A varied and sometimes erratic record of what I'm learning inside and outside of the classroom

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Modernist Principles in an Interpretation of Shakespeare's Sonnet 133

We talked in class about how Modernism was a rejection of form in both literature and art, and art in particular became non-representational and subjective as opposed to objective. A couple points that Professor Burton listed in his post on Modernism that came from the handout he found from a course taught by Sarah Brouillette were that Modernism (A)"emphasizes individual experience and perception [and is] concern[ed] with how the world is experienced (rather than what the world is)" and (B) that it exhibits a "blurring of the boundaries between popular art forms (photography, advertising, later film) and 'high art’ categories." With this in mind, I found a video on Vimeo that interprets Shakespeare's Sonnet 133 in a unique digital representation.

Sonnet 133 | The new Media with Shakespeare from iNEEDaDAMNgoodJOB.com on Vimeo.

This is definitely a departure from a way Shakespeare's sonnets are traditionally interpreted! No spoken words--just the exploration of a virtual representation and music that conveys the strong emotions present in the poem. (Honestly, it scared me a little bit with its intensity.) So, is this art? Art as the Modernists defined it? After all, it is a radical departure from tradition in form. But are we losing something in this departure? Is it so subjective that we are losing critical aspects of Shakespeare's original work? What is the value of originality and the concept of "the original" anyway?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mormonism and Tools for Seeking Truth

Boise Idaho Temple

I'm going to go off on a little bit of a rant here, but it will be made relevant, I promise.

So I'm sitting in my New Testament class this morning listening to my professor go off on one of his tangents--this particular one is about his being from Idaho. He talks about the way some of his colleagues in other places have told him that he can't possibly have learned what he knows now if he is truly from Idaho, which some people apparently think is a podunk rural place where people live in sod huts on potato farms and ride horses to the country school to "get them some learnin.'"

I took a little bit of issue with this--I happen to be from Idaho, actually. No, I do not live on a farm. But even if I did, farming is a respectable profession (goodness knows we need farmers--they happen to be vitally important to our survival on this planet, after all) and it doesn't mean that I would be forever doomed to remain a hopeless country bumpkin. I couldn't help but think that if people would take a few minutes and Google my hometown, Boise, a lot of their misconceptions would be cleared up in a hurry. Yes, we even have a university! Which is affordable enough that a lot of people from Idaho can go there and enter the realm of higher education! Amazing, isn't it??

Actual picture of part of Boise State University. Please note the cars, rather than horses, in the foreground.

So, after blowing off a little steam, I started thinking with a cooler head. There really isn't a good reason to be offended because of misconceptions people have about us; learning about them gives us the opportunity to clear things up, and they, in turn, can enlighten other people. The same principle applies to us as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

I guess the point here is that with the nearly limitless amount of information and means of sharing that information that we have available, there is no reason for people to be unable to find the truth about us if they take the time to look. The Church has taken advantage of diverse forms of media in order to spread the gospel message, and we can help through our own efforts. Making a profile on Mormon.org is a fairly simple way to share the gospel, and sharing things of a spiritual nature seems to be less intimidating sometimes writing on Facebook or a blog rather than face-to-face.

I have a very dear friend who is devoutly Catholic, and due to my interaction with her I have come to realize the value of going to the source to find the truth of what people believe. Want to know what Catholics believe? Ask a Catholic. Want to know what Mormons believe? Ask a Mormon. If they don't know the answer to a question, they can find someone who does. If we as Mormons wish to be understood and want people to come to us to learn about our beliefs, in accordance with the ethic of civility we must extend to others that same courtesy and have the courage to go to them, rather than to other sources, to find the truth.

Evolution of Language

I found this two-minute video on YouTube from the Berkley outlining the basics of evolution--what facilitates it, and some brief supportive arguments. Please--enjoy.

So I'm watching this video, and little lightbulbs start going off in my head indicating current connections (haha--sorry about the pun; I couldn't resist) between evolution of biological species and evolution of language. I know we're supposed to go historical on this topic, but I hope I'm not too far off the beaten path.

A Week of Thoreau Rejuvenation

In Walden, Thoreau writes,  "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation." As much as I hate to admit it, that phrase has described me as of late.The pressures of life, magnified by some difficult circumstances, increased to the point where I felt like I was going to lose it, and it wasn't going to be pretty.

So, at the advice of my professor, I took the week off from two of my classes. No class, no homework--no THINKING about homework, even. No NOTHING.

Thus began Rejuvenation Week.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Book Club Project: A Peek At Prezi

So I've never made a Prezi before, and so the "create" aspect of our book club project seemed a perfect opportunity to try it out, especially because Dr. Burton, my professor, has basically hailed it as being the future of presentation tools.

Our book, What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool, is basically an urban dictionary of 19th century England, explaining different aspects of life at that period of time. We each chose a section to focus on; mine is entitled "The Private Life." So, in kind of the spirit of the book itself, I decided to make my Prezi an explanation of a few things essential for one to know if one wishes to be a lady or gentleman of the time.

