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Summative Entry

Studying the literature and culture of the nineteenth century has amplified my understanding of what it is to be human.

I was extremely nervous about undertaking ENGL200. I am currently studying to become a primary school teacher and was well aware that this unit doesn’t directly ‘add’ to my professional learning (aka transcript). However, I really wanted to challenge myself and extend my reading boundaries. During the first two weeks I felt uncomfortably out of depth. I soon realised I was being absurd as I gradually grew aware of how friendly and helpful my peers were and that the unit truly promoted learning over judgement. I have learnt so much more than I could have ever predicted about the Romantic and Victorian Era, as well myself.

What initially captivated me was content relating to the romantics steering away from the valued rationalism of the Enlightenment. Although I struggle with reading poetry, the conversations held in class gave me an insight I could never have achieved alone. After analysing ‘Frost at Midnight’ composed by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, I realised I began to utilise my understandings outside of the classroom. Before this course, I already needed to take breaks to have a stroll in the bush or sit in a creek and recap on my stresses. However, overtime I developed an immense appreciation for walking between my classes, reading in the sun, and planting myself in the beer garden rather than the bar (whoops). I always found the saying to “enjoy the small things in life” to be so corny, but now I find it so applicable to my current situation. From this, I became aware that I easily take for granted the simple pleasures that can’t always be experienced by all.

The thing that surprised me the most was how much enjoyment I was obtaining from the visual art examples in class. Before this, I had never had a soft spot for paintings. I believe learning about the context of the times in which they were composed allowed me to truly value each piece. My personal favourite was William Blake’s depiction of Newton measuring the universe. This led me to become so excited for the NSW Gallery visit and it did not disappoint. Having never stepped foot in a gallery, I felt like a tourist and the photo album on my phone reinforces this.

My favourite book of this unit was without a doubt ‘Wuthering Heights’. I had never read a text whereby human emotion was so entwined, and I loved it! The way in which Emily Bronte incorporated so many significant characters to the plot with Nelly Dean as the gossiping narrator astounded me. My favourite text in class however was ‘The Scholar Gypsy’ by Matthew Arnold. I couldn’t help but think to myself how we as humans in modern times are so obsessed with ticking the boxes of what society deems acceptable rather than fulfilling our own voids. It really set in stone for myself how grateful I was for choosing this unit as the first chance to elect something outside of my required course enrolment guide.

All in all, I would recommend this unit to anyone wishing to extend their literature knowledge and there own perceptions. I believe I have rambled on in this entry but it’s the only way I felt I could communicate my true appreciation to both Michael and my peers.

‘Newton’, William Blake 1795
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Blog Five!

Explore The Victorian Web: http://victorianweb.org/ and give a brief account of how valuable this site can be for a comprehensive study of all aspects of Charles Dickens’ work. Provide links to some of the most important things you found there.

The Victorian Web is an excellent source of information regarding the life of Charles Dickens and his remarkable oeuvre. After a brief look around the website I couldn’t help but think to myself, this is quite dull. However, I could not have imagined the amount of information waiting for me when I clicked on the link to his name. This webpage holds content ranging from his works to his political history and everything in between!

This website has greatly assisted in allowing myself to recap upon information that my brain had deemed lost since I studying ‘Great Expectations’ back in high school. The most notable section of the site for me would have to be the in depth biography found via:

http://victorianweb.org/authors/dickens/bioov.html

Being able to access this 80’s style web account of his life has the potential to inform readers about the context that he formed his literature around. One thing I had never known (which might be obvious to others) is the travels in which he embarked to the United States, Italy, France and Sweden!

However, do be warned! I wouldn’t go as far as to include this information in an essay. Although it is a thorough account of Dickens life, it is stated that the work is not all peer reviewed material. Nonetheless, still an interesting read!

André Gill
14 June 1868
Colored engraving
Éclipse (Paris)
http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/dickens/gallery/13.html
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Blog Four!

Write a letter to your state parliamentarian telling him how your suburban environment is being effectively destroyed by eroding the natural landscape and putting high-rise apartments in the place of shrubs and trees.

To whom it doesn’t concern,

I’m writing this letter to voice my opinion over the devastating housing developments that are plaguing the Hawkesbury. Now I know what you’re thinking, “how could I, the state parliamentarian be concerned? I don’t even live there!” Which is a fair point. You don’t have to sit in hour-long traffic just to go home to your family after a long day of work because your roads are adept to the rising population. But ours are not! You have to fix the problem before adding to it. And don’t even think about claiming that replacing our historical two-lane bridge with another two-lane bridge will solve anything. We all know that’s a project destined for failure.

