dedicated to my work in my Eng170w course at Queens College.  More specifically, it is a study of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado.”  It is a collective gathering of the assignments I have completed during the course of the semester.  My focus is on analyzing th story as I learned about various schools of literary criticism.  In my revision of my website, I have taken steps to understand Poe’s intent when sat down to write “The Cask of Amontillado.”  To understand this, one must look at his life, as well as his ideas as a literary critic.  The main idea I applied to my reading of Poe’s story was Freud’s dream interpretation.  By shifting gears slightly, a reader can take the same method’s applied by dream analysis and use them to interpret written works.  After all, what is a fictional work if not a dream created in the waking hours of the day?

 

By studying Poe as a literary figure, I came to a few conclusions about his writing.  In “The Philosophy of Composition,” Poe meticulously details the so-called proper approach to writing a successful story.  He lays out a blueprint that makes note of the many steps he figures an author must abide by.  When one understands how much Poe seemed to care about these intricate details, it affects the reading of “The Cask of Amontillado” significantly.  Many people believe that Montresor, the narrator of the story, is simply insane because of the lack of an explanation for his actions.  However, this was done on purpose by the author, who claims to always write what is necessary and never do things for no reason in his work.  When taking this evidence into account, the reader can focus on “The Cask of Amontillado” as a sort of dream on paper, and must decipher it like any other dream using Freud’s methods.

 

In the class, I came into the course work with a strong sense of how to use the technologies we were going to use in the classroom, as well as outside on our “Web Wednesdays.”  Using online databases like JSTOR, as well as programs like Twitter came pretty much like second nature to me.  I have always had a mind suited for learning new tools and technology, and that certainly came in handy alongside the previous experience I had in this area of the class.  In addition, I have been studying and doing analysis on fictional works for a little while now, and the process was familiar to me, even though I certainly learned more over the course of the semester.  The areas I was not as adept in included my use of the blog itself as an interface of communication.  I had issues in putting my ideas down in posts, so that people (perhaps such as yourself) who are not part of the class may understand fully what I was trying to accomplish.  At times I might have been too concise with my points, obscuring things for those who were not present during our lectures and Web Wednesdays.  Doing these assignments certainly helped me learn how to approach this weakness, and make myself a more rounded resident of the interwebs.  I also studied new schools of literary thought, as I had never thought of adapting Freud’s work to literature previously.  In addition, the New Critics were a group of theorists I had never heard of prior to being in this class.

 

In addition to my site, please visit our class site at eng170w.qwriting.qc.cuny.edu, in order to see explanations of our assignments, as well as the sites of my classmates and colleagues.  Enjoy your trip down the rabbit hole, find yourself a comfortable spot, and settle in for an analysis of a work of one of America’s greatest wordsmiths.  Feel free to engage and leave comments so I might be able to improve the experience.  Have fun, and remember that we are the ones who give meaning to the marks we identify as words.

-Chris L.

Revising My Site…

December 7, 2011

Mania

November 30, 2011

The Hannas’ house was a hundred-year-old Tudor. . . . Inside, everything was tasteful and half falling apart. The Oriental carpets had stains. The brick-red kitchen linoleum was thirty years old. When Mitchell used the powder room, he saw that the toilet paper dispenser had been repaired with Scotch tape. So had the peeling wallpaper in the hallway. (74)

 

When people think of maniacs, they tend to think of disheveled individuals who can’t help but appear to be falling to pieces.  Here, the house is a literal representation of that.  The only thing holding together the house is Scotch tape.  A clear, thin, piece of plastic with somewhat effective adhesive is all that holds a toilet paper dispenser and wallpaper together.  Things such as clothing, or fronts that the characters put up are their version of scotch tape: it does an okay job of holding it together for a while, but eventually it will wear off as the mania continues to set in and eat away at the adhesive.  There is no way that they can last, and will crumble like the house, dispenser and wallpaper that hides the ugly sheetrock or concrete underneath.

Research. . .

