Literature as a Societal Cornerstone

Note: The following is an essay originally written for Professor Niyi Osundare’s Poetry as a Genre class during the Fall 2010 semester at the University of New Orleans. Date of creation: November 22, 2010. If referring to this essay academically, please remember to make the appropriate citations so as to avoid running afoul of your institution’s plagiarism policy.

To understand the extent of the act of iconoclasm in the work of William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge, and the far reaching affects upon the Romantic Movement, affecting literary traditions from that period forward, one must first take into consideration other factors. Firstly, the intricate link between the earliest English literature and the English cultural mindset cannot be ignored, as anything that comments on the tradition is simultaneously making a commentary on the society from which it originates, and, in this case, provided a strong influence on this infant society. Further, oral literature, inherent in its nature as a device of transmission, creates a genealogy of literature, so much so that the lineage of critical thought can almost be traced backwards along a trail of mentors and disciples, exemplified by the parallels in the relationships between Jonathan Swift and John Dryden, Coleridge and Wordsworth, and many others.

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The American Gothic as the One True American Literary Form

Note: The following is an essay originally written for Professor Nancy Easterlin after she took over the Short Story as a Genre class during the Fall 2010 semester at the University of New Orleans following the untimely death of the late Professor J.W. Cooke. Date of creation: December 26, 2010. If referring to this essay academically, please remember to make the appropriate citations so as to avoid running afoul of your institution’s plagiarism policy.

The American Gothic functions as a window into the greater American consciousness, offering a keen insight into the workings of the American psyche, and as such, it can be claimed that it is the true, defining genre of American literature. In the Introduction to American Gothic Fiction, Allan Lloyd Smith, writing of The Great Gatsby, says the American Gothic is about “the return of the past, of the repressed and denied, the buried secret that subverts and corrodes the present, whatever the culture does not want to know or admit” (Smith 1). The tropes of the genre divulge a great deal about the American character, fears given form revealing basic traits and archetypes that allow the critic to infer a great deal about the author and society.

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Oral Performance and the Transfiguration of the Commonplace

Note: The following is an essay originally written for Professor Niyi Osundare’s Poetry as a Genre class during the Fall 2010 semester at the University of New Orleans. Date of creation: September 27, 2010. If referring to this essay academically, please remember to make the appropriate citations so as to avoid running afoul of your institution’s plagiarism policy.

In the short 2010 documentary “music in high places” [sic] Taylor Pate, then Poetry Editor of the New Delta Review, at Louisiana State University was interviewed. The impetus for the documentary was investigation into the lives of young Baton Rouge poets and musicians who had grown up in alternative educational forms, namely Christian schooling and homeschooling, and how this affected their art. Pate, the son of a Christian pastor, was asked to what extent he felt prosleytization was informed by performance. His reply? After services, Reverend Pate would ask the family questions, not about the details of the content of the sermon, but technical issues pertaining to the broadcast of the sermon, such as whether the microphones were adequate or the congregation was involved: “So, how do you think people liked it… was it loud enough?” The content of the message was not unimportant, but the performance aspect of the sermon is of greater importance that one might previously realize, and that there was a fundamental difference between a sermon given orally and one that existed solely on the page.
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Metamorphosis and Eternal Recurrence in ‘Shine, Perishing Republic’

Lower Manhattan (1934), Thomas James Delbridge. Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum at the Renwick Gallery.
Lower Manhattan (1934), Thomas James Delbridge. Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum at the Renwick Gallery.

Note: The following is an essay originally written for Professor Niyi Osundare’s Poetry as a Genre class during the Fall 2010 semester at the University of New Orleans. Date of creation: November 22, 2010. If referring to this essay academically, please remember to make the appropriate citations so as to avoid running afoul of your institution’s plagiarism policy.

“Does it not hurt the caterpillar to become the butterfly?”
“Change always hurts, that is how you know it is working.”

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