Dear AP English Language, Thank You

I don’t know that I would have wanted to take AP English if it hadn’t been a graduation requirement, but retrospectively I’m so glad it was. Considering myself as a STEM student who never really had any profound appreciation for English, I expected to trudge my way through the course. Instead, I took away from this class impactful life lessons that expand far beyond the scope of reading Shakespeare.   Initially, one of my main problems with English, which I found particularly bothersome being a Math/Science person who enjoys factual objective truths, was the inescapable nature of subjectivity. Thus, reading Tompkins … Continue reading Dear AP English Language, Thank You

Persepolis: The Story of Contesting Narratives

Analysis of Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi written for my junior year AP English class: Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi takes place during one of the most tumultuous periods of Iran spanning the overthrow of the Shah, followed by the Islamic Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War. In this novel, Satrapi visually highlights the dynamic clashing of narratives between a young Marji and those of the Islamic revolutionaries, as they gather and consolidate power to crowd out all narratives but those of their choosing. As the story progresses, the growing maturity in Marji’s artistic … Continue reading Persepolis: The Story of Contesting Narratives

The Limited Power of Rhetoric 

Analysis of Shakespeare’s Richard III written for my junior year AP English class: One of the prominent overarching themes in Shakespeare’s Richard III is the power of language and the use of language as a weapon to achieve political power. Throughout the play, Richard is able to manipulate characters and events within the play specifically through his eloquence and ever evolving persuasive techniques. His eloquence and ability to deflect suspicions and accusations enables him to manipulate, confuse, and control those around him for his malicious desire to attain the Crown. This is consistent with Cicero’s description of how, “eloquence without wisdom is often most … Continue reading The Limited Power of Rhetoric 

Problems of Panopticism in Schools and the Modern World 

Analysis of Panopticism by Michel Foucault written for my junior year AP English class: In an effort to normalize the scoring of papers from English students, a project was initialized in 1923 to set up a standard for grading. Given a variety of sample essays that demonstrated the paper equivalent of a score from 1-10, the goal was to produce a standardized guide for ranking the quality of papers as determined by experts in the field of English. Even today, the vast majority of schools continue to carry on this system of assigning scores to students as a means of comparing … Continue reading Problems of Panopticism in Schools and the Modern World 

Exile, Instability, and the Problem of Anti-Foundationalism

Analysis of “States” by Edward Said written for my junior year AP English class: In his essay “States”, Edward Said argues that the current state of Palestinians is one of exile. His evidence, through photographs, historical context, and personal memoirs, sheds new light on the suffering of Palestinians in the past and present. Throughout, Said repeatedly insists on the instability, uncertainty, and fragmented nature of the Palestinian state without any proposed solution of how one could go about piecing it back together. In fact, Said resists the idea that any certainty or clarity can be found, choosing an anti-foundationalist approach of experiencing and describing … Continue reading Exile, Instability, and the Problem of Anti-Foundationalism

The Adventures of Pinocchio: A Real Boy’s Transformation into a Puppet

Analysis of The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi and Rebecca West’s afterword written for my sophomore year English class: Although “attracted by order, discipline, and structured educational practices,” as West writes in her afterword, Carlo Collodi was highly suspicious of the programs initiated after the unification of Italy “with the goal of ‘making the Italian people Italian’… because he saw them as a threat to individuality and personal freedom” (166). We see Collodi’s commentary on the politic turmoil of his time and this same problem of conformity represented in the Blue Fairy’s role in advocating for Pinocchio to become a … Continue reading The Adventures of Pinocchio: A Real Boy’s Transformation into a Puppet

Franz Kafka’s Before the Law

Analysis of Before the Law by Franz Kafka written for my sophomore year English class: Many have tried to interpret “Before the Law” and many have failed. However, to their credit, it is not because they have not read closely enough into detail, but because Franz Kafka crafted his parable in such a way that a definite meaning cannot be derived from it. In “Before the Law,” Kafka purposely designs the parable to be ambiguous with the intent of inviting readers, who attempt to grasp the meaning, to an endless reading and rereading of the parable. He does this in order … Continue reading Franz Kafka’s Before the Law