Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Prompts for this Thursday

Note:  As promised, all of these but one are the same as last week.  The last one is additional.

Note 2:  If you didn't write about the film *Crumb* last week, you're required to do so this week (either prompt 2 or 4).

Prompt 1:  This one is simple and obvious on one level, but may be demanding to execute.  As I did, for instance, with the story of Cain, identify one moment in his comic of Genesis where Crumb is clearly making a significant interpretation of his source text.  First, explain what he is altering/adding/changing. While his images are the most obvious thing to focus upon, you might also (very carefully) choose a moment where he moves to a different translation than Alter's.  Then, argue that this moment of interpretation has a larger significance to the work as a whole.

You must use a passage from the reading for this week - no going back to Cain, etc.

Prompt 2:  After having viewed Crumb, write a short essay which argues that Crumb's Genesis should have an impact on our understanding either of his earlier work, or on our understanding of his life/family. One rather extreme way of approaching this (I'd be tempted to try it, myself, but it might be risky), would be to understand his Genesis as a response to the portrayal of the "neurotic" "perverted" "genius" from a "damaged household" which we might argue that the film shows us.  What do I mean by that?  It could be an attempt to establish himself as a less neurotic/perverted/brilliant artist, or it could be an attempt to extend his own neuroses/perversions/brilliance to the "sacred" text of Genesis itself.

Note:  I put certain words in quotes as examples of the kind of word that you should always be careful and precise when using - because they are so loaded, and carry so many assumptions.

Prompt 3:  (Research)  Research a topic of interest to you in Alter/Crumb; for instance, you might be interested in the motif of Jacob moving massive stones.  I would recommend beginning your research at Hillman library, either by pursuing something in one of Alter's wonderful footnotes, or by doing more far-ranging research, perhaps beginning with very mainstream sources like the Anchor Bible Dictionary, the HarperCollins Bible Dictionary, or some similar source.  These are possible beginning points - you can choose others.  You must, however, use an academic source (good guidelines:  it has footnotes/endnotes, it is printed by a university press or is in a peer-reviewed journal).

Present research which adds to, or challenges, how Alter and/or Crumb present things at the moment(s) of interest to you in the text, and begin to develop an argument from that research.  Note that I do not expect an essay for this one:  I expect a presentation of research with some indication of what it might turn into as an essay.

This topic does not need to relate to this week's reading.

Prompt 4:  (note that one might fairly see this as an example of prompt 2 - regardless, here it is).  

Here are a couple quotes from what, to me, is a pivotal moment in the film, where Crumb reveals an intellectual agenda which is very much apart from the "sex, drugs, and rock & roll" with which he might easily be associated.  I apologize if my quotes are slightly off.

"The whole culture is one unified field of bought, sold, market researched everything..."

"It used to be that people fermented their own culture.  It took hundreds of years, it evolved over time, and that's gone in America.  People now don't have any concept that there ever was any culture outside of this thing that was created to make money."

You don't need to use these quotes (and you do need to show a wider understanding of the film), but I wanted to be clear about where I was getting the idea.  Use Crumb's ideas about money and culture to help us read his interpretation of Genesis.  Should we understand Genesis as being about America in a sense - that is, as being an example of the kind of earlier, "fermented" culture which we need but have lost, according to Crumb?  Or is it an example of Crumb's failure to rise about mass, crass, commercial culture?  Or is it in some other way an exploration of crumb's ideas about culture, commerce, and money?  The precise argument is up to you - but you should be using exploring the relationship between Genesis and Crumb (the film) on the topic of mass culture or commercial culture.

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