Senior Skills – A New Way of Reading

As you may have already realized, senior literature will be a little different than your previous courses. While the larger focus on language use instead of literary analysis is an obvious difference, you may have also noticed that the readings for this class reflect the fact that it is your fourth level English course. Gone are the days of ‘reading over’ your assignments, ‘skimming’ the required text or just reading over it once and being ‘good’.

As your text become more layered and complex, your reading style needs to change to reflect this. Often times you may need to do one, or all, of the following:

  1. Reread the passage multiple times.
  2. Take notes over the passage while reading it to help you understand.
  3. Look up additional helpful information online if you get stuck.
  4. Study and talk to classmates about the readings before coming to class.
  5. Reading any footnotes or supplementary information included in the text.

These are skills that you will need in many different situations – most definitely if you plan on attending a four year college, but also in technical school and training or certification programs, on-site job training and the military. These skills are also not unique to ‘English’ or ‘Literature’ – in fact, I used them most often in my science courses in college.

Steps one through four above should be familiar to you, but footnotes may be new.

While reading a book or article, have you ever noticed little numbers placed at the ends of some sentences?

These numbers usually appear as superscripts and correspond with numbers placed at the bottom of the page, next to which appears further information that is both necessary and supplementary. Sometimes this information will come in the form of citations, but sometimes it will simply present additional notes about the topic at hand.

These citations and explanations are called footnotes (because they appear in the footer of the page).

Long explanatory notes can be difficult for readers to trudge through when they occur in the middle of a paper. Providing this information is necessary, but doing so in the main text can disrupt the flow of the writing. Imagine if every time an author wanted to provide a citation, the entire citation had to be written out at the end of the sentence, like this (Anthony Grafton, The Footnote: A Curious History [Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999] 221). Books would become much longer and reading much more tedious. That’s why footnotes are so useful: they allow authors to provide the required information without disrupting the flow of ideas.

Footnotes can include anything from a citation to parenthetical information, outside sources, copyright permissions, background information, and anything in between, though certain style guides restrict when footnotes can be used.

Inc, S. (n.d.). What Are Footnotes and How Do You Use Them? Retrieved from https://www.scribendi.com/advice/what_are_footnotes.en.html

Footnotes can actually save you that extra step of looking up outside information, depending on how detailed or well written they are. But why should you care about the footnotes? The video below looks at the importance of footnotes from a historical perspective, while the article after that examines the importance of footnotes from a literary perspective. You will be encountering both types in the course, so please review both of these resources.

Click here for Jeff Sommer’s article “Consider the Footnote: Why Don’t More Author’s Use This Powerful Tool?”.

Ultimately, footnotes are there to help you and enrich your reading and understanding of a text, its historical context, the related scholarship and research surrounding it, or to add an additional narrative layer to a work of fiction. Know that it may take some time to get used to reading with footnotes – rereading a text at least twice, first to read the text along and second to read the text and incorporate your reading of the footnotes – can be an effective way to adapt to this new reading style.

 

12th Grade Literature Fall 2018

Old English – Beowulf

Last week we dove into Old English literature and analyzed not just the rhythm and structure of Anglo Saxon poetry, but the importance of the comitatius and warrior culture to the Anglo Saxon way of life. “The Wanderer” focused on the experience and loss felt by a warrior – this week we are going to look at another example of Anglo Saxon culture from the perspective of a Lord/King, in a selection from the epic poem “Beowulf”.

We will be focusing on the final speech and death of Beowulf in class, and analyzing the text to understand what was expected of a man as a strong leader during this time period. However, understanding the context of the rest of the epic poem will be valuable to understanding this final excerpt, so please review this background video on the historical context of Beowulf:

Additionally, it will be important for you to understand the earlier actions in the poem so that the importance of Beowulf’s death can be fully analyzed. While I strongly encourage you to read the entirety of this epic poem so that you can expose yourself to even more nuanced uses of language, I am providing a summary of the plot below:

Additionally, click here to access a copy of the readings if you lost your from class.

Please click here for the annotated version of the text from class.

 

Additionally, you will find my ‘messy class notes’ over Beowulf below. Visit the post on “Senior Skills: How To Take Effective Notes”, and use these these in your rewriting to determine which note-taking style works best for you.

