Into the Essay Arena! Hunger Games in ENG 111

This fall, I am incorporating a novel into my ENG 111 -Expository Writing, for the first time in quite a while. The Hunger Games was the perfect choice, and I look forward to seeing how the students respond. I’ll be sharing their thoughts here as they seem intriguing for discussion, and I hope our numbers are swelled with some of my super students!

In the class, the students will be writing journals on the book, one for every three chapters and then an overview one. They will also have the chance to incorporate the novel into one of the essays.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how this goes. After years of seeing students in ENG 113 who have either never read a book or who haven’t read a book since middle school, I’m hoping the Hunger Games will spark a fire or two in some of my students.

After the jump, find the journal questions I am using. What do you think? I’d love to get some feedback from our serious readers here!

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Weird and Wonderful Time at Waldenbooks

This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of doing a signing for Twilight and History at the nearby Waldenbooks. Fortunately, it was not an experience like Parnell Hall describes in his absolutely hilarious song  and video about how depressing it is to have a book signing that no one attends. Every author has had these, I imagine (I certainly have). My husband still dines out on the story of the signing at  Barnes and Noble when he was elated to find four people waiting for him to get there, and they were the only ones who showed up the whole time!  We had a steady crowd, including one dear thing who looked at the book, looked at me, then said, in motherly tones, “Well, I’ve never read your books, but my daughter and her friends are just crazy about them.” She seemed rather startled when I assured her I was not actually Stephenie Meyer. (That was the weird part) [Read more…]

Beneath the Surface: Continued Conversation on Bree Tanner

Well, our so-called surface level thread on the new Bree Tanner novella quickly went far beneath the surface, not a surprising development for our readers here! To make sure some of the great conversation, which went quickly into deep waters of the novella as an allegory or defense of Meyer’s faith, didn’t get lost in the pile of comments, we’re pulling them up here to continue the excellent discussion . Feel free to chime in with your thoughts on the deeper aspects of the text, with other posts along those lines to come soon!

   James on June 15, 2010 at 3:40 am

There are many insights into the vampire world, to be sure, as Stephenie promised. I realized that the Nomad vampires are actually homeless. Don’t know why I didn’t realize that before. Other than the Volturi and Cullens, all appear to be wanderers. Bummer.

I hope to talk on this with John and Steve Walker in another upcoming podcast, but I also noticed the great deal of hellish imagery associated with Riley’s coven/congregation. This led me to see that Riley is a misleading priest figure, lying to his congregants to keep them under his control, spreading superstition and lies so that they won’t realize they have the potential to live as beings of light (with love again as a potential path to glory/divinization).

So the questions arise, “Does the Creator know the truth? Is the Creator… wrong? Does the Creator assent to her priest/spokesman’s controlling lies and abuse?” And, of course, in any case, “what can/should be done about it?” How can you exercise your “free agency”/autonomy when you realize how ignorant and misled your religion truly is? I think with “Bree Tanner,” Meyer posits a remarkable allegory about what (not) to do when you realize your faith — or other beliefs — are untrue, in contrast with Bella’s finding a true path following the prophetic and godlike Carlisle. Remarkable.

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Misery Loves Company: The New Yorker on the popularity of YA dystopias (Hunger Games!)

This week’s  New Yorker has a wonderful article analyzing the popularity of dystopian novels for younger readers (though acknowledging that many of the most fervent readers of the Hunger Games are adults). Among the reasons the author, Laura Miller, gives for this trend is the possibility  that high school is a dystopian world much like Panem (no wonder those of us who weren’t  “Careers” felt like we were fighting for survival every day of four years of misery!). [Read more…]

Some “Muse”ings about Inspiration: the Voices in Meyer’s and Collins’s Heads

Inspiration often comes from unusual places. According to tradition, Charles Dickens was asked whether he wanted a lemon twist or an olive in his drink—“olive or twist”—and thus lighted upon the name of one of his most beloved characters.  Rowling got her inspiration on a train, Meyer’s came in a dream, and Collins’s idea for the Hunger Games sprang to life while she was flipping channels on television.  But, after that initial surge of inspiration, an author has to sit down and write, often even when he or she does not want to, and that’s where a different brand of inspiration comes in: auditory inspiration.

Many authors report that listening to certain kinds of music helps them write. Sharyn McCrumb, New York Times bestselling Appalachian author, usually has different soundtracks for the different characters in her Ballad novels, and has even produced a CD of traditional songs linked to the books. Suzanne Collins has noted that she prefers listening to classical music as she writes, since she finds lyrics distracting (and with Katniss’s voice in your head, there really isn’t room for more voices, perhaps). And of course, Stephenie Meyer has Muse, the band she has thanked publically as her inspiration and included on many of the “playlists” she posts for her novels on her website.  Muse is an interesting group. Like Queen, with whom they share some stylistic elements and whom they cite as an inspiration, Muse is a band named after a female figure, through the band members are all men. In addition to being a noun describing the nine lovely ladies of mythology, however, the word “muse” is, of course, also a verb for thoughtful pondering, and Muse’s lyrics certainly give much to think about. [Read more…]