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.
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.
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.
The final papers are to be turned in on the last day of class in hard copy format as well as to turnitin.com. 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.
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.