Summative Entry

American Literature helps me to expand the boundaries of my own experience.

This unit has helped me in my experience of not only understanding literature as a whole, but also my own experience in this world. When I approached this unit, I did with some apprehension – my own experiences have placed European literature on somewhat of a pedestal. However, actually delving into the unit has shown me that America has produced some of the greatest writers and pioneers of many different genres of writing. I never really considered America as a forerunner of many different genres that I would never have explored by myself, such as transcendentalism with Emerson’s works (which I attempted to emulate at in my blog entry here) but through this style of literature, I feel I can see the world considering their perspectives, changing how I experience my world.

Throughout this unit we studied literature from numerous different aspects of American lives, conveying their agony and frustration through their words. African American and Native American literature were especially compelling for these reasons as we looked at the words of the most oppressed in American society (which I looked at in my blog entry here). I found that looking at the works of these people made me appreciate just how easy my experience in the world compared to them – while my life may have some inconveniences, this is nothing compared to the systematic oppression African Americans and Native Americans had and still experience.

Finally, through this unit I learned to reconsider how I see my world, including what I consider aesthetically pleasing and the language I use regarding this. American literature is permeated with the experiences of its writers, and their words caused me to reconsider what I use within my life (which I discussed in my peer review here) This especially occurred during the above mentioned African American literature weeks. I realised that throughout my life I have an inherently racist mindset (completely unwanted, considering my avid belief in social justice), and through such texts like Baldwin’s “Going to Meet the Man” made me realise how easy it is to slip into such a mindset unconsciously, and the agony this can cause to those victims.

This unit has opened my eyes to appreciate many different styles of literature which I would never have considered before. From this, I see my world differently – appreciating nature, appreciating my fortunate circumstances, appreciating my own world and my own health. Whilst I initially had something that resembled contempt towards American literature, I realised it can be just as bombastic, hard hitting and intense as the nation they were born in.


Peer Review 8

Hey Brandon, you’ve written a very intense entry this week! The stream of consciousness style definitely suits the topic and works well to draw out an emotional response from the reader – I know I felt a wide range of emotions reading this. It definitely makes me curious as to whether you wrote this off the top of your head or whether it was from a personal experience. I did notice a few typos – mostly missing letters and punctuation – so it may be a good idea to just reread over this again just to fix these up. I really enjoyed this entry, good work! 🙂

Blog Entry 9

From today’s massive, subversive and powerfully creative world of the Beats and beyond which artist and/or writer inspired you most? 

Whilst the authors we discussed in the lecture and tutorial did indeed stir many emotions within me, the one I found drawn to the most is Jack Kerouac, specifically chapter 10 in his book ‘Big Sur’. This chapter describes his hitchhiking experience and his own observations of post-WWII America, especially with the rise of mass production and thus consumerism. This chapter especially inspired me because mid-century fashion and design is a large part of my life – I live in A-line dresses, my mother and father have slowly shifted the furniture of the house into 50’s – 60’s antiques, many of my favourite musicians are from this era. However, Kerouac has inspired me to look at this era with a more critical eye. This era that is so romanticised within my life is marred with inherent wrongdoings that I can conveniently overlook: the inherent misogyny, the unsustainable use of resources, the massive drive to purchase the brand new thing to fall in line with what is popular.

Whilst Kerouac refers to America, it is important to recognise that Australia followed America’s lead almost sheep-like during the mid-century – the ‘Great Australian Dream’ is simply an adaptation of the ‘Great American Dream’, our media became saturated with American artists and stars and our co-involvement in conflicts such as Korea and Vietnam ensured that we became culturally tangled with America’s. Kerouac’s criticism of what is decidedly American during this time is also a criticism of my own preferences, and thanks to this I believe I will look at this era with a more critical eye than I did before.

Peer Review 7

Hi Michael, a great entry! I really enjoyed how you look at the Faulkner quote and tied it to your own experiences – it is so interesting when we get such great quotes like this with such varying interpretations. Your language is incredibly sophisticated and you convey your own thoughts in a very intelligent way. Your sentence structure is also excellent. My only nitpicking is that you could have perhaps divided this into two paragraphs, simply just to ease the reading experience for others. Other than that, I greatly enjoyed this and look forward to your summative entry! 🙂

Blog Entry 8

What do you think Faulkner might have meant by the caption that is around his neck in the image at the top of this blog?

