Love, Jane Austen, and Zombie Mash-up Writing

To continue from yesterday’s post :Catching up with Jane: She is Tolerable:  My writing assignment for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was a mash-up.

In honor of our getting through Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, we are going to create our own mash-up writing project.

Mash-up research: Again, once you have decided on your literary victim, you must then do research to make your mash-up as accurate as possible. SO, whatever element you opt to weave into the story—you must research and weave into the real text. ( 3 or more pages) Obviously you won’t be doing a whole novel or short story so you will need to really choose the part carefully.  Be sure to italicize the “classic” text.

Story Research: You must also do research on whatever piece of literature you choose. Background, history, and a literary analysis are all elements you need to research.  If it is a novel, you will need to find to do a very small portion/chapter.

 Author Research: Once you choose a short story, play, or novel, you will do research on the author. Once you complete your research from at least 2 sources, you will write a brief “History” or snapshot of the author.   (1 page)

This project along with the research and writing is also a creative project. This means, you can create a cover, illustrations, or photos. If you are not an artist, and you have to pull items to use, then please keep a separate works cited for illustrations and photos.

****Remember: The text/writing must fill the page requirement. Illustrations, photos are a nice touch but are not to be used to “burn space.”





Catching up with Jane: She is tolerable

I love me some Jane Austen, so if you hate her, I am sorry. You do you and love what you love. Indulge.  I recently indulged in a good mini Jane Austen marathon which refreshed my spirit and reminded me why I so sadistically lead many a student through Pride and Prejudice and then Pride and Prejudice and Zombies….and then the A&E series.

This fine evening’s offering was the most excellent movie Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson. I watched anew appreciating how much like Elinor I am.  We both love and hate the high drama and emotion of family and friends, but without it, we feel immensely lost. A nice cathartic cry and of sorrow and sappy happiness later, I am not sated.

***Side Note: I also was reminded of how many great actors transitioned to Harry Potter films.  Six to be exact: Alan Rickman: Col. Christopher Brandon/Professor Severus Snape
Emma Thompson: Elinor Dashwood/Professor Sybil Trelawney
Robert Hardy: Sir John Middleton/Cornelius Fudge
Imelda Staunton: Charlotte Palmer nee Jennings/Dolores Umbridge
Gemma Jones: Mrs. Dashwood/Madame Pumfrey
Elizabeth Spriggs: Mrs. Jennings/Fat Lady.

Now for somthing BBC-ish. Death Comes to Pemberly. It is not quite as a good movie version nor the decadence of the A&E series of Pride and Prejudice, but if a good take on Jane Austen is what you need, this is quite nice. A short series of 3 episodes set at Pemberly and 6 years after Darcy and Elizabeth are married.  The actors were all wonderful, and although I knew who was the culprit early on, it was a fun romp to get the end.

I suggest a nice Merlot to go along with the viewings.  My Austen evening complete and yes, So very glad to stay home and visit with Jane.


Mix Tapes, Poetry, and Love

I am always trying to find new and interesting ways to introduce poetry to my online class. It is a challenge to reach students and for those who will at least try the process, others dismiss any work as fluff and a waste of their time. (Actually on an evaluation along with “you suck”).

Perhaps this is too dated, but I thought reading and then giving them the YouTube version of the songs would help at least create an interesting discussion board then inspire them to then create their mix tape on an event in their life. I was thinking about having them translate the poem into prose. I haven’t yet done this assignment, so I have no idea how it will work.

INVITATION: If anyone wants to post their own Mix tape narrative, please do. Any suggestions are welcomed. Thanks

Love and Other Catastrophes: A Mix Tape

by Amanda Holzer (2002)