Click here for Mrs. Pierce’s class notes over Beowulf.

12th Grade Literature Fall 2018

Old English – The Wanderer

Our first analysis of Old English will be the poem from the Exeter Book of Elegies, “The Wanderer”. Most of the Old English poetry we have available to us today can be traced to only a handful of books or manuscripts. The largest of these is the Exeter Book, which was given to the cathedral by the Bishop Leofric around 1072, though the stories transcribed within it can be traced back further into the oral tradition.

“The Wanderer” focuses on a man, a warrior, that has lost his lord (remember the comitatus) – he goes on not just to lament this loss, but also this loss of friends, family and his entire way of life. The wanderer also reflects on philosophical ideas about what makes a life worth living, and what makes a man truly wise.

 

Remember, these poems were meant to be shared through the oral tradition originally, before they were transcribed into manuscripts. The rhythm created through the use of caesuras and various forms of repetition would have made the memorization and performance of these poems easier, but also more melodic and pleasing to the ear.

For an example, please watch the video below of a performance of part of “The Wanderer”:

Please click here to access a digital copy of “The Wanderer” if you lost your copy from class. 

Additionally, you can follow along with the Old English text and reading below – try to find as many linguistic similarities between the modern translation and the Old English version as you can.

Click here to access an annotated version of the story, with notes we discussed in class.

12th Grade Literature Fall 2018

The History of English – Anglo Saxons and Old English

As we begin this semester, working towards improving your own language use (spoken and written), it is important that we understand where our language comes from and its own history. Our first unit will focus on the history of the English language, and so we begin with ‘Old English’, and a focus on Anglo Saxon culture and texts.

In class we discussed the language of the Germanic tribes of the British Isle (Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Picts and Celts) and looked at examples that still survive today in modern English, such as ‘daughter’, ‘strong’, ‘wry’, ‘fight’ and ‘wreak’. Many of the Old English words are mono-syllabic, and have a harsh, guttural sound with a strong emphasis at the beginning of the word.

Once Christianity began to spread to the Isles, so did Latin and with it new words and a new alphabet. More poly-syllabic words like ‘omnipotent’ and ‘exuberant’ and ‘tenacious’ were introduced, softening the sound of the language slightly.

Below you can see an example from Beowulf – written in Old English script, then in the modern alphabet, then in Modern English.

In our first poem we are examining some literary devices that are common to poems from this period – alliteration, kennings, assonance, personification and hyperbole. Additionally, we will be examining the presence of the comitatus pledge, and how an understanding of this cultural custom informs our understanding of the poem and changes its tone.

As we read these early Anglo Saxon poems and texts, remember the importance of the comitatus to not just the warrior and lord, but the families and communities that grew around these arrangements.

Please click here for today’s notes on Anglo Saxon culture and the literary devices commonly observed in text from this period.

For an overview on the history of English during the Anglo Saxon period, please see the short, fun video below:

Also, if you would like to check and see what modern words you like would have sounded like in Old English, click here for an Old English Translator.

Image Source: https://www.omniglot.com/writing/oldenglish.htm

 

12th Grade Literature Fall 2018

Welcome Back Seniors!

Welcome to 12th Grade Honors English!

 

You are about to begin your last English course as an HCHS tiger – I hope you are as excited as I am!

The primary goal of this course is not just to expose you to more advanced literature, but also to give you the language skills you’ll need after high school. This mean you’ll be participating in a lot more discussion, verbal presentations, and a greater variety of formal and informal writing. Please review the class syllabus below for an overview of the class and grading policies.

Click here for the Honor 12th Grade English Syllabus

Additionally, you will also have a complete a senior project this semester. This constitutes 25% of your grade for this course, and is a sustainable part of the skills we will be mastering in class. You can review the documents for senior projects below, or by clicking on the ‘Senior Project’ drop drown menu under ’12th Grade English’ in the toolbar at the top of the website. Additionally, you can keep up with senior project news by visiting the school website at https://ga02202829.schoolwires.net/Page/1827.

Click here for the overview document of senior project details

Senior Project Permission and Release Form

Senior Project Proposal Rubric

Senior Project Paper Rubric

Senior Project Checkpoints

Senior Project Presentation Rubric

 

12th Grade Literature Fall 2018