I believe that what Faulkner means by the quote is that progress and improvement can only be judged by yourself and what you’ve – comparing yourself to others in your field only causes doubt in your own abilities that can be unfounded. Comparing yourself to your predecessors only causes further self doubt – those people are successful but for completely different circumstances and contexts than yourself, so comparing yourself to them only causes further dismay. Improvement should only be against what you have yourself in the past – see how you have improved through your own efforts, not by what other people have shown you. Judge yourself on your past works and actions, not on those around you.

I feel that this message is especially poignant in an academic environment such as university – we constantly compare ourselves to others in our cohort and judge ourselves by whether we got a credit or distinction, rather than admire our own progression and successes through university. While it is great to get assistance and suggestions from others, I feel it is important to judge our successes as our own and not to compare them with others for superiority or disparagement.

Peer Review 6

Hey Danielle, a great entry! I loved how closely you emulated Ezra Pound’s style of writing whilst adding to a very engaging list – your section on experiences I felt was especially poignant. All the rules you suggested are very insightful and genuinely assist in how to write literature. I greatly enjoyed this entry and look forward to others by you! 🙂

Blog Entry 7

Add to Ezra Pound’s list of Don’ts (342) as they apply to a beginning writer.

24. Don’t write in a way similar to how you speak. You area always more eloquent, more thoughtful, more descriptive in your mind than how you speak. Follow how your mind works and trust what it creates – don’t let it be inhibited by how it sounds when spoken. Even when writing dialogue, trust how you sound in your mind.

25. The works of other authors are always inspirational, but don’t dedicate your life to mimicking their style. Cherrypick what thrills you in text and forget what bores you – take from as many authors as you like. From there, your own style of writing and language will develop. A writing style is simply what other people enjoy about other’s works.

26. Don’t trust any lists telling you how you should write. Literature isn’t a checklist of do’s and dont’s that must be completed – it is whatever you want it to be. Listen to criticism, but don’t take it to heart. No one should tell you how you should write; it is something that only you can decide.


Peer Review 5

Hey Annaliese, another great entry! I felt you really engaged with the question well and interacted with the texts to an amazing degree – your involvement of so many of Robert Frost’s poems really shows your appreciation for his works! Having the quotes in blue text was an interesting choice, but I appreciated it because it made it easier to acknowledge what was Frost’s works or not. I do feel you could perhaps use a few less commas – it makes your sentences flow more cohesively and feel more natural, but this is more of a personal preference. I look forward to further blogs! 🙂

Blog Entry 6

Do you share Robert Frost’s belief that “A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom…it runs a course of lucky events, and ends in a clarification of life.” “The Figure a Poem Makes” (250-251)? If possible try to explain in your own words what you understand by this statement. Can you give an example of poem you have read that does just this?

I believe that Frost is conveying that poetry possesses the capability of being enjoyed and leave an impactful message at its end. While you read the poem, you get swept up in the imagery and language, but once you finish and begin to think back on it, you realise that had somehow left a message within its words that is only apparent in afterthought. The lucky events can be what the actual poem is about – whether a road less travelled, a love story or the end of a person’s days, they always leave us to muse upon our own perspective upon what the poem is about. Poetry excels at this style of thought, and I think that Frost’s own quote regarding it can be seen as an example of such style of writing.

An excellent example of such style is Robert Frost’s own “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”. While it initially seems very straightforward – a traveller suddenly stopping to rest – it is also a story subtly discussing death and even possible suicide. The darker messages are gently placed within the poetry and it is only noticed after thinking or even repeated reading of it. Modernist poetry is a fantastic source of such methods in poetry, and Frost’s own works are personal favourites.

Peer Review 4

Hey Ferdinand, a great blog entry! Your analysis of Baldwin’s language really help to show how shockingly racist this era of American history is – it is so interesting to see how societal perspectives and norms are emulated through language and literature, and I feel your entry does an excellent job of conveying this. I’d just like to point out a few errors in punctuation, mostly the “a inhumane” party (which has already been brought to your attention), but also to your sentence structure. I feel your last two sentences would flow better if they were amalgamated into one – the quote does make this difficult, but it does make it easier to read. On that note, you could also go for shorter sentences if you are afraid of overusing commas. Nevertheless, this was a great read and I look forward to more! 🙂