All By Myself, Lou Reed. I Wanna Dance with Somebody, Whitney Houston. Let’s Dance, David Bowie. Let’s Kiss, Beat Happening. Let’s Talk About Sex, Salt ‘n’ Pepa. Like a Virgin, Madonna. We’ve Only Just Begun, The Carpenters. I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend, The Ramones. I’ll Tumble 4 Ya, Culture Club. Head Over Heels, The Go-Go’s. Nothing Compares to You, Sinead O’Connor. My Girl, The Temptations. Could This Be Love? Bob Marley. Love and Marriage, Frank Sinatra. White Wedding, Billy Idol. Stuck in the Middle with You, Steelers Wheel. Tempted, The Squeeze. There Goes my Baby, The Drifters. What’s Going on? Marvin Gaye. Where Did you Sleep Last Night? Leadbelly. Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under? Shania Twain. Jealous Guy, John Lennon. Your Cheatin’ Heart, Tammy Wynette. Shot Through the Heart, Bon Jovi. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, Elton John and Kiki Dee. My Achy Breaky Heart, Billy Ray Cyrus. Heartbreak Hotel, Elvis Presley. Stop! In the Name of Love, The Supremes. Try a Little Tenderness, Otis Redding. Try (Just a Little Bit Harder), Janis Joplin. All Apologies, Nirvana. Hanging on the Telephone, Blondie. I Just Called to Say I Love You, Stevie Wonder. Love Will Keep Us Together, Al Green. It Ain’t Over ‘til It’s Over, Lenny Kravitz. What’s Love Got to do with It? Tina Turner. You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore, Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond. I Wish You Wouldn’t Say That, Talking Heads. You’re So Vain, Carly Simon. Love Is a Battlefield, Pat Benatar. Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now, The Smiths. (Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, Rolling Stones. Must Have Been Love (But It’s Over Now), Roxette. Breaking Up is Hard to Do, Neil Sedaka. I Will Survive, Gloria Gaynor. Hit the Road, Jack, Mary McCaslin and Jim Ringer. These Boots Were Made for Walking, Nancy Sinatra. All Out of Love, Air Supply. All by Myself, Eric Carmen.

Defining Monsters

One of my favorite paper assignments to do with my Composition II class.  Defining Monsters: I love all the angles they take. Anything from modern day corporate monsters, serial killers, mental disease, to classic stories, to society.

You can pick questions to answer for each paragraph or one question can have several points you want to answer throughout the paper. So each point can be a paragraph.

  • What Makes a Monster?
  • Do we promote stereotypes of mosters and men?
  • What should be done with monsters?
  • Real or imagined?
  • Is a monster a reflection of the society?
  • Use the questions posed in the article by Cohen, Monster Culture.


  • One Required text: Monster Culture (Seven Theses) (Everyone must use this one)
  • One story or poem from the list below (At least 1. You may use more than one but doesn’t take the place of academic source)
  • One media source (Television, movie, news, documentary)
  • One academically sound source to back up your argument. 

Total: 4 Sources (can have more if you use more than one story or media source OR even more than one academic.

Exercise 1 to brainstorm:

Think about main themes, connections to society, and tone. Create 1 solid paragraph about how these sources create a definition of monsters.

Source I: Read  “Thesis II: The Monster Always Escapes” From Monster Culture (or bring in an academic source/quote about monsters that you can use with the other two sources below) 

Source II: “The Cat that Went to Trinity” written by Roberston Davies 


Acquainted: Poetry and Pedestrians

Another Composition exercise via a discussion board leading up to our poetry paper.

Focus on shared elements and themes. Although what each says is similar investigate how each conveys a message and what tools they use.

NOW:  Pick One literary element that you think they share:

  • Is it tone, theme, setting, language, imagery, etc.
  • THEN explain the significance of the shared element. in one paragraph.
  • What does it mean?
  • How does each author use the element?
  • Is one more effective?


Poetry, media, and music

This is one of my activities for my online Composition II class. They have to synthesize all three of the sources below into one coherent paragraph that deals with a focused topic. We do this via a discussion board. I’m sure most bloggers have better things to write, but I still invite those who want to try this “assignment” to do so and post.

Source I:

Hate Poem   Julie Sheehan 

Source II:

10 Things I Hate about you (Poem reading)

Source III: 

Lay Low  Lyrics:


What will your verse be?

My Writing assignment Inspiration comes from Dead Poets and Walt Whitman.

I am trying to introduce poetry to my online comp students in a more approachable way. It is an accelerated 8 week class, so time to stew isn’t a luxury.  I love poetry, and I so want to impart the beauty it can hold to students. Many don’t really read all that much anyway, so getting them to dive into poetry is challenging. So here is one step in our process:

For this bonus opportunity, you get to be creative. Poetry can feel very elusive and meant only for a certain elite group. It isn’t. It is for everyone. Now, you may never like it. just like there are genres of music we like better than others, but don’t discount merely because it is poetry.

Watch the Tedtalks “Everything you need to write a poem (and how it can save a life).”  Feel free to pause, stop, or watch again. The goal is to end up a couple of lines of poetry or more and post. (Scary, I know. Judgment free zone though) Tysdale frames his in the sense of loss (death), but you certainly don’t have to deal in that subject. Perhaps it is someone who lives far away, or moved away.

I wanted to use the discussion board as a means of encouragement. We are not responding in our post to another student to fix, but much like the Getting to know you exercise, encouragement and show that we have what it takes to write a poem.

Thanks for sharing.

What I came up with doing the exercise:

“My dad’s voice was the percussion in jazz tune

That would rise and fall like Autumn leaves in the whipping wind

Dancing and swirling just out of reach and into steady silence.”


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