Sunday, May 27, 2007

Final Exam Questions

1. Naturalism in writing, and how "The Second Choice" is a naturalistic work.

2. The Lost Generation: who are theym why are they called that, what common characteristics do they share?

3. Hemingway’s principles of short story writing: traditions and innovations. Be prepared to show examples of it from the stories we read.

4. Peculiarities of E. Hemingway’s style.

5. W. Faulkner as a fine stylist (high rhetoric, folk language, long sentences, paradoxes, etc.).

6. Themes and plot structure in “Dry September”.

7. The peculiarities of narration in T. Dreiser’s “The Second Choice”.

8. Symbols and their role in “The Great Gatsby”.

9. Themes in “The Great Gatsby”.

10. Plot structure and themes in "Of Mice and Men".

  • Be ready to talk about the following characters:
Shirley in The Second Choice,
Barton in The Second Choice,
Miss Minnie Cooper in Dry September,
the barber in Dry September,
Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby,
Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby,
Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby,
Jake Barnes in The Sun Also Rises,
Robert Cohn in The Sun Also Rises,
Lady Brett Ashley in The Sun Also Rises,
George from Of Mice and Men,
Lennie from Of Mice and Men.
  • Be ready to explain the distinguishing characteristics of realism, naturalism, and regionalism.
  • Be ready to compare and contrast the writing styles of the authors.
  • Be ready to explain the following terms: Roaring Twenties, The Great Depression, The Dust Bowl, Flappers.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

End-of-Semester Web Sites Presentation

Greetings - we finally made it to the end!Somehow September has turned into May and another academic year has been put to rest. I realize that the spring semester was very challenging, as you were supposed to do a lot of reading, thinking and blogging, which was new and time-consuming. But I want to believe that you got something out of it.

I would like to thank you for being actively involved in my experiment. You've surpassed all my expectations and you've given me a lot of food for thought and many new ideas. Thanks to your feedback, many things will be done differently next year.

By the way, Red Squirrel has left a comment to the post below that would make you take pride in your achievements.

I wish you good luck with your exams!
Keep in touch.
Anna Vladimirovna

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Group Web Sites are All Set


By Thursday, please check out your groupmates' web sites:
Tennessee Williams Project:
Faulkner & Hemingway Project:
One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest Project (please note that it's a new version!!!):
The Great Gatsby Project:
Please use the following evaluation criteria:
1. content - 35 % (your text, related sites, description of the sites);
2. organization - 10 % (effective overall organisation of the material (easy to find and navigate));
3.language - 30 % (grammar, syntax, vocabulary, style);
4. design (visual aspects) - 10 % (text characteristics, attractive background, pictures/images);
5. links - 10 % (about 20 links);
6. authorship - 5 % (contact information).

REMINDER: Please return all HAL and SAL books!

Image Source:

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Just a Reminder

Please be sure to bring all the books you borrowed from me at the beginning of the academic year ("Highlights of American Literature" & "Studies in American Literature"). Thank you!

Robert Frost (May 10)

1. Robert Frost Information

2. Poems:
"The Road Not Taken"
"Acquainted with the Night"
"Fire and Ice"
"Mending Wall"
"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"
"The Sound Of The Trees"

3. Enjoy this video:

Language Learning and Web 2.0.


Our last class will be on May 17. At 13.45 we'll meet in Room 315 for the final talk and course evaluation. Then, at 15.20 we'll move to the conference room 107-108 where your group presentations (which is 25% of your grade) will take place. Everybody's attendance is a must.

Your final web sites are due Mon., May 14.

If you are interested in what we have been doing this semester (watch the video below from TeacherTube),

I would encourage you to join the social network created by Eduardo Peirano which is called College 2.0 where faculty and students share their experience of using Web 2.o. services. So, you are very welcome to share your impressions!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Assignment for May 3 (John Steinbeck)

John Steinbeck. Of Mice and Men

Assignment for April 26 (Starting Your Web Sites)


We are heading for the last stage of our project work - your web sites.

May 3: your draft web sites are due.
May 10: final web sites are due.
May 14: group web site presentation.

Before you begin working on the HTML-documents (or generating sites from templates on free web hosting sites), please get together and decide which information from your e-portfolios (the materials you have published on your group blogs) you would like to publish on your web site. Please note that your web pages should have the following:

1. The introductory page of your site should introduce
o the theme of your project;
o your self-presentation (with digital photos and a recorded greeting);
o a mechanism for contacting you (email and links to your blogs);
o a site map (table of contents).
2. your own interpretation of the theme (you are supposed to include your papers or presentation); your analysis of literary works;
3. presentation of socio-cultural information (your interpretation + links);
4. presentation of Web sites relating to your theme (they might be hyperlinks or a list of useful links with their description);
5. literary works (as links);
6. useful links;
7. include at least one picture / image into your Web site.
For section 3-6 do not simply provide a list of links. After the title of each Web site and its URL, describe the site in a few sentences. You must include at least five links for each category.

By April 30, I expect to hear from you: please finish collecting materials on your blogs and report where you have decided to create your web sites. Sign up for a free web site and send me the URL of your first drafts.

I would recommend you to look into the following free web hosting services: , or (By the way, the Nobel Prize group has already launched their web site at It's worth visiting!) To further inspire you, let me quote Olga K.: "I made it all by myself. It wasn't difficult. Besides, it was very useful and interesting. I really liked it".

The other option is to create your web pages from scratch and to upload them to our department server. If you choose this way, please put all files on one disk and save them as Index. doc 1 - the main page;doc 1.2 - the second page;doc 1.3 - the third page;doc 1.3.1 - the fourth page (linked to the 3d);doc 1.3.2 - the fifth page (linked to the 3d); etc. You can later upload this folder on and send me the link.

The grading criteria will be the following:
content -35 % your text, related sites, description of the sites;
organization - 10 % effective overall organisation of the material (easy to find and navigate);
language - 30 % grammar, syntax, vocabulary, style;
design (visual aspects) - 10 % text characteristics, attractive background, pictures/images;
links - 10 % about 20 links;
authorship - 5 % contact information.
(developed by Dr. Svetlana Titova)

Check out the web sites of Dr. Svetlana V. Titova's students at:

More Information on Web Projects:

Thanks go to my teacher and my academic advisor Svetlana Vladimirovna Titova for her valuable advice on project work.

Image Source:

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Watching "The Great Gatsby" (1974)

