Dates and Contact Information

Contact Ms. Sasso at or
Tutorials: Saturday 9:30 - 11:30.

BOOK RETURNS: Returned books must have your name in them or you will be charged.

Oedipus at Colonus: Essays are due
Multiple Choice: All are due on 1/7/2019.
Read Lysistrata: 12/17 Projects due after the break.
Prose Passages: Introduction paragraphs and annotations: 1/7/17.
Read Candide, Beowulf, and Frankenstein. In that order :) Gather information for Candide project.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Comedy and Poetry

Winter is upon us. “The darkest evening of the year” as Robert Frost famously describes it, however is also the moment that the light begins to return. There is always hope on the horizon, and the seasons of humanity wax and wane. The winter solstice is a wonderful reminder of our own renewal, even as we grow older.
Both comedy and poetry are literary genres that are famous for getting us through the dark times, enlightening us, soothing us, and making us laugh to encourage us. In the waxing and waning of our lives, there will always be peace. Assuredly in the end, we will find peace.  
Comedy has the power to neutralize our fears and terrors. It gives us the ability to critically view what might be uncomfortable -- or unbearable -- and find solutions, comfort, or solace in situations that could otherwise be either humiliating or agonizing. Opposing forces and culturally different enemies can find common ground in laughter.
And mostly, comedy gives us the uncanny ability to see fault humbly within ourselves, and to change accordingly.
Aristophanes’ famous comedy, Lysistrata, was written and staged in Athens during the Peloponnesian Wars, where the conflict between Athenian and Spartan coalitions threatened to destroy the Greek Empire, and as most historians see it, does contribute to the eventual fall of this mighty culture. The play confronts this war directly and outrageously: a union of women from all of Greece, led by the Athenian Lysistrata, decides that the only way to get the men to stop fighting -- is to stage a sex strike.  As Spike Lee’s new film, “Chi-Raq” shades it, “No peace, no piece.”  Spike Lee’s 2015 update on Lysistrata, set among the gang wars and violence in modern Chicago, isn’t the only time in history this play has been used to wage war against war. The anti-war slogan from the Vietnam era, “Make Love, Not War” was taken from Lysistrata. In 2003, actors staged a global reading of this play to protest the United States’ invasion of Iraq. And in the late 20th century, women have staged sex strikes through the world to end localized violence. 

It should not be surprising that sexual politics and the politics of government are related, and that a sexual farce could be a strong instrument of peace. Perhaps in a dangerous world, our only hope of defusing the weapons on both sides, is laughter. What we all have in common, is love.    

Along the winter road, the AP Literature class will also be studying poetry, including epic poetry. Right now we are examining the powerful poem, “Death Be Not Proud” by the metaphysical 17th century poet, John Donne. His poetry was featured in a brilliant play by Margaret Edson, called Wit. Please watch this stunning HBO version, directed by Mike Nichols. Donne’s sonnet uses elements of comedy and poetic conceit to take the wind out of death itself -- and give us all the courage to look at winter, and life, from a more powerful perspective.  

Students are also be reading Voltaire's satire, Candide. While we all can agree that this is NOT the "best of all possible worlds", unless we see the flaws, we cannot begin to correct them.

Check out also, Jan Svankmajer's fantastic live and stop-action film of Alice in Wonderland. It is the truest version of this satirical work to be found.

From the college essay of Mike, a blind student at Old Lyme High School, 2013:
I do not let my blindness stop me from doing anything.  My family treats me like I am sighted.  This has made me feel very comfortable with my blindness, and I have a very good sense of humor about it.  I make some of my favorite jokes when sighted people use the word “see”.  I like to make sighted people feel comfortable with my blindness.  I find that sighted people often do not know how to react to my blindness, and making jokes helps them to feel more comfortable.