Rousseau, The Confessions

1.  What is the narrator’s purpose in writing these “confessions”?  How do you know?

2.  For Rousseau, what is the relationship between feeling and thinking?

3.  How does Rousseau describe his childhood?  What significance can we draw from this description

4. Why do you think Rousseau chooses to include the anecdote about stealing from his employer?

5. Using your own language, how would you describe the narrator, given his self-presentation in The Confessions?

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Pope, “An Essay on Man”

I hope that your understanding of Pope’s “Essay on Man” was deepened and enriched by our class on Wednesday, February 21st.  In a comment on this post, please share your most important “takeaways” from our exploration of the poem together.  What idea made the strongest impression on you?  What lingering questions are you left with?  What did you learn?  How did your view of the work change as a result of our discussion?  (These questions are just suggestions.  It’s up to you to decide what direction you’d like your response to take.). Please share your thoughts at any point after our class discussion on Wednesday (2/21), but no later than Sunday, February 25th.

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Group Presentation Assignments

Here are the groups for the presentations. Please make contact with your group members sooner rather than later, and plan on having a brief conversation with me either before or after class during the week before your presentation.

February 26* William Blake: Belkis, Lola, Stephanie

March 6 Frederick Douglass: Kayla, Mitchell, Tanvier

March 18 Herman Melville: Mardoitchy, Matthew, Sanel

April 1 Rabindranath Tagore: Lames, Umaimah, Joshua

April 8 Lu Xun: Allan, Arezu, Derek

April 10 Franz Kafka: Gilda, Anthony, Farhan, Kevin

May 8 Toni Morrison: Adrian, Joan, Antonio

* Don’t worry if you are in this group. I know that it is very soon. Please plan on speaking with me either before or after class on Wednesday, Feb 21st.

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Assignment for Wed., 2/21: Alexander Pope, “An Essay on Man”

Read Alexander Pope, “An Essay on Man”. You can find the text in Volume D of our anthology.  If you don’t have the book yet, you can easily locate it on the internet.  Please come to class prepared to share a few words about the section of the work you’ve been assigned below (Look for the Roman numerals in the poem to find your section.)  Rather than trying to explicate the whole section, you may want to identify a particular line or pair of lines, figure out what you think it means, and then connect that passage to the rest of your section or to the text as a whole.  This isn’t a formal presentation – just a chance to help your classmates find meaning in a work that may initially seem challenging. 

I: Tanvier, Mitchell

II: Lames, Belkis

III: Zilola, Sanel

IV: Arezu, Joan

V: Gilda, Kayla

VI: Kevin, Antonio, Derek

VII: Allan, Matthew, Stephanie

VIII: Adrian, Anthony

IX: Mardoitchy, Joshua

X: Farhan, Umaimah

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Akinari, “Bewitched”

1. Why do you think Toyo-o continues to be involved with Manago even after he suspects that she is a demon of some sort?
2. Why do you think people (both in the 18th century, when Akinari was writing, and in our own day) are attracted to ghost stories or tales of the supernatural?
3. Does “Bewitched” have anything to teach its readers? If so, what? What is Akinari’s message in this text?
4. The text describes Manago as”bewitchingly voluptuous.” What does the character of Manago tell us about feminine beauty?

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Group Presentations

As part of your work this semester, you will be working in small groups to prepare short presentations to accompany some of our readings. Each group will be working with one of our assigned texts. Your task is to come up with a CREATIVE way of exploring some aspect of the author, the work, or its context. These are NOT intended to be powerpoint reviews of an author’s biography, nor should they undertake an analysis of the text assigned. Instead, your job is to prepare a presentation that will complement or enrich or reading. For example, a presentation on Feng Menglong’s, “Du Tenth Sinks the Jewel Box in Anger” might explore the social history of prostitution in 17th c China, or a presentation on Moliere might present a scene from the play using contemporary rhyming English. I am happy to meet with you to help you brainstorm!

Please use the linked Group Presentation Preference Form to identify your top three choices for this project. I will do my best to see that each of you is assigned to one of your choices. Please complete this form no later than Monday, February 12th.

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Moliere, Tartuffe

Please respond to one of the following questions about Tartuffe.  Share your response as a comment on this post, rather than creating a new post.  You should also feel free to respond to your classmates’ comments.

— Discuss the theme of appearances or masks in Tartuffe? How does the issue of appearances vs. reality connect with the central concerns of the play?

— Discuss the role of Dorine, Mariane’s lady maid. What kind of servant is she? What role does she play in the action of the drama?

— How is the institution of marriage treated in Tartuffe? What are some of the models or ideals of marriage that are raised by Moliere or his characters?

— Describe the character of Orgon. Why do you think he’s so vulnerable to Tartuffe?

— Can you think of a contemporary example of the kind of religious hypocrisy exemplified in Tartuffe?

— Describe one aspect of the play that seems very modern to you and one that seems very dated or old-fashioned.

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Feng Menglong, “Du Tenth Sinks the Jewel Box in Anger”

Please respond to one of the following questions by commenting on this post.  You may also feel free to respond to comments posted by your classmates!

-What’s the connection between the broad historical material about the Ming Dynasty that begins the story and the narrative about Du Tenth and Li Jia’s relationship that follows?

-What kind of person is Li Jia?  Does his behavior at the end of the story come as a surprise?  Why or why not?

