Friday, 7 December 2012

The Individual in Poetry and Prose

Please choose some of the following texts and discuss their views of the self!


Li Bai, "Zazen on Ching-t’ing Mountain":

Muhyiddin Ibn al-Ă€rabi, "Tigris Song":

Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi, "A Moment of Happiness":

Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi, "All through Eternity":

Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi, "A Stone I Died":

Hafez, "For Years my Heart Inquired":

Hafez, "Ode 44":

Kabir, "I Won't Come":

Kabir, "Plucking your Eyebrows":

Kabir, "Chewing Slowly":

Kabir, "His Death in Benares":

Emily Dickinson, "They Shut Me up in Prose":

Emily Dickinson, "I Dwell in Possibility"

Mirza Ghalib, "Ghazal":

Khalil Gibran, "A Poet's Voice - 15":

Khalil Gibran, "A Tear and a Smile":

Rabindranath Tagore, "Fruit-Gathering 55":

Rabindranath Tagore, "I Asked of Destiny":

Rabindranath Tagore, "Sing the Song of the Moment":

T.S. Eliot, "The Four Quartets" (please focus on: "Burnt Norton")

Chuang Tzu, "Action and Non-Action":

Vinda Karandikar, "The Wheel":

Yehuda Amichai, "The Amen Stone":

Pablo Neruda, "Absence":

Maya Angelou, "A Brave and Startling Truth":

Maya Angelou, "Alone":

Benjamin Zephaniah, "We Refugees":

Taha Muhammad Ali, "Exodus":

Taha Muhammad Ali, "Meeting at an Airport":

Bei Dao, "Notes from the City of the Sun"

Bei Dao, "Moon Festival":


Thich Nhat Hanh, "The 14 Mindfulness Trainings":

Dogen, Selected passages:

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Development of the Concept of the Individual in Europe

Literary and Cultural History in Europe Is often Divided in the Following Major Periods:

* Middle Ages
* Renaissance
* Classicism/ Enlightenment
* Romanticism
* Realism
* Modernism
* Post-Modernism

Concepts about the Individual change significantly from one period to the next. Please watch the following short introductions to each period to get an idea:

1) Middle Ages

* intro to social structure in Medieval Europe:
* life in the Middle Ages:
* Medieval music:
* Medieval art:

2) Renaissance

* good general intro:
* interesting student project:
* good intro to Italian Renaissance:
* good intro to English Renaissance/ Elizabethan Age:

3) Classicism/ Enlightenment

* good general intro:
* intro to major English poets of that time:

4) Romanticism

* excellent general intro to Romanticism:
* good student project about the period:
* some "typical" Romantic images:

5) Realism (& Naturalism)

* Romanticism and Realism:
* Realism and Naturalism:

6) Modernism

* very short intro to Modernism
* Modernism (Wiki-intro):
* Modern art:

7) Post-Modernism

* Modernism and Post Modernism:
* Postmodernism:
* Postmodernism -
   part 1:
   part 2:

Let us focus on some Romantic Poets and their Innovative Ideas about the Self.
Among the most famous Romantic Poets are: 

1) William Blake
2) William Wordsworth
3) Samuel Taylor Coleridge
4) John Keats
5) Percy B. Shelley
6) George Gordon, Lord Byron

Please read the following poems:

1) William Blake

* "London":
* "Auguries of Innocence":

2) William Wordsworth

* "Tintern Abbey":
   -> see some images of Tintern Abbey:
* "Intimations of Immortality":
* "To a Skylark":
* "Resolution and Independence":

3) Samuel Taylor Coleridge:

* "The Eolian Harp":
* "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner":
* "Kubla Khan:

4) John Keats

* "To Autum:
* "Ode to a Nightingale":
* "Ode on a Grecian Urn":

5) Percy B. Shelley

* "To a Skylark":
* "Ozymandias":

6) Lord Byron

* "She Walks in Beauty":
* "Love and Death":

... and comment of the following questions:

1) What are some of the important values expressed or implied in these poems?

2) What do these values imply about the poets' concept of self?

3) Please compare these ideas about the self with ideas of the previous periods (Enlightenment, Renaissance) as well as with the following periods (Realism & Modernism).

4) Then compare our/your own current view of the self with each of these eras: which ideas about the self - and the universe - do we/you still subscribe to and which ones have we dropped? Why do you think is this so?

Please feel free to come up with your own ideas about the development of ideas about self in the Western World.
If you have some knowledge about Eastern Approaches to the Self please compare these ideas now to those developed in the West!

Essays about the Self

Please comment on the following three essays and the views of the individual expressed in them:

1) Mirandola, "Oration on the Dignity of Man"
2) Fausto-Sterling, "The Five Sexes"
3) Olsen, "Tell Me a Riddle"

Think in particular on which aspects of the individual each writer focuses on and try to understand this focus in the context of the writer's time, culture, and value-system.

Plato's Dialogues

Plato is one of the great thinkers of Western civilization. What does he have in common with great thinkers from the East? Please take some time to think about what Plato has to offer us today and comment in particular on the values discussed in "Euthyphro," "Apology," and "Crito" as well as on the form (dialogues).

The Epic of Gilgamesh

This is one of the oldest literary works - and we still read it and find it interesting today. Please think about what makes good literature timeless - and comment on the main questions and themes raised in Gilgamesh.