"I am constantly struck by the strangeness of reading works that seem addressed, personally and intimately, to me, and yet were written by people who crumbled to dust long ago."

 -Stephen Greenblatt, author and humanities professor

"Ideally, we lose ourselves in what we read, only to return to ourselves, transformed and part of a more expansive worldin short, we become more critical and more capacious in our thinking and our acting.

 -Judith Butler, philosopher and gender theorist 

“To engender empathy and create a world using only words is the closest thing we have to magic.” 

 -Lin-Manuel Miranda, composer-actor-playwright


Short stories, Native American oral literature, poetry, and the Shakespearean sonnet


"A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings: A Tale for Children": Gabriel Garciá Marquéz, author; Gregory Rabassa, translator

"The Seven Ages of Man": William Shakespeare


"Rabbit": told by Gene Tagaban (story begins at 2:30 and ends at 7:00) 

"The Man, the Snake and the Fox"    

"The Seven Ages of Man": William Shakespeare

"Magical Realism Is Still Realism": Salman Rushdie on truth in fiction

Native Voices–American Passages: A Literary Survey (WCC Library website: Films on Demand)

Maiden of Deception Pass, Guardian of Her Samish People: Samish Indian Nation (DVD viewed in class, also available for viewing in the WCC Library)

Act II, Scene VII, "The Seven Ages of Man": Digital Theatre+

Suggested reading

"The Blood Feud of Toad-Water, A West-Country Epic": Saki (H.H. Munroe)

"Samsa in Love"
: Haruki Murakami, author; Ted Goossen, translator


"A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings: A Tale for Children"

written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, translated by Gregory Rabassa

1. What challenges might arise in reading a story in translation?

2. What is the most confusing thing about the story to you personally?

3. What details stand out to you about Pelayo and Elisenda’s abode and the village where this

story takes place? How do you imagine this place? Why is the world "sad"?

4. Look up the etymology of the word “enormous.” Does this shed light on what is ordinary and 

enormous in this story?

5. How does the old man differ from our usual conception of angels?

6. In what ways do people in this story attempt to categorize this winged man?

7. What implications do you find in Father Gonzaga’s failure to communicate effectively with the winged 


8. Why do people prefer the spider woman?

9. Why do you think the winged man tolerates the child patiently?

10. How do you feel as the angel flaps away at the end? Does Elisenda’s response adequately express 



You need a copy of the story (paper or digital) for this discussion.

1. Describe the character that your group has been assigned. Cite specific passages from the story to 

support your remarks. [For example, if you remark that the very old man has enormous wings, cite the 

title and also the sentence(s) in the story referring to that physical trait. If you interpret Elisenda’s actions 

as self-serving, locate and cite specific statements in the story that allow you to draw that conclusion.] 

2. After each character has been presented, compare townspeople’s reaction to the Old Man and the 

Spider Woman. How are they different? Cite specific passages to support your remarks.

3. What purpose does the character of the Spider Woman serve in this story (what is her role in the 


4. What does this story make visible to the reader (what does it communicate to us)?

Maiden of Deception Pass: Guardian of Her Samish People

Directed by Tracy Rector and Lou Karsen, this documentary film tells the story of Ko-kwal-alwoot, while 

documenting the Maiden of Deception Pass story pole project, and showing how tribal history inspires 

generations of Samish people.

Post-viewing questions

1. What is the purpose of this documentary?

2. Who was Ko-kwal-alwoot?

3. What is the significance of the Ko-kwal-alwoot story to the Samish people?

4. What is the significance of the family in Samish culture?

5. Why was the story pole created?

6. Who carved the story pole?

7. For a long period of time, the Samish people were not recognized as a tribe by the United States federal

   government. Why?

8. Why did so many Samish people move away from the region where they had lived for so long?

9. What was Tracy Powell’s initial reaction when he saw the log for the story pole?

10. Where is the story pole located?

11. What do the two sides of the story pole represent?

12. What is the significance to the Samish Indian Nation of the Maiden of Deception Pass story pole 


Group discussion prompt

What do the four Native American stories we’ve considered have in common? Identify at least three 


“Rabbit’s Wish for Snow,” told by Tchin

“Rabbit,” told by Gene Tagaban 

“Hodadenon: The Last One Left and the Chestnut Tree”

“The Maiden of Deception Pass”

GROUP DISCUSSION PROMPTS for The Haudenosaunee Confederacy and "Hodadenon, or the

last one left and the chestnut tree"