Sveta: It has become fashionable in modern film industry to screen outstanding works of both classic and modern literature. Unfortunately, the wish of film makers to produce a vivid reflection of what’s written doesn’t always coincide with actual results. As an example ‘The Da Vinci Code’ or ‘The Painted Veil’ can be mentioned. Well, it seems today’s film industry penetrated by all-encompassing Hollywood influence fails to go deep into the essence of literature. Maybe it has bad teachers from the past? Let’s see.
Although the after-war film industry was blooming in Hollywood, Bollywood and the like, the art of screening literature works was in the pipeline. To support the point, I’d like to refer to the screen version of Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’. To begin with, the book itself made a deep impression on me. Although the end seemed to be quite predictable, it was quite challenging to watch the major characters’ manner of behavior in critical situations. The story itself seemed to be both a detective story and fiction and romance. In a word, a mixture of styles engendered a fountain of feelings and ruminations.
As to the film, it occurred somehow one-sided to me. The foundation of the film’s plot is the love triangle. So every word, every step is wrapped around the characters of Daisy and Jay Gatsby. However the book reviews other no less essential problems like American Dream (first and foremost), attempts to escape from the past, the sense of life, post-war fever and so on. Nevertheless, the film makers managed to depict the flapper fever, if I can put it that way, quite vividly. Jay Gatsby’s carnivals were shown with extreme accuracy. The pictures of drunk ladies and vulgar gentlemen bathing in the fountain made me feel disgust. The strong point of this particular episode is that the next scene presented Jay Gatsby in his room refusing to participate in the performance. I guess that was the key moment which stressed Gatsby’s unique personality.
Robert Radford managed the task perfectly featuring Jay Gatsby. It’s exactly that type of character that I drew in my imagination while reading the book: calm, dignified but showing glimpses of internal struggle. As to Mia Farrow who played Daisy in the film, I’m afraid she was too old for the role. The author gives a portrait of a still young and childish girl who constantly smokes and paints her lips red. Thus her face seemed artificially pale in comparison with red lipstick. I failed to see something like that in the film. Farrow’s Daisy looked rosy-cheeked and, in spite of that, quite bothered by Tom’s cheating on her. I didn’t think she was thus upset by the latter while reading the book. On the contrary, Jordan Baker featured by Lois Chiles turned out to be a fatal woman with low but touchy and sexy voice, young and attractive. Fitzgerald stressed that she looked somehow man-like wearing shapeless clothes and causing men little passion or any kind of that feeling. Frankly speaking, if I were a man I would fancy Jordan featured by Lois Chiles, not Daisy.
I guess the screen version of ‘The Great Gatsby’ abandons several aspects of prime importance. I would place Gatsby’s mysterious personality first and only then its impact on relations with Daisy and other characters. Daisy disappeared from the plot much earlier than Gatsby. Still we, readers, continued to learn new information about Jay even after his death. That’s why I suppose the film ‘The Great Gatsby’ can be perceived as a story of unfortunate love without reading the book. But if you’ve read the book, the film will disappoint you to some extent.

Sasha B.: I like watching films that are made on the motifs of the books I’ve read because it’s always quite interesting to compare the way I was imagining it while reading and the way it is shown in the film (in fact it is just the comparison to the imagination of the producer of the film). But unfortunately in most cases the result is disappointing me. The plot of the book is usually changed a lot and with this change something that attracts me in the book disappears. So these films would turn out to be much more interesting for me if I haven’t read the books before watching their screen versions. Nevertheless there are some exceptions and last Thursday the list of them was replenished by the film “The Great Gatsby”.
First of all, I was interested in the actors. Frankly speaking, not all of them were appropriate to their roles (from my personal point of view certainly). The actor I liked most of all is the man who presented Gatsby himself though at first I thought that I’ve imagined him in another way. But now I just can’t remember the reason for such a thought and I can’t judge objectively because he was so nice and charming… So while watching the film I was thinking about how Daisy was lucky to be loved by such a man. And not only was his appearance impressive but also the strength of his feelings. He was ready to do all he could for her sake and for the sake of being near her. It seems that his love was eternal and everybody could dream of such a feeling that never dies. But it is shown as well in the book.
Speaking about the role of Daisy, I liked the actress. Gatsby and she looked pretty well together. The only thing is that when I’ve read the book I felt that Daisy is not so light-minded and happy-go-lucky as she seemed to be. I thought that she was just pretending to be so when she was among the people. In the film Daisy was even more careless and easy-going and it seemed to me that she was not pretending. Nevertheless, I like this character (the way it was reflected in the film) because she is friendly, nice, tender and even sincere, I would say. In spite of the fact that she had a love affair with two men at the same time, I believe that she deceived nobody. The film made me sure that she loved both his husband and Gatsby and I sympathized with her when she had to be resolute and choose one of them. It was quite difficult for her, I think, because she was so defenseless. She just needed someone who would decide everything for her and be responsible for all her actions and decisions.
There were three characters to which the actors were absolutely appropriate: George B. Wilson, Jordan Baker and Myrtle Wilson (though I’ve imagined the latter to be stouter but in fact it doesn’t matter). So they were exactly the same I pictured them.
There were two other actors I didn’t like: Nick and especially Tom. Nick disappointed me just because when I saw him for the first time I thought that he was so unpleasant and suspicious. I couldn’t understand why so many people took him into their confidence (according both to the book and to the film). It seemed to me that he was not to be trusted. But a bit later when I got used to his appearance I’ve changed my mind. He turned out to be as kind-hearted, tolerant and friendly as it was in the book.
So there is only one actor left that I didn’t like at all. And it is Tom Buchanan. When I was reading the book I imagined a tall, good-looking, strong and sinewy dark-haired man. That’s the way Daisy described him: “That’s what I get for marrying a brute of a man, a great, big, hulking physical specimen of a …” But in the film he looks like a poor, unprotected and weak postman but not a sportsman.
Anyway, the appearance is not so important but the visual image of the characters is considered to be the advantage of the film. I should admit that I enjoyed the way the qualities and feelings of people were shown in the film (speaking even about Tom). Certainly there were differences between the plot of the book and the film. For example, in the film the dates of Daisy and Gatsby are shown. Besides, in contrast to the book, the film ends with the accidental meeting of Nick with Daisy and Tom that shows the indifference of them to what had happened. It seems that they have forgotten about all. I was pleasantly surprised that the producer of the film paid attention to such a small but important detail as the green light.
So, in spite of some differences between the book and the film that usually disappoint me, I enjoyed watching the film. It shows the story in a bit different way but it doesn’t detract from its merit.

Olga K.: “The Great Gatsby” ,1974, by Jack Clayton– the most famous screen version, starring Robert Radford in the title role with Mia Fattow as Daisy Buchanan & Sam Waterson as Nick Carraway, with a script by Francis Ford Coppola. It’s an adaptation of a great book written by F.Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby` is a consummate summary of the `roaring twenties` and a devastating expose of the `Jazz Age`. It is an undisputed classic of American literature from the period following the First World War and is one of the great novels of the twentieth century.
It’s a common knowledge that a plot of the original book usually differs from that we see in the movie, but the plot of the film ‘The Great Gatsby’ is very close to novel itself. It’s so tragic, emotional, and sensitive to boot. All the actors were chosen masterfully: pretty Daisy (like a beautiful doll), nice, but not very handsome Nick, and so handsome and fine-looking Gatsby (I think his character was chosen excellently). The only one actor, I think, who was playing Tom, wasn’t a good choice. In the book we see fine-looking man with good body, maybe, even handsome one, but in the movie his character is quite an ordinary man, not handsome, and even weak. I guess it was a creative initiative of the director. His character was such an unhandsome man as his unbeautiful look.
Speaking about the photography and music, they are brilliant. Together with colorful costumes and amusing music we immerse ourselves in ‘crazy’ atmosphere of ‘The Rolling Twentieth’, and with the help of tragic music background we understand the intensity of the plot and feelings of the characters.
The movie is very interesting, but the only problem is the fact that it’s too close to the book and it’s a little boring to watch a known plot and predictable events. But, on the other hand, it helps to understand the novel better, to immerse you in an absorbing atmosphere of the plot, and to feel all the events by yourself.
The most sensitive episode for me was the preparation of the house before Daisy’s visit. Millions of roses, beautiful silver services – everything was so pretty, so luxurious, and so sensitive. All this was made only for her, for such a lovely Daisy. Gatsby was so nervous, and it was rather funny: he was such a self-assured man for all the people, but he behaved like a little boy when she was near to him. And the second moment which impressed me deeply was the end of the movie, the episode when Gatsby was buried. It’s not so tragically while reading it in the book, but together with a good-chosen music and masterful actors’ games it really impressed. How much people were visiting Gatsby every day, and how few had come to his burring…
All in all it’s the great movie about the Lost Generation! It’s so symbolic and exciting, without happy end, but with a deep moral!

Anna: When speaking of American movies, we usually remember Hollywood blockbusters which usually turn the books upside down so that the audience sees something completely different from what they had read. And, to tell you the truth, I expected the same of “The Great Gatsby”.And how wrong I was!
The producer not only completely preserved the script, but he also paid much attention to the details and symbols which we had discussed in class. Thanks to it I had some more food for thought and it was of much help in understanding the symbols in “The Great Gatsby”.But to tell you the truth, I had expected something more of the film. I was so much moved by the book, it has left a significant trace in my mind and soul, which cannot be said about the film, at least, it didn’t impress me so much.
One of the main reasons, to my mind, is in the choice of the actor for the main character, Jay Gatsby.
When I first saw him I thought: “That’s him!”, but the further the story unfolded the more I thought that he is not the Gatsby I had imagined. It’s only the outer looks that matched. But the behavior, the manner of talking and things in lifestyle seemed to be a bit weird to me.
And perhaps like the others I was a bit disappointed not to see the legendary Gatsby smile… Each time Gatsby’s close-up was shown I used much effort to see the face better, but all in vain; I could see no charming grin.
Concerning Daisy, I have changed my mind about her. I used to think that she was silly and superficial. It was mentioned in the film (and I remember this phrase from the book) that girls should be silly and beautiful, and Daisy wanted to match this standard of hers. But she wasn’t like this, she just behaved the way it was needed and would be more convenient. Even, maybe, not to bother herself and the others. It must be much easier to think you’re a silly childish creature unaware of any troubles than to take things to the heart and have responsibilities. And I’m sure now Daisy deliberately put on that mask of hers. And Gatsby only noticed the hint that uncovered that nature of Daisy’s: he heard the sound of money in Daisy’s voice. He didn’t see further than rich background, high expectations and demands.
Besides, thanks to the film I paid some attention to minor characters like Myrtle and her husband. While reading the book I was totally shocked by their tragic end, but nothing more, while the film producer drew my attention to the fate of this couple and showed that the book is not only about the Great Gatsby and the tragedy of a person too much devoted to a dream which was already behind him, but about the people of his age, who suffer, get affected and just mix up in their business, either financial or personal.
To sum up, the film has left a pleasant impression, but of course after seeing the film only one cannot get the whole sense which is hidden in the book. And although I wasn’t totally delighted with the cast and the performance, I must say that the film was very helpful, interesting and nothing to do with today’s Hollywood stuff.
So, I’m very grateful to the people who had to take pains in organizing this event!

P.S. Can’t help saying that I was charmed by the scenes at Gatsby’s ritzy parties! I was completely carried away by the roaring twenties and if I were given a chance to choose another period of history to live in, I would choose to live in New York right in those times!

Katya: I must confess that the screen adaptation of “The Great Gatsby “, its 1974 version was quite a surprise for me. Although not having the slightest idea of how the other 3 films were organized, I tend to think that that one was not the most successful variant. To my mind, the most crucial flaws were due to bad, inappropriate casting.
First of all, after having seen the presentation of the movie with Toby Stephens I actually couldn’t imagine any other actor playing this role. I really doubt that Robert Redford was the best candidate to play Jay Gatsby, for there was nothing in his appearance resembling Gatsby’s features. Indeed, the famous smile of this character, insincere but still extremely charming and conquering one’s prejudiced inclination was totally absent from Redford’s face, even occasionally. I don’t even remember him smiling at all. What’s more, he lacked that sense of romanticism, which was Gatsby’s part of nature. However, his play was highly professional and can be called neither amateurish, nor bad. It was only his unsuitability that influenced or even ruined the impression.
Secondly, Daisy’s childish, easy-going, coquettish behaviour was too exaggerated, which added hysterical notes to her personality. Her plainliness, emptiness was thus made too evident and therefore even more plain and superficial. The reason why they made her a blonde also seems incomprehensible. Perhaps, they attempted to render that hollow personality of hers perceptible by the mere look at her appearance?..
The playing I really appreciated was that of Wilson. Indeed, the book’s character always seemed to me too inconspicuous, flat, while the actor managed to fill it with unique brightness and create a solid, harmonious type, making the most of this secondary part.
What should be also mentioned is that they preserved the most of the book, which is undoubtedly an exploit. Of course, some details were changed or omitted, but that appears to a common victim to picturing a book. Still, neglecting the love affair of Nick and Jordan as well as its total omission is perfectly unjustified.
On the whole, the movie produces good impression, but the attempt to preserve as much of the book as possible made it a bit too protracted and dull. What they did was succeed in depicting the roaring twenties in their essence, creating the most vivid and ritzy image of it.

Olga S: There is a common opinion that a film is usually much worse than a book – the script-writer tends to add more “action” and remove deeply philosophical themes. Hopefully, there are exceptions, and one of that (quite rare, in my opinion) cases in the film “Great Gatsby” based on F.S.Fitzgerald’s story with the same title. First of all, I should mention that all turning-point scenes were thoroughly reproduced in the course of the film. What’s more, there was nothing made-up into the setting, which unfortunately often happens now (for example, a modern Hollywood film based on “The Scarlet Letter” by N.Hawthorn. Actually, they left only a few episodes from the book and shot a beautiful and a bit tragic love-story, which has little to do with the original idea).
However, some moments were changed for no obvious reason. It is important in the book that we know the story of Daisy’s marriage from her friend who tells it to Nick Carraway, presupposing that Gatsby knew nothing of that sad episode. Whereas in the film we have the story told to Gatsby by Daisy, which gives him enough reasons to try and prove to Tom that Daisy had never been a happy wife. And I believe it is vital that Gatsby should have no obvious reason to claim Daisy for himself and try to return what cannot be returned.
As for the cast, it was splendid. Although Gatsby could have at least once smiled his famous smile, and Tom could have been a bit more of a “macho”, it did not spoil the whole impression. The character that added tragedy to Gatsby’s and Myrtle’s death was Wilson. He is of minor importance in the story, but the actor who played him was very talented and attracted attention to that tragedy of “a little man”, who suffered just because he did no harm to anybody.
But the strongest point of the film is the carefully created atmosphere of the “roaring twenties”, with parties, emancipated women, prosperity of higher classes and carelessness for everything in that world. Fitzgerald managed to show us the spirit of that time, but the loud and crazy jazz just flung me into the middle of that gregarious and chaotic environment, to which Gatsby, though considered to be a part of it, was a complete stranger, from the first seconds. Thus it was easier to understand the character of Daisy, who cannot do without luxury and constant having fun, even at the expense of others – a “careless driver”, the definition given by the author that reveals her whole nature in only three words.

Monday, April 9, 2007

What the Heck is Academic Plagiarism?


When I was browsing a blog of one of our groups, I was taken aback by the recurrence to the old habits, i.e. of using somebody else's essays and giving no credit to the author.
Any work in your blog is your own, unless cited. If it is NOT your work and it is NOT cited, it is plagiarism.

Image Source:

There are two types of plagiarism:
1. Deliberate Plagiarism is intentionally using the ideas, words, phrases, opinions, arguments, full paragraphs or whole essays of someone else and deceptively passing them off as your own. Buying or taking a paper, or any portion of a paper, from the Internet, word-for-word copying without quotation marks or deceptive rewording without properly naming any source is, in no uncertain terms, literary theft and academic fraud.
2. Unintentional Plagiarism--no less serious--involves the improper and unacknowledged use of ideas, words, phrases, opinions, or arguments that do not originate with the writer. Apologetic explanations such as forgetfulness, sloppiness, haste, carelessness, or uncertainties about the use of citation do not excuse the student from this type of plagiarism.

Please don't forget to document the sources you are using for texts, graphics, video and audio files.

Be conscientious, be honest, be aware!

