Monday, February 23, 2009

Going into Out of the Silent Planet


In assessing C.S. Lewis' Out of the Silent Planet, I would like you to answer one of the following questions in an essay of at least five, typed paragraphs:

  • What are some indications that Malacandra is Lewis' fictional representation of a Utopia in which differing species live in peace and harmony without succumbing to the violent competition Darwin describes in his writings?
  • How is the society of the hnau a representation of the "Mystical Body of Christ"?
  • What are some indications of social Darwinism in Ransom's initial outlook regarding the planet and its various species as well as in Weston's attitude towards Malacandra? Keep in mind, also, Weston's views on scientific progress.
  • How are Weston and Devine representations of an evolutionary perspective that is based on perceived progress and ultimately unrealistic promise of science?
  • How is Ransom's journey from Earth to Malacandra and then through Malacandra in his trek to meet Oyarsa indicative of a spiritual adventure involving the archetypal steps of the mystic's journey to God that involves the following: awakening, purgation, illumination, dark night, and union (see explanations of each below).
  • What are the various landscapes involved in Ransom's journey and how are they relevant to a spiritual journey towards union with God?
  • What, ultimately, separates Earth--or Thulcandra, the "Silent Planet"--from Malacandrian society? How does Oyarsa's reacton to Weston and Devine imply that Earth is a "bent" society?
  • Define and explain the philosophical meaning of the novel and its basis as a critique of modern society as essentially Godless.
  • How is Lewis' Out of the Silent Planet an extension of the creation story and Milton's Paradise Lost?
  • How does fear of death play a role as a plot device that moves the story forward?
  • What is the role of philology as a plot device that moves the story forward?
  • Create your own question and answer.

What you will essentially be doing is taking these questions and making thesis statements of them that will inform your body paragraphs. The aim of your body paragraphs will be to use specific textual evidence to back up the various claims made in your thesis paragraph.

Your essay should be double-spaced in 12 pt. Georgia font and should follow MLA format for all citations.

Your front page should include a heading formatted as follows:

Your Name

Bro. Robert Peach, FSC

Eng 141 / British Literature

March 10, 2009

(a creative title that is centered, but not in bold or underlined)

Body paragraphs...

Some Key Terms

  • awakening: involves the expansion of one's consciousness and one's conscious experience of the world, revitalizing the self in relationship to the world, heightening one's intuitive sense in a way that magnifies the interior life of the individual; awakening is thus a psychological awakening, a deepening of one's awareness of forces that are both cause for joy and of pain in light of the divinity which the mystic aspires to grasp as a result of his felt separation from the Divine.
  • purgation: involves renunciation of worldly attachments that distract the mystic from reaching out to the world more charitably and prophetically; directly related to the concept of self-denial and ego-death, purgation requires utter self-sacrifice and a disregard for all distractions of ego-desire, often through a sustained period of sensory deprivation.
  • illumination: involves a catharsis, or release, of psychological tension stored up after a period of sustained self-sacrifice and sensory-deprivation characterized by a sense of physical, emotional, mental, and intellectual radiance; involves a feeling of absolute harmony with the Absolute, leading inevitably to a heightened intuitional knowledge and expansion of consciousness.
  • dark night: involves a sense of emptiness that follows illumination; involves a profoundly painful sense of self-awareness together with a lack of God-awareness--a sort of doubt and a shocking knowledge of one's "smallness" in the universe and the grand scheme of things; the inner longing for union with God becomes acute; entails psychological fatigue as well as physical exhaustion.
  • union: a gradual merging with God, preceded by a deep healing, an increasing sense of "oneness with God--as well as oneness with other selves and, indeed, the whole of creation" (Richard Woods 55).
  • Mystical Body of Christ: stemming from St. Paul's theology, it entails the unity of all individuals within creation, contributing equally to the spreading of God's kingdom of love by way of natural talents and abilities
  • Utopia: An imaginary island, represented by Sir Thomas More (1516), in a work called Utopia, as enjoying the greatest perfection in politics, laws, and the like.
  • Philology: the study of literary texts and of written records, as well as language, the establishment of their authenticity and their original form, and the determination of their meaning

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Darwin on Survival, Descent, and Evolution


In chapter three of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, he makes the case—as the chapter title suggests—for his theory regarding “The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.” Darwin defines the term, “natural selection,” and its part in a process which he calls “the universal struggle for life” (Darwin 1255). In the chapter, “General Summary and Conclusion” from The Descent of Man, Darwin goes further to expound upon the basic thrust of his evolutionary theory regarding humankind: “man is the co-descendant with other mammals of a common progenitor” (Darwin 1260). He goes on to give various bases for a system of thought known as “Social Darwinism”: a theory that says “competition among all individuals, groups, nations, or ideas drives social evolution in human societies” (from Wikipedia).

That said, I would like you to do the following:

· Sum up, using Darwin’s words, the ideas of natural selection and the struggle for survival according to what he has written in “The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.”

· Pinpoint four statements of Darwin that proffer a basis for “Social Darwinism.” Rewrite them and explain how they fit in to the philosophy set forth by the Social Darwinists (see section on subject in your fun pack to help you elaborate).

· Your responses should be fully developed, typed, and according to proper format for heading, quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing.

· Please submit to me on hard copy by Friday, February 20, 2009.

Also, continue reading Out of the Silent Planet, chapters 5-10, and underline key passages that suggest the mentality of Social Darwinism.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

JSTOR and Paradise Lost

Ok Bros:

I hope you haven't forgotten about the wonderful resource that is JSTOR.

I would like you to choose an article to summarize. Please include at least three quotes from the article to help us get a good sense of what it's all about.

Please post your summary on the blog (hard copy if you cannot access blog).

Your summary is due this Friday, February 6, 2009.


Below are some basic MLA (Modern Language Assocation) guidelines for incorporating quotations into your paper:

Short Quotations

  • To indicate short quotations (fewer than four typed lines of prose or three lines of verse) in your text, enclose the quotation within double quotation marks.

  • Provide the author and specific page citation (in the case of verse, provide line numbers) in the text, and include a complete reference on the Works Cited page. Punctuation marks such as periods, commas, and semicolons should appear after the parenthetical citation.

  • Question marks and exclamation points should appear within the quotation marks if they are a part of the quoted passage but after the parenthetical citation if they are a part of your text. For example:

According to some, dreams express "profound aspects of personality" (Foulkes 184), though others disagree.

According to Foulkes's study, dreams may express "profound aspects of personality" (184).

Is it possible that dreams may express "profound aspects of personality" (Foulkes 184)?


Long Quotations

  • Place quotations longer than four typed lines in a free-standing block of text, and omit quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line, with the entire quote indented one inch from the left margin; maintain double-spacing.

  • Only indent the first line of the quotation by a half inch if you are citing multiple paragraphs. Your parenthetical citation should come after the closing punctuation mark. When quoting verse, maintain original line breaks. (You should maintain double-spacing throughout your essay.)

JSTOR options for articles on Paradise Lost: