Category Archives: Homework Instructions

Finishing with Faulkner; moving along to Gilman

Three of you have volunteered to post for Monday’s class (meaning post by end-of-day on Friday). Are there two or three more volunteers to post as well? If so, please respond here with a comment letting me know you intend to be one of our posters. Everyone should respond to your classmates’ posts by Monday at 10am. Try to generate a conversation, rather than just a series of agreements!

If you need to remind yourself of what we’re doing, re-read this semester’s blogging assignment.

If you want to know more about what I’ve asked you to think about, read all previous homework assignment posts, or your classmates’ homework posts.

Here are some thoughts to get our conversations started:

An unreliable narrator is a narrator that the reader cannot trust to be truthful or fully depicting the story. Use that term to consider any of the narrators we have encountered so far, using quotations from texts to support your argument.

Choose three quotations from Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wall-Paper” that convince you that the protagonist is an unreliable narrator and explain why for each.

Choose three quotations from “The Yellow Wall-Paper” that present the married couple’s relationship, and explain what you understand about John as a character, and about the protagonist as a narrator for the way she depicts John.

We might use the words utopia and dystopia to describe the two short stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman that we read. What do those words mean? Which story is utopian and which is dystopian? Why?

How do the different settings come into play in these two short stories by Gilman? In what ways might we read the settings as similar but the inhabitants of those worlds as different?

Is Malda a reliable narrator in “The Cottagette”? why or why not? Incorporate quotations into your answer to support your argument.

What unfinished business do we have about “A Rose for Emily”? Use this opportunity to focus our attention on a particular passage or series of passages that you want to insist we get to before we move on to focus more on other texts.

What unfinished business do we have about any of our texts from this semester? Use this opportunity to focus our attention on a particular passage or series of passages that you want to insist we get to before we move on to focus more on other texts.

I’m very interested in reading about your thoughts on these two stories next week!

Posting for Tuesday’s class

If you need to remind yourself of what we’re doing, re-read this semester’s blogging assignment.

If you want to remind yourself of this week’s questions, re-read the last homework instruction post.

We agreed that even though our next class is on Tuesday instead of Monday (it’s a CUNY Conversion Day, meaning that CUNY pretends that Tuesday is Monday to have equal number of days of the week in the semester), posters would still post by end-of-day Friday, but that commenters have until Tuesday morning to finish commenting.

Here are some starting points. Choose one if you’re writing a post, or go in a different direction. Try to choose a different topic for your post than the other posters have written about, if for no other reason than to expand the conversation. To further develop our discussion about ” A Rose for Emily”:

Think about power in the story. Choose (and include in your post) a passage or a few related passages that highlight some aspect of the power dynamics at play in the story. Who has power, who doesn’t, how do they interact, how to they negotiate their positions of powerfulness or lack of power? Is there another topic or theme that relates to or intersects with power that you want to write about for Tuesday’s class?

Other factors to consider: how does narration style, point of view, setting, characterization or other elements of fiction play a role in the power dynamic you’re analyzing?

We started looking at the effects of the non-linear order of time in “A Rose for Emily,” but you might take the opportunity to consider what effect the sequencing has. How does the order affect your understanding of the story and your experience with it? What would be gained or lost if it were linear? What do I mean by linear? Are there other texts–written, filmic, graphic, etc–that do this that you want to call attention to?

What does gothic mean?  What is Southern Gothic, specifically? Wikipedia might be a good place to get a definition and explanation of what Southern Gothic is. How is “A Rose for Emily” an example of this? You might add that as your vocabulary word as well.

In what ways is “A Rose for Emily” similar to other texts we have read? different? What do you think about those similarities and differences?

The narrator in “A Rose for Emily” is different than others we have encountered. What term would you use to identify the narrator? is it a reliable narrator? Use evidence from the story to show why you say reliable or not.

What do you want to know more about when reading “A Rose for Emily”? What information or ideas do you have that you want to share with a larger community? What about sharing ideas on the page devoted to “A Rose for Emily” on would be appealing, and what would you be more likely to save for our smaller community? What do you learn reading the annotations added to that version with crowd-sourced annotations?