But the most important thing your delusional mind must be forgetting is the beautiful landscape! Where will we take our children to experience and explore what nature has to offer? It sure as hell won’t be to the neighbour’s house that’s walls are one meters distance from our own! The Hawkesbury needs a rising population to add to the community, but not at this rate and certainly not at this time.


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Blog Three!

Write your own poem beginning with any of the following lines from Emily Bronte’s poems:

I’m happiest when most away….

No coward soul is mine….

Yesterday

“No coward soul is mine”,
You lied to all even those of the divine,
To stand one day a life of courage,
Is wishful thinking as you’d never flourish

But huzzah today is a new day,
You look around and see no grey,
Only slight but growing shade afar,
You squint and sense something is ajar

Oh how could you forget that sour past,
Only for a moment that ceased to last,
You should never allow your hopes to gain fat,
I could stand here forever and tell you that

Goal after goal you set to fail,
How can you possibly be more frail,
You avoid responsibilities to a tee,
Why won’t you god damn listen to me!

Ignore me now I’ll be coming back,
The longer you wait the harder I hack,
For until you learn to grow a spine,
You will never truly claim “No coward soul is mine!”

“The Blessed Guillaume De Toulouse Tormented By Demon’s” 1657 oil painting by French painter and sculptor Ambroise Fredeau
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Blog TWO

Why was Wordsworth’s Preface to the Lyrical Ballads so revolutionary?

William Wordsworth’s ‘Preface to Lyrical Ballads’ captures the integral meaning of the body of work constructed with Samuel Coleridge, whilst also simultaneously contributing to the commencement of the romantic era. This preface is regarded revolutionary as it shone a light upon unlocking a multitude of avenues for common society to access meaningful poetry. Wordsworth believed previous poets including those of the ‘The Age of Enlightenment’ incorporated diction and other devices ungraspable for some in order for them to be “carefully excluded”. This exclusion was however, further stressed as a “separation between themselves and the sympathies of men”. This preface envisioned art that encompassed “incidents and situations from common life” expressed through a language “really used by men” (men relating to mankind). This vision was a cog that turned in unison with concepts that formed around the primary laws of nature and elementary principle of pleasure. It is here that the focus on the “low and rustic life” of people broke down the barriers towards speaking a “more empathetic language” stemming from the ‘repeated experience and regular feelings’ of these said individuals.

Although Wordsworth created opportunities for the public, he also further challenged the meaning of what it meant to be a poet. Disregarding the previously held belief among many that a poet was only somebody who understood the intricacies of techniques and structure, Wordsworth simply described a poet as “a man speaking to men”. Delving into this idea, Wordsworth’s description of poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of feelings” must be retained, as we grow to understand that Wordsworth believed a poet’s role is the role of a communicator who translates ‘their feelings to those of the persons whose feelings he describes’ rather than only that of themselves.

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First Blog!

You have just heard and discussed Coleridge’s “silent icicles, / Quietly shining to the quiet Moon….” Write your own description in prose or poetry of some moments of intense silence where you feel your experience has opened up to a new world of understanding.

Morning

I yelped only for the sound to be drowned by the constant static of machinery. Still however, loud enough for the tenant to have found humour in the farm dog having brushed my leg. There she sat, chain-smoking at half past four in the morning, all too wired to rest. I only managed to sigh as diesel added to my already coffee stained singlet, a scene that seemed too common to curse.  With earmuffs on I held up traffic as per usual whilst hitting each pothole towards town, once again taking notice of my cemented cologne of manure.

Each meter gained as I drifted away from the road increased in warmth upon my skin. Without a single crunch, I shifted lower in gears as I headed towards the calm flow of the river. I eventually rolled to a halt. With eyes still focused on the water, I pulled the choke and floated down with the aid of the step. Lush palmetto beneath me, I sat and surrounded myself in the beauty of this particular dawn. I’ve been here before only slightly upstream.

I closed my eyes as my mind vividly returned to a square of heads upon ankles. Each comforting voice posed questions of the universe only to eliminate into none. With all asleep but myself, this unbroken silence could hopefully last forever. Sun rays rising up my face and body cool from the morning dew, the delightful tickling of ants couldn’t even disturb this moment of teenage bliss. As my breath soon slowly synced to the pace of my friends, our connecting gait walked into only that of a memory to never be relived.