Introduction to Literature

Introduction to Literature
-- Functions of Literature (1): Narrative
-- “The Sound Collector”
-- “20/20”
Functions of Literature (1)
Let’s Start with an episode of a Text: The
Sound Collector
1st Viewing: Plot, Character
(2nd Viewing): Image, Form and Content
Elements of a Narrative
Reading “20/20” –Group Discussion
 Quiz and Course Introduction
What is Literature?
Artistic Representation of Life
Why Literature? (1)
of our own and others
-- interesting ways of
understanding the
Let’s Start with a Text:
The Sound Collector (Lynn Smith; 1982)
While you watch the film: pay attention to its
• how the story begins, develops, reaches some turning points,
and ends.
• the relations between the two brothers; whether there is a
contrast between the kids and the adults, and between the two
• The human images: are they as cute as the cartoons you've
been before? What is the dominant image?
• who tells the story.
While you watch it . . . The Beginning
What do you get from the beginning? What do you
expect to see after watching the title & the
 1. Adults’ voices: Two women chatted about the
weather, that it was going to rain. Also, one
marveled at the hat the other bought on sale.
2. Nature’s sound+ Adults’ voices: With the bee we
get into the room,
and hear the father coughing.
Let’s analyze it . . .Two Brothers
Have you noticed any
conflicts or contrasts?
e.g. -- the relations between
the two brothers;
--the contrast between the kids
and the adults.
Two brothers: The older
brother (Seymour)
complained about the
younger, Leonard, that he
was a dreamer, and he
always followed him around.
Seymour: finds his brother a
nuisance; Leonard, more
Structure . . .and its Turning Point.
When does the ‘action’ begin?
Seymour, the older brother, could
not go out, so he is forced to play
with Leonard. Leonard says that he
collects sounds, but Seymour does
not believe in him.
 Leonard starts to imagine
different things with the sounds
he hears: “Hey, Listen to that.”
 Seymour: “take a hike” (go
away); "Leonard, cut it out.“
-- Mother: “Matt, the window”
 “You can hear the ocean inside.”
Is Leonard a nuisance?
Leonard’s Imagination
Father’s rocking chair: Robber with squeaky
shoes coming around the corner
Sounds from a seashell: A story about the
submarine, a shipwreck, … --Seymour gets a bit
A guy fishing
(mother’s dropping pots and pans) Fished up
old pots and pans, --mocking Leo
The Working of Imagination
“A suit of armor”  a story
Toaster  Castle
Father ‘s gargling dragon, flying
Monster guarding it.
Water boiling  A Dracula screaming
with a toothache.
Bee  dentist drilling; (“how do you
“Telephone rings” – the guy’s wife
Egg-beater helicopter “But then what?”
The Endings…Game Picked up by
“The end.” “Leonard can’t keep up anything.”
Father’s snore  the dentist turns into a lion,
scaring the Dracula away
“Lunch is ready.” “I bet Leonard would change
his mind.”
Outside – feet tramping on some twigs evil
kings who eat snails for breakfast; a bike’s horn
 sounds like Dad “He’s probably on to
something else.”
Leonard: Clouds – a fish, a mermaid, a dragon
Questions for you…
How do you compare the two brothers?
What do you think about the ending?
What’s special about this animation and esp.
its presentation of human figures?
What do you make of the text?
The Plot
Setting: a boring rainy afternoon in a suburban
 Middle: Development of a tension: between
the two brothers.
 Turning Points
–- The older brother gets interested in joining
the game.
–- The rain stops and Leonard loses interest in
collecting sounds.
 Ending
–- The two brothers go out, lie on the lawn and
keep on imagining. Seymour keeps on
listening, but Leonard starts to use his eyes...
More discussion by you later …
Note 1:
-- carpool (共乘)
e.g. When Harry Met Sally (1989)
-- 20/20 vision = 視力 1.0
Note 2: Ohio to Indiana to Spokane
Note 3
“Look, cows.”
Chalk/Choke it up to =
attribute it to
What Ruthie observes
Sources (left to right): 1, 2, 3; Indian Paintbrush (West America or Asia)
What Ruthie thought she saw
Tree reflector
Sources (left to right): 1, 2
Big Foot
What Ruthie thought she saw
UFO on top of Twin Falls, Idaho
UFO Sighting Twin Falls 2012
UFO Sighting in Twin Falls, Idaho on April 14th
A handsome genius in the person of Bill
20/20: Questions for Discussion
[Character] What is Bill's first impression of Ruthie?
What does that say about Bill? Has he changed his
view on her as they drive along?
[Character] Which of Ruthie's observations are
realistic and which are unreal? Do you think she is
merely misinterpreting what she sees, or is she seeing
things that aren't there?
[Theme] Whose vision is 20/20, Ruthie's or Bill's? What
makes you think so?
[Association] Which one of them would you like to
have as roommate, or travel partner?
Discussion –in class and online
1) Your Prompt-Card Question,
2) comparing the two texts and
3) the Functions of Literature
In class discussion –
1-6 in SF 204; 7-12 in SF 205
Let’s Take a Break!!!
Form a Group of 6 or 7;
Those without a group or with questions,
please come see me.
Period 2: Discussion Time 10:10-11:00
Let’s Take a Break!!!