Homework posts on Lowe, Atwood, Glaspell, Chopin, and Faulkner

If you volunteered to post by end-of-day on Friday so that everyone can comment on your posts by 10:00am Monday, here are some ideas to get you started (choose one, or get inspired by one or two):

  • We really wanted to spend more time looking at the ending of Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour.” What do we understand about Mrs. Mallard’s desire for freedom in the story? Does she have freedom at the end of the story?
  • Think of the various details mentioned in Susan Glaspell’s “A Jury of Her Peers.” Point us to a few examples, including quotations from those passages. How do these examples become important details in the story? How do the men and women read these details specifically and details in general differently in “A Jury of Her Peers”?
  • Another way to consider the details in “A Jury of Her Peers” is to consider what the women do with details to understand the backstory as reading the scene; consider in a post the model for critical reading this short story presents. Alternatively, how is “There Was Once” a model for critical reading? What does the second speaker do with the Cinderella story, and how or to what extent is that something we should do when we read? What does it do in that story, and what could it do for us as we read critically?
  • If Margaret Atwood’s short story “There Was Once” and Anne Sexton’s poem “Cinderella” attempt to retell the fairy tale, what does Bia Lowe’s “I Always Write about My Mother When I Start to Write” do with fairy tales? We started discussing this in class. What aspects of fairy tales does it borrow, and what is the effect of this motif? Be sure to learn about what a motif is if you choose this option, and feel free to add it as your glossary entry for this week (but this only goes for one person, and the post’s author has priority!
  • What effect does the style of narration have on your experience of the plot or characters? Use two different styles to reflect on this, using any of the stories we have read this semester.
  • What connections do you see among the stories assigned from the start of the semester through Monday? Are there trends you can identify? Or contrasting situations/characters/styles that are worth noting in their difference? Be specific!
  • In thinking about William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily,” who is the narrator? is it a reliable narrator? Use evidence from the story to show why you say reliable or not.
  • What does gothic mean?  What is Southern Gothic, specifically? Wikipedia might be a good place to get a definition and explanation of what Southern Gothic is. How is  “A Rose for Emily” an example of this? You might add this term as your glossary entry word as well.
  • Finally, if you’re interested, argue for or against “A Rose for Emily” as a Valentine’s Day reading. What notion of love do you take away from this story?

These are just a few ideas that you might consider, and certainly not all of them will be addressed. I hope my suggesting them gives everyone ideas about other topics for discussion and other ways to read the short stories we have begun to cover in class. For your post, choose one of these topics, or venture off on your own topic, using any of these as a guide to make sure your topic is as focused. Use the texts to guide you, consider that your audience (mostly your classmates and me) will have read the same materials but might not have thought about them as much as you have or in the same way that you did, and enjoy sharing your ideas. On the nitty-gritty end of things, remember to include a title that reflects what you’re writing (it shouldn’t be able to apply to everyone’s post!), choose appropriate categories and tags (or add if you want a tag that isn’t there already), write at least 300 words, proofread, and publish! If there are links or media you want to include, please do.

Commenters: get ready! Everyone who isn’t writing a blog post will need to comment by 10:00am Monday, so make sure you’re ready with 100-150 words of insights and reactions to share with the class.

Feel free to comment on this post to ask questions or get clarification to understand this assignment better. I will answer, but feel free to answer questions for your classmates if you have the answer!


Contributing to our online conversation

Throughout the semester, we will use our course site to develop and share our ideas about and analyses of the materials for this course. For each class, you will need to share something, whether it be a blog post or comments, in addition to your weekly glossary entries. You are always welcome to do more than the schedule requires, and I hope we will develop a lively online community that becomes integral to our in-person discussions.

For each class session, I will suggest topics, or contributors can choose their own topics. Blog posts should be focused, using direct quotations from the text to drive the responses or reflections in the post. A post should be about something we are about to read or something we have just read, but it might also bring in materials we have read earlier in the semester or materials that interest you from outside of class (as long as they are relevant and add something overall). Authors of these posts should think critically about the reading material, and should consider how a particular element of fiction or term relating to narrative functions in the material—it might amplify the text, or it could be complicated or problematic, but any of these would be interesting opportunities to explore. Blog posts should be approximately 300 words, and should be proofread before posting. Please include links, images, etc, as appropriate.

Those who are not responsible for contributing a blog post on a given day will be responsible for commenting. Commenting shouldn’t just be “I agree” or “Good point.” These might be the start of a comment. Use the space to offer a counterpoint, to bring together different ideas, or to direct us to a particular point the post didn’t include. Comments should be approximately 100-150 words. If you want to add additional comments that are shorter, feel free to. Commenting can get heated or contentious, but we will maintain decency and respect for one another even while exchanging different ideas and views.

As a class, we decided that for Monday classes, posts will go up by the end of day on Friday, and that comments will be complete by 10am Monday; for Wednesday classes, posts will go up by noon on Tuesday, and comments will be complete by 10am Wednesday. We can revisit these expectations after we complete the first round, so everyone can weigh in on the experience. We’ll go through a few rounds of posting, so you’ll each have a few turns to direct the conversation in addition to contributing to and shaping the conversation via commenting.

