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Lecture 4

ENGL 40761 Lecture 4: Jan 31 Class Notes thoreau walden 1
ENGL 40761 Lecture 4: Jan 31 Class Notes thoreau walden 1

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University of Notre Dame
ENGL 40761
Fredman Stephen

1-31-17 American Culture as Collage Notes Recapping the Poetry Reading: Claudia Rankine and Solmaz Sharif • Understanding their works as collage: taking old ideas and language and putting them in a new frame, allowing them to make new statements • The difference in experience between reading the poems on the page and listening to them: the effect of her calm voice and countenance combined with the powerful words • Think about her in connection to Laurie Anderson (who we’ll look at later in the semester) • ‘Double Consciousness’ → WEB DuBois, in Souls of Black Folk. o When you’re in a minority group, you’re always occupying two positions at the same time: your own experience and the experience of the majority group (in order to function within the culture) o Will be relevant when we talk about Langston Hughes Henry David Thoreau, Walden • 1817-1862 (died at age 45); Walden published in 1854 • He went to Walden Pond for two years (1845-1847) even though this is presented artistically in the book as being one year. • A book about nature, not a book about wilderness→ Walden Pond was not actually that far removed from civilization. Not a hermit. • What is the genre of this book? o Part memoir, part self-help o Philosophy o Intellectual autobiography o Journal o Similar pieces to the political satire in Gulliver’s Travels o At the time of its publication: seen as sheer escapism • Made connections to: Hesiod / Works & Days and J. B. Jackson • The American idea of having a garden / yard stems in part from Thoreau • Thoreau explaining how to be a writer: Is that the whole point of Walden? o Stanley Cavell / Senses of Walden: he very carefully reads all of Walden as a manual on how to be a writer • Panharmonicon that the true orator / lecturer is able to create: Thoreau lectured like Emerson did • Lyceum, Chautauqua: where Thoreau lectured • Significance of the “I” / first person: Thoreau thinks there’s a reason he should talk about himself, the only experiences that he has an intimate knowledge of o Anything you tell me that you have not experienced for yourself, I take as hearsay! o Central epistemological question in this book: what can I know, how can I know it, what can I trust as being real and true? o Travel writing was the most popular form of writing at this time: Thoreau thinks that every personal writing is travel writing because it will take you to a different land; understanding the “people of New England” as if from the outside. Maybe traveling in Concord
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