Posts Tagged ‘Walking’

Group 1’s Fourth Blog Post

Walt Whitman's use of free verse became apprec...

Walt Whitman; Image via Wikipedia

For this blog response, you have a few different writing options. Choose only ONE of these topics to write your response. Be sure to make it clear which question you chose in the subject line of your post. Remember, this blog response is for Group 1 only!

  1. Write an ecocritical analysis of a Whitman poem of your choosing. What is the argument of this poem?  Besides applying some of the ecocritical interpretative techniques you’ve learned in this course in answering this question, be sure to also consider the specific elements of poetry as a form, like speaker and listener, imagery, patterns of sound, form, meter, lineation, etc. Some questions to consider regarding these elements of poetry include: Who is the speaker, where is s/he, and what is the speaker’s state of mind? Does the poem have an implied listener and to what effect? What images are most striking in this poem? Do they seem conventional, familiar, surprising, experimental? Why?What patterns of sound to you find in this poem and what effect do they give? How are the poem’s lines structured?
  2. Find a contemporary newspaper or magazine article that relates to an idea in Thoreau’s Walkingor Whitman’s poetry. In your response, explain the connection between the article and Thoreau/Whitman, making sure to quote from each to showcase the connection. Besides giving a BRIEF summary of the article and thoroughly explaining the connection to Thoreau/Whitman, be sure to also address the significance of the connection. In other words, what do we gain/learn from connecting Thoreau/Whitman to this contemporary issue (or, if you prefer, from connecting this contemporary issue back to Thoreau/Whitman)? You are also required to include a link to the article in your post.
  3. After reading the excerpt from “A Critical Glance into Thoreau” by John Burroughs, do you agree with Burroughs’ assessment of Thoreau? Why or why not? In your response, be sure to quote from Thoreau’s Walden and/or “Walking” to support your answer. As a reminder, Burroughs’ discussion on Thoreau can be found on pgs. 487-489 of the course pack.
  4. After reading the excerpt from Notes on Walt Whitman as Poet and Person by John Burroughs, do you agree with Burroughs’ assessment of Whitman? Why or why not? In your response, be sure to quote from Whitman’s poetry to support your answer. As a reminder, Burroughs’ discussion of Whitman can be found on pgs. 483-485 of the course pack.

Remember, your posts should follow these requirements and guidelines:

  • Posts must be at least 300 words.
  • Posts must include at least one quote from the text. If you are writing about more than one text, then you’ll need at least one quote from each as support. If the question you chose asks for more than one quote in the instructions above, then be sure to follow those instructions.
  • Stay focused on answering the prompt question above. Avoid repeating the question and be as specific as possible in your answer.
  • Please note that you do not need to answer every “thinking question” I have posted (the questions after the bold directive). These are just options, so you could focus on one or a few. Avoid writing a response that looks like a Q & A or laundry list of answers to these smaller questions; make sure your response flows smoothly and has unity.
  • Your response should make an argument, not summarize the text. If some summary is asked for in the prompt you chose, keep that summary brief and concise.
  • Use specific moments from the text(s) to support and illustrate your argument.
  • Be sure to introduce, quote, cite, and comment on all quotes.
  • Don’t forget to tag your posts! Before adding a new tag, check the “choose from the most used tabs” menu to make sure it is not already listed.
  • Don’t forget your Works Cited!

Group 1, your blog response is due by class time on Tuesday, October 18.

Group 2, blog comments are due by class time on Thursday, October 20.

Wilderness in “Walking” as Eden and Freedom

In Henry David Thoreau’s “Walking”, wilderness is likened to Eden. Thoreau sees the wilderness he walks through as the true destiny of man. Civilization, in Thoreau’s mind, is a false way of living that destroys man’s soul. Thoreau calls wilderness “the Holy Land” and calls himself a “knight of a new, or rather an old, order”. This shows how Thoreau believes that true happiness is to be found in the wilderness and not in the societies created by man. This can also be seen in his quote, “Hope and the future for me are not in lawns and cultivated fields, not in towns and cities, but in the impervious and quaking swamps” which shows his affinity for all forms of nature not just the beautiful parts.
Thoreau also considers wilderness to be freedom in his essay “Walking”. By leaving the village behind to go walk in the woods made Thoreau feel free from all of his civilized worries and responsibilities. Even domestic animals are able to be reclaimed by nature by breaking the bonds of domesticity. Thoreau describes the escape of his neighbor’s cow as “any evidence that they have not wholly lost their original wild habits and vigor; as when my neighbor’s cow breaks out of her pasture early in the spring and boldly swims the river, a cold, gray tide, twenty-five or thirty rods wide, swollen by the melted snow”. This shows how he feels that it is always possible for man to free himself and become a part of nature again. The instincts that are inside of every living creature compel them to return to nature and live freely in paradise.

