- Mahoney, "Periodical Indigestion: Hazlitt's Unpalatable Politics" | Romantic Circles
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- Real Essays with Readings: Writing for Success in College, Work, and Everyday Life
This unit begins by reading the master of the binary separation, Plato. We read his cave allegory and discuss what this extended metaphor is suggesting about appearance and reality and why language is just as problematic as the shadows on the wall. In class, we usually act out a lot of the dialogue between Socrates and Glaucon, and if we have time, I like to show them the Allegory of the Cave in claymation. She discusses the role of the media in portraying violence and what the representation does to manipulate and influence reality.
She seems heavily influenced by Baudrillard and barely mentions him in her book. I introduce students to hyperreality, which piggy backs on Plato, but hits so close to home for these digital natives that they wonder why it is even a theoretical concept or something someone thought they needed to name. These kinds of arguments are typically outdated pretty fast, but his examples reach back into history and remain timeless. So many people believe watching TV and video games rots your brain, but the author contends with that by explaining how it is in the economic interest of the writers to keep narratives so complex that viewers would watch a series more than once to pick up nuances they missed during their first viewing.
Because of this, watching TV requires more mental gymnastics than previously thought. This allows us to set the stage for Cathy Davidson to explain how she helped Apple hijack the incoming freshmen at Duke by giving them an iPod and suggesting they use it for educational purposes.
In class we look at old pictures of the first generation iPods and laugh. We talk about how much has changed over the last decade-plus. Students discuss the way professors use technology in their classrooms and whether its effective or not. In Defense of a Real Education and he makes a passionate argument for the mind-bending, life-altering pursuit of education that used to be. Those were the glory days. Days I have only read about in books and seen in movies like Good Will Hunting.
The change in education that is fueled by technology often errs on the side of entertainment. Edmundson vehemently challenges that while admittedly trying to make his students laugh. After discussing these two articles, we spend a day preparing for a debate. MLK Jr. Sinek refers to some of the most persuasive people in the last years and believes they all share one motivating factor in common: a deep sense of purpose.
This is something Martin Luther King Jr. This functions on many levels and it is probably the most important lesson of the semester. Students learn the difference between intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. We relate it back to our education debate and discuss the different styles of motivation their professors use. The discussion on intrinsic motivation is paramount to what I feel my central purpose for the course is: encouraging students to read more. I do my best to encourage them to read beyond professors require of them in school.
When I started teaching composition, I thought my job was to teach students to write better.
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I soon discovered how empty this was. I found that if I could somehow open their eyes to what reading can do for them, then I will actually change their lives. As my fancies present themselves, I pile them up; now they come pressing in a crowd, now dragging single file. I want people to see my natural and ordinary pace, however off the track it is. I let myself go as I am. Montaigne continued to revise his essays up until his death, with each edition making large additions.
Frame has extremely helpfully marked these revisions with superscript A, B, and C, and it is fascinating to see what Montaigne felt needed to be added from edition to edition across the essays. What I noticed from my reading is that generally the introspective side of Montaigne that is often emphasized is an outgrowth of his self-criticism, his questioning of his own premises, his belated counter-examples to his own examples.
A great portion of the text consists of examples which illustrate varieties in human nature. A typical Montaigne essay has him strike up a theme—education, say—and he will methodically plumb all the variations that exist on that phenomenon in the world at least as it was known to a well-read 16th century Frenchman.
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There were encyclopedists like Pliny and, in the more recent past, Brunetto Latini. I think there are aspects of all of these textual traditions in the Essays , and I am resistant to the idea that they represent a rupture with the literature of their times rather than a development. Aw no! In proportion as the literature of a country is enriched and culture becomes more generally diffused, personal influence is less effective in the formation of taste and in the furtherance of social advancement.
It is no longer the coterie which acts on literature, but literature which acts on the coterie; the circle represented by the word public is ever widening, and ambition, poising itself in order to hit a more distant mark, neglects the successes of the salon. As the old coach-roads have sunk into disuse through the creation of railways, so journalism tends more and more to divert information from the channel of conversation into the p.
Mahoney, "Periodical Indigestion: Hazlitt's Unpalatable Politics" | Romantic Circles
In fact, the evident tendency of things to contract personal communication within the narrowest limits makes us tremble lest some further development of the electric telegraph should reduce us to a society of mutes, or to a sort of insects communicating by ingenious antenna of our own invention.
The salon retained its attractions, but its power was gone: the stream of life had become too broad and deep for such small rills to affect it. A fair comparison between the French women of the seventeenth century and those of the eighteenth would, perhaps, have a balanced result, though it is common to be a partisan on this subject.
The women of the seventeenth century, when love was on the wane, took to p. Cousin is especially enamored of the women of the seventeenth century, and relieves himself from his labors in philosophy by making researches into the original documents which throw light upon their lives. From these stores M. If the reader agrees with us he will perhaps be inclined, as we are, to dwell a little on the chief points in her life and character.
There yet existed in France some remains of the politeness which Catherine de Medici had introduced from Italy, and the new dramas, with all the other works in prose and verse, which p. As this lady supported her views with much talent and great beauty, she had given them authority in her time, and the number and consideration of those who continued to associate with her have caused to subsist in our day what the Spaniards call finezas. A little incident in this friendship is so characteristic in the transcendentalism which was then carried into all the affections, that it is worth relating at length.
Here it is:. On the contrary, I find everything very plainly expressed, and among others, one which is too explicit for my satisfaction—namely, what you have said to Madame de Rambouillet, that if you tried to imagine a perfectly happy life for yourself, it would be to pass it all alone with Mademoiselle de Rambouillet. You know whether any one can be more persuaded than I am of her merit; but I confess to you that that has not prevented me from being surprised that you could entertain a thought which did so great an injury to our friendship.
