Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Literature Circles Round 2: Acclaimed Modern & Contemporary Writers

To start blogging, click on the image of your book to the right!

Overview & Goals

In our second round of Literature Circles, we have the pleasure of reading some of the most loved and admired writers of modern times. Our goals are to expand our familiarity with writers who are recognized in the modern Canon, to develop our own tastes in recent fiction, and to further our understanding of the text by engaging in dialogue with other readers. Some readers will be using their Literature Circle Round 2 novel as their Senior Thesis novel. More on that project will be posted on this blog in coming weeks and months.


Literature Circle Round 2 will run from Monday, January 31-March 9, 2011. We want to have these books completed in time to make good progress on our Senior Thesis research and writing.

Members & Materials

Obviously it is ideal to have a collection of minds weighing in for a Literature Circle conversation, but for Round 2 we will take a more flexible view of the "Circle" in order to accommodate some students who would like to work independently on a Senior Thesis novel of their choice. While most groups will engage in dialog with their peers, some independent readers will use this blog as a personal log of the evolution of their thought while reading.

Books may be obtained from local libraries (holds and reserves can be placed online through the Minuteman or BPL networks), used or new bookstores, family, friends, etc.


Reading happens independently outside of class, according to the pacing guide established by each group on Tuesday, February 8, 2011. Literature Circle reading and blogging happens simultaneously with other regular work in English class; please manage your times wisely.


Blogging is the primary way we will communicate with Literature Circle group members about the text. Post to the blog once a week with a thoughtful entry of no more than 250 words! One of the challenges of this project is to be specific and concrete while also succinct. Please ground your responses to the text in the text itself, using quoted textual evidence whenever possible to support your analysis. Textual quotes should be in the service of deeper analysis of the themes and crafting of the text; the goal is to bring the author's voice into the discussion and analyze particular instances of his/her genius. Do not take up blog space with plot summary -- we will assume that all bloggers on the site are up to date with their reading and understand the plot line. Focus on analysis of message, style, and ideally the nexus of the two. Work to develop a community with your fellow bloggers by responding to specifics of their posts by building on or respectfully questioning their ideas. Please show the same respect for your peers online as you do so well in class on a daily basis.

Rules for the safety of your online identity, expectations and assessment criteria, and ideas for starting discussion are posted to the right under Assignment Guidelines; read and adhere to these. Blogging is a significant project grade. Links to blogs are at the right; just click on the name or picture of your book.

If you have questions or messages for Ms. Jones regarding the blog, it's best to address her in person or via e-mail.


Brief in-class meetings will happen 2-3 times while reading. These will have short reflection/note-taking assignments associated with them that will be graded as classwork. The primary forum for these Literature Circles is online, but you are encouraged to discuss more in person!

Assessments & Expectations

Clik on link to the right for specific expectations and grading rubrics.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

by Ernest Hemingway


by Vladimir Nabokov

The Catcher in the Rye (& other short texts)

by J.D. Salinger

One Hundred Years of Solitude

by Gabriel Garcia Marquez


by George Orwell

Kafka on the Shore

by Haruki Murakami

Stolen Lives

by Malika Oufkir


by Dave Eggers

The Street

by Ann Petry

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

by Junot Diaz

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Critical Theory Children's Book Projects

We have applied Critical Theory from the Postmodern, Marxist, Feminist, Psychoanalytic/Freudian, Archetypal/Jungian, and New Historicist schools to our favorite children's books. These presentations posted below show our strong analysis.

For Students
Instructions to upload your PowerPoint are below and also here, along with the grading rubric for the project.
  • Log into your Google/Gmail account (you will want one now and in the future if you don't already have one!) and go to Google Docs (
  • Upload your PowerPoint into Google Docs by clicking "Upload" -> unclick the boxes that say "Convert document/text..." -> "Select Files to Upload" -> find the document -> "Start Upload". Then go "Back to Google Docs" and click on the new document you just uploaded.
  • Share your document by clicking "Share" in the upper right corner -> "Change" -> "Anyone with the link" -> "Save"
  • Copy the URL from the box in the middle of your screen (NOT from the browser at the top of your screen)
  • Return to this Blogger blog ( and create a Comment on the Critical Theory Children's Book Project post. You will paste the link to your Google Doc PPT into the body of your Comment, but you will disguise the long ugly URL as some nice tidy little text, in this case the title of your children's book. Do it like this: In the body of your comment, type the following:

    Hit 'Post Comment'. Then test it out! Check in with Ms. Jones if you get stuck.