The religious parallels of Thoreau’s Walking

Henry D. Thoreau’s Walking contains religious parallels with wilderness representing paradise as he describes when he walks through the wilderness, “in the midst of paradise” (264).  Thoreau’s references to Adam and paradise, “As a patriot, I should be ashamed to think that Adam in paradise was more favorably situated on the whole than the backwoodsman in this country” (272), to demonstrate that the primitive woodsmen are more connect with nature through wilderness than Adam.  The argument Thoreau is conveying is that paradise was primitive before the arrival of Adam; paradise inNorth America is represented by the primitive wilderness not yet influenced by man who Adam represents.  Once Adam is introduced into paradise, man arrives inNorth America and the fall of man must occur.  This is represented by man developing the wilderness with greed and expansion being represented as Satan, “in the midst of paradise.  I looked again, and saw him standing…surrounded by devils…I saw that the Prince of Darkness was his surveyor” (264).  Another reference to Adam and the fall of man is discussed by Thoreau about man’s ignorance compared to man’s desire for knowledge:

A man’s ignorance sometimes is not only useful, but beautiful while his knowledge, so called, is oftentimes worse than useless besides being ugly.  Which is the best man to deal with,—he who knows nothing about a subject, and, what is extremely rare, knows that he knows nothing, or he who really knows something about it but thinks that he knows all? (282)

This passage represents that it is knowledge and greed that separates man from paradise of wilderness and just as Satan tricked Adam and Eve into eating fruit from the Tree of Knowledge which lead to their banishment of paradise, it is knowledge that man possesses that separates them from the primitive paradise of wilderness.

 

Thoreau, Henry D. Walden, Civil Disobedience and Other Writings. 3Ch./Art: Walden; Walking p5-70, 260-287. Pub. WW Norton 20080

Group 2’s Third Blog Post

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) in June 1856 (...

Henry David Thoreau in June 1856, Aged 39. Image via Wikipedia

For this blog response, you have a few different writing options. Choose only ONE of these topics to write your response. Be sure to make it clear which question you chose in the subject line of your post. Remember, this blog response is for Group 2 only!

  1. Write an eco-Marxist analysis of Thoreau’s “Economy” chapter in Walden and/or his essay “Walking.” You may want to review Garrard’s brief overview of eco-Marxism in Chapter 2 of Ecocriticism, but what I am looking for is an analysis of how nature and economy function in the text. You do not need to use any technical Marxist/eco-Marxist terms, though you are more that welcome to do so if you have some knowledge of Marxist/eco-Marxist theory. Some questions to consider include: What arguments does Thoreau make about how nature is valued in nineteenth century American capitalism? According to Thoreau, how are humans valued within that system (and does he see humans as part of or distinctly separate from nature)? What solutions (if any) does Thoreau posit to the problems he poses and who are they accessible to? Do you see those solutions as plausible, and why or why not? Do you think that Thoreau’s own class position undermines his arguments or limits the extent to which we could view him as sharing eco-Marxist or social ecologist viewpoints? Why or why not?
  2. Give an analysis of how wilderness functions in Walden and/or “Walking.” Some questions you may want to consider include: How is wilderness represented/valued (for example, as Eden, evil, sacred, pure, threatening, etc)? What are the “politics of wilderness” (Garrard 77) of the text; in other words, how is wilderness a site of gender, class, and/or racial struggle? Who or what is included/excluded in the text’s conception of wilderness?
  3. Find a contemporary newspaper or magazine article that relates to an idea in Walden orWalking.” In your response, explain the connection between the article and Thoreau’s text, making sure to quote from each to showcase the connection. Besides giving a BRIEF summary of the article and thoroughly explaining the connection to Thoreau, be sure to also address the significance of the connection. In other words, what do we gain/learn from connecting Thoreau to this contemporary issue (or, if you prefer, from connecting this contemporary issue back to Thoreau)? You are also required to include a link to the article in your post.
  4. After reading “James Russell Lowell on Henry David Thoreau,” do you agree with Lowell’s assessment of Thoreau? Why or why not? In your response, be sure to quote from Thoreau’s Walden and/or “Walking” to support your answer. (As a reminder, Lowell’s discussion on Thoreau can be found on pgs. 479-482 of the course pack).
  5. After reading the excerpt from “A Critical Glance into Thoreau” by John Burroughs, do you agree with Burroughs’ assessment of Thoreau? Why or why not? In your response, be sure to quote from Thoreau’s Walden and/or “Walking” to support your answer. As a reminder, Burroughs’ discussion on Thoreau can be found on pgs. 487-489 of the course pack. (Note: This reading is not due until the week of October 18th. I accidentally added it to this week’s blog questions because I confused it with Lowell. I am keeping it on this week’s list of options in case anyone already started answering this question for this week. However, if you have not yet started your response, do not choose this one because it requires extra reading.)

Remember, your posts should follow these requirements and guidelines:

  • Posts must be at least 300 words.
  • Posts must include at least one quote from the text. If you are writing about more than one text, then you’ll need at least one quote from each as support. If the question you chose asks for more than one quote in the instructions above, then be sure to follow those instructions.
  • Stay focused on answering the prompt question above. Avoid repeating the question and be as specific as possible in your answer.
  • Please note that you do not need to answer every “thinking question” I have posted (the questions after the bold directive). These are just options, so you could focus on one or a few. Avoid writing a response that looks like a Q & A or laundry list of answers to these smaller questions; make sure your response flows smoothly and has unity.
  • Your response should make an argument, not summarize the text. If some summary is asked for in the prompt you chose, keep that summary brief and concise.
  • Use specific moments from the text(s) to support and illustrate your argument.
  • Be sure to introduce, quote, cite, and comment on all quotes.
  • Don’t forget to tag your posts! Before adding a new tag, check the “choose from the most used tabs” menu to make sure it is not already listed.
  • Don’t forget your Works Cited!

Group 2, your blog response is due by class time on Tuesday, October 11.

Group 1, blog comments are due by class time on Thursday, October 13.