Thursday, March 8, 2007

And the Adventure Begins!

So, let me first begin by explaining how this all came about. Mon, Cool Breeze, and I (Mon was my roommate at BYU, and has her masters in Social Work. Cool Breeze is a friend, and current roommate, from K-State, where she got her masters in English-Creative Writing...two smart cookies!) were sitting around our table Tuesday night eating a lovely dinner when we started reminiscing over graduate school and how much we missed it. More than anything, we missed all the great reading we did, along with those discussions that made our brains hurt sometimes. Next thing I knew, they both started telling me that I need to take the GRE subject test in Literature. Now I've always said that I can't get my PhD because my foggy-memoried brain just won't wrap itself around all the theory I poured over in graduate school, but even thinking about being a PhD student makes me crazy jealous. It's always been a "pipe dream," one that I've ever only talked about in mocking "as if" language. Well, with their coaxing, and their effervescent enthusiasm to read a monstrous list of suggested books, poems, and short stories with me, we've decided to tackle the list in one year. At the end of which, I'll "attempt" the subject test. After that, who knows!

Here's my deal...I love ethnic lit., diversity studies, etc., and I have my MA in English, emphasis Cultural Studies. While at the great Kansas State University, I focused my studies on ethnic lit., mainly in Native American Literature. That was a great time in my life, and I now teach American and World Literature at Lehi High School in Lehi, Utah. Reading all these books and pieces will be difficult at times (hello...War and Peace and "The Fairie Queen," need I say more?), but it will also be great fun if you all jump on board!

Monica is currently coming up with a reading schedule. Our list is based off of a geocities link that everyone seems to be referring to. That link is:, and seems to be pretty comprehensive. I'm a little concerned about the fact that there doesn't seem to be any "contemporary" pieces on the list, but as Monica so kindly reminded me, I've covered that on my own. :) As we get the reading schedule, I'll post it here for all to take a look at. For now, our first selection is: E. M. Forster's A Passage to India (a little ironic I think...). We are aiming to have this read by Sunday, March 11th. After we have finished, drop in and make a posting by clicking on "comment," that way we can have a "virtual" discussion of the book.

Good luck, and thanks for joining me on this mighty quest!

मई थे लोर्द ब्लेस उस इन थिस जौर्नेय। (Hindi for "May the Lord bless us in this journey.)


  1. Instead of using my real name, can you refer to me in the future as Doc Leer. That would be awesome thanks!! P.S. you do realize that we're actually looking at a paintint of a kid drowning in the sea right, tempted god and god melted his wings. Mmmmm smell the burnt feathers.

  2. That's scary...I don't know who "Doc Leer" is! :) Anyway, I just wanted to say that my postcolonial class would have had a field day with Chapter three! The conversation there about wanting to "see" India by seeing its people, but not interacting with them really speaks to a type of commodification of the "native." Ok, so that's a big word, but really, it's making these Indians a consumable product that must perform for their entertainment. Also, let me just end with the craziest quote of all, "Why, the kindest thing one can do to a native is to let him die" (25). Need I say more? Most of our ancestors were British, and this is exactly what we said about our American Indians. Oh, sweet irony and fear of the native!

  3. Read a Passage of India by Sunday, March 11? I'm on page 3. Excellent.

  4. OK, so I probably won't be in on the whole reading thing, since I'm a mom of three and can barely think in complete sentences, let alone read an intellectual book by Sunday.

    However, HELLO BECKY!!! I've been thinking about you a lot lately, like everytime I get on Yahoo Messenger, and wondering where and what on earth you were up to! Lehi, teaching High School?! That's awesome!!

    If you want to check out my blog, it's Hope to see you around!!

  5. Hehe, this reminds me of those stupid bulletin board postings we had to do at K-State. Only my grade isn't going to get docked if I don't post. Better yet, I don't even have to read the book. Ha ha. Sooo, how is Passage to India? I'm reading Forever in Blue (the last Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants book) right now. It's a little less intellectual, you could say. Anyway, maybe I'll jump in on one of the other books. Enjoy Forster.

  6. I'm with Doc Leer on the fake name thing. I'll go by Cool Breeze. The name means nothing--it was just the only thing I could think of....

    Regarding A Passage to India, I thought the part about the "invisible" animal that attacked the car interesting. I don't have my book with me right now, and can't remember exactly who was in the car...wasn't it a bunch of Brits? Is there some symbolism in that? This invisible force that drives the British off the road. This book was written a number of years before the British relinquished control of India, but certainly Forster picked up on something of that movement when he wrote the book. Perhaps this incident was Forster predicting the eventual British withdrawal from the country....

  7. I finished the book!! Only one week late....Now, on to the next one. I know I should have the Picture of Dorian Gray finished, but I'll start with this week's book--Jude the Obscure--and try to catch up on Oscar Wilde later.

    Here's my thoughts on the end of Passage of India. Those last 40 pages or so--the 'Temple' section--were absolutely, brutally boring. The only purpose it seemed to serve was to tie up Aziz's character, and bring him full circle from trying to make friends with the British to believing friendship between Indian and British was not possible. In all, interesting, but I would have been happy with it ending with the trial.

  8. So I did finish the novel this weekend, and I'm heading into Oscar Wilde, soon to be followed by Thomas Hardy. We'll see how that all goes as I go through end of term with my students and all their WONDERFUL essays and assignments I'm reading. :)

    About the novel. I thought the idea of the car driving off the road being the British really great. I'm not 100% sure if that's what is meant here, but I definitely can see that. I think that I was looking more at Ms. Questad and "reading" her actions and character. She drove me absolutely crazy, but I thought it was interesting the way her future mother-in-law was idolized versus the way Ms. Questad was demonized. I recognize that maturity was being played as a thing of status here, but it seems to me that both women had turned into cultural voyeurs by nature of wanting to "see India" but not be soiled by it (so to say). They both wanted to perform within the standards of their Britishness (although they don't consider themselves like the other British women), and yet consume those things that most represent India through its people. In this case, that came in the form of Aziz. They walked a cultural tightrope, and not being able to access "India" through Aziz and a set of caves, Ms. Questad fell back on her own cultural expectations. She eventually shows herself to be the ridiculous person she is when she doesn't know what really happened in the cave, and recants her story.

    So, what does all this mean? In a true Postcolonial sense, the "native" that is colonized once again shows that veiled admiration is really an attempt to marginalize to prove that the colonizer is the hero because of his "civility." I'm sure this novel caused quite a stir in Britain, and I'm interested to find out more about its reception.

  9. I just finished reading Hunt Hawkins article "Forster's Critique of Imperialism in A Passage to India" from the South Atlantic Review. It makes some interesting points about Forster's intention to stir up political commentary about the Raj, or about the need for the empire to remove itself from India in order for the Brit and Indian to be "friends." He ends with a story and quote from Forster where supposedly he sent copies of his book to officials in India who he felt were corrupted by imperialism, "And when Forster was told in an interview of the rumor that many British civil servants on the voyage to India had thrown his novel into the sear, he was immensely pleased. He laughed and exclaimed, 'Did they indeed! How good for the sea!'" (64). It seems that Forster HOPED for political discussion, rather than believed his little book might do so. Interesting!