More on Plagiarism:
1. Plagiarism Rules: What Every Blogger Needs To Know

Friday, April 6, 2007

Follow-Up on the Discussion We Had on Hemingway's Stories

Dear Students,

I would like to thank you for your engagement and your enthusiasm about Hemingway's short stories that you demonstrated yesterday. I wish we had more time to discuss all the beauty and subtlety of his writing style, as well as his message in those 3 stories. I have already received a few letters from some students where they say what a deep impression these stories have produced on them. Please remember tha we are going to discuss "The Sun Also Rises" on April 19. (I have uploaded a file in the revised .doc format. It doesn't contain weird symbols.)

I got a very interesting message from Sveta and I would like to invite both my students and readers of this blog to a discussion of the issue raised by Sveta:

Anna Vladimirovna, about today's discussion. You didn't answer my question. I really want to know your opinion: How could Hemingway write about 'the importance of being important' for a woman if he had 4 official wives (to say nothing of non-official)? From his biography, I learned that he treated his women not in a very fair way. Though you've said the author's personality has nothing to do with his works, I shall disagree with you. All works are written according to life experience, after all.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Hemingway's Six-Word Story

It looks like my home Internet isn't going to be fixed by tonight. It means that it might take some time for your comments to make it to my blog. Sorry for the inconvenience and thanks for understanding!
I just wanted to share a snippet that speaks volumes about Ernest Hemingway's genius. I stumbled upon this enchanting fact when looking at the students' blog of my friend Teacher Dude.

Photo by Stupid Dancer

Ernest Hemingway was once prodded to compose a complete story in six words. His answer was "For sale: baby shoes, never used." Some people say it was to settle a bar bet. Others say it was a personal challenge directed at other famous authors.
Can you come up with a six-word story of your own?

A Few Noteworthy Links:

Ernest Hemingway’s Top 5 Tips for Writing Well
Six-Word Stories in Photography

Friday, March 30, 2007

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

TIME Magazine's 100 Best English-Language Novels from 1923 to Present

I came across this Top 100 All-Time Novels list when updating my bookmarks. The novels were picked by TIME critics Lev Grossman and Richard Lacayo in 2005.

"The Great Gatsby" is there, too. Interestingly enough, "The Great Gatsby" made it to the Reader's Choice Top 5 Novels list.,24459,ratethis,00.html

Students, if you were to put together a list of your Top 5 novels, would you include "The Great Gatsby"? How would your list look like?

Friday, March 23, 2007

LibraryThing, or on New Friends and Ideas

Hi class,

I just wanted to share some thoughts on how we can expand our view and enrich our projects by getting feedback from like-minded people. I joined the Explode only a week ago (you can see my friends on the sidebar) and I have already struck a few professional contacts. My new friends are teachers who have been using blogs for educational purposes for quite a long time. They are providing me with advice, support, and inspiration.

Today, my new friend Teacher Dude left the following comment about the tools to publish photos: I would also recommend and PhotoStory 3 which can downloaded, free of charge from Microsoft. Both allow you to do amazing things with photos. Also have your students used the Great Gatsby audio book (unabridged) which can be downloaded from TorrentSpy? Thanks, Craig!

Yesterday, when I was browsing the blog of my new friend Claudia, who teaches English in Argentina, I came across an interesting post: THE FCE BLOG by Claudia Ceraso: What shall I read?#links

That is just what we need! The LibraryThing is an easy, library-quality catalog. But most importantly, LibraryThing also connects you with people who read the same things. So, I decided to explore how it works and I got registered. I added to my account the books that you are doing research on. This is how it looks:

Once you become a registered user, you can read different comments on books, get in touch with people who have the same book (see icons on the right), invite them to your blog and start a meaningful conversation. Go for it! I am excited to hear about your success.
Below is a cover view of the books from my catalog which we have been discussing within the framework of our course.

Creative Assignment for March 30


Please remember that your creative writing drafts are due next Thursday (03/30/07). Be sure to submit them in an electronic form.

You can choose any topic below and compose:

a) a letter that Gatsby might have sent to Daisy while he was fighting in World War I;
b) a letter that Daisy might have written to Gatsby on her wedding day;
c) Gatsby's ruminations while he was floating on the mattress shortly before he was shot.
I look forward to reading your compositions! Enjoy creating them!

I have already received essays from Svetlana,Olga K., Anna, Lilya, Elya, Katya, Lena.

Lena has published her essay(#1) on her personal blog

Oksana's Essay (#2)
Dear James!It's the last time I'm writing to you.I'm sure you will come to hate me after reading this later. But nevertheless I must tell you about my feelings, I can't restrain myself any longer.We'll never meet again and this thought drives me crazy.I'm broken! James, dear, I love you....I really love you...more than ever... I can't imagine my life without you.But it's too late to do anything...too late.I'm getting married today, James! I know it's a mistake, but I can't change anything now.Good Lord, only now I'm aware of what I have done! How could I accept his proposal, I don't love him at all and will never love.My careless action have spoiled all my life!I'm to blame for everything! In two hours Mike will come and we'll go arm in arm to the church.You know, I'm afraid of telling him "no" beside the alter,because my heart belongs to you. But no... I mustn't...if I utter this word I 'll dishonour my family.It can't be allowed.It can kill my Mum..You see, I'm in charge of my family. James, I beg you, forgive me,for God's sake, forgive me!I know I don't deserve it,but try to understand me.Do your best to forget me. I wish you would be happy, I don't doubt you will, you are a man of great will. I will remember you until my death, I will keep im memory every moment of being with you. You were so romantic, so tender....I'll never forget our time together.I remember our first dance, you were so shy...and our kiss, remember?your smile and eyes ...they were so innocent, so sincere...Good Heavens,I remember everything as it were yesterday!I will always love you, James. But I have to think about my future. Mike is not bad, I hope he'll take care of me. I can't let him down,I promised. Besides he wants to have children and only God knows how I dream of them! Certainly, at first I thought that everything would be easy but now I understand that I have mistaken. I should have think about you in advance, but now I have no choice. I'll suffer all my life, God will punish me for it. But I'm sure you will be happy I wish you to find your love with all my heart. I didn't want to hurt you , it was better to tell you the truth.
Always yours

Olga S.'s Essay (#2)
Dear Jay,
Or I’d better say Mr. Gatsby now… How are things with you? I have been waiting for you to return for a long time, and still you are very far away, somewhere in Europe. I hope that you are fine, there.
And I think I would never be as happy as I used to be with you, because I cannot become yours now even if you crossed the Atlantic in a few hours, putting away everything – your career, you duty. I am getting married today, so in a few hours there will be no “your sweet Daisy” any more. There will be Mrs. Buchanan – “here is to the bride and groom!” – those drunkards at the party will say.
Do not ask me why I am doing it – you understand it perfectly well, you have always been the man that could look into the inner corners of my soul. I cannot stay a maiden any longer, and Tom is at least well-known and well-to-do. He would provide for me and for my children if we ever have any. He is not a very loyal husband, but neither am I a loyal wife, with you always in my mind. How I wish it would be you standing beside me in front of the altar! This dream can never become true.
Now my whole life will become a dream – a boring dream that is going to last till I’m dead. There will probably be parties and constant moving (my husband hates staying in one place for a long time), but they will be empty since you’ll not be beside me. I have been thinking of you for long years, I’m doing it even at the day of my wedding. Everybody thinks me to be a happy and lucky bride – a bitter satire, if only they knew! So will you never forget me, Jay, will you? Not even if you marry? This is the only thing I want – just to know that you still remember me, Daisy.
Now I have to finish – it’s time for me to get dressed. Do not write me – this will only increase your and my pain.