I’ll post my suggested topics after class using the category Homework Instructions and also categories relating to the readings. When you post, please do not use the category Homework Instructions unless you are actually writing instructions for the class to complete for homework. Instead, use the categories that correspond to the author or unit that we’re reading.

Stay tuned for the first set of suggested topics, to be published this evening.


“Yeh-Shen, A Cinderella Story” by Aai-Ling -China

There are many differences to this story compared to the Cinderella story that I am sort of familiar with. The difference of both stories is that in this story, “Yeh-Shen, A Cinderella Story”, it takes place in an era of dynasties which in China were when the rulers were family. This is also taking in a very ancient time because the step mother, father, and Yeh-Shen lived in a cave. But in the original story they lived in a palace. Another difference is that the step mother in this story only has one daughter but in other the step mother has two daughters. Now, the major difference would be that instead of doves in the Cinderella that I am familiar with, it is a fish that apparently the step mother kills and Yeh-Shen keeps the bones because she was told that the bones of the fish has powers. I believe that because this is the Chinese version of Cinderella that they used fish because that is one of the animals that they value. When I think about why they would use fish at first, the first thing the first thing that came to mind was Yin and Yang. Which basically means the balance of life and I think that this is connected to the fish because it is known that China sees fish as an abundance. What did stay the same was that the step mother hated Cinderella and Cinderella disobeyed her step mother and still went to the festival (even though I know it as a party not a festival). Also , the king and Cinderella got married. I was surprised that the step mother and her daughter were forced to live in their cave until they die by flying stones though.

Cinderella Story

I read the Cinderella; or, The Little Glass Slipper by Charles Perrault. The whole story I was familiar with and I knew. I didn’t think it was the Disney movie version when I first started reading it. I liked the little moral at the end of the reading because it is true. The moral states “Beauty in a woman is a rare treasure that will always be admired. Graciousness, however, is priceless and of even greater value”. I agree with this statement. The step-sisters were so rude and snobby. They will never value nothing compared to Cinderella. Although Cinderella was treated horrible by her step mother and sisters, she was always kind to them and always valued what was given to her. The step sisters and mother aren’t gracious for what Cinderella’s father has provided for their family. I found Cinderella so kind since she forgave her step sisters for treating her badly.

Reading and responding to “Cinderella” variants

Margaret Atwood’s “There Was Once” inspired me to think about different versions of the Cinderella story–hers, of course, barely gets started, but is interesting for challenging the expected set-up of the story by exposing the value-laden terms used to establish the characters and setting. After reading the Wikipedia entry on Cinderella and the introduction to The Cinderella Bibliography, you are hopefully interested in reading a few versions. Here are a few you might want to choose from:

Tam and Cam” and another version, “The Story of Tam and Cam“–from Vietnam

Yeh-Shen, A Cinderella Story“–from China

The Little Red Fish and The Golden Clog“–from Iraq

This page has many versions. You might be interested in reading (use the links in the Table of Contents, or use CTRL-F or command-F to search, or just scroll down):

Cinderella; or, The Little Glass Slipper“–from France (Charles Perrault)

“Cinderella” (Aschenputtel)–from Germany (Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm [Brothers Grimm]): the 1812 version and the 1857 version

[EDITED TO ADD: From the comments below, I can see that some classmates have chosen a few stories that can expand our list:

“The Hidden One”-Native American Legend by Aaron Shepard (here is one version)

The Baba Yaga” (Russia, Aleksandr Afanasyev)

The Wicked Stepmother” (India)

Cinderella” (Italy)

ALSO: Chinye: A West African Cinderella

Please add more if you want others to read along with you!]


I’d encourage everyone to read Anne Sexton’s poem, “Cinderella,” as a modern telling and critique of these stories.

Please reply here with a comment saying which version you’re reading. That will allow us to balance our groups for our discussion. If you see that one version is neglected, please consider choosing that one! Ideally, a few students will choose the same version so you can talk together about your version before we have a larger class discussions and short presentations.

After you have read your chosen version, please write a blog post (click on the + at the top of the screen when you’re signed in, or just follow this link) in which you highlight the aspects of the story that were familiar, unfamiliar, surprising, and particularly telling of the values or customs of the culture it came from. Since we discussed blog posts being 300 words, approximately, aim to write 300 words. Your short presentation in class on Monday will come from these thoughts and from your discussion with others who read the same version when we meet in class.

If you have time, try to read more than one version, so we can have more of a comparative discussion. They’re all really interesting, and not particularly long or difficult. If there’s another version you want to share, particularly if there’s one you know from your background, please add it to the comments here so we can add it to our reading list. If you also want to mention more popular or contemporary examples, please do as well!