-How are courtesans represented in the story?  Why do you think Feng Menglong chooses to depict them this way?

-Money plays a central role in the story.  What does “Du Tenth Sinks the Jewel Box in Anger” seem to be saying about the relationship between money and love?

-Feng Menglong was interested in using literature to teach morality.  What lesson is being imparted by this text

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William Blake, Songs of Innocence and Experience

  1. Blake describes innocence and experience as “the two contrary states of the human soul.” What do you think he means by this?
  2. Compare the mode of creation described in “The Lamb” with that of “The Tyger.” How are they similar? How are they different?
  3. In “London”,  the speaker says he hears “mind-forged manacles” (line 8) What do you think that phrase means?
  4. What differences do you see between the two “Chimney Sweeper” poems?
  5. Choose a single line from any of the poems that made a strong impression on you and share it here.  What is going on in this line in terms of language and meaning?  Why do you think this line resonated with you?
  6. The introductory poem to Songs of Innocence refers to a poet/singer/piper who composes “…happy songs,/Every child may joy to hear.” To what extent does this line describe the poems in Songs of Innocence?
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Hi Everyone! My name is Belkis Sumba and I am a sophomore at Baruch. I am still undecided about my major as I am debating on going from accounting to finance. I currently live in Queens so the commute here isn’t too bad as it’s just an hour to get here. 

I recently adopted a dog with my sister this past September. Me and my sister have always wanted to foster a dog growing up and we finally did in August. We found the sweetest and nicest dog. Her name is Muffin and she is a pitbull mix. After a week of just fostering her, we knew that we wanted to give her a forever loving home. We made the decision of adopting her, as she quickly got attached and we also couldn’t let her go. Now we have the cutest and smartest dog. She knows many tricks such as paw, sit, lay, stand, roll over, spin, etc. 

When I have free time, I like to hang out with my friends. I like to try new foods with them and as well love photobooth pictures. I also love listening to music. I would say I am pretty diverse in music and can listen to anything, except for country. I don’t know why I cannot wrap my head around country. It is one thing I won’t put myself through. My favorite artist is definitely ASAP Rocky. For people who’ve never heard of Rocky’s music, a song that I know they always like is ‘Sundress’. I think it’s one of his most popular songs, but it’s so good, I definitely recommend listening to it. 

Another thing I like to do is play video games. One in particular, Fortnite. I used to play it on mobile, but now I just use my PS4 for it. I love playing it with my friends, as they also don’t take it too seriously. I wouldn’t say I am a pro, but I also wouldn’t say I am bad at the game. I’m decent. 

I am looking forward to this class and having the opportunity to expand my knowledge. 

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Intro Assignment


My name is Kayla. I am currently a freshman here at Baruch. I am majoring in Finance along with a minor in Computer Science. I grew up in Corona, Queens, and am currently living there right now. With that being said my commute from there to Barcuh isn’t too bad being about an hour without any transportation delays.

I am on the Baruch Women’s Basketball team. We practice every day and have about two games a week depending on scheduling.

I am currently not working due to my commitment to school and being on the team.

When I do have the time to relax I do enjoy resting and eating A LOT. I noticed that after being on the basketball I am almost always hungry. I also enjoy shopping, cleaning, listening to music, and just spending time with the people that I love.

I came to Baruch because this is my aunt’s alma mater and I have always looked up to her since a little girl. At Baruch, she got her degree in accounting and currently works as chief auditor. She was the first to go to college in my family which was what had inspired me to continue my education after high school and pursue a degree in Finance.

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Hello everyone, My name is Stephanie Michaca but you can call me Steph. This is my fourth semester here, I’m currently in my sophomore year, majoring in finance. I currently live in the Bronx, which seems foreign in this school as everyone I’ve met is either from Queens or Brooklyn. Hoping to find more of my people in school. 

I’m an avid coffee/energy drinker, so don’t be alarmed when you see me walking into class with either in hand. Dunkin has my heart, as it is my preferred choice. While we’re on the topic I have this FAVORITE place I love going to. It is a korean chicken place just by the school on 27th and 3rd ave. It was recommended to me by a friend but any chance I get I recommend it to others. So please go try it and you won’t be disappointed.

When it comes to travel, though I haven’t been far (Hoping to change that in the future), I’m fascinated by the culture in Mexico. Im a first generation Mexican-American and i Love visiting family and learning more about where my family is from and historic background of such beautiful places. I’ve been to the Pyramid of the Sun, which is a well known pyramid in the ancient city of Teotihuacan. If you get the chance to go I promise you won’t be disappointed. Taxco is another beautiful pueblo located in Guerrero Mexico. I went there recently during winter break, I miss it already. 

Video games don’t call out to me very much, but I will take time out of my day to play Mario Kart or Super Mario Bros any chance I get. I do it more so for the nostalgia feeling. Taking me back to when I was in fourth grade playing on my nintendo Dsi with my sister during the hot summer days. Something I wish I could do more often, holding onto those joyous memories. The smell of a nice rainy day on a summer evening, blasting the AC in the living room, eating a big bowl of cookies and cream ice cream while playing on the hardwood floor. Now that’s what I call life.

I’m interested to see where this class will take me, and the things I will learn. Hoping to come out of this class knowing something new and delving deeper into a new field of literature.

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