Class Notes – 2/6/14

OpenLab introduction

Open Lab Help Documents

 Ways of analyzing a literary text



  • relationships they have with other characters
  • character development


  • what genre(s) is the text part of
  • what generic conventions does the text employ or disrupt?

Language of the Text

  • Figurative language of the text – beyond the actual meaning — symbolic language


Theme / Motif – a reoccurring set of issues/ideas in the text



Textual History

versions of the text




altered for mass-market appeal




  • authorial intention — how do we know the author’s intention? should the author’s intention be privileged over other possible interpretations? —-> multiplicity of meaning. —> is interpretation of a text up for everyone to discuss or should the author have special privilege to adjudicate meanings?
  • cf. movies –> director interpreting a book —-> adaptation
  • is the author just another reader after the text is released? —>
  • line between what is part of the text and what is interpretation?
  • trying to assign motives to the author is problematic
  • how do we know what an author intends? — ask him. What if author misleads? what if author is dead? —> read biographies. rea
  • Author
  • biographies
  • introduction to an edition
  • life/ideas
  • interviews
  • wikipedia???
  • look at records related to life
  • journals
  • historical/socio-economic
  • analyze whole collection of books
  • newspaper articles
  • letters
  • read authors who inspired that authork
  • other authors in genre



Political/Social/Historical Context

  • what beliefs were generally held about the topic of book? ex. robots 150 years ago
  • social/racial/class issues at time
  • laws, constitutions – what type of government in country
  • economic issues – ex. industrialization of country
  • technological advances/issues/development
  • intellectual climate — what were people talking about, etc.


PRIMARY SOURCES — related to original publication. contemporaneous with it.

  • book itself
  • interview
  • writings by the author — journals, letters, manuscripts, published books
  • recordings of author speaking
  • autobiography
  • political documents — ex. presidential speech. text of a law
  • media recordings from that time

SECONDARY SOURCES — comes second/afterwards. provides analysis or intepretation

  • biography
  • critics writing about the book — newspapers, magazines, academic journals, academic books
  • online interpretation — blogs, etc.
  • documentary






  • List 4-5 specific themes/motifs you see in the book
  • List 2-3 moments in the book — specific passages — that seem to you worthy of extended discussion (perhaps because they relate to the themes you listed, perhaps because they are really complicated). Look for especially rich/complicated/interesting moments that we can unpack together. Rich mineral deposits of textual meaning that we can break apart and examine.


  • Spacer/Human relations
  • Human survival —
  • Biblical references/allegories
  • Socialism/communal living
  • artificial / natural
  • efficiency – streamlining/regulating human behavior
  • earthmen/women viewed as primitives by spacers
  • classification — social stratification
  • conformity vs. individual expression (architecture/art)
  • human/robot tensions — fear that robots will take over jobs, or that robots will become as human as humans, will eradicate life on earth.
  • innocence of robots — r. sammy’s stupid smile (friendship circuit)
  • earthbound robots (r.sammy) vs. spacer robtots (olivaw)
  • fall of society on earth – Lije looking back at when it used to be better
  • tolerance/xenophobia — earthpeople afraid of spacers. tensions — cf. immigration stances in US
  • relation of spacer planets to earth — issues of power
  • spacer disgust at earthpeople — fear of disease

Prof. Gold’s

  • Foreignness/disease infection
  • line between human and robot
  • colonization – earth to space, space to earth
  • social class / privilege
  • urban space
  • biblical allusions
  • privacy / sexual issues

p. 91 — blood prick
— being treated like an animal — his consent doesn’t matter – because he’s a diseased earthman

— spacers treating humans as human colonizers used to treat colonized people

— issues of power

— themes — spacers/humans —

— spacers as GMO — selected for height, etc.

— spacers view earth as wild and untamed as earthpeople view life outside city walls

— trust — fear

— transgressiveness of pin prick/blood test

— fear of contamination

— border crossings

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