website –( read first several paragraphs ). H u m a n i t i e s

website –( read first several paragraphs ). H u m a n i t i e s


  • BELOW are 4 GROUPS.  Each group offers you 2 QUESTIONS from which to choose. 
  • CHOOSE 1 question from each group FOR A TOTAL OF 4 ANSWERS.  Ignore the questions you don’t choose.
  • REVIEW background information given here and also in “Week 4-5 Readings.” 
  • USE a CITED quote for each answer from the text to back up your stance. (You know how to do this now!) 
  • AND
    remember, I am not asking for long questions.  Just answer them
    succinctly with a quote, citing direct quotations as learned from the
  • USE the QA heading and submit your answers in the usual way in a file, with your name and assignment week on it, in Dropbox.
  • INCLUDE Works Cited full textbook citation of literary works cited after the corresponding question OR place them all in alphabetical order at the end of the QA. Either way is fine.

 YOUR WEEK 4-5 QA will be only 4 questions–one from each group. Don’t overthink.


  Marie de France                Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales



Marie de France (12th century, French) “Laustic”
Geoffery Chaucer (English, 14th century), Canterbury Tales’ “The Miller’s Tale” 
NOTE: Miller’s Tale not in textbook. Find web link in Wk 4-5 Readings

de France’s tale is a “lay.”(See textbook introduction. Review the
introduction in Wk 4-5 Readings for “Marie de France” to compare with
“fabliau” in Miller’s Tale below.)

“The Miller’s Tale” is an example of a fabliau.  These
travelers telling each other tales are a motley medieval group: A
knight, a nun, a Pardoner, a physician, a merchant, a plowman, a friar, a
summoner, a miller–a total of 29 stories and 29 people. A “Host”
moderates the group, making the storytellers take turns. The Knight has
just told a tale of “courtly love.” The
Miller is drunk and decides to butt in before his turn–having taken
exception to The Knight’s proper, sweet, aristocratic tale of
romance–and tells a love triangle “fabliau.”  The Miller’s fabliau is
the opposite of the Knight’s properly romantic tale of nobility and the
courtly love from which the Knight’s tale sprang, which probably itself
sprang in part from the “lay” tradition of centuries before.  The
drunken Miller’s tale is bawdy. And consider how a bawdy tale is fitting
for this motley Middle Ages crew, the knight and nun notwithstanding.

Questions (choose one): 

1. What is a lay?  What is a fabliau?  Define both. Then compare/contrast the two storytelling forms referring to these stories to make your point.

  • Find definition of “lay” in “Laustic” textbook introduction.
  • Find
definition of “fabliau” at this website–(read first several
paragraphs).  Click on this link (or paste into browser if not live):

2. In
light of the definition of courtly love, along with what you think of
“The Miller’s Tale,” compare/contrast the two “love” stories–Marie de
France’s lay and Chaucer’s bawdy fabliau–that were written 2 centuries
apart. (See Wk 4-5 Readings for background on “courtly love” and
consider its origins in the lay form.)

CITATION NOTE: The Miller’s Tale is not in your textbook; it’s a web link.
You are responsible to cite “The Miller’s Tale” correctly, but I show you how


  • Or go directly to the WORKS CITED QUICK GUIDE and scroll down until you find Week 4-5 Citations.



Emily Dickinson (19th century American)
Requiem, Anna Akhmatova (20th century Russian)



 Anna Akhmatova           Emily Dickinson


Emily Dickinson had no poems of consequence published under her name
during her life and only a handful anonymously published. Yet somehow we
are still reading her. How did that happen? What does that say about something universal in her work?


With Anna Akhmatova we have a voice of dissent during Stalin’s reign of
USSR terror. She was not allowed to be published during all those
years, even committing some to memory for fear her work would be lost
before her repression lifted. It’s a mother’s cry over a lost son during
Stalin’s reign. What does their existence say about the personal power of the pen despite politics and a universal truth?

Questions (choose one):

1. Answer the underlined questions above and compare the “universal” quality in both women’s works.

Emily wasn’t oppressed by a dictatorship nor in peril for her life
because of her writing. In many ways, she is the exact opposite of
Anna–introverted reclusive and outspoken advocate.  Can you see any
similarities between these two women’s life and their writing subjects?
Compare/contrast, either way, as you see fit.


