Monthly Archives: November 2012

Primary Sources (HUM303/415/455/470)

A primary source is “first-hand” information, sources as close as possible to the origin of the information or idea under study. Primary sources are contrasted with secondary sources, works that provide analysis, commentary, or criticism on the primary source. In literary studies, primary sources are often creative works, including poems, stories, novels, and so on. In historical studies, primary sources include written works, recordings, or other source of information from people who were participants or direct witnesses to the events in question. Examples of commonly used primary sources include government documents, memoirs, personal correspondence, oral histories, and contemporary newspaper accounts.

Formal Analysis (HUM303/415/455/470)

When many people watch a film they focus almost entirely on the story told rather than the way that the film is constructed. Their appreciation of the film is based on their experience of it at the level of content. Did the film frighten me? Make me laugh? Provoke me to thought? Was the narrative compelling? The issue that formal analysis seeks to address is the WAY that a given text (film, novel, etc.) produces these effects. Paying attention to form enables a reader or viewer to explain HOW the text tells its story or advances its ideological project.

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“Every Thirty Minutes”/ “Freedom” (HUM415)

A very brief account some of the consequences of neoliberal “reform” in India:

For deeper historical background to The White Tiger, see Michael Wood’s The Story of India in six episodes– especially part 6, “Freedom”– available through the library via Films on Demand.

Of interest: a short silent film by the Thomas Edison company on the defense of Lucknow during the Great Indian Uprising of 1857 (from the perspective of the British colonizers, of course):

The evolution of a bhangra track:

Asian Dub Foundation’s “Naxalite”:

Arundhati Roy’s Walking with the Comrades

Men with Guns

After 2 days of aerial bombardment, the Israeli military may invade Gaza with infantry and armor. The motives for this looming assault are complex, though given the nature of politics the Israeli elections in January surely play a role. (As Randolph Bourne wrote during WWI, “War is the health of the state.”) If you are interested in seeing how geopolitics play out pay close attention in the coming days. Notably, both the (democratically elected) Hamas government and the IDF have taken to social media to present their views. Beware of over-simplified, context-free pronouncements and active disinformation about the conflict. I recommend consulting non-US news outlets to get a clearer picture. Of course none of these events will make total sense absent a basic understanding of the history of Israel/Palestine. Students of HUM455 and HUM303 might keep a critical ear to the ground for the rhetoric of civilization and barbarism.

Resources (HUM303/415/455/470)

Some highly recommended on-line resources available via the library website:

Literature on-line (LION)– a compendium of resources, including the Dictionary of Literary Biography

Routledge Dictionary of Literary Terms

Yale’s Film Analysis Guide (on the course information page)

Encyclopedia Britannica

Encyclopedia of World History

Encyclopedia of Latin America

the Humanities link on the articles and databases page

try a keyword search via the library catalog using a phrase in quotes (ex. “magical realism”) and limit the search to “electronic books”


the free books page of this blog

The MacKayGlossary in your reader, taken from MacKay’s Cambridge Introduction to the Novel.

The ChasteenGlossary in your reader (HUM455)

Remember: 2 copies of your topic and an accompanying preliminary works cited are due the first meeting after Fall Break.

Final Papers (HUM303/415/455/470)

The final papers are to be turned in on the last day of class in hard copy format as well as to I will provide you with a password prior to the due date. In the meantime, here are some basic guidelines for the final papers.

1. The final paper ought to address some of the significant themes of the course. It ought to make use of the critical vocabulary that we have amassed this semester. It ought to show fluency with the historical contexts provided in readings and in class.

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Real Magic (HUM415/ HUM303/ HUM455)


We already know that realism is a genre of narrative fiction, an aesthetic ideology linked to Aristotle’s notion of mimesis in which art functions as a mirror to nature. Eagleton taught us that the rise of realism– and with it the novel– parallels the ascent of the bourgeoisie. The reality that they created– capitalist modernity– values the verifiable; it seeks, above all, results. For such a worldview– originating in the Renaissance and flowering in the Age of Enlightenment– empirical evidence trumps metaphysical belief. And simultaneously it blueprints a model of itself, a cosmological imaginary. By the 18th century various thinkers conceived of the universe as a celestial clock: rational and precise. Symmetrical. Perfect. According to such an ideology “Progress with a capital P” was inevitable. As humankind gained in knowledge– improving existing technologies and increasingly dominating Nature– it climbed the civilizational ladder.

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