I know it is early, but we are verging on winter break and in an earlier blog post on Halloween, Laura shared a clip from The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and in the comments “Snoopy’s Christmas” was brought up. I have grown up blasting this song in the house and in the car with my mom because it is her all-time favorite song (we also just finished watching A Charlie Brown Christmas so it reminded me to post this). But, having heard this song so much throughout my whole life, I never realized it was about the Christmas Truce! So, in case you have never heard the song, here it is. Enjoy!
Last spring I took Modern Poetry with Dr. Scanlon (and that is when the sis-mance with me and Jordan started) and we read Owen’s work in that class as well, which she has alluded to a few times in class. I went back and looked at the course blog from my MoPo class and found some things I wanted to shared about Owen. All credit goes to my MoPo classmates because these are snippets taken from their blog posts.
In the bio that was posted about Owen, there were a few interesting images including Owen’s military cross, his preface, and his headstone.
Someone else also shared a few videos of readings of Owen’s poems and the one I am sharing here is a reading of “Dulce et Decorum Est”
With talking about Owen this week, we have heard about Craiglockhart War Hospital often. I was curious as to what Craiglockhart looked like. I found some images and thought I would share them with you all. Also, I found that Craiglockhart is now a part of Edinburg Napier University and is called Craiglockhart Campus.
Also, I found that Craiglockhart had a little magazine, Hyrda the Magazine of Craiglockhart War Hospital, which Owen edited at one point and included poems by Sassoon.
What was your favorite piece we read this semester? Why?
Or, what is something you didn’t expect to learn in this class, but did?
Or! What was the most shocking thing we talked about, read, or found this semester?
Okay, if you haven’t yet, read Jordan’s blog post first (right here, click me!) and then come back here!
Now that you have looked at Jordan’s post (thanks Jordan, love ya girl), I wanna leave this here to make you all think about things. Today in class we were talking about the theme of women disguising themselves as men in order to accomplish things (for example, Mulan). This got me thinking, where else have we seen women dressing as men in order to explore the “male sphere”? I found an article listing 11 “badass women” who cross-dressed as men. You can read that here: click me for the badassness! What I guess could have been obvious, but never occurred to me was the fact that maybe Dorothy was not the first woman that thought of dressing as a man in order to be apart of the war effort. This dawned on me when I saw Sarah Edmonds on the list.
So here is the tea on Sarah: she was born in 1841 in Brunswick and due to there not being many opportunities for women to support themselves, Sarah dressed up as a man (Franklin Thompson) and sold some bibles in Canada for a little bit before crossing into the US and selling even more Bibles in Flint, Michigan (this also made me think of everything else that is happening in Flint and makes me sad, NO HUMANS SHOULD GO WITHOUT ACCESS TO CLEAN DRINKING WATER… but I digress). Back to Sarah. While she was selling the Bibles and living in Flint, BOOM, the Civil War broke out. Though she was not a US citizen and not obligated to fight in the war. Sarah felt it was her duty and enlisted as Franklin. She served alongside the men, dressed as men, and was just one of the dudes. She suffered from various injuries which she treated herself because she was scared her gender would be discovered while she was being treated, but she ended up deserting due to possibly contracting malaria which could not go untreated and later returned to the war as a female nurse. But, here is where things get cool (I think), while Sarah was serving with the other men as Franklin, she performed duties from that of a male nurse, to a mail carrier, to even arming up and fighting in the Battle of Williamsburg and the Seven Days’ Battles. Sarah is so cool that she even wrote a memoir about her experience and talks about little old Fredericksburg in it, telling about its condition, the cold weather, the mud, the horrible roads, the Rappahannock River and the battle. That’s pretty crazy if you ask me!
So, after learning all of this, plus what Jordan covered in her post, it makes me think that maybe this idea of pretending to be someone else was not all that original. From Shakespeare plays (don’t get me started on cross-dressing in the theater and Shakespeare) to the civil war, to WWI, to even Disney it seems that cross-dressing to obtain something has been pretty common. Think about all these women writers that published under male names due to the restrictions placed on them! Regardless, all these ladies are pretty badass if you ask me.
Today we talked in class a lot about the perspective of the speaker in Mary Borden’s collection of stories in “The Forbidden Zone”. I don’t want to talk much about this because we talked for a while in class about it and some other people (like Jordan in her post here and Jamie in her post here) have already extended this discussion onto the blog. I will, however, post the pictures of the drawings my section produced on the board today. I’m curious as it if there were any other perspectives that you saw the speaker holding in any of these stories that were different than the ones talked about in class. I personally saw the speaker as an onlooker or witness to the events, almost as a distant storyteller, which makes sense being as she is telling us these narratives in a very story-like way.
