December, 2011

The Adventure of the Speckled Band By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

December 19th, 2011 December 19th, 2011
Posted in Uncategorized

Dear Reader,

The website before you is a comprehensive analysis of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Speckled Band.  You will also found the site includes a semester’s worth or course work completed for English 170W: Introduction to Literary Theories taught by Professor Ferguson of CUNY Queens College.  Though the site is dedicated to delineating the accomplishments of Sherlock Holmes and the demise of the cunning Dr. Grimesby Roylott, I have left my work outside of this subject on my site in an effort to effectively articulate my comprehension of the literary theories I used in my analysis of The Adventure of the Speckled Band.  You will find here a short summary of  The Adventure of the Speckled Band as well as the full text of the short story provided by  Additionally, I have provided a brief biography of Sherlock Holmes, his creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  and an entry defining the sub-genre, the locked room mystery, to which the short story belongs.  Plot problems and a detailed map of the crime scene, including more detailed visual aids on the “photo gallery” page to assist readers in further understanding Holmes’ observations, and solving of the mysterious death on Stroke Moron.

Through this class, I was introduced to of a number of literary theories of critical analysis and how to deliver this vast new information through the usage of digital tools.  Digital literary devices are relatively new — Google’s Ngram Viewer was generated in 2009 and allows users to visualize the rise and fall of phrases and concepts across five centuries of books (that’s five million texts!), and the Wordle, debuted about a year earlier, creates a lovely “word cloud” composed of a provided text, giving prominence to the text’s most common terms — and will certainly become increasingly more relative to literary education as academia, together with the world at large, continues to advance technologically.  Therefore, these are tools I will continue to learn, manipulate and appreciate as a student and productive member of our intellectual society.

My ability to recognize (and appreciate) rhetoric has heightened dramatically over the semester.  You will find a page entitled “Glossary of Terms” displaying my accumulated skills through an analysis of randomly gathered Tweets.  You’d be surprised how present rhetoric is (used consciously or, as is more likely, not) in just 140-character-ed spurts.  I was.  An understanding of rhetorical devices thus allowed me a deeper grasp on the literary theories we later discussed in class, including New Criticism, Semiotics, Structuralism and Freud’s Psychoanalysis and its applications to literature.  Each method is so widely different, often opposing even, to the methods before and after it.  I learned to appreciate that before me (New Criticism) that that is not (Semiotics) and that this is but, but not obviously so (Psychoanalysis).  I then used a number of these theories to develop my shared analysis of The Adventure of the Speckled Band.

As a writer, I’ll forever be a student.  Sharpening never ends.  Though I’ve gathered skills and used tools and theories in this class that were once widely unrecognizable to me, there is still, and always will be, much to learn.  There are certain challenges I continue to face as a writer — aside from the throngs of rhetorical terms I have yet to commit to memory.  Critically analyzing my own writing, for instance, remains something on the To-Do List.  I find it difficult to distinguish between effective and overeager writing, and fear that I sometimes border heavily on the latter.  I can separate New Criticism from Semiotics, but often fail to recognize worthwhile, helpful writing from useless.  And because practice makes perfect, though I’m told no one/nothing is perfect(?), practice is what I’ll do.

Lastly, I would like to thank Professor Ferguson for a most enjoyable learning experience, one whose learned tools have already proven themselves helpful outside the realms of English 170W.

Enjoy the (metaphorical!) fruit of my labor, and leave your comments letting me know what you think.  I hope you find perusing this site as useful as I did in its construction.


Revising My Site

December 7th, 2011 December 7th, 2011
Posted in Uncategorized

More Than Just a Detective . . .

December 6th, 2011 December 6th, 2011
Posted in Uncategorized

. . . you might call Mr. Sherlock Holmes a raging Semiotician!


Moth-eaten Mania

December 4th, 2011 December 4th, 2011
Posted in Uncategorized

Though lists “mania” as a synonym for “obsession,” “obsession” doesn’t appear as a synonym for “mania.”  I wonder what the New Critic would say about that.  A denotation-connotation complex of sorts?

One of themes apparent in Jeffery Eugenides novel The Marriage Plot is that of a mania.   Each of the main characters manifests this obsessiveness differently.  Leonard literally suffers from manic depression, “mania” in its connotatively clinical sense, and exhibits bipolar behaviors characteristic of manic depressives.  Meanwhile,  the Hannas’ obsession is not one that might be responded to with a prescription for Lithium.  Their “mania,” though, as’s would suggest, would  ordinarily be characterized as an “obsession” for its non-clinical connotation, is a fixation on the maintenance of originality and antiquity.

 The Hannas’ house was a hundred-year-old Tudor. . . Inside, everything was tasteful and half falling apart. The Oriental carpets had stains. The brick-red kitchen linoleum was thirty years old. When Mitchell used the powder room, he saw that the toilet paper dispenser had been repaired with Scotch tape. So had the peeling wallpaper in the hallway. (74)

Everything about their home reflects its age: the stained carpet, the peeling wallpaper.  Eugenides uses the words “power room” not because  he avoids racier terms — he has no problem in the rest of the novel — like, heaven forbid, b-a-t-h-r-o-o-m, but because “powder room” exhibits an older, outdated (like their red-brick kitchen) connotation, a word long ago abandoned by most by this time.   Most every descriptive word in the above paragraph is a paradigmatic options for something old and out-of-date.  Words like “falling apart,” “stains,” “tape,” “peeling” develop this elderly imagery Eugenides creates.  Plus, linoleum and wallpaper have long gone out of date.  My grandmother tell me this all the time,  and she’s old enough to have been around to see the Hannas’ house being built.

Thank G-d for Scotch tape.

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