Already not yours,

Sveta's Essay (#3)
No, that can’t be. I’ve been waiting for her to accept my feelings towards her for five years. And no word, no even a sign of her affection. No, she loves me, she told me that… I’ll never doubt her words. But why didn’t she say she loves me when I needed it most of all? I know. Her husband threatens her. Oh my God, he beats
my little Daisy to rage!!! She doesn’t even dare to reject his nonsense ‘love’!! And if so, what am I doing here, on a mattress? They may be swearing right at the moment, he may do her harm! No, that’s crazy. I’m
going mad. How on Earth can he abandon his wife if she looks so young, fresh, happy and satisfied? But if she’s content with her life and all the stuff, why has she assured me that she has been waiting for me for all these horrible five years? When I couldn’t touch her although she was near. When I wasn’t able to articulate a sound when I was asked about her. I don’t believe she’s careless or ‘rotten’ as Nick claimed her to be. She’s divine. It’s just a matter of duty that she can’t break up with her husband. They have a daughter, after all. It’s that girl that’s of prime importance to Daisy, not me. I should have got the clue much earlier. And what about me? I need Daisy’s care too. Why wasn’t she worried about her girl when we were spending days and nights together? She didn’t even mention her. She didn’t even care whether she feels good or not, whether she has had breakfast or not. What has happened to her over these years? She used to be so caring, nice and passionate. And now, when I’m ready to give her everything, she’s so indecisive! Christ, how am I to make her sure she’ll feel safe beside me? Can’t she see that her husband doesn’t match her? He’s vulgar, impolite, impulsive. She needs someone passionate, caring treating her like a Goddess. I’m ready to do all that for her. But It seems she no longer needs my sympathy and affection. If so, I think I have nothing to do with her life. And I have nothing to live for. I wish I died right here, in this place.

Olga' s Essay (#2):

My dear Gatsby,I haven't ever thought that I would write such a letter for you...But I have to do it now! Please, forget me before!I must admit that things between us had a great and beautiful start.I still remember all the good things that surrounded us: the way you used to touch me, the tender words we dedicated to each other, the way you used to look at me (always with a mix of love and desire), the warmth of your body. Yet, a few months later, it seems that none of the promises that we planted in those fields we created has flourished.Unfortunately, it just didn t happen nothing remains of what looked like a growing love, besides some memories, everything else lost its enchantment fast, and just a bitter taste was left of what tasted like such a sweet candy.It was a shame, it still is a shame, because no one expects a relationship to fail. May be a distance was one of the reasons for it!I want you to know that I don 't feel good about myself or happy with what I just said. To be honest, I 'd much rather be writing about you and how wonderful and fulfilling things have been between us ever since the day we met. But, much to my dislike, there are times in life when you have to be honest, thus avoiding a small misunderstanding that could grow it something more harmful for those involved.You know, despite this decision to break up with you, I' m keeping my fingers crossed that we may touch our lives with more joy, keeping in our hearts and souls the affection and respect we 've always felt for each other. I understand, how bad you are now. Maybe it was very cruel, may be you'll hate me, but I had to say it to you! I'm sure, it'll be better for us. We haven't any futute, and you understand it even better than I!
Good bye, my Gatsby! I really loved you!

Anna's Essay (#2)
My dear, dear Jay!
My heart is about to drop while I’m writing these lines… I hope you won’t hate me after you have read this letter and found out how mean I am. Oh, Jay, you cannot imagine how difficult and heartbreaking it is to write a letter like this… I hate to say it, but we have to break up. I’m getting married, to Tom Buchanan. You’ve heard about him, haven’t you? He seems to be a nice man. He has good prospects for the future and I think I like him. But it is not him that is important now. I’m so thankful to you for all the beautiful moments we had together, your tenderness and kindness to me. I hope you will keep some warm feelings even after this cruel decision of mine. We can remain friends afterwards, oh, Jay, cannot we? I might sound official and cold, but my heart is so down that I can hardly find the words to express my thoughts.
Maybe it’s the time we didn’t see each other that made your image fade away in my heart... but I do still feel the traces of our love in the lace of memories. Yes, it was love, perhaps it is still with us, but, Jay, admit it, it’s no longer as alive as it used to be. Now, Jay, I have to finish the letter before it has become too wet from my tears or I would have to write it all over again, which I wouldn’t be able to come over.
Yours sincerely,

Lilya's Essay (#3)
She loved me too… too! Why? Why did she say it? She didn’t love him! She couldn’t… Of course she was waiting for me for too long and she thought that I was dead. .. She married him because she was desperate. Certainly! Jordan told me that Daisy got drunk on the day of wedding and she was crying all day long, because she didn’t want to do it, she thought about me, she remembered me…And this afternoon…she was very excited this afternoon, that’s why she was saying these terrible, hurtful words. And he told her all these awful things about me, bootlegging and Walter Chase… Of course she was confused, moreover, she was frightened. She didn’t know what she was saying. Yes, she might have loved him just for the first moment, when they just got married, but no longer… He was cheating on her. And she knew it…She doesn’t deserve it. He is too rude, churlish for her, because she is so delicate, tender and loving, she needs care…And he couldn’t and can’t give it to her! She thinks she loved him, but she just persuades herself of that, because she loved me more even when they have just married.
Besides…they have a daughter and she couldn’t leave him because of her. And probably she thinks I won’t accept her with his child. But it’s not true! I’m ready to bring up, educate and love her daughter as my own, because for me it is first of all her, but not his child.
How is she there now? Nick told me that everything is ok. But he could come into her room and now he is saying all these unpleasantness…Or even worse…Oh, I must go there! But no…she said she would turn the light down and on again if something unpleasant happened. But she just turned light out…nothing happened. And probably won’t happen anymore. Maybe I should go away, as Nick suggested…Not because of the accident, as many can say… (of course I’m ready to say that I was driving the car), but not to see her anymore. I was living near her thinking of her, dreaming of her, loving her…I hoped, I believed, I tried… But it’s too hard for me. I won’t stand it anymore. I’ll wait for a couple of days, maybe something will change, she will change…her mind. If not, I’ll just die… die for her. But now I’m waiting…I hope. I still hope.
Elya's Essay (#3)
Is it the dead end? I don’t want to believe. I’m afraid of even thinking about it. It can’t be that she no longer loves me. It mustn’t be that. For so many years I’ve been living only for the hope that I could bring her back, that we would be again together as we were in our youth. And now I’ve found her and it seemed to me that my dreams come true. She said she loved me, my little girl...Yea, she said, but now...How could she hesitate to say she has never loved her husband? Why was she so doubtful and embarrassed? Did Daisy lie me? No, she couldn’t, my angel can’t tell lies. Maybe it is me myself who is lying, lying that everything can be back? Oh, God...I don’t know what I should think. I feel I’m loosing her, the dearest person in my life. And I can’t do nothing. I did everything I could. I’ve become rich and successful. Nearly everybody in West and East Egg has heard about me and my well-being. And I was doing my best to achieve all this prosperity and such a reputation. And all this only for her, my Daisy. And now, if she didn’t love me, for what on earth do I need it all? But still whatever happens, I will always support her. And now she needs my help. No question I’ll say that I was driving the car. Oh, Daisy my sweetest Daisy, I’ll do anything to protect you...Who is that man coming here?

