Volcanoes be in Sicily

It was mentioned to me, after my conversation starter, that flowers weren’t the only metaphor used for sexual imagery.  Dickinson may have used volcanoes in a similar way. However, volcanoes can also be interpreted as imagination or emotion. So how did you read “Volcanoes be in Sicily”? Which words or phrases specifically gave you that interpretation?

Some reminders and hints about upcoming assignments

  • USE YOUR RESOURCES! From your syllabus:

UMW Writing Center

The UMW Writing Center offers assistance on all types of writing projects. If you are an online or commuter student, you can schedule online or face-to-face appointments. Please ensure you are choosing the appropriate appointment type and date.

Phone: 540-654-5653
Website: http://academics.umw.edu/writing-fredericksburg/
Office Location: Hurley Convergence Center (HCC), Room 430

  • Reminder about assessment on essays 2 and 3: because the turn-around time is nearly impossible for me, I will be relying heavily on the grading rubric to carry the feedback.  If you want more detail or explanation, of course ask and I will be glad to provide it!


  • Hint for your final project:
    • for artifacts from the Whitman archive: Click on the image of the original publication/book for the page(s) you want.  When it opens full size, you can right click to save it, then upload that image to VoiceThread easily.
    • for artifact from the Dickinson archive: If you want to use the scriptural image, you can right click it and save just as with Whitman pages.  If you want text also, as I have generally done on VoiceThread, you will need to screenshot/edit when you have the text tab open to get both or to focus on just text.  (You can drag the scriptural image closer to the text to keep it contact.) If you use Firefox, there is a new screenshot option in the browser (choose Page Options, the three dots up in the url bar).  There are also free screen shot apps or you can search to see how to capture the screen on your own computer.
    • What is most important to me is your commentary.  If capturing archive images is becoming a major stressor while you complete your final project, then just copy the text you want and paste it into a word doc to upload (pdf sometimes works better if you want to save as pdf).  This eliminates the possibility of manuscript images, but needs must.


With only two weeks left…

…I feel like it’s finally appropriate to ask the question we’ve all been dying to hear answers to:

Who do you like better? Whitman or Dickinson? Why?

What was your favorite line from “I Sing The Body Electric”?

After thinking about our reading for the week and going back and reading “I Sing The Body Electric” again I found many lines that really stuck out to me and made me feel something about them. I was curious as to what your favorite line(s) or favorite section was from this piece. I feel like the words that stick out the most to each person and grabs their attention really says something about that person and I want to get to know you all a little bit more by getting in your head for a moment. So, please drop your favorite parts and if you want or can, explain why.

One of the lines that I really loved was in section 3: “They did not love him by allowance, they loved him with personal love”.  I don’t really know why I was drawn to this line, maybe the fact that it is talking about relationships and ‘personal love’ and that seems more intimate to me and allowed me to get inside of the poem. If you haven’t had a class with Dr. Scanlon, one things she has said is to pretend like you are running your thumb through the lines of the poem and where ever the poem gives and you can push your thumb through is where the poem is letting you in and is a good place to start analyzing. This line was one of the first places my thumb broke through and allowed me to live inside of the poem for a bit.

Office Hours Week Two

You have a technology assignment at the start of the week to familiarize yourself with our interface in Canvas for office hours, which allows audio, video, or text chat.  Based on polling data, OH for this week will be as follows:

Wednesday, 5/30, 8:00-9:00 p.m.

Friday, 6/1, 4:00-5:00 p.m.

First Wednesday Reminders


Tonight at midnight we have our first deadline and the turn into new material; I know some of you are already ahead of the game. Make sure you’ve done your sign-ups, tours, and intro post as detailed in the module.   After tonight I will assign anyone who hasn’t chosen a Conversation Starter date for themself, and I will post those dates here for easy reference.  If you’ve registered on the blog but haven’t seen me mark that as “complete” on Canvas, it may be that you’ve forgotten your avatar and still have the monster default. I love the monsters, but this is one more way we can personalize our experience in this virtual classroom.

When you begin your VoiceThread commentary on our focal artifacts, make 100% sure you are in the right group. Next week this assignment will move to the Monday-Wednesday frame so you can focus on your short essay Thursday-Sunday.

Also, I encourage everyone to quickly rewatch the syllabus thread at the end of the week.  There are many good questions being asked there, and I’ve been replying to them, so you may have things even further clarified about the course.  You can use the bar along the bottom of the page to jump ahead to new comments; replies show up as a circle rather than a square.

I’m really happy to see free-blogging beginning on the intro posts! Don’t lose track of Jordan’s Conversation Starter, which is a little buried in the intros. She was a champ to go first! Jordan, a kosmos!

Are you falling a little in love with the Good Gray Poet?  I hope his voice gives you shivers when you listen. He’s an incredible spirit and this summer I’m finding his faith in our nation to be an important reminder.

Jordan’s Conversation Starter

Perhaps of the arguments presented in both the excerpts we’ve read from Emerson’s The Poet as well as The American Scholar, the most clear is that we, as consumers of art, argument, life, death, beauty and so many other accessories of existence, are formed from even the most meager  aspects of this consumption. As said in The Poet, “For we are not pans and barrows, nor even porters of the fire and torch-bearers, but children of the fire, made of it…” (1). I’ve found in Whitman’s Song of the Open Road the same call for realization. He writes in section three, “From all that has touch’d you I believe you have imparted to / yourselves, and now would impart the same secretly to me,” (122).

Both Emerson and Whitman call out for the consumer of existence, which is to say those who believe that when we leave ourselves to the cyclical nature of society (to be born, to work, and to die) the world is only available to us as “rude, silent, incomprehensible” (Whitman 125), but when we refuse the mundane, refuse the satisfactory and adequate, when we “Stand there, baulked and dumb, stuttering and stammering…transcending all limit and privacy…” (Emerson 6) we realize our ability to consume.

In The American Scholar, Emerson writes, “Books are written on it by thinkers, not by Man Thinking, by men of talent, that is, who start wrong, who set out from accepted dogmas, not from their own sight of principles” (26). The every man is no different than the writers of philosophy, of science, of law and principle for these men started as every men. The crafters of truth began no different from the current consumers of it (26).

With this in mind, I am brought to the following question: Why was the call for the “soul active” as Emerson puts in The American Scholar one so difficult to answer? Why was the pantheistic idea Emerson asserts in The Poet one so difficult to accept? Was it so radical a notion in the time  that only through the assertion of this-is-and-so-I-am or Song of the Open Road’s “I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return” (121) the call be answered?

I am struck by this idea of what it means to be such a consumer of existence. I wonder if the reason Emerson’s call for such a person—such a soul active—went unanswered until Whitman was because a true understanding of what a soul active is, was never fully grasped. I wonder if it is because, much like I have done here, so many of us commit the sin of paraphrase, pretend we know what we are talking about. I wonder if Whitman was able to answer this call because he, unlike so many others, did not attempt to explain, but rather explored. Sought out the answer rather than fostered one. What does it mean to be a consumer of existence? Is it even a question we can answer?