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“Is All Our Company Here?” –Shakespeare at St. Mark’s

By Richard E. ”Nick” Noble, SM & SS ‘76

“Is All Our Company Here?” –Shakespeare at St. Mark’s

QUINCE: Is all our company here?

BOTTOM: You were best to call them generally, man by man,
according to the scrip.

QUINCE: Here is the scroll of every man’s name, which is
thought fit, through all Athens, to play in our
interlude before the duke and the duchess, on his
wedding-day at night.

BOTTOM: First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats
on, then read the names of the actors, and so grow
to a point.

In the fall of 1972, veteran St. Mark’s English teacher Jay Engel directed a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was the third of what would eventually be five productions of the popular Shakespearean comedy at the School. It is vivid in my memory, because I played the central role of “Nick Bottom, the Weaver,” wearing denim overalls for a costume. It was also my first introduction to performing Shakespeare. Like so many St. Markers, my first in-depth interaction with the Bard of Avon happened right here on the SM campus. (more…)

Belonging in Cunha’s “A Study of Homeland in Displacement” and Alexie’s “Honor Society”

By Mary Flathers, V Form

Belonging in Cunha’s “A Study of Homeland in Displacement” and Alexie’s “Honor Society”

Belonging is a widely discussed topic in the present day. Whether it is belonging to a certain race, religion, or gender, a sense of unity is created among people who share a common aspect in life. Within Fernanda Cunha and Sherman Alexie’s short stories, respectively entitled “A Study of Homeland in Displacement” and “Honor Society,” the element of belonging is explored in depth. In both of these stories, the narrators struggle with family ties and their identities. However, in Alexie’s story, the narrator focuses on creating a future and leaving behind a home, while in Cunha’s story, the narrator holds onto her past by maintaining the home in her mind.

These stories are similar in a multitude of ways, and the most prominent similarities appear in the narrators’ management of family and identity. In Alexie’s story, the love and respect the narrator has for his family are evident when he begins to “sing and drum with [his] mother and father” (Alexie 1). Though he does not believe in the “God” they sing of, he is willing to overcome the pride he has in his own ideologies to respect the beliefs of his family. Similarly, in Cunha’s story, the narrator has fond memories of a loving community. She recalls her grandfather as a man who “smokes a pack a day and laughs the way [she] remember[s] like he’s invincible” (Cunha 1). Though at times the borders placed around her family by the nations they live in seem too large to bear, as seen when the narrator tries “to better [her] [native language,] Portuguese, soften it so it is less jagged” (Cunha 1), the attachment the narrator has to her family allows for her to overcome these obstacles. Through studying this vital aspect of her memory, the narrator maintains her past identity. (more…)

Words, Words, Words

By Mr. Jonathan Golden, Systems and Information Services Librarian

Words, Words, Words

I love words. What’s not to love?
It’s amazing to think that nearly the totality of human knowledge and understanding is expressed through a set of squiggles. What’s even more amazing is that each of us, every day, hears or reads sentences that we’ve never heard or read before and we are able to understand them.

Come to the library and pick a random book, flip to a random page, and read a random sentence. Ludwig Wittgenstein did not hold words in such high esteem. He argued that words merely express facts and are therefore devoid of any sort of value. Everything other than facts, everything that we care about, and everything that makes life worth living must exist outside of language. Language, according to Wittgenstein, is insufficient to capture the meaning outside of pure facts. He concludes his famous Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus with the statement, “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” It’s hard to take a bleaker view on words.

(more…)

The Power in Controlling the Past: Orwell’s 1984 & Big Brother

By Laura Sabino, IV Form

The Power in Controlling the Past: Orwell’s 1984 & Big Brother

Editor’s Note: 1984 was the St. Mark’s School Gray Colloquium Summer Read for 2017

In George Orwell’s 1984, the Party aims to control all of the citizens of Oceania. They have figured out how to take away their citizens’ privacy by watching them through tele-screens, brainwashing them to be blindly loyal, and even claiming control over their bodies and mind. The Party has limited language, so rebellious thoughts could not be expressed, and are working towards controlling the past. The Party wants to control the past because by controlling history and memories, they are able to control their citizens and gain power.

At first sight, controlling the past might not seem too important since most people do not think history is crucial to their everyday lives. However, the Party controlling the past ends up giving it power. People look back and learn about history so that they are aware of mistakes and things to avoid. People look at history so that they can get reminders of what worked out and what did not, and what ended up being good and what ended up being bad. In 1984, the Party understands that history defines its people. (more…)

An Analysis of Alienation: The Natural Estrangement of the Individual

By Cooper Sarafin, VI Form

An Analysis of Alienation: The Natural Estrangement of the Individual

Total Estrangement

Alienation is a natural state of human beings. We are set in an environment that leaves us with a sense of inadequacy and ineptitude and no matter what extent to which we alter our facades and wear a mask of falsity; we will never be able to cross the glass ceiling that is our expectations. From the very moment we are conceived, we are being classified and divided among throngs of opinions, preferences, and expectations. We are expected to live up to this normality of society, the ever prevalent quest to “fit in”. To be amidst the general populace and succeed in a manner relative to the ideas of said society and government that preside over our specific demographic. We are expected to succeed in the realm of capitalism and to move further up this hierarchy and supersede the ranks of the proletariat in turn for the bourgeoisie. We are expected to develop social relationships with everyone we meet and to be liked by them. We are expected to achieve great things and to do what has never been done before. In the aftermath of all this expectation, what is left for us to expect for ourselves other than that which has been told to us? In that we are governed by these (more…)

Video Oral Arguments: Literature on Trial

Students on Film (in order of appearance): Charlotte Wood, Jenny Deveaux, Joey Smith, Amanda Christie, Josh Loveridge, Gabe Brower, Janelle Carmichael, VI Form

Video Oral Arguments: Literature on Trial

Editor’s Note: This is a highlight reel from Ms. Matthews’ Literature on Trial class (2016 VI Form fall semester English). The course is divided into two sections. In the first half, the focus is on trials, plaintiffs, prosecutors and defendants, reading works of literature and brainstorming criminal or civil wrongs committed by characters in the text. Students work in trial groups to gather evidence, prepare witnesses, and put on their best case. The second half consists of appellate work where students focus on the after effects of a trial, reviewing lower court records for Constitutional issues, drafting briefs for appeal and preparing for a final oral argument.

Please click here or on the images for the “student attorneys” in action! screenshot-2017-02-20-19-30-09screenshot-2017-02-20-19-30-57 (more…)