Katya's Essay (#2)
You know, I loved you more than I even could imagine, so don’t be so cruel and heartless to me, for God’s sake, please, don’t! I’ve asked you not to write to me any more, and you know I had a reason to do this, indeed. I’ve still got plenty of them. All I seek now is oblivion, and this is all that is left for you too. You can’t, you oughtn’t be so unconscious as to ignore the fact that it is all over now, and neither you nor I can change anything. I’m engaged to Tom, I am to marry him, and this is something that has gone too far to be stopped now. There is no earthly reason why I should cancel the wedding, and my mind tells me there is no way to perform it as well.
We both, you and I, have experienced that rare type of deep, honest love that can be, that was our incredible happiness and is going to be our lifelong curse, for it won’t give peace since we are away from each other. But.. you... Don’t you think that it was your fault that all went wrong, so inevitably wrong about our romance? As I received your letter yesterday I couldn’t stop crying, remembering how perfectly happy we had been just some time ago, recollecting all the days we had spent together, ravishing, entrancing hours of love, the sense of proof you had given to me by your mere presence, the dreams of future, our future. And then it vanished, leaving nothing of its former tempting beauty, and it was you who made it disappear, after all. You left, promising to return, you let me believe that you would be able to care about me but time went and there were only words, sweet lines that I received from you, but you wouldn’t return and even now I fail to understand why. You made me feel mad, furious and desperate, and I could just bear it no longer. That instability killed me. You knew, I could not live with some vague prospects ahead forever, so don’t you dare judge me now. And do not write to me any more, please, let us leave behind our past however hard it might be, we can’t preserve it forever.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

March 30: Awakening from the American Dream in "The Great Gatsby"

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed class today, especially your collaborative coroner's inquests and your group discussions on the themes of the novel.

Next Thursday, we'll be talking about motifs (i.e. recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text's major themes).
So, please think in terms of geography and weather.

Jazz Icarus (1913) by Henri Matisse
Image Source:

1. What aspects of the 1920s American society do places and settings epitomize (East Egg, West Egg, the valley of ashes, New York City, the East vs. the West)?
2. How does the weather match the emotional and narrative tone of the story (Gatsby and Daisy's reunion, their love reawakening, Gatsby's confrontation with Tom, the day of Gatsby's death)?
3. Think about the symbols in the novel (the green light, the valley of ashes, the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg). What concepts do they represent?

Also, "The Great Gatsby" being a sobering and even ominous commentary on the dark side of the American dream, we'll be tackling Gatsby's vision of the 1920's American Dream.
1.What do we understand by the American dream?
2.The houses in the novel serve as indices of social success and taste. How does the description of Gatsby's monstrously ornate house characterize his owner?
3.What led to Gatsby's downfall? How did his pure dream become corrupted?
4. Why do we sympathize with him?

Please listen to the mp3 lecture "Lecture 57 - Fitzgerald's Triumph_ Writing the American Dream" by Dr.Arnold Weinstein (Brown University) from his series "Classics of American Literature" . It's 30 min long.

Helpful Links:
1. What is an American Dream? (a part of The Library of Congress "American Memory" project) 2.
3. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire:Changing Conceptions of the American Dream

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"Casting" for the Role of Gatsby

This post was prompted by Elena. As a follow-up to our discussion, she suggested Cary Grant as a candidate for the role. In fact, according to "The Great Gatsby" has been filmed four times (1926, 1949, 1974, 2000) starring Warner Baxter,Alan Ladd, Robert Redford, and Toby Stephens.

Thanks to my colleague and my mentor in American Literature Maria W., we'll be watching the 1974 version starring Robert Redford on April 12

But my question is of different nature. Why didn't Fitzgerald make his Jay Gatsby older by 15-20 years? For example, somebody like Cary Grant in this picture... Post your comments please.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

E-book "An Outline of American Literature" by Peter High

Dear Students:

Please download this coursebook from
We'll be using it as a substitute for "Highlights of American Literature". Make sure to get registered before you do it. I would recommend you to explore this site. You are sure to come across some gems.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Assignment for March 22

The Great Gatsby: Chapters 6-9

1. A Brief Life of Fitzgerald at

2. Characters in “The Great Gatsby”: speech portrayals, appearance, clothes, actions, names, thoughts.

3. Be sure to study the questions (SAL p.27-29 or on prof. S.V.Titova's homepage) and find characteristics in the text.

Toby Stephens slide show featuring stills from "The Great Gatsby" (2000)

Slideshow created by helenw43

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Assignment for March 15 (F.S.Fitzgerald)

Francis Scott Fitzgerald as a Chronicler of "the Jazz Age" Era

1. “The Great Gatsby” chapters 1 through 5
On-line copy at The Roaring Twenties", an article by Svetlana V. Titova, an MSU professor
3. SAL p.25-27.

Image Source:

The Jazz Age 1920's

Added to by Aaron1912

PS Dana's blog was a random stumble when searching for "teaching" on Lo and behold! I found a Great Gatsby Treasure Hunt. I guess I'll make use of it only next year.

A Few Thoughts about the Progress We Have Made So Far, or Policy Reconsidered


In view of the mass absence on March 1, I've decided to rant on the topic of discipline and class attendance.

If you read my first post carefully, you might remember that "regular attendance is the only way to keep up with the ongoing "conversation" of the course. It will also be a factor in the final grades. You should not expect to pass the course if any one of the four major areas of the course--quizes, attendance/participation, blog entries, and the participation in the final web project -- missing, incomplete, or unsatisfactory".

If you are absent, you need to understand that an absence (whether excused, or not) is NOT a get-out-of-jail-free card for whatever assignments were done in class or due. I really hate to lecture like this but please remind yourselves that you are all grown people attending the top University by choice. Please don't expect hand-holding. All students in this course will be held to the same standard.

I hope that's the last time I have to bring that up! Let's concentrate now on moving forward with the class now. 70% of you are simply doing a wonderful job in the course so far. This is indeed a very demanding course with all the experimental stuff around it and those of you who are perfecting every single assignment I give you are truly proving that it IS possible to meet the expectations of a challenge. Bravo!

It will only be fair to those who attend all the class and post on their blogs on a regular basis that from now on:

1) every week each student is supposed to leave an entry on the group blog about what she/he has done over the week as far as the group project goes. It might be only a few lines about how many pages you have read, but it's crucial that you log in on the web site and create a post.

2) If you miss a class, you will be given a special written assignment to post on your blog about the reading you've missed. If one single lesson is not covered in this way, you won't be given a go-ahead for the end-of-the-year examination in English.

I expect Roman, Sasha, Ilya, Lilya (who missed the 02/15 class devoted to Theodore Dreiser's "The Second Choice") to reinterpret this story by using the first person point of view perspective. (Boys, please retell this story from Barton's point of view; Lilya, please retell this story as if told by Shirley's parents.)

To those who missed the "Dry September" class (Ilya, Roman, Lilya, Elya, Sveta, Lena): you are expected to retell the story in Hawkson's point of view. The essay is to contain 250-300 symbols.

See you on March 15,

A FOLLOW-UP: I have received the "Dry September" summaries from Sveta M. and Lilya Kh. They retold "Dry September" by William Faulkner from the barber's perspective. Good job!

Well, everything happened so quickly that I could hardly resist that gang of McLendon. I guess I was scared myself. Some client dropped by at the hairdresser’s and told the latest news about that notorious rape. I’ve known Will Mayes for good and I know he was morally incapable of committing such a dirty crime. Knowing Minnie Cooper, I would actually believe she has done something to herself. But McLendon
rushed in with his racist attitude prompting everyone to ‘punish the Negro’. I relied upon my clients’ and just acquaintances’ common sense but it looks like racism and hatred for the black took its own. They quickly decided upon the vehicle and the ‘mob law method’. I was forced to accompany them as I was fiendishly scared of that damn general. We dropped by at Mayes’ place and McLendon struck Will into the car. I couldn’t stand that bloody journey knowing that in some 30 minutes this black guy next to me would be slaughtered. On half way I got out of the car as I didn’t mean to stain my hands with the blood of the innocent guy. On my way home I saw the same car returning but, as you see, without Will there. Some days later I learned that Minnie was vulnerable to mental disorder. Her mental health was ruined
after that ‘Negro incident’. Anyway, why would she? What could have been the cause of her indisposition if she was only a victim?


