Annie Dillard: "Total Eclipse" Response and Jamaica Kincaid: "Placing an Asterisk"
Annie Dillard: "Total Eclipse" Response For this assignment, I would like you to read Annie Dillard's essay "Total Eclipse." Here is a link (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. to the essay, and here is a pdfPreview the document Settings you can download. This essay was originally written by Dillard in the early 1980s, but it was recently republished due to the general excitement around this past summer's solar eclipse. Dillard tells the story of traveling to watch the eclipse, and also her thoughts after the eclipse had taken place. She describes the manner that the world took on a strange, unfamiliar hue: I turned back to the sun. It was going. The sun was going, and the world was wrong. The grasses were wrong; they were platinum. Their every detail of stem, head, and blade shone lightless and artificially distinct as an art photographer’s platinum print. This color has never been seen on Earth. The hues were metallic; their finish was matte. The hillside was a 19th-century tinted photograph from which the tints had faded... Because this class is an investigation about the relationship between humans and nature, I'd like to begin with an investigation of personal experiences in nature. In Dillard's essay, we see that nature is a force that is somewhat divorced from human concerns. Try as she might to place a logical frame around the eclipse, Dillard still has a hard time squaring the fact of the eclipse with her past experiences and observations. Similarly, despite the rarity of the event, many people and industries go on with their daily work commutes without stopping to look at the eclipse. For this response, I'd like you write about a personal experience, observation, or memory where you have gotten the sense that nature is a force outside of human control. This experience could be a response to weather, landscape, animals, or any other nonhuman force (though humans can be part of your response too). In your response, please use specific, concrete description (as Dillard does) to create a story of this experience. I would also like you to quote specific lines from Dillard's essay and draw comparisons between your own experience and the experience Dillard writes about. Please post your response of approximately 300 words. https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/08/annie-dillards-total-eclipse/536148/ Jamaica Kincaid: "Placing an Asterisk" For this assignment, we will discuss Jamaica Kincaid (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.'s essay "In History" (Colors of Nature, p. 18-27). Before we discuss the article, I would also like to point you to this interesting conversation with Kincaid, in which she describes her personal journey from her childhood on Antigua, to moving to the U.S. as a domestic servant at age 16, to community college, to her career as a writer and professor at Harvard: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPgjWIYKm5w (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. Through "In History," Kincaid crafts a counter-narrative to common stories of early American history. For example, here's a poem (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. by Michael Drayton about the early English settlers of Virginia. Drayton (and many others) saw the settling of the New World as divine providence, a God-gifted return to the Garden of Eden: "And cheerfully at sea Success you still entice To get the pearl and gold, And ours to hold Virginia, Earth's only paradise!" Kincaid recognizes that the "ours to hold" in Drayton's poem is one that creates "others" who exist on the periphery of this narrative, both through colonization of Native peoples, and later, the enslavement of Africans as a means of cultivating the land. In the later half of "In History," Kincaid explicitly connects Carl Linnaeus (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.'s system of taxonomy with the ideas of power, control, and dominion of nature, and by extension, oppression of less powerful people. For this response, I'd like you to choose a line/sentence/quotation from Kincaid that strikes you as particularly meaningful or powerful. Explain what draws you to this quotation, and how it reflects the relationship of humans, nature, and social/cultural/racial identity. How does it connect with our prior course discussions? I'd also like you to consider the following quotation from Kincaid: "In almost every account of an event that has taken place sometime in the last five hundred years, there is always a moment when I feel like placing an asterisk somewhere in the text, and at the end of this official story place my own addition" (26). If given the chance to review history, to change the way people thought or were taught about a specific historical moment, how would you do so? Where would you place your "asterisk"? This aspect of the response doesn't necessarily need to relate to nature directly.