Weekly outline

  • General

  • 21.-25.2.

    Edgar Allan Poe: his life and aspects of his work in a broader cultural context. Read Poe´s poem "To Zante" (at the end of the enclosed document "Poe and the context), ideally before this session. In the document, you will also find poems of some oh his contemporaries - they are included for a possibility of (voluntary) comparison.  

    Prepare for the next session:

    "The Purloined Letter", a short story by E. A. Poe: use this internet version, please:


    We will discuss these aspects of the story: genre, the narrator and his language, the progress of solving a mystery. Prepare your own notes in relation to these aspects in English (10-15 lines) and prepare your own question for the class - OR FOR YOUR GROUP -, based on what you find worth discussing.


  • 28. 2. - 4. 3.

    We will discuss "The Purloined Letter", on the basis of your preparation and with references to the preceding session.

    Prepare for the next session: Please, form groups of 3-4 people for the discussion in class

    Walt Whitman, yes, more poetry, but of a very different kind from Poe´s.

    Plese, read this internet copy of the first, anonymously published edition of his Leaves of Grass (1855): http://faculty.wiu.edu/M-Cole/WaltWhitmanLeavesofGrass1855.pdf

    The Preface is not obligatory, but I recommend it. We will discuss a part of the central poem of the collection, Song of Myself (pages 18-24 up to the line "They do not think whom they souse with spray").

    1/ Think of the differences of this poetry from Poe´s, in themes, tone, and form, and prepare notes for the discussion.

    2/ Ideally,  - as a GROUP - find some part of at least 5 verses or longer = sections resembling paragraphs  that you think worth interpreting for the message of Song of Myself, and prepare for the group discussion in class.  If it seems to you that you can´t grasp the sense of lines, write down a sort of "podstročnik" - a literal translation of words in lines, in your own language; the poetic lines contain grammar, of course ."Podstročnik" (used historically or possibly also written by someone else for the translator) has been a translation device for poets who have wanted to recreate poems written in a language unknown to them. 

    Prepare individually a question for the group about the chosen part, to help enliven the the group´s discussion.

    Entrust someone from the group to write down the group´s conclusions about 1/ and 2/ into the "forum" prepared in the section for the next week. Please add the names of the members of the group.


    • 7.3.-11.3.

      We will discuss Whitman´s Song of Myself

      You find some study materials related to Whitman in this week´s section below.

      - in "Walt Whitman´s preface to Leaves of Grass", you find some passages, which underline Whitman´s adherence to transcendentalist ideas as we spoke about them in "Kulturní dějiny II". (Otherwise look into any of the texts recommended in SIS:  Cunliffe; Bradbury-Ruland; Elliot; Hart; Marcus-Sollors.) There´ s unbeatable optimism in Whitman, about America. This is not shared any longer by modernist and modern American poets who were inspired by Whitman´s all-embracing poetic in the 20th century (see the ppt "Whitman and the Whitmasque Line"). However, in a commentary to this document, I added a link to Amanda Gorman´s reading of her poem at the inauguration of President Joe Biden: it is an extraordinary example of American-bound poetic optimism (though not "whitmanesque" in poetic style) at present.

      - in "Song of Myself, 1855 - initial part", you find sections of the poem that are pertinent. I´d like you to notice the means of composition of the poem - the free verse does not mean that the poem is not organized: notice anaphora (repetition of some words at the beginning of successive lines, with a frequent stress on "I" and "You" - in relation to this, how individualistic is Whitman´s poetry?; see e.g. the line "For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you."... and other passages. Also, notice some occasional sounds of rhythm, some occasional rhyming and aliteration. On the other hand, we can notice many examples of Whitman´s famous enumerations (or "catalogues").

      Prepare for the next session:

      The next session will take place on the 17th March. The topic will be The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. I hope you will have enough time and be able to finish reading the novel by the time of the session. I supply study material (ppt presentation) about Twain and his work that can help.

      Use the Project Gutenberg version, which will be easy to share in class: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/76/76-h/76-h.htm (SEE also the period illustrations in it)

      You will again work in groups in class, but everyone in a group will choose one chapter from the novel and prepare their oral or ppt presentation for some 10 minutes, including a question for the group´s discussion based on their chapter, or on what precedes or follows in the action. You will be able to cover only some parts of the novel, not necessarily in successive chapters, but, please, emphasize the relation of individual chapters to the development of the whole story and to is themes. 

      The focus of the presentations and the questions for the group is:

      - facts of life along the Mississippi that are depicted

      - the effects of the narrative that uses the voice of the teenage narrator, in his observations, in the relation of various incidents and happenings

      - The main hero(es)

      - what the chapter says about the heroes and the world around 

      You can use a Czech translation as a help for clarifying some more difficult content.

      Please, write some summaries of the discussions in groups in the forum prepared in the section for next week.


    • 14.-18.3.

      The programme is the discussion of Mark Twain´s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The character od the discussion is described in the week above.