November 23, 2011

Can “The Cask of Amontillado” be looked at as a sort of dream, sitting there to be analyzed not just by Poe, but his audience as well? Much of my research has shown that Poe has always been viewed as having a sort of perverse quality to his writing. In focusing on this aspect, is it correct to assume that Poe is truly some sort of deviant? Or perhaps, could Poe simply be taking images from his mind and focusing on them to the point where he develops a coherent tale that has a carefully laid out plot? Focusing on Freud’s work on dreams would be a great lens to use for this topic. Pieces written about Poe, and those that were crafted by Poe himself, seem to indicate that he is most definitely not a madman like the narrator of “The Cask of Amontillado.” In addition to simply reading criticism about the piece, I should also look up articles about Freud’s interpretation of dreams, as well as those that comment on Poe’s work methods.

Structure and Growth

November 12, 2011

Myth absolutely needs repetition in order to establish a structure.  It is often by repeating earlier mistakes that new insight is gained and a lesson is offered to the reader.  By asking the miller’s daughter to give up her first-born child, Rumplestiltskin is putting her in a position similar to the one her father was in when he offered her to the King.  At first, her response is to agree in order to save her own life.  This is not exactly the same as her father attempting to look important to the King, but does call back to it.  It is no surprise that she is put into this situation.  Now standing in her father’s shoes, she must decided whether she will do the same thing, or rise above.  At first she does make the wrong choice, sacrificing her potential child as she swears to Rumplestiltskin.  However, she does redeem herself by going to great lengths to save the child from it’s fate.  By using repetition, the reader gets a sense of growth and development, even if it occurs over two generations.  By seein gone individual react to a dilemma in a new way, the audience is presented with the core ideal of the myth because the differences are enhanced by the similarities.

11/9

November 12, 2011

 

By being faced with a daunting task, the characters often make choices or decisions that show a lack of thought.  Columns A and B reflect that.  After realizing that their deals are not as favorable as they thought they would be, they make further questionable decisions such as sending a servant to find a name (i.e. cheating) or making a deal with Rumplestiltskin in the first place in order to fool the King.

 

11/2

November 2, 2011

The rhetorical element of metaphor and simile is similar to Freud’s theory of condensation because by forcing two ideas together into a single sentence forces knowledge and thoughts the two have in common, much information is packed down into a smaller package. The point the author is trying to get across with those notions is boiled down and made into a reduction sauce that enhances the notion. By doing this, seemingly complex ideas can be concentrated so they are far more potent.

Semioticians

October 26, 2011

Step 1: Look at the words on the page, carefully noting which symbols are placed where.

Step 2: After noting the positions of the signifiers and symbols, picture in one’s mind the idea being established in the linear order.

Step 3: Think about why those specific words were chosen in favor of other possibilities, and the ambiguity of the possible meanings.

Step 4: Arrive at a conclusion for each line, based on the most likely meaning for each string of words.

Step 5: After coming up with a likely meaning for each line of the poem, bring them all together in order to unify the thought process.

Sonnet 65 starts with a description of symbols of strentgh one finds in the natural world. By going from brass, which as a metal comes from the ground in it’s pre-processed state, stone, earth itself which contains the previous items, and finally the sea, Shakespeare shows how things people see as strong can do nothing to affect beauty. It is the mortality of humanity that outshines these aspects of the world. None of these objects can stand against time, which is mentioned later on, in an effort to build up it’s importance. Time is repeated throughout the rest of the poem in an attempt to show it’s ever present nature. Finally, it is concluded that writing about love can save it, as text can live forever if preserved properly.

Hover Text Test

October 26, 2011

That in black ink my love may still shine bright.

Richter

October 25, 2011

Digital Humanities would definitely fit on Richter’s map.  As with most technology, programs such as Wordle provide us with a new way to do things we already were.  E-mail, text messaging, Twitter, and others all allow us to do things more efficiently; they are not magical gateways that suddenly allowed humans to interact with one another over distances.  Of course digital humanities would fit into his map.  Like any other new idea, one must simply find an avenue in which to include and integrate it.  If one can think outside the box, then the feat is not all that difficult.  Whether or not the digital humanities are as useful as past method and theories is another story.