It was the sixty third rainless day of bloody September, Saturday which I will never forget. In the evening I was on my working place, in the barber shop. Somebody told the rumor, story, or whatever it was, about Miss Minnie Cooper and the Negro. At that moment I was shaving a client and was really surprised and even shocked to hear this news, because I knew this guy. It was Will Mayes, a good nigger. And I knew Miss Minnie Cooper, too. Everybody knew. And I told about it to the people present. There and then they started to accuse me of nigger loving, but all I was trying to say was just the fact that he couldn’t do it and Miss Cooper was known for her weirdness. You know the women that get old without getting married… Besides, there was an incident about a year ago, when she said that a man on the kitchen roof was watching her undressed. But nobody wanted to listen to me and to hear me. The most furious were Butch and McLendon, who came in the barber shop in the heat of the dispute. He immediately became the leader of the 3 angry men and they all went out. The screen door crashed behind them reverberant in the dead air. I couldn’t let them….do it, so I went out, running. I went swiftly up the street, where the sparse lights, insect swirled glared in violent suspension air. When I overtook them, McLendon and three others were getting into a car parked in an alley. They thought I changed my mind and offered me to jump into their car. I did it, because there was no another chance to stop them. I asked them, if he was there, didn’t that prove that he never done it. But there was no answer. McLendon called Will. The vague noises began to grow out of the darkness ahead; then they got out and waited in the dark. Then I heard another sound: a blow, a hissing expulsion of breath. Somebody (probably, Butch) whispered: “Kill him, kill the black son!”. But McLendon told them to drag the Negro to the car. I had waited beside the car and could feel myself sweating, I knew I was going to be sick at the stomach. Will really didn’t know why they grabbed him, what did he and what they were going to do with him. It was awful. The Negro didn’t want to get in the gar, McLendon struck him, the others struck him with random blows and he whirled and cursed them, swept his hands across our faces and slashed me upon the mouth, and I stuck him, too…. Then he got in the car. I couldn’t be there anymore and asked John to let me out. McLendon drove swiftly and didn’t stop the car. The road led to an abandoned brick kiln…As he didn’t stop, I kicked the door open and jumped. The car went on without checking speed. I fell into the ditch and lay chocking and retching until the second car passed. Then rose and limped on until reached the highroad and turned toward town. Suddenly I heard the cars behind me, so I left the road and crouched again in the weeds until they passed away. The last was McLendon’s car. There were 4 people in this bloody car and Butch was not on the running board as before. Done. I don’t remember how I got to my house. And that dry September day I don’t want to recall but will never forget.

Friday, March 2, 2007

How to Create a Photo Slideshow


Just to inspire you to become webheads, I have put together a photo slideshow featuring American Nobel Prize Laureates in Literature. Please note that I've provided the links to the web sites from where I've downloaded the pictures. When you use an image created by somebody else, it's a must to cite the image source. We don't want any copyright infringement, do we?

This album is powered by BubbleShare - Add to my blog

Some Tools to Jazz Up Your Blog

I think our blogs need some "bells and whistles". It has taken me some time to figure out how to upload your PowerPoint presentations (they do deserve being shared!!!).
I have discovered two free web services that might enable you to post your slideshows and photos on the web. They are and

This is my first attempt at using I am uploading Olga Kravchenko's slideshow as an example. Feel free to upload your own presentation you made last semester on you blog. is for pictures only.

Also, I have found a blog that offers some really neat templates and widgets. If you are interested in changing the look of your blog, go to

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Welcome to MSU Students' weblogs!

To Whom It May Concern:

I am proud to post here the links to my students' weblogs where they introduce themselves and the topic of their research. Please feel free to ask them questions, comment on their project work, and encourage them in their endeavor.

Group 1 (Sasha, Nelly, Olga K., Oksana) has embarked on a challenging journey of exploring the literary heritage of American writers, winners of Nobel Prize in Literature.

Group 2 (KOALas:) = Kate, Olga S., Lena, Anna) is tackling Tennessee Williams' plays. Their topic is "Outcasts in the Plays of Tennessee Williams" and they have taken his most famous plays (A Streetcar Named Desire,The Glass Menagerie, The Night of the Iguana, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof).

Group 3 (Sveta, Lilya, Nelly) will delve into the character of Randel McMurphy from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Ken Kesey and will try to figure out what he represents.

Group 4 (Roman) It's an individual project so far. Roman is doing research on social satire in Naked Lunch by William Burroughs.

Group 5 (Sasha and Ilya) have decided to explore the concept of the American Dream.

To my students: It would be great to post your group's photo here. Could you please send me one?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Assignment for March 1 (William Faulkner)

Dear Students:
This coming Thursday, we'll be talking about William Faulkner.
Click the following link to download the story “Dry September” by W. Faulkner that we'll be discussing in class.
For questions about settings and theme go to SAL p.20-21.
Please post on your group weblog how and why your group decided on your project's topic.
I am looking forward to seeing Sasha's and Ilya's blog and reading Nelly's and Oksana's profiles.

Image Source:

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Some Technical Issues

Last week we talked about the problems that arise when different members of the group try to access the blog. Actually, there is a better solution than to do some instant messaging (eg. ICQ) and negotiating the time of your login.

To those who aren't blog wizards yet, I would recommend to study troubleshooting tips on

Here is the link to team blog administration. Please check it out! That'll save us a lot of time.

Assignment for Feb.22

Hello class!

Next week we'll be tackling M. Twain and American Humor: Storytelling style in M.Twain’s stories
Read: M. Twain’s short biography + HAL p.97-98.

Image Source:

I hope you have had fun creating your blogs. From now on, we'll be using them to garner ideas and information for your future web site. On our weblogs, we'll do some brainstorming for ideas and possible interpretations of a literary work in question.

Your site will focus on one or two of the authors and it has to include the following literary elements or techniques you are familiar with:analysis of the text;historical, biographical, cultural contextual information;online versions of literary works (as links).This project will give you the opportunity to consolidate and expand upon the work you’ve done this semester. You will have to conduct research in relation to your author/s: their literary works; some biographical information; socio-historical context; related criticism and specific references to the text you choose to include just as you’ve been doing in discussions in class.

By Feb.22 all the groups are expected to choose the topic of their project and explain the reasons for choosing it on their weblog. My advice is to take a topic you are really interested in. It can deal either with the authors we'll be discussing in class, or with works of literature which we won't be able to tackle this semester.

I have put together a list of topics you can choose from. If you have any questions about an author or his writings, please feel free to either ask me by leaving a comment on my blog, or to look it up on However, I would be very happy if you came up with your own topic.

