Millennial and Modern Interpretation of Contemporary Text

1. Part A: On the fifty year anniversary of Eliot’s “Prufrock,” Karen Prior argued in the Atlantic that Eliot created the first hipster. Read the 2015 article here. After you consider Prior’s interpretation of Prufrock, answer this question: Do you agree with this depiction of Prufrock? Explain your answer Part B: A broader view of Prufrock even invites generational analysis! The millennial generation is the butt of many jokes and complaints of older (yes, boomer) generations. Example: millennials have been blamed for killing engagement ring and home buying trends. But, boomers can’t rotate pdf files or text. It’s a serious generational stand-off, ya’ll. Consider the claims generations make about each other (google or search some hashtags, if necessary) and compare them to Prufrock and his views of the world and people around him. Then answer this question: Do millennial jokes and corresponding boomer jokes demonstrate Prufrock-esque ideas, anxieties, concerns, and/or complaints? Provide examples in your explanation. 2. Which author makes the harshest argument against the South: Faulkner or Fitzgerald? Does that author also make the harshest argument against southern gender norms? Explain your answers. 3. John Steinbeck’s concluding scene in the Grapes of Wrath where Rose of Sharon breastfeeds a dying man was too controversial for 1940 film, but the image of a woman providing succor to a dying stranger is the perfect representation of Steinbeck’s zygote argument. Today’s society faces serious and growing divisions based on region, religion, race, gender, sexuality, environmental policy, and economic status. Perhaps looking for the traces of Steinbeck’s zygote argument should be considered in light of current social strife. Consider the following prominent and symbolic social movements each protesting a particular divide in society today – one a divide based on race, the other on gender/sexuality. Each protest has adopted a specific symbolic action to represent its message and method. As you consider each protest, please note that I deliberately did not select images that included prominent figures in the movements, specifically Greta Thunberg or Colin Kaepernick, because I am not asking you to comment on a person. Nor am I asking if you agree with these movements. Rather, I’m asking you to analyze the methods of the movements. The Me Too movement began and flourishes as a hashtag on social media. Its phrasing, ‘Me too’ allows a person to identify that they have experienced gender discrimination and/or sexual violence. The National Anthem protest began as a single player first sitting during the National Anthem, but was deliberately rethought and has been enacted since as kneeling during the National Anthem. The player’s action prompted others to adopt the same action in a sign of solidarity. Unlike #MeToo, the National Anthem protest did not have a deliberate word or phrase associated with it (although some have since developed based on the protest). School Strike for Climate began as a single high school youth protesting the lack of climate change action and legislation by refusing to attend school on Fridays and standing or sitting outside a house of government to draw attention and demand legislative action. The youth’s sustained protest days and consistent protest method resulted in increasingly broad media coverage and prompted other youths to adopt the same action in a sign of solidarity. The original sign used in the youth’s protest evolved into a hashtag but did not begin as one. After you’ve considered the symbols and symbolic acts of these protests, answer these questions. Explain your answers. How do the symbolic acts, labels, and/or symbols used by these protest movements compare to Steinbeck’s zygote image? Does the label, the act, or the symbol associated with each movement argue for and/or represent bringing people together, forming an I out of a we? Do the methods of protest operate on the idea of bringing people together and finding power in connection and humanity, like Steinbeck advocated with Rose of Sharon and the dying man? metoo imagekneeling imageschool strike image 4. Below are 2 of the most common and contemporary short-form mediums (i.e. formats, platforms) that are popular today, and examples of the people or companies who mastered their medium. Spend some time exploring these formats & platforms (especially if you’re unfamiliar with them). After you’ve considered what these mediums are and how they work, answer this question: Do these count as modern day ‘sketches’? Explain your answer? As you explain your answer, be sure to draw connections between the purpose, content, and styles of the American Literature sketch genre (i.e. Irving, Hawthorne, & Dos Passos). I’m not asking if you like Anthony Bourdain’s blog, or if you like the videos on TikTok. Rather, I’m asking if you think these mediums & platforms could or should be considered contemporary sketches? (Links to an external site.) – Blog – (Links to an external site.)social media video network (this company absorbed and outlasted Vine which was absorbed by Twitter) 5. Which of the texts read or referenced in modules 3, 4 & 5 do you find the most relevant today? Which of the texts read in modules 3, 4 & 5 do you think have the most aesthetic value? In other words, which do you find the most artistic, artful, beautiful? Which can you appreciate as literary art even if you don’t agree or particularly enjoy reading? Explain your answers. LINKS

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