1. Who are the Haudenosaunee?

2. What is a confederacy?

3. What is a participatory democracy?

4. What kind of constitution did the Haudenosaunee Confederacy originally have?

5. What are the three principles of the Great Law?

6. What do you think is the meaning of "the power of the good mind"?

7. What is a clan? (give details pertaining to the Haudenosaunee Confederacy)

8. How do you interpret the statement, "peace is a state of mind"?

9. Read together as a group the Haudenosaunee values and ethics. 

10. Find examples of those values in the story, "Hodadenon, or the last one left and the chestnut tree."

Below: original sonnets composed by HUM101A students during an in-class creative activity Spring 2017

Sonnet 66.5

Stuck inside of a bleak and tasteless hole

Slaving nine to five is a hopeless life

Running in circles of a life so dull

Paying monthly bills is an endless strife

Living, laughing and loving we never

Although we enter life with naught but skin

We shall die internally forever

Our future finds itself rich with burden

Adolescent memories in the sun

The memories of a carefree youth, like

Running and playing, solely having fun

No obligations, but riding my bike

   Till death we come unto the fateful day

   From now till then we children laugh and play

Movement through the motions

I am going to get y'all jumpin'

Pace yourself this isn't a speedy sprint

Speakers so bad got the city bumpin'

Just like your new haircut can't take a hint

Swipin' left on Tinder these girls passing

Just like your checks peasant you need to bounce

Your repulsing odor I find harassing

Move out the way my lyrics will pounce

Your death won't be quick choke you out so slow

Repent for crossing me you got to pray

Call the bad wolf your raw mixtape shall blow

House still standing eating fresh fish fillet

X-ray vision cannot find your swagger

Too sharp I'll cut you up like a dagger

Jackson Pollock

He lay the empty canvas on the ground

With brush in hand he reached forward to dip

Inside his mind the masterpiece was found

He watched as the wet paint fell from the tip

With dancing hands around the piece he moved

Each color intertwined a different mood

He had lost his mind, the painting had proved

Circling around he had begun to brood

The whirling lines no longer seem to flow

He could no longer see the work inside

All the emotions were starting to show

Unsorrowing he cast the piece aside

An empty canvas he started anew

Again a vision came into his view

Below: Makeshift directions for water protectors' camps at Standing Rock, North Dakota 2016

Below: Samish story pole celebrating Ko-kwal-alwoot, 

located on Rosario Beach, Deception Pass State Beach (WA)

The Alternative Library (Bellingham, WA)

Listen to stories written by Tom Waits, Nick Cave, and other artists, read by Danny Devito, Zach Galifianakis, and more: Open Culture 

Read the Constitution of the United States online: here or here

About the American chestnut: here and here and here 

Tchin on oral storytelling
Listen to Tchin telling "Rabbit's Wish for Snow" here.

Interview with Native American storyteller Gene Tagaban here
Gene Tagaban: The Raven story

Pacific Northwest Seismic Network: Native American Stories

Punk Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq: here and here

Magical realism paintings by Rob Gonsalves 

Axolotl Magazine: original works of fiction, drama, poetry, art, and essays in and about the genres of magical realism and slipstream. In both English and Spanish.

Gabriel García Márquez: "Un señor muy viejo con unas alas enormes" 

Magic realist literature here

Short magical realism drama, Journey's End

Animated magic realism films by Hayao MiyazakiHowl's Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away (films available in numerous places)

You Tube on Gabriel García Márquez here

Salman Rushdie on truth in fiction: Magical Realism Is Still Realism

Letters of Note blog

International literature in translation: Words Without Borders

Interview with Mark Edmundson: "Why Read?"

"The power of literature and human rights": LSE Human Rights

Lewis Desimone's article, "Gay Fiction is Everybody's Fiction"

Huff Post article: "Why Poetry Is Necessary"

Listen to recitations here

Melissa Block on NPR: "All Things Considered" interview with poet laureate Charles Wright here

Boonaa Mohammed poem, "Kill them with love"

Toni Morrison reading from her novel, Home 

Shakespeare's As You Like It: full text here
Aristotle's Three Stages of Man here
Shakespeare: Original Pronunciation here
Shakespeare's London Globe Theatre here

Short Stories by Saki / H.H. Munroe

Comedian John Branyan on language and reading the classics: The Three Little Pigs 

Jonathan Cape Graphic Novels 

                                                                                  Gun sireadh gun iarraidh...Without seeking, without asking...on ne va nulle part.


Make a free website with Yola