1. Shine Your Shoes for the Fat Lady, or Spiritual Quest in J.D.Salinger’s Novels “Franny" and "Zooey”
2. J.D.Salinger’s concept of raising children (The Glass Family as his idea of New Age people)
3. Eastern Philosophy in Salinger’s Writings (stories “Teddy”, “Franny”, “Zooey”)
4. Zen Buddhism and the Beat Generation
5. Flapper Culture in “The Great Gatsby”.
6. Modern American Authors on the Art of Writing
7. Josef Brodsky’s Writings in English
8. American Dream in “The Great Gatsby”.
9. Post-War American Society in the novel “The Winter of our Discontent”.
10. The search for American Identity in J. Steinbeck’s novels.
11. F.S. Fitzgerald as a Chronicler of the Jazz Age (stories “Bernice Bobs Her Hair”, “Winter Dreams”, “The Rich Boy”, “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz”).
12. Saul Bellow: a great fantasist (“Henderson the Rain King”).
13. Herzog by Saul Bellow: a novel of redemption
14. The Story of Failure and Success in “Humboldt’s Gift” by Saul Bellow
15. Searching for the Sense of Life: Walker Percy’s “ The Moviegoer”.
16. Fitting in the “middle America”: Rabbit’s trilogy (Rabbit, Run, Rabbit Redux, Rabbit is Rich) 17. William Burroughs, a great American postmodernist writer
18. Nabokov’s “Pnin”: triumphs and its failures of Russian √©migr√© experience in the United States.
19. Nabokov on the nature of time (Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle and Transparent Things) 20. Experience of a Prisoner of War in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five”.
21. Ezra Pound as an Architect of English and American Literary Modernism.
22. Robert Frost, a homespun Yankee sage
23. American Writers: Nobel Prize Laureates
24. The Beatnik Philosophy in the works of Allen Ginsburg and Jack Kerouac
25. Tennessee Williams’ plays (The Streetcar Named Desire & The Glass Menagerie)
26. What does McMurphy represent in Ken Kesey’s One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest?
27. Female Images in Toni Morrison's Sula and Beloved.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Assignment for Feb.15

Dear students:

Please be informed that from now on your regular preparation for the class will include not only your reading assignment, but also some work on your group project which you are expected to post on your weblog on a weekly basis. Your blog will serve as an online portfolio where you'll be gathering information and useful links for your future thematic web site, as well as a means of communication with me, your groupmates, and hopefully other like-minded people.

So, you task for our 2/15 class is

  1. to be ready with your Theodore Dreiser assignment:

  2. (his biography (HAL pp.145-15o) and "The Second Choice" story).

  3. to construct your own blog.
The ultimate goal of our project is to create an original online resource for others. Each group is going to choose a topic (my list of suggestions is a work in progress) or to come up with a topic of interest to you that has to do with literary developments in the USA. We will be working in groups of 3 0r 4 students. Please form a group of 3 and take the following steps together.

Getting Started.
Step 1. You will need to sign up for your group's account. Go to and click the "Create Your Own Account" link. Make sure that your group has a personal email account before attempting to sign up. (Since the three of you will be using one and the same login and password, it's a good idea to open up a new or email account and share it for the duration of the project.)

As part of the registration process, sends out a confirmation email containing a link necessary for activation of the new account. As your websites will be available for public viewing, it is perfectly acceptable for you to use pseudonyms or nicknames when signing up. Note: My display name is anna_filatova for obvious convenience reasons.

Step 2.
You will be required to enter your blog title which will be the heading of your weblog (eg. Mine is "American Literature: Students' Web Projects"). If need be, you can always change it though.
Also, you are to choose your blog's URL (its Internet address). My URL is

Step 3.
Customize your blog, i.e. select a layout and color scheme for your group's weblogs. Blogspot.coml provides a generous selection of ready-to-go templates and colors that can be chosen with the click of a mouse. Simple customization is important, for it helps to create a sense of ownership and unique online identity from the very beginning. Edit your group's profile, i.e. upload your photos, put some info about yourselves and your interests.

Step 4.
Practice posting and editing! Play around with it. Then learn how to make comments on other sites and answer comments on your own sites. Go to my weblog and leave your group's comment about your successful creation of your weblog and its URL.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Syllabus: Twentieth-Century American Literature

American Literature (Spring Semester 2007)
Course Syllabus

Instructor: Anna Vladimirovna Filatova

Course Description: This course will give you a survey of American Literature from the post-Civil War era to the modern times and will help you to understand the texts through close reading and through analysis of the historical, cultural, and artistic value of the text.
The emergence of realism and naturalism in the post-war industrial era, humorists, the Lost Generation writers and experimental writers, regionalism, the Beat Generation, major works of poetry and drama of the twentieth century will be studied. This course allows you to read numerous short stories, portions of plays, poetry, and novels to gain more insight into literary trends in America

Required books:
1. Highlights of American Literature" (published by the Materials Branch English Language Program Division). 1995.
2. Titova.S. Studies in American Literature. MSU. 1999.
3. Monolingual English dictionaries: Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary or Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.
4. Dictionary of literary terms and literary theory. J.A. Cuddon. The Penguin. New Edition. 1992.

Minimum requirements for passing this course are substantial course participation, on-time work, and satisfactory attendance.To succeed in the course, you will need to read assignments carefully - that is, more than once-, to follow the syllabus and be prepared to discuss the readings in-depth when you come to class. Class time will be devoted mainly to discussion of the readings which will require preparation and participation on your part! We will make an ample use of the Web as a resource and we will end up creating our own web sites where you are expected to demonstrate your critical thinking, your skills in creative writing, and your abilities to work in a team.

Please note that during the semester you will be required:
· to take reading quizes;
· to develop your research and writing skills by creating your group's weblog (your research portfolio) and posting comments on other groups' weblogs on a weekly basis;
· to produce a collaborative web project and to evaluate the sites of your fellow students.

Regular attendance is the only way to keep up with the ongoing "conversation" of the course. It will also be a factor in the final grades. You should not expect to pass the course if any one of the four major areas of the course--quizes, attendance/participation, blog entries, and the participation in the final web project -- missing, incomplete, or unsatisfactory.

The syllabus below is tentative and may have to be adjusted to reflect the speed at which this particular class works. We might add some additional poems, for example, or find we have to omit a work if we get behind; you are responsible for knowing any changes made orally in class.

Tentative List of Readings and Due Dates (tentative because these may have to change depending on class progress)

** Note! Before each class, you are supposed to read the material listed beside the date. Page numbers include introductions to the authors; be sure to read these.

Week 1- February 8
Introduction to the course and upcoming web projects.

Week 2- February 15
T. Dreiser as a naturalist.
Read: T.Dreiser, “The Second Choice” (
”Highlights of American Literature” (HAL) p.145-150,
“Studies in American Literature” (SAL) p.21-23.

Week 3- February 22
M. Twain and American Humor: Storytelling style in M.Twain’s stories
Read: M. Twain’s short biography ( + HAL p.97-98.
M. Twain, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

Week 4- March 1
W. Faulkner: a renowned Mississippi writer and the Nobel Prize winning novelist.Read:
W. Faulkner, “Dry September”.
Setting and theme. SAL p.20-21.

Week 5- March 15
Francis Scott Fitzgerald: the Jazz Age writer. “The Great Gatsby”
Read: "The Roaring Twenties", an article by Svetlana V. Titova, an MSU professor (
SAL p.25-27.

Week 6- March 22
Characters in “The Great Gatsby”: speech portrayals, appearance, clothes, actions, names, thoughts. (SAL p.27-29.)
Symbols and theme in the novel. (SAL p.29).
Theme analysis of the novel:

Week 7- March 29
E. Hemingway as a representative of the “Lost Generation” writers.
Read: E.Hemingway, "In Another Country". (HAL 202-205)
Hemingway's principles of short story writing. HAL p.201-206.

Week 8- April 5
J. Steinbeck as a naturalist and realist in his prose.
Read: J.Steinbeck, “The Winter of Our Discontent”.
Plot and story in his novel “The Winter of Our Discontent”. SAL p.30.

Week 9- April 12
American Drama: T.Williams, Eugene O’Neil, Arthur Miller

Week 10- April 19
Discussion of Tennessee Williams’ plays “Streetcar Named Desire” and “The Glass Menagerie”

Peer evaluations of the sites are due!!!

Week 11- April 26
The Beat Generation: Poetry and Prose

Week 12- April 28
Site Presentations!!!

Week 13- May 10
Trends in American Fiction
Texts for Discussion: Kurt Vonnegut, “Slaughterhouse Five” or J.D.Salinger, 9 Stories

Week 14- May 17
TBD Modern American Poetry

Week 15- May 24
Final Evaluation of the course.