The Process:
  1. I logged on to Prezi.com and created an account by clicking on the Sign up link on the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Super easy.
  2. I watched the video tutorial to get some basics, some of which are:
  • Click anywhere on the canvas to add text. 
  • Click on the text: when the zebra circles appear, the outermost ring can be used for rotation, and the inner for scaling. Click and hold the central one to move the text.
  • Click on the Insert circle on the menu in the upper-left-hand corner and click Upload file to add pictures. These are scaled and rotated the same way text is. I recommend using Creative Commons or personally taken photos for all images.
  • Once you have added, moved, scaled, and organized content to your heart's content (hahaha) click the Path circle on the menu to determine the order of your presentation. Click on content (text, images, etc.) to number them.
  • Click Show on the menu to see your finished Prezi! Here is mine:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Recall and Reissue: Mini Book Club

So, our book club group ran into a series of issues in obtaining our desired book (we found out that only 30 pages of it are on Google Books, the one copy at the library is MIA, and none of the bookstores close by have it) so after a quick meeting, we have decided on a NEW book: What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox-Hunting to Whist: The Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth Century England by Daniel Pool. Click here to take a look on Amazon.com.

This is the time period of the Industrial Revolution, and it kind of takes the "day-in-the-life-of-" approach, as evidenced by its title. We believe it will be an engaging read, and will also provide some valuable historical background for some of the movements we've been studying in class. It's really going to be a sprint through for us, but I am confident that we will be able to handle it.

Due to time constraints and the organization of the book, we've each decided to take a particular section to focus our creative efforts on, and the final goal is to have four separate projects that we can link in such a way as to produce a multi-media/multi-faceted picture of the whole. It's gonna be good--I can feel it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Decision Has Been Made! (I Know You're Excited.)

Our group has decided on our book! We actually decided last week, but since my computer is out for the count I've been a little slow on the uptake. The official decision was the book suggested by Katherine, entitled, Transforming Women's Work: New England Lives in the Industrial Revolution by Thomas Dublin.

In the preface, Dublin writes, "I began in 1893 a broader collective biographical study of New England women workers in five occupational groups. Out of that initial study, with numerous detours, emerged this book." A quick perusal of the table of contents promises a detailed explication of this study complete with tables and pictures. I hope I'll be able to do this wealth of content justice in our quick sprint through this book. Click here to take a peek inside on Amazon.com.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Romantic Confessions/Reflections

I've fought the label for a long time, considering some present-day connotations of the term, but I might as well admit it; maybe I am a romantic. In some of the literary romanticism movement senses of the word, at least. A few self-observations have led me to this conclusion, among which are:

  1. I find meaning and solace in nature and the physical world. Of course, this may have something to do with the fact that I feel technology is against me lately--my laptop is in the shop (not fun, especially with this class), and the screen of this library computer I'm on has been blacking out randomly ("Display driver stopped responding and has successfully recovered"). At least I'm not the one paying to fix the problem. Anyway, I believe that the internet and digital world provide amazing possibilities in so many ways, but sometimes I just want to sit down and read a book with a hard cover and paper pages. Is that so much to ask sometimes? I also keep a handwritten journal; short of misplacing it or losing it in a fire or something, I always have a hard copy and will never have to worry about not being able to read/convert the formatting. As far as nature goes, I love looking up at the mountains every day as I walk to school, watching a good thunderstorm from a dry place, and looking at the reflections of the trees in the puddles afterward. Nature, as the romantics discovered, is conducive to quiet introspection and evokes a sense of being closer to the divine. Sometimes I get tired of all the technological intricacies and feel like walking away from it all and just sitting underneath a tree for awhile. And then I remember that I have to keep my grades up for my scholarship and turn back to the computer screen with a sigh. Ah well. Life goes on.
  2. I have an artistic/aesthetic sense, both in literary and art form--I have always been drawn more to the arts than to the sciences, though I did enjoy biology back in high school. Give me a witty pun or a masterfully crafted art piece over a calculus problem any day. Although calculus does at times have sort of an aesthetic appeal as well... Maybe I'm just weird.
  3. I am a very emotionally based person; though I value logic, I operate primarily on an emotional level. I saw myself a little bit in the romantic sense of self--the isolated, sensitive individual that Dr. Burton described in class today. Sometimes I need a little solitude to sit quietly and think, sometimes about deeper things and sometimes about nothing at all.
"Yeah," you're thinking, "she's a romantic. It's even evident in the ambiguity she shows in parts of what she just wrote." Maybe so. But if I truly am a romantic, I think I'm in good company: Hawthorne, Shelley, Wordsworth--I can deal with that.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Books Worthy of Consideration

I must admit that one of my main concerns when faced with the task of finding potential books for my Digital Civilization mini book club assignment was to find something to read that would be genuinely interesting/engaging. So, from trawling through Goodreads, Amazon.com, Curriki, and my classmates' blogs, these are what I came up with:

The Renaissance: A Short History by Paul Johnson. This is, well, a short history of the Renaissance focusing on the economic, social, and technological developments that led up to it and examines key historical figures. Only 208 pages. Short.

The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe by Elizabeth L. Eisenstein. Since I'm interested in editing and publishing as a career, this caught my eye; it explores the way print culture became an agent of change in Europe. Click here to read a few pages on Amazon.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. (Which I seem to be having trouble uploading a picture for) Yes, I borrowed the idea for this book from one of my classmates (thank you!); it seems appropriate given the time of year and its "warning against the expansion of modern man in the Industrial Revolution, alluded to in the novel's subtitle, The Modern Prometheus." (Wikipedia).