As to believing that you said this to one, and wrote it to the other, simply for the sake of paying them an agreeable compliment, I have too high an esteem for your courage to be able to imagine that complaisance would cause you thus to betray the sentiments of your heart, especially on a subject in which, as they were unfavorable to me, I think you would have the more reason for concealing them, the affection which I have for you being so well known to every one, and especially to Mademoiselle de Rambouillet, so that I doubt whether she will not have been more sensible of the wrong you have done me, than of the advantage you have given her.
The circumstance of this letter falling into my hands has forcibly reminded me of these lines of Bertaut:. For would there be any propriety in travelling sixty miles in this season, in order to burden you with a person so little suited to you, that after years of a passion without parallel, you cannot help thinking that the greatest pleasure of your life would be to pass it without her?
I return, then, into my solitude, to examine the defects which cause me so much unhappiness, and unless I can correct them, I should have less joy than confusion in seeing you. We find many traces of this tendency in the affectionate remonstrances addressed to her by Madame de Longueville, now for shutting herself up from her friends, now for doubting that her letters are acceptable. It seems to me that I find all this in your behavior to me; so I am not wrong in sending to know if you wish to have me to-day.
It is admirable that at all times, and amidst all changes, the taste for your society remains in me; and, if one ought to thank God for the joys which do not tend to salvation , I should thank him with all my heart for having preserved that to me at a time in which he has taken away from me all others. You may also have a great fire in your room, burn juniper in the four corners, surround yourself with imperial vinegar, with rue and wormwood.
If you can feel yourself safe under these conditions, without my cutting off my hair, I swear to you to execute them religiously; and if you want examples to fortify you, I can tell you that the Queen consented to see M.
Chaudebonne, when he had come directly from Mme. Mademoiselle de Rambouillet, made aware through their mutual friend Voiture, that her sarcasm has cut rather too deep, winds up the matter by writing that very difficult production a perfectly conciliatory yet dignified apology. Their conferences did not take place like those of other people; the fear of breathing an air which was too cold or top warm, the dread lest the wind should be too dry or too moist—in short, the imagination that the weather might not be as temperate as they thought necessary for the preservation of their health, caused them to write letters from one room to the other.
It would be extremely fortunate if these notes could be found, and formed into a collection. I am convinced that they would contain rules for the regimen of life, precautions even as to the proper time for applying remedies, and also remedies which Hippocrates and Galen, with all their science, never heard of. Such a collection would be very useful to the public, and would be highly profitable to the faculties of Paris and Montpellier. If these letters were discovered, great advantages of all kinds might be derived from them, for they were princesses who had nothing mortal about them but the knowledge that they were mortal.
In their writings might be learned all politeness in style, and the most delicate manner of speaking on all subjects. There is nothing with which they were not acquainted; they knew the affairs of all the States in the world, through the share they had in all the intrigues of its private members, either in matters of gallantry, as in other things, on which their advice was necessary; either to adjust embroilments and quarrels, or to excite them, for the sake of the advantages which their friends could derive from them;—in a word, they were persons through whose hands the secrets of the whole world had to pass.
It was in their time that writing came into use; previously nothing was written but marriage contracts, and letters were never heard of; thus it is to them that we owe a practice so convenient in intercourse. She had a genius in friandise , and knew how to gratify the palate without offending the highest sense of refinement. Her sympathetic nature showed itself in this as in other things; she was always sending bonnes bouches to her friends, and trying to communicate to them her science and taste in the affairs of the table.
Surtout ne me donnez point de festin. If I could hope for two dishes of those preserves, which I did not deserve to eat before, I should be indebted to you all my life.
u of t thesis
Cousin, too, is apologetic on this point. He says:. We have cited a passage from Mme.
The woman worthy of the name ought always to appear above material wants, and retain, even in the most vulgar details of life, something distinguished and purified. Eating is a very necessary operation, but one which is not agreeable to the eye. According to her it was not every woman who could with impunity be at table in the presence of a lover; the first distortion of the face, she said, would be enough to spoil all.
Gross meals made for the body merely ought to be abandoned to bourgeoises , and the refined woman should appear to take a little nourishment merely to sustain her, and even to divert her, as one takes refreshments and ices. Wealth did not suffice for this: a particular talent was required. Her dinners, without any opulence, were celebrated and sought after. Soon after followed the commotions of the Fronde, which put a stop to social intercourse, and threw the closest friends into opposite ranks. The Countess de Maure, whose husband was the most obstinate of frondeurs , remained throughout her most cherished friend, and she kept up a constant correspondence with the lovely and intrepid heroine of the Fronde, Madame de Longueville.
Though her projects were not realized, her conciliatory position enabled her to preserve all her friendships intact, and when the political p. A religious retirement, which did not exclude the reception of literary friends or the care for personal comforts, made the most becoming frame for age and diminished fortune.
Here, with a comfortable establishment, consisting of her secretary, Dr. Valant, Mademoiselle de Chalais, formerly her dame de compagnie , and now become her friend; an excellent cook; a few other servants, and for a considerable time a carriage and coachman; with her best friends within a moderate distance, she could, as M.
Real Essays with Readings: Writing for Success in College, Work, and Everyday Life
But she was much more than this: she was the valuable, trusted friend of noble women and distinguished men; she was the animating spirit of a society, whence issued a new form of French literature; she was the woman of large capacity and large heart, whom Pascal sought to please, to whom Arnauld submitted p. It is into her ear that Madame de Longueville pours her troubles and difficulties, and that Madame de la Fayette communicates her little alarms, lest young Count de St. Paul should have detected her intimacy with La Rochefoucauld.