Short Stories of AFRICA

Doris Lessing, 20th century, “The Old Chief Mchlanga”  
Chinua Achebe, 20th century,  “Chike’s School Days”


These two stories are from 20th century Africa, one at turn of century, one in mid-century.

Doris Lessing is a white British writer who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007.

Chinua Achebe is a black Nigerian whose novella, Things Fall Apart,
is the most widely read book in modern African literature (the entirety
of it was in the earlier textbook we used.  Since it is now out of the
current edition we are using, we can at least read this short story that
is in its place.

stories are glimpses that may have meaning for what they say about the
cultures of which they are offering a peek, at a certain point in time
and place.  For your chosen question, let’s compare/contrast these two stories. Use quotes to back up your ideas.

Questions (choose one):

1. How do the points of view differ in these two stories and how are they similar?

2. How do they seem similar in tone, style, or “moral” and how do they seem different in tone, style or “moral”?



20th century Czech surrealism and 19th century American realism

Franz Kafka, “Metamorphosis” (Czech, 20th century)
Kate Chopin, “Story of an Hour” (American, 1894)

[img src=”″ alt=””>  


was a famous experimental male writer with a voice all his own, and
hard to compare, so we won’t. He was only published minimally during his
life and he left instructions to have his work burned when he died. We
read them today because that person did not. In fact, he’s become a
literary icon, his literary ghost alive and well in Prague today. And
yet his works are incredibly bleak. And rather weird. He even thought
they were too weird to ever be published. (Review the link in Wk 4-5 Readings for more background.) By
the way, recently, one of my World Lit students pulled out her father’s
version of this story in the original German, and wrote this comment on
the Discussion forum:  “In the original German text, Kafka uses the
word “Ungeziefer” to describe what Gregor changes into. “Ungeziefer”
translated into English is vermin. Beetles are cute German cars with
great gas mileage.  Gregor turned into something more vile than that.”

Why would anyone want to write a story about what it would be like to awake one day as “vermin?” Remember
that the common worker back then-in that time and place-was just
learning the dehumanizing aspects of a totalitarian society….the one
that would make bleak most of the 20th century for those eastern
European countries: 1915 was the start of WW I which led to WWII and its
atrocities which led to the Iron Curtain countries of communism. It was
a dreary century for his country.  The answer could be political or
social commentary or personal commentary.  You decide. 

• Study the Introduction to the textbook’s reading for the BEST clues to this story.
• Look up the words “existential” and “kafkaesque” in a dictionary to foster your understanding and your writing about it.

• Here’s an online dictionary: 


(Be sure to read the background CHOPIN information in Wk 4-5 Readings.)  Kate Chopin was ostracized in her time for writing so daringly about the role of women in that suppressed society. Women’s
suffrage–the right to vote–seemed an impossible dream fought over
half a century (Women didn’t get the vote until 1920 incredibly enough,
even though the women’s suffrage  movement began in the mid-1800s.)
This is how she’s been described:
Kate Chopin, a female writer in the 1800’s writes stories of women in
various states of independence from males. She can be viewed as a writer
of the beginning of women’s rights although she does not declare
herself a feminist by any stretch of the imagination.

Questions (choose one):

1. Do you think these 2 stories were trying to make some societal commentary?   • Back up your answers with at least one cited quote per story.

For example (You can use this if you’d like. Answer both, if so, succinctly):
  –Was “The Story of an Hour” about women’s roles/lives in the time period?  (Social commentary.)  See “QA/Forum Background for Chopin’s “Story of an Hour” in this folder.

–Was “Metamorphosis” making some comment on the worker’s or
breadwinner’s role in that time period? Making him feel like a bug? 
(Social or political commentary)

CITATION NOTE: Chopin’s story is not in your textbook; it’s a web link.
You are responsible to cite “The Story of an Hour” correctly, but I show you how


  • Or go directly to the WORKS CITED QUICK GUIDE and scroll down until you find Week 4-5 Citations.

2. Surrealistic “Metamorphosis”
is very different type of storytelling from the realistic “The Story of
an Hour,” but it gets its point across using the same literary
techniques as all stories. • Choose a literary technique from the list below for both stories (the same one or different ones) and discuss how it adds to the success of the story:

-point of view



 TIP: If you didn’t take me for 1020 and/or aren’t familiar with these terms, choose question #1.
 Or look up these terms. Here’s an online glossary:

Literary Term Definition Glossary  
(If link is broken, copy this URL into browser: )

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