Turn on your smart phones, and
Connect them to Internet
1. Which of the following is NOT what
Ruthie sees on the road, or thinks she
1. An Indian paintbrush
2. A golden eagle
3. The store sign of Berger King
4. A UFO.
2. For Bill, Ruthie is
1. not argumentative like an East Coast
2. Not a good driver
3. Not attentive to the surroundings
4. Not willing to share fuel cost
3. When does Bill start to change his
idea about Ruthie
1. When she says “Look, cows.”
2. When she sees Indian Paintbrush.
3. When she says she sees Big Foot.
4. When she sees a UFO.
4. What does Ruthie think about Bill?
1. A good-for-nothing
2. A male chauvinist
3. A lazy bone
4. A handsome guy
5. Do you anyone like Ruthie?
1. Yes, one of my family members
2. Yes, one of my friends
3. No
4. Not sure
Prompt Card Discussion
The Characters: More Questions
-- How does Seymour look at Leonard? Do you relate to
your siblings in similar ways?
-- How does Seymour respond to the story Leonard tells?
-- How does he tell the story differently from Leonard
when the mother drops pots and pans on the floor? When
does he gets interested?
-- Why does Leonard finish the story so abruptly? Does
that say something about how a child thinks? How about
Seymour as an older kid? What do you think about the
ending he gives? Also, what do you think about the
different games they have when going outside the house?
Children’s Imagination
1) their father rocking on the rocking chair --> a thief
coming around the corner
2) cone shell --> a story about a submarine, a
shipwreck, the ocean, a guy fishing,
3) the dog making the mother drop all the pots and
pans, a racket --> the guy fishes up old pots and
pans, or fishes up a suit of armor;
--> the toaster --> As soon as the guy puts on the
armor, a castle pops up in front of him.
Children’s Imagination (2)
--> the father gargling --> a monster is guarding the
gate of the castle.
--> the father gargling --> a dragon?
--> the tea pot whistling --> a Dracula screaming
because of his toothache
--> the bee sound --> the guy a dentist drilling the
teeth of the Dracula;
--> the telephone --> the guy’s wife comes to his
rescue in a helicopter;
As soon as the sky clears up, Leonard says, ’the
end,’ and goes to look at the sun.
But his brother kept on figuring out another ending.
The father’s snoring --> The dentist turns into a lion,
and scared the Dracula away forever.
A girl stepping on some twigs-> An evil king who
eats nails for breakfast.
The Two Brothers: Children with
Different Potentialities
 More mature, knows
about “trading.”
 Apparently a leader,
but actually a follower
 More consistent but
less imaginative
 a collector? A more
disciplined artist?
 Imaginative and
 Not consistent
  an artist? A rolling
The Characters (2): Minor Characters as
The parents -- minor
characters who serve as
a foil(陪襯).
Their activities &
concerns: the weather,
hat, cooking, brushing
teeth, housekeeping and
Funny picture of the
father; e.g. the bike horn
sounds like 'Dad‘
Form and Content –After second viewing
Image 1– The bee is noisy,
isn't it? How does the film
use the fly? What does
Leonard imagine the noise
it creates to be? Why is it
a recurring image?
Image 2 -- The human
images are not cute at all,
aren't they? But pay close
attention to how the images
are made.
Form and Content together …
Children can sometimes use their five senses
to respond to nature better than adults, who
have more daily matters (daily routine,
housekeeping, buying and collecting) to
worry about.
A Story with a Message to YOU and for
the Course
Have you ever been a collector? A collector
of what? Have you ever listened to a sea
Some people say that only children can be
pure and imaginative. What do you
think? How is an artist's imagination
different from that of a kid?
Would you like to be a sound and sense
collector in our class? What do you think
you can gain from this collection?
For your reference—till the Poetry unit
“The Sound Collector”
by Roger McGough
A stranger called this morning
Dressed all in black and grey
Put every sound into a bag
And carried them away
The whistling of the kettle
The turning of the lock
The purring of the kitten
The ticking of the clock
The popping of the toaster
The crunching of the flakes
When you spread the marmalade
The scraping noise it makes
From All the Best – The Selected Poems of
Roger McGough. (source)
The hissing of the frying pan
The ticking of the grill
The bubbling of the bathtub
As it starts to fill
The drumming of the raindrops
On the windowpane
When you do the washing-up
The gurgle of the drain
The crying of the baby
The squeaking of the chair
The swishing of the curtain
The creaking of the stair
A stranger called this morning
He didn't leave his name
Left us only silence
Life will never be the same
Course Introduction
This course
selects interesting English poems, short stories (and a
novel next semester) and plays for us to read and
-- appreciate how literary texts convey their meanings
to us through both form and content;
-- understand different literary genres, their
conventions and components,
-- analyze different parts of a text and how they are
connected to its overall meaning; and, most
-- relate (creatively) the knowledge and experience we
have in reading English literature to our
understanding of ourselves and our society.
Analytical Skills +
understanding of Life
Reading Process:
Understanding (with your own ‘horizon’ 地平線)
 Appreciation  Interpretation  Your
Self-Understanding and horizon broadened.
It usually takes several readings to fully
understand and appreciate a text.
While you read, keep your mind and hand busy—
by doing annotations first and then raising and
answering questions online and in class.
Please turn to the syllabus now.
Overall Plan of a Class
Before class:
you first read the texts, and raise questions (before
Wed. noon 12:00)
 [optional and if available]
-- watching lecture-- for a general understanding;
-- 2nd reading + watching the discussion--think of your
own answers to the questions raised
In class (the following order will be used flexibly)
1st hour: (comprehension) Quiz and lecture
2nd group discussion and in-group presentation
3rd group presentation and wrapping up the discussion
Class Management
 Each time one group comes earlier for 15-20
mins to help arrange the seats
 The group members sit together on the
numbered seats.
What have you learned today?
Analyzing a text (by examining
its narrative elements) in order
to understand others and
broaden our horizons;
Reading process
“20/20” –Character and Plot
Our course objectives and
See you next time!
1) Finish “A&P”
2) Raise Questions before SAT.
noon 12:00