Posted in Teaching

ENG 242: Well Played!

Congratulations to the first ten participants in our Virtual Victorian Parlor Games!

  • Grey Sacona
  • Madison St. Clair
  • Lauren Setzer
  • Bryan Alba
  • Ashton Canipe
  • Courtney Gant
  • Landon Childres
  • Ruben Castillo
  • Crowson Roosa
  • Joe Van Story

Well played!

Remember to check your CVCC email and Blackboard regularly for updates and assignments.

Posted in Reading, Teaching

ENG 011/111: Wordplay Days

Our Wordplay days in class gave us opportunities to build our word power, collaborate, and engage in creative problem solving. Now they offer us a way to forget our sense of isolation. I hope that games, whether table-top or digital, continue to lift your spirits.

With that hope in mind, I designed this assignment devoted to word games.

Directions:

Choose one of the options below, and post your response as a comment by 5 p.m. on Friday, April 17.

Option One:

  1. Imagine that the first seven letters of your name (all first, or first plus part of last) are seven tiles on a Scrabble rack.
  2. Go to the Scrabble Dictionary, click the Scrabble Word Builder tab (to the right of Scrabble Dictionary), enter your seven letters, and click “Go.”
  3. Post a blog comment of twenty-five words or more that includes (1) the seven letters that you entered, (2) the number of playable words that you can spell with those letters, (3) at least one of the words in the list that was unfamiliar to you, and (4) the definition of the word.

Sample: Entering the first seven letters of my name, J-A-N-E-L-U-C, into the Scrabble Word Builder yields fifty-one playable words. Two that I wasn’t familiar with are fish: “alec,” a herring, and “luce,” a pike.

Option Two:

  1. Reread the The New York Times article “New Scrabble Words Get the ‘OK’” that you read and summarized for February 7.
  2. Post a blog comment of twenty-five words or more that includes (1) one of the newly playable words, (2) its definition, and 3) whether the word was familiar to you.

Sample: The New York Times article “New Scrabble Words Get the ‘OK’” includes the newly playable word [insert word here], which was unfamiliar to me. [Insert word here] means [insert definition here].

Do not use the word “OK.” In other words, “OK” is not okay. It’s in the title of the article, and you already know its definition.

Let the play begin!

Remember to check your CVCC email and Blackboard regularly for updates and assignments.

Posted in Reading, Teaching

ENG 242: Virtual Victorian Parlor Games

Wordplay days gave us opportunities to build our word power, collaborate, and engage in creative problem solving. Now they’re pastimes that can help us forget our isolation. I hope that games, whether table-top or digital, continue to lift your spirits.

With that hope in mind, I designed this assignment inspired by Fred’s Victorian parlor games In A Christmas Carol (stave 3) and our Wordplay Days. Below the directions, I’ve included a list of Victorian authors for your reference.

Directions:

Choose one of the options below, and post your response as a comment by 5 p.m. on Friday, April 17. The first ten students who post comments and the student whose letters yield the largest number of playable words will receive bonus points.

Option One:

  1. Imagine that seven letters of a Victorian author’s last name (all last, or last plus first letter/s of the first) are the seven tiles on your Scrabble rack. See my sample below.
  2. Go to the Scrabble Dictionary, click the Scrabble Word Builder tab (to the right of Scrabble Dictionary), enter the seven letters, and click “Go.”
  3. Post a blog comment of twenty-five words or more that includes (1) the seven letters that you entered, (2) the number of playable words that you can spell with those letters, (3) at least one of the words in the list that was unfamiliar to you, and (4) the definition of the word.

Sample: Entering the seven letters A-R-N-O-L-D-M (for Matthew Arnold) in the Scrabble Word Builder yields 103 playable words. Two that I wasn’t familiar with are “dolma,” a stuffed grape leaf, and “lardon,” a thin slice of bacon or pork.