One thing that really struck me as I read through the selection of work for today was the personification of things like the town and aeroplanes. The planes, in particular, caught my attention because they are the machines that are doing the destroying (unless you argue that man is the machine and the planes are just their way of executing but that is a whole other idea) but yet their characterization is almost childlike. They seemed like toys to me, in some really odd and warped way. What do you think this personification is doing in this work? What is the purpose of it? Did you even notice it while initially reading for today?
Another thing that I really liked when it came to Borden was her style. We talked a little bit about her sentence structure and what that was doing in the pieces, along with the repetition. Not to be repetitive, but I really loved the repeating. The four paragraphs that we read aloud in class today (pages 23 & 24) had a sort of systematic repetition happening there. In the first paragraph, in the first few sentences, one work from the first sentence would be repeated into the second, and from the second another word would find its way into the third and so on. This choice of subtle repeating seemed like it was trying to lull the reader or pull them through the paragraph. The lulling also happens towards the end of the first paragraph as sentences begin to establish a rhythm and rhyme to them. How do you see these poetic devices working in a non-fiction piece? Where there any other patterns that you noticed while reading? Or where there any other stylistic choices that Borden made that you think should be recognized here that we missed in class today?
I know some of these questions can be more analytical and maybe you need something easy to think about since we are just out of midterms week, so I will leave you all with this: out of all of the stories we read for today, which one was your favorite and why? Or, if you don’t want to be too specific, or don’t have a favorite, how do you feel about Borden in general? Do you enjoy this type of reading more or less than the novels and poems we have already tackled this semester?
Okay, so while trying to find some show to watch on Netflix as background noise for working on a project I came across a show called “Our World War”. It is three one-hour-long episodes about British soldiers at the Battle of Mons, I believe. I have not watched it yet, but I think now I have to! If anyone else has watched it, let me know what you thought of it. Once I watch it, I will post in the comments how I feel about it.
For the poems we have for tomorrow, one, in particular, caught my attention: “Tri-colour” by Robert Service. Not knowing if we will talk about it tomorrow, and also knowing myself and the high probability that I will forget by the time tomorrow comes, I thought I would put a little something here on the blog.
I am hugely into the symbolism of flowers and elements in literary works! Every element and every flower has a meaning and I think that poets and writers know this too and pick which ones they use very meticulously.
In “Tri-colour” we get the poppies, the cornflowers, and the lilies.
We’ve talked about poppies before and how they are symbolic of the war. Jordan even made a separate blog post earlier in the semester about the art installation of poppies (which I conveniently linked here, so if you haven’t seen it, go look at it!) I’m sure you all know what a poppy looks like but here is a picture just in case. It is obvious why Service uses the poppies as the soldier’s blood. Poppies are symbolic of sleep, especially deep sleep, which if any of you have seen the Wizard of Oz you should be familiar with the poppy field scene. Poppies, because of both WWI and WWII are now considered the flower of death and remembrance. Also, poppies have a meaning of innocence and peace within death which is why poppies use to be used at funerals, including funerals for soldiers.
Then there are the cornflowers. I love cornflowers! They are these really cool blue-purple flowers that remind me of the flowers in Horton Hears A Who (yes I know it is actually a clover, but it’s all the same). Many people will recognize cornflowers from the sides of country roads or in wildflower fields. Cornflowers are one of the national flowers of Germany, which if you think about Germany in the context of the war is kind of crazy. While the meaning of cornflowers don’t really line up with how I think they are being used in this poem, it is still super interesting. Cornflowers are the flowers of wealth, prosperity, fortune, friendship, but in France, cornflowers became the symbol for the Armistice.
Next are lilies. Now, the thing with flowers is each color, or variant, of them, stand for something else and lilies come in different colors. So white lilies symbolize purity and chastity and are linked to the Virgin Mary, while other’s are linked to friendship, devotion, sympathy, wealth and prosperity. While the poem never specifies which color of lily is being talked there is a generic symbol for restored innocence after death, which is why lilies are known as a funeral flower.
I find it super interesting how each of the flowers relates to death in some way, how even the shapes and colors of them are used as images of dead men. The poppies as the blood, the cornflowers as eyeballs which I don’t think I can ever unsee now, and lilies as headstones.
I know Ginny wants to make a blog post about Hemingway, mental illness and how that relates to “A Farewell to Arms,” but I wanted to leave a link to an article about a film from 2013 about the “Hemingway Curse” and the pattern of suicide in the Hemingway family which also includes comments from an interview with Hemingway’s granddaughter, Mariel. For anyone interested in, click here. I don’t want to steal the thunder from Ginny, so I’m going to leave the rest of this to her, but if you need something to hold you over until then, here’s this little snippet. Enjoy!