with Angela Harris
Analysis Chapters 8-12
I think we all agreed that the book is really starting to capture our attention. We've enjoyed the story all along, but now tension is building between the characters and we feel that soon Danny will be faced with a very important decision. We finished Book Two this past week and will be wrapping up the book this week by completing all of Book Three. Please get started right away with your reading as it may be a little lengthier than past assignments.
In Book Two we learned the history of Hasidism through the eyes of Mr. Malter and discovered that Danny is reading a lot of Freud in the library. Through the study of psychoanalysis, Danny is trying to explain the conflict within, stating, "We're all so complicated inside."
We also discussed Danny's and his father's relationship, and while we agreed Reb is a loving and caring father, it's probably not a relationship we would wish to have. Danny's father only discusses Talmud with him, and otherwise lives in complete silence.
Zionism and Israeli Statehood
We then attempted to take on the incredibly complex issues of the history of Zionism, the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict from about 1880-1948. No easy task, I can assure you, but I felt it was important for the students to have at least a basic understanding of these concepts, ideas, and events, so that we may appreciate more fully the story that is now unfolding in The Chosen.
I provided the students with a brief history of Zionism and a handout from POV (Pbs.org) that lists an abbreviated timeline of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as well as a map of the area in 1947 and a map of the area from 1967 to present.
While nothing is likely to be settled in this region any time soon, it's important for students to be aware of and have some basic knowledge of the discussion surrounding these issues, at least within the context of the events in our novel (post World War II).
Walking in Someone Else's Shoes
We finished with a creative writing exercise that sought to put the writer in "someone else's shoes." (What does it mean to "walk in someone else's shoes" and why might that be relevant when discussing divisive issues?)
Each student was given a sketch of a shoe, possibly a shoe they would never be caught dead wearing, and then filled out a questionnaire which led them to create a character around the style of the shoe. These turned out really well and we shared them before the end of class. If the students like, they may write a "day in the life" narrative of their character, incorporating the personality and lifestyle traits of the invented owner. They may also use this as their final project. If so, word count should be at least 1,000 words.
Final Essays and Project for The Chosen
For Session I, all students currently have two more exploratory essays due and one final project, which may be creative or informative in nature. If creative, students can choose to finish the character sketch as mentioned above, or any other creative writing piece which relates in some way to The Chosen. If informative, topics can be anything we have discussed in class: The Torah, The Talmud, Judaism, Hasidism, Zionism, D-Day, World War II, The Holocaust (not discussed in-depth, but this could be a possible topic), or any other subject closely related to the book. If you need further ideas, please email me--word count should be at least 1,000 words.
Because this class crossed through Thanksgiving and we had one canceled meeting, students may use the holiday break to submit their final three papers. I strongly encouraged them to "stay on track" and not let three papers pile up until New Year's Eve. Please submit all work no later than Jan. 6. Session II (The Call of the Wild) begins Jan. 7.
As always, let me know if you have any questions. See you next week, our last class of the year!
On-line Class is Awesome!
Our second on-line six-week session will begin Jan. 7, 2015. We'll be taking on the Jack London classic, The Call of the Wild, and reading a short story by Rudyard Kipling. We'll also be taking side-trips to Alaska and the Yukon (history, geography) and writing a combination of personal response and exploratory essays. We have one spot available and you may register on-line.
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