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Module 6 Discussion Forum I: A Carp’s Michiyuki – A Carp’s Michiyuki 3

ENGL 2331.701 (13669)

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Whereas Module 5 Discussion Forum I introduced you to a preliminary or broadened notion of close reading, both Forum I and Forum II will ask you to perform a kind of collective version of a more traditional close reading, one of the foundational techniques of literary criticism, especially as literary criticism developed into an academic discipline in college English departments in the early twentieth century. In brief, a close reading is an analysis of the language of a quoted passage from a literary work in order to flesh out or complicate an argument (usually an argument about how to answer an interpretive question). 
Please review the page on close reading, especially the section on its “technical sense.”

A word of caution: Typically, a close reading of this sort would be most effective and persuasive in analyzing the actual language of the work, not a translation of it. In fact, many scholars would insist that one ought not close read a translated version of a literary work for this reason. But, after all, the translation is what we will use to base all of our other interpretive claims and evaluative judgments on anyway, so I don’t see a justification for necessarily excluding this form of analysis insofar as we bear in mind that what we are really analyzing is, in this case, Chamber’s representation or, even, interpretation of Akinari’s language. For our purposes (since we aren’t writing for scholarly publication), I don’t think you need to belabor this point in your own written analysis of any of our works in translation, but you are certainly welcome to gesture to it in phrases such as “the translated language suggests x” or “the use of this word in the translation seems key,” etc.

Both Forum I and Forum II will also serve as potential pre-draft exercises for one of the options on the Five-Paragraph Writing Exercise that will be due in Module 13.  

Forum Instructions

The class will divided into small groups with no more than four members per group. How does the following passage help us to better understand part of the ecotheology in Akinari’s story, its conception of the value of nature? In other words, identify and analyze specific details in this michiyuki–the way it describes and seems to value Kōgi’s experience as a carp–in order to help us to flesh out the story’s conception of why the natural world or, more specifically, animal life, has value that we should honor.

[I looked at myself, and found that I had acquired glowing, golden scales and turned into a carp.] Not thinking this particularly strange, I swished my tail, moved my fins, and rambled about as I pleased. First I rode the waves that were raised by the wind blowing down from Mount Nagara, and then, wandering along the edge of the Great Bay of Shiga, I was startled by people strolling back and forth, so close to the water that their skirts got wet, and so I tried to dive in the depths where high Mount Hira casts its reflection, but I found it hard to hide myself when the fishing flares of Katada at night drew me as though I were dreaming. The moon resting on the waters of the berry-black night shone clear on the peak of Mount Kagami and drove the shadows from the eighty corners of the eighty ports to case a lovely scene. Okino Isle, Chikubu Isle–the vermillion fence reflected in the waves startled me. Soon I was awakened from my dreams among the reeds as the Asazuma Boat rowed out in the wind from Mount Ibuki; I dodged the practiced oar of the Yabase ferryman and many times was driven away by the bridge-guard of Seta. When the sun grew warm, I rose to the surface; when the wind was strong, I swam in the depths.” (Akinari 116-117) 

Please Order Post in the Following Way:

1. Open your comment, if you aren’t the first to post on that particular story in your group, by relating it to at least one preceding post using the argumentative twist technique. Make a claim about whether you agree or disagree with the inference made in the preceding post about the work’s ecotheology or its conception of the value of nature. If you are the first to post, you can simply begin with step two.  (1-2 sentences)

2. Building on the position that you staked out in step 1, develop a close reading that quotes particular words, phrases, or sentences from the above passage that you think have implications for how we understand non-human life in the story. What does this language reveal about the work’s ecotheology or its conception of the value of nature? Aim to be insightful but not comprehensive in your response so that your fellow group members have material they can analyze. Try to analyze language from the passage that no one in your group has commented on yet or, failing that, to offer your own gloss (i.e. interpretation) of that language. (2-4 sentences)

3. Draw an inference based on the close reading you’ve performed about the work’s ecotheology or its broader conception of the value of nature or animal life. (1-3 sentences)

Additional Instructions

· Be sure to write with clarity and collegiality (i.e. be respectful of those who have a different opinion)

· Length: Your post should be at minimum 200 words.

· Format: You will post your comment directly in the appropriate discussion forum, so use the default formatting (font type, etc.) for the discussion board.

· Citations: Use
 MLA in-text citations (Links to an external site.)
 for textual evidence that refers to the page numbers in the assigned editions of the standalone texts or the PDF/Word documents posted to Canvas. If you cite a different edition or another source, include an MLA Works Cited at the end of your post.