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LIT 6934: Literature of Place: Florida


November 4 Class 11: Storms

    Stephen Crane's "The Open Boat," in Florida Literature
    “On Hurricane Andrew” by John M. Williams and Iver Duedall in Florida Literature, p. 147.
    Janz, "Places that Disasters Leave Behind," (Canvas)
    DUE: Post #10
    Collaborative project - oral update

Class Objectives:

    Discuss Crane's story as Florida literature

    Discuss hurricanes and placemaking with both the nonfiction excerpt and Janz' theory


Notes and Discussion Questions:

    According to the editors of the Florida Reader, Stephen Crane's "The Open Boat" "was read as an adventure celebrating a victory over nature rather than a warning about nature's capacity to disrupt human dreams" (167). In what sense can this be read as a victory over nature? In what sense might we prefer to read it as a warning about nature's capacity to disrupt human dreams?

    Given the centrality of water to Florida's identity, how do you understand the role of water in the narrative? How is this (or is this?) a characteristic of Florida literature?

    All of the men of the story are nameless, except for Billie, who doesn't survive. What is the impact of this literary choice?

    In terms of gender and environmental criticism, examine the use of the feminine abstractions for Fate and Nature in the story.

    How is this a representation of place? What theories of place might help you dissect it as Florida or Floridian?

    If we no longer read this as a story about victory over nature, what forms of ecocriticism might apply?

    Examine the historical contexts for the piece, which is marked by its relation to a real event. How do the politics of the Cuban effort to become independent of Spain affect the "adventure" story? In terms of embedded narratives, how does this illustration of support for Cuban independence resonate with the writing by Yglesias?

    We won't be visiting the site of this story at the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse (formerly Mosquito Inlet), though you could feasibly do so. What questions might you ask of such a visit?


    Bruce Janz, professor of philosophy at UCF, was a guest lecturer in 2010, and you will be viewing his lecture on video over the Veteran's day holiday. In "Places that Disasters Leave Behind," Janz analyzes the rhetorical responses to the hurricanes that hit Orlando in 2004 and argues that the newspaper's response to disaster worked against place making. How does the rhetoric of the Orlando paper compare with that of Fort Myers and why does one contribute to place while the other discourages it?

    Janz argues that "place-making imagination" is analogous to moral imagination in ethics. What is place-making imagination and why is it important? How might this concept amplify our discussion of the relationship between literature and place?

    Janz: "If the socially legitimated frame of reference for an event precludes such imagination, places end up emaciated" (34). Explain how this works. Can you think of another example of such a "legitimated frame of reference" in time of disaster?

    In what sense does disaster create a Foucauldian heterotopic space?

    Janz argues that when there is a "lingering danger of disaster, that they can tend to solidfy exisiting and problematic senses of place, making what is fluid and provisional into something permanent" (48). Can you think of an example with implications?

    The excerpt from the first-person accounts of Hurricane Andrew are offered to give you a sense of the ground view of this Florida devastation. How does this compare with Hurston's description of the hurricane in Their Eyes? The title of the novel refers to the precise moment of the impact of the hurricane force. How do these people respond to the storm? What does it mean for a place that these storms are repeated throughout history?


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