5 May 2018
Dear Hathi Trust,
I am currently working on a end of the semester project for my English Fiction class based around the reading “Quicksand” by Nella Larsen which was assigned to us to read, write and discuss about in class. Throughout the course of reading this book my class had many interesting discussions filled with ideas about different topics and themes that come up along reading the book, sharing their opinions about what they thought about Helga Crane and her situation. But one thing in particular that I noticed was that from time to time there would be confusion about a certain parts of the text, whether that be confusion on a certain word, what it means and what’s it relevance to the context of the passage, or confusion simply due to the lack of historical context in a particular portion of the reading. These issues were usually brought up during our class discussions and talked about to help clarify the meaning of the text in which the individual was confused about, although this is helpful I believe that it would’ve been even more beneficial to the student if they had access to a digital annotated edition of the novel which includes background information that someone can easily just click on and read more about what they are confused about or if they’re curious and just want to learn more and understand better about what was happening during that time period where the book takes place. Having an annotated digital version of the book that students can easily access can assist them outside of the classroom, as most of our heavy discussions took place in class it’s good to have something they can refer to outside of class in case they ever forget what was talked about. As part of my assignment I was tasked to break down the kinds of possible annotations that would prove to be useful, specifically two type of annotations, research annotations which will include anything and everything that will provide background information on the historical context of the story and glossary annotations which will provide the user with the ability to quickly learn what a unfamiliar word means and how it connects to the rest of the sentence, helping them understand why it was used the way it did. I will provide you with some examples of what I mean and what you should roughly aim for if you do decide to add annotations in a separate edition as well as a link to them so you can read them separately if you choose to.
-Race is a recurrent topic in “Quicksand” by Nella Larsen. It’s one of the many factors that drives the story and influences what happens throughout, affecting how the character feels, the thoughts that run through their mind, and their overall behavior. Helga’s behavior and decisions were heavily impacted by this and is one of the reasons she couldn’t settle down in one place and would jump from one to another. She felt she didn’t fit in and was uncomfortable with herself, her identity. It can be seen in this particular part of the text, “These people yapped loudly of race, of race consciousness, of race pride, and yet suppressed its most delightful manifestations, love of color, joy of rhythmic motion, naive, spontaneous laughter. Harmony, radiance, and simplicity, all the essentials of spiritual beauty in the race they had marked for destructions.” as it highlights the topic of race, and at the time how there was an abundance of offensive racial beliefs, specifically towards blacks. When researching I found sites discussing how it was at the time, the viewpoints of whites and how it impacted blacks negatively. Blacks would be judged for the color of their skin, being called racial slurs and being seen as outcasts, not equal to everyone else as whites believed they were superior in every which way, which obviously led to many problems down the road as people were sickened by the discrimination.
-Deshazo, Zach. “Racial Relations in the 1920s.” Prezi.com, 26 Mar. 2013, prezi.com/bc7npzsnzfhb/racial-relations-in-the-1920s/.
Here I discuss the significance of race and color in the book, and brought up how it’s relevant to what was happening at that time period, with discrimination and segregation. I also go on to mention how it connects to Helga Crane and how she doesn’t feel she fits in all throughout the story, jumping from one place to another in search for something that was within all along, personal acceptance. Having an annotation like this can help put the reader in the protagonists shoes, allowing them to see things from their point of view easier.
-Throughout the novel “Quicksand” by Nella Larsen many interesting vocabulary words appear that aren’t commonly used in day to day language. For example the word Grandeur which appears in chapter 12, when the author writes “Helga Crane felt no regret as the clifflike towers faded. The sight thrilled her as beauty, grandeur, of any kind always did, but that was all.” (Larsen 93). Grandeur (Noun) is defined as, splendor and impressiveness, especially of appearance or style. This word was used to express how beautiful the sight was, and it’s important to understand its meaning because it will throw off the entire sentence structure not knowing what it means since it’s kind of just thrown into the middle of the sentence. You miss out on the significance of the word and why it was used in that particular context, understanding it makes the sentence more rich and detailed which helps with visualizing what the author is trying to get across and with analyzing the text.
-“Grandeur.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster,
In this annotation I highlight a word that comes up in the beginning of chapter 12 of the reading, which isn’t commonly used often in your everyday conversation so I can see how it would be unfamiliar to a student while reading that sentence. I give a definition as well as discussing the context in which the word was being used so that the reader can better understand its relevance and enrich their vocabulary. All in all I think it would be very useful and convenient for readers to have a digital annotated version of the text in which they can look at if they choose to enhance their reading, I feel many students in my class would have appreciated such a resource and use it to help them with any work they were doing in or outside of the classroom.
“Annotated Bibliography.” Homosexuality in the Media, ocw.usu.edu/English/introduction-to-writing-academic-prose/annotated-bibliography.html.
“Grandeur.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster,
Deshazo, Zach. “Racial Relations in the 1920s.” Prezi.com, 26 Mar. 2013, prezi.com/bc7npzsnzfhb/racial-relations-in-the-1920s/.