      Prepare for the next session:

      Read a short story by Edith Wharton, "The Other Two": https://www.gutenberg.org/files/4519/4519-h/4519-h.htm

      What is the point of the story? Think of the relevance of the title to the two main characters. Think of the differences of the type of narrative from the narrative Twain used in Huck Finn. Think of the point view used in the narrative, and its effect. Prepare notes.


    • 21.3.-25.3.

      You will discuss, in groups, the short story by Edith Wharton, "The Other Two". Again, I would like everyone to prepare a question about the story for their group. This time, however, I would like to ask the groups to share conclusions of hteir discussions with others, in a sort of class discussion.


      What is the point of the story? Think of the relevance of the title to the main characters. Think of the differences of the type of narrative from the narrative Twain used in Huck Finn. Think of the point view used in the narrative, and its effect.

      There may be individual responses to the story written into the forum below, and/or the groups´ responses, and/or a summary of the discussion of the whole class.

      Prepare for the next session:

      - read Gertrude Stein, "Ada": http://www.gutenberg.org/files/33403/33403-h/33403-h.htm  What sense does it make in your opinion? Compare with the narrative in "The Other Two".

    • 4.4.-8.4.

      You will discuss Gertrude Stein, "Ada": http://www.gutenberg.org/files/33403/33403-h/33403-h.htm 

      Please read the English entry on Gertrude Stein on Wikipedia, and the document "modernism_lecture" in tne week above. G. Stein, even though she was an avid reader of the writers of the 19th century, decised to break from all traditions and literary conventions, and write literature anew, from the scratch. In groups, answer the following questions into the "forum":

      - try to analyze the style of Ada. As suggested above, compare with the narrative in "The Other Two". What are the means of narration in Ada? How does it work? You´ll probably have an impression of repetitions - watch closely for what is really repeated and what is not (in sentences). Can it have any purpose? What effect/s does it make? Does the "story" make any sense to you? Does it have any plot? 

      Prepare for the next session:

      Read Hemingway´s stories: Up in Michigan, Soldier´s Home, Mr. and Mrs Eliot, The Killers. Prepare notes on the narrative and its effects upon the reader´s - your - impression. Try to differentiate among the stories, their themes and tone.

    • 19.4.-22.4.

      We will discuss the storieS by E. Hemingway.

      Prepare for the next session:

      Read poems by Emily Dickinson: I´m Nobody, The Soul Selects her own Society, Wild Nights, If Your Nerve Deny You (see internet sources)

      Try to read through the metophorics of the poems and imagine the message on the basis of both literal and figurative meanings together (remember our discussion of metaphor and tropes in the 1st year course "Překladatelská propedeutika"; I post that chapter on metaphor below again). Pay attention to the form of the poems as well.

    • 25.-29.4.

      We will discuss the poems of Emily Dickinson.

      Prepare for the next session:

      Ezra Pound (In a Station of the Metro, N. Y., A Pact), Marianne Moore (An Egyptian Pulled Glass Bottle in the Shape of a Fish - for this poem, see also this page: https://moore123.com/2010/06/04/egyptian-fish-for-scofield-thayer/), and Allen Ginsberg (A Supermarket in California). All the poems can be easily found on the internet. Please, use study material below.

      Please, discuss the poems together in your GROUPS before, choose 2 poems and write down your shared reflections upon them: on the sound of the poems (rhyme, rhythm, other poetic devices that create sound, metaphors - if you find them - and what they stand for, impact the poems make upon you, etc.) Post your collaborative reflections in writing into "forum" (below) by the time of the session.

    • 2.-6.5.

      We will discuss POEMS by Pound, Moore and Ginsberg.

      Prepare for the next session:

      - We will discuss the poem by M. Moore, and A. Ginsberg. Also, there is a question left for all: What is the impact of the middle verse (in italics) in Pound´s N.Y. like? And why?

      - William Faulkner: "Mountain Victory" (a short story): https://www.shortstoryguide.com/william-faulkner-short-stories/#:~:text=%20William%20Faulkner%20Short%20Stories%20%201%20%E2%80%9CBarn,to%20dispose%20of%20the%20body%20and...%20More

      - Work in pairs or groups. Try to create a sort of "mind map" (myšlenková mapa) for interpretation. The "map" might contain as points connected by mental arrrows: the plot - the characters - the time and place setting - the narrative and how it leads to comprehending the characters, the time and place settings - the sense of the story in relation to the title. You will be expected to present your shared interpretation supported by some examples from the story in eight-minute presentations.

      Please, use some study material on Faulkner (and Wright - the following topic) below.

      - Read about modernism (my essay enclosed below; in Czech), and prepare three comments on what might be unclear, new, useful, disputable etc.

    • 9.-13.5.

      We will discuss what was assigned in the previous session.

      Prepare for the next session:

      Richard Wright (African American writer): "Big Boy Leaves Home" (a short story from Uncle Tom´s Children, 1938): 

      find a full text of the story either in the library of the Institute of Translation Studies, or on the internet.

      Prepare answers to questions:

      - what is the effect of the overall point of view of the story?

      - what is the effect of the narrative of the story using the direct speeches of the characters? use examples of the narrative and language of the story.

      • 16.-20.5.

        We will discuss Richard Wright and his short story.