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ENG250Y1 Lecture Note - Benjamin Franklin

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Lecture 4 - Franklin’s Autobiography  Franklin was attempting to create a model of American identity  ‘Life as a text’ – why does Franklin use this metaphor? o It’s because his life is like a text, for example the use of a writing and an autobiography to present to the world his life o He imagined America to be a nation of readers and writes o Life and text integrate greatly with the idea of revision – revision is very important to Franklin. The more one revises, their actions, their writing, their endeavours, eventually one tends to see a greater degree of improvement.  Socrates, ‘The unexamined life is not worth living.’  Revision o The idea of revising helps us learn from history; being self-conscious as a nation causes us to remember the past and learn from the mistakes or successes; the idea of holding oneself accountable to their community. o Self-consciousness imparts an idea of self-perfection. Self-consciousness (auto-didactic) causes one to teach themselves, to correct themselves, and never to forget their roots. o Human ingenuity is a skill that one can attain by revising and re-creating.  Important terms to analyze – revision, erratum, reason.  Franklin’s method of writing shows imitation; suggests to his American reader that they may take him for an example and imitate and improve themselves upon him  Franklin’s idea inches towards progress, the future is one of improvement, things getting better through human ingenuity. He is working towards an ideal society.  Reading and writing – to write is to learn how to create, he wanted to make America something of a permanent entity. His autobiography sustains his ideas, and even embodies his person, through the writing.  ‘Through writing he is exploring the discourse of America’ o This shows the understanding that the individual as having an impact on the society o To be a reader is to be an interpreter, is to have power.  The American Dream – the autobiography is written largely to instruct or improve the public – this is known as the American Dream. Through perseverance and working hard, being honest and full of humility, one is able to gain prosperity, happiness in life, health, wealth, etc. o Franklins own life serves as a democratic vision of the American potential; its shapes American character and expectations.  Errata – a significant error that can alter the meaning of the text; technically a printer’s term for typographical errors. By using this works to centre in on his faults, Benjamin shows that he does not think in terms of moral lapses, or of a sinful character. o What is the significance of having errata within Franklin’s text?  Errata shows the dual character of Franklins autobiography; or both the author and the subject of the books; shows the physical/technical element in writing and publishing book  All his errata he shows were fairly compensated for throughout his life. 1. The first erratum was his fight with his brother James and his flight from Boston to Philadelphia; caused partly due to t
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