Option Two:

  1. Imagine that the first seven letters in the title of one of our Victorian readings (A Christmas Carol, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or the “The Adventure of the Speckled Band“) are the seven tiles on your Scrabble rack.
  2. Follow steps two and three listed in option one.

Option Three:

  1. Imagine that the first seven letters in the name of a character in A Christmas Carol, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or the “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” are the seven tiles on your Scrabble rack.
  2. Follow steps two and three listed in option one.

Let the play begin!

Victorian Authors

  • Barrett Browning, Elizabeth
  • Besant, Annie
  • Besant, Walter
  • Bradley, Katharine
  • Brontë, Emily
  • Browning, Robert
  • Caird, Mona
  • Carlyle, Thomas
  • Carroll, Lewis
  • Chamberlain, Joseph
  • Chew, Ana Nield
  • Cobbe, Frances Power
  • Coleridge, Mary Elizabeth
  • Cooper, Edith
  • Darwin, Charles
  • Dickens, Charles
  • Dowson, Earnest
  • Doyle, Sir Arthur
  • Eliot, George
  • Ellis, Sarah Stickney
  • Engels, Friederich
  • Field, Michael
  • Froude, James Anthony
  • Gaskell, Elizabeth
  • Gosse, Sir Edmund
  • Hardy, Thomas
  • Henley, William Ernest
  • Hobson, J.A.
  • Hopkins, Gerard Manley
  • Hughes, Thomas
  • Huxley, Leonard
  • Huxley, Thomas Henry
  • Kingsley, Charles
  • Kipling, Rudyard
  • Macaulay, Thomas Babington
  • Martineau, Harriet
  • Maurice, Frederick Denison
  • Mayhew, Henry
  • Mill, John Stuart
  • Morris, William
  • Mukharji, T.N.
  • Mulock, Dinah Maria
  • Newman, John Henry Cardinal
  • Nightingale, Florence
  • Pater, Walter
  • Patmore, Coventry
  • Rossetti, Christina
  • Rossetti, Dante Gabriel
  • Ruskin, John
  • Russell, William Howard
  • Shaw, George Bernard
  • Stevenson, Robert Lewis
  • Swinburne, Algernon Charles
  • Tennyson, Alfred Lord
  • Thomas, John Jacob
  • Thompson, Flora
  • Wilde, Oscar

I omitted Matthew Arnold from the list since I used his name in the sample.

Remember to check your CVCC email and Blackboard regularly for updates and assignments.

Posted in Teaching, Theatre, Writing

ENG 126: Drama Workshop, Session 3

Welcome to our third drama workshop session, and thank you for your thoughtful feedback on The Slow Decline and the monologue from Bound. Before we turn to the untitled monologue and The Story of Shabath, I offer these follow-up notes:

The Slow Decline 

  • Trevor mentioned the jail break in the sixth paragraph as a possible alternate starting point. How might Mr. Castillo’s story unfold between the narration of the jail break, which was “a rather profitable venture” and the change in gun restrictions when the Castillo organization’s “profits plummeted”? In other words, how might a riches-to-rags sequence framed by those events affect the play’s momentum?
  • Brendan, Zane, Brandy, and Mia all noted the lack of development of Mr. Castillo’s relationship with his father. The detail that he is “quiet” and the writer’s choice of having Mr. Castillo address his grandfather, but not his father, in the conclusion may serve to indicate a gulf between father and son. Was it a relationship that was too difficult for the son to put into words? If so, what in his speech or actions might convey that difficulty?
  • The question of details–what to leave in and what to leave out–leads me to a question that Mia raised: “What made the main character unsuitable for the job while his father and grandfather ran things so seamlessly?” The answer may lie in something else that Mia mentioned, the moment when Mr. Castillo reveals that as a young man he contemplated running away from the family business. That’s the moment I had in mind when I posed this question: What other obstacles, internal or external, might complicate the delivery of his story?

Monologue from Bound 

  • Trevor remarked that it was admirable that the writer chose to begin at the end of the narrator’s story and focus on the mechanics of the journey.
  • Brennan, Mia, Zane, and Brandy noted the number of unanswered questions in the monologue. Zane also noted the apparent inconsistency in the narrator’s mental state. How might the writer convey through the narrator’s speech and actions that his consistent inconsistencies make him dangerous to the gods, or to himself, or to both?
  • Brandy and Brennan both noted that the monologue felt like part of a larger piece–such as a character’s speech “halfway through a fantasy novel,” as Brennan mentioned. With that in mind, reading and comparing H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds and the radio play adapted from the novel might be a useful exercise for the writer.

Rather than making additional reading recommendations tailored for the writers of The Slow Decline and the monologue from Bound, I am offering one that’s relevant to all of us now: the recent New York Times article “Has Your Dystopian Play Come in Handy?,” which features snippets of conversations with playwrights who have authored plays about cataclysmic events and are now living through one themselves (as we all are).

Marisol, the first play addressed in the article, was written by José Rivera, author of Gas, the Persian Gulf War-era play that we read in Chapter 11 of Imaginative Writing. The eight other playwrights and plays featured in the article are these:

  • Anne Washburn, Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play (2013)
  • Jennifer Haley, Nether (2015)
  • Mac Rogers, The Honeycomb Trilogy (2015)
  • Penelope Skinner, The Ruins of Civilization (2016)
  • Zoe Kazan, After the Blast (2017)
  • Robert O’Hara, Mankind (2018)
  • Andrew R. Butler, Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future (2018)
  • Duncan Macmillan, Lungs (2020)

The points I have included below are not ones that you’re required to address in your comments about the untitled monologue and The Story of Shabath. I offer them as suggestions only. I will address some of them in the follow-up remarks that I’ll post at the beginning of our next session.

Untitled Monologue

  • In the second paragraph of the monologue, Deen reveals the inciting incident, the event that creates the situation in which she finds herself: “and then they died.” In the fifth paragraph, she first mentions her current obstacle: the officer to whom she is pleading her case. Consider how altering the order of the details that Deen presents would affect the monologue’s tension and the audience’s perceptions of Deen.
  • In Imaginative Writing, Janet Burroway notes the importance of varying shorter lines with longer ones. In her words, “[a] change of pace, from a sharp series of shorter lines to a longer speech and back again, keeps the rhythm interesting” (338). The writer varies lines within paragraphs and also between paragraphs one and three, and again between paragraphs six and seven. What other paragraphs might be presented as shorter–perhaps even one-line–paragraphs?
  • What suggestions, if any, do you have for a title?
  • What plays, if any–ones in Imaginative Writing or others that you’ve read–would you recommend to the writer as models or possible sources of inspiration?

The Story of Shabath

  • Consider the sequence of Shabath Aizwald’s recollections. How would moving what he recounts in 1:2 or 2:1 to 1:1 affect the tension?
  • What stage directions would clarify how the monorail figures in 1:1? Is it an actual set piece, an image projected on a scrim (a gauze cloth used as a screen or backdrop on stage), or does it figure solely as a diagetic sound?
  • In Imaginative Writing, Janet Burroway observes that the inability and unwillingness at times to say what we mean “breaks the flow of the talk. This is especially true when emotions are heating up. People break off, interrupt themselves and each other. Use sentence fragments. Don’t always finish their . . . (338). Where might the writer break the flow of Shabath’s words to indicate an inner conflict? What memories might be difficult for him to recount?
  • What plays, if any–ones in Imaginative Writing or others that you’ve read–would you recommend to the writer as models or possible sources of inspiration?

Post your two responses, twenty-five words or more each, as replies. If you address a point that one of your classmates has written in a previous reply, mention that classmate by name in your own reply. Post by midnight on Friday, April 17.

Remember to check your CVCC email and Blackboard regularly for updates and assignments.