Shahriar Ashraf

  • Dear Class,

    In preparation for our class today please read the preface, introduction and Chapters 1-2 in Animal Farm.


  • Below are some scholarly articles that may prove to be helpful.






  • (Must be posted by 10/17): What are some of the similarities in terms of the poetic elements in the earlier 17th Century poems, and later 20th century poems? Choose two poems, one earlier and one more contemporary […]

    • For a long time many different poems were written. Something all poems have in common is the poetic elements that authors include in order to clarify the significance of the poem. The poem “Death, be not proud” written by John Donne was written in the 17th century. This poem is different from the 20th century poems because language is used differently. In the poem “Death, be not proud” the author uses repetition of the word death. The author uses personification in the last line of the poem by saying “Death, thou shalt die.” The author makes death seem like it was a character, or someone who was alive. The poem “A Supermarket in California” as well uses different poetic elements. The author uses the element of imagery when he describes what he sees in the ailes of the supermarket. In the 17th century poetry the authors focused more on elements of rhyme and the sound of the poem. The 20th Century poetry focused more on the imagery. The 17th century poet as well does a better job at Lineation and breaks the line more efficiently than the 20th century poet. Both of the authors use stanzas because that is what poems are made up of.

    • Ashley Jagat
      Professor Ashraf
      17 October 2016

      Though 17th and modern, more contemporary poetry have many differences they also have some similarities. Poetry of the 17th century were highly influenced by William Shakespeare and John Donne which followed the, as now referred, “traditional” styling in terms of sound sense[rhyme, meter, lineation, etc.], also there is a more direct connection to the writer of said poetry due to the more prominent first person type of narrative. The more contemporary poetry is very abstract with less of a flow or rhyme scheme structure but liberal verses and the speaker(s) is quite different from Shakespearean work; is not such direct correlation in the narrative to the poet and the poetry. For example, if one were to compare Sonnet 18[1564-1616] by William Shakespeare to “The Waste Land”[1922] by T.S. Elliot the difference in poetry through the elements of poetry is clear. As one can see the rhyme scheme and structure of Sonnet 18 follows a ABAB type of pattern , specifically ababcdcdefefgg, through 14 lines which is a typical Shakespearean era sonnet. But, “The Waste Land” is more of a epic poem without a set or exact rhyme scheme but a more liberal and abstract one which is much more common in later/modern centuries. Also, somewhat due to the fact that “The Waste Land” is a epic poem, there is no real indication as to who the speaker is because there is a constant shift in speakers, speakers with different but similar backgrounds. Sonnet 18, as well as much of the other poems of the 17th century, has mainly one speaker which allows for a much gentler flow compared (“The Waste Land” does have a flow but it is not as smooth in transition but it is definitely there).
      Differences 17th century and contemporary poems both may have they also share similar qualities in elements. For example, both poems used imagery, setting and symbolism to represents the overall meaning of their work as a whole (something(s) most poetry use no matter the century). Even though Sonnet 18 has a similar flow of imagery throughout the sonnet (summer, light, beautiful day) to add to the themes of love, admiration and time, but “The Waste Land” has multiple scenes of imagery and differently opposite settings they all still add to the theme(s) of the work such as memory and reflection on the past.

    • Yasmin Jalil
      Professor Ashraf
      English 130
      17 October 2016

      Poems have different tones and aspects than the typical stories many find in literature. One major similarity poems have from any time period is that they express feelings or thoughts. In terms of poetic elements, there are more differences than similarities. In he 17th century, it is common for poets to follow a uniform, such as sonnets. When there is a sonnet, every line follows with ten syllables or less. One example is “Death, be not proud” by John Donne. His poem is directed towards an inanimate object, death. The imagery for this poem is dark as it mentions, “Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men…poison, war, and sickness…: (Donne Lines 9-10). Death is a dark topic itself but Donne brings in more aspects of death such as different causes and its availability to anyone. The repetition of the word death makes it the highlight of his poem. It creates intensity within the depth of the poem as he also uses death in many ways. Death can be “pleasure” (6) when it can also be “dreadful” (2). It is common for 17th century poem to have a rhyme scheme, in Donne’s poem the scheme goes as ABBAABBACDD…

      “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot is a 20th century poem with different aspects of poetic elements in contrast to John Donne’s “Death, not be proud”. The poem is directed towards multiple people or anyone who is reading it. He does not specify to anyone since the people in the poem do not have an identity. Eliot uses more imagery than Donne since his poem is not restricted to 14 lines, its more of a free verse with no rhyme scheme. In “The Game of Chess”, he describes “the glitter of her jewels rose to meet it” and “In vials of ivory and colored glass”. He puts many lines of imagery, giving off a clear perception of what is going on. Unlike “Death, be not proud”, “The Waste Land” is filled with stanzas, breaking apart the poem into many ideas.

      During the 17th century, it was common to write poems about strong topics such as love or death or an object/person the poet loves or hates. Fast forwarding to the 20th century, poems become less complicated and more about anything one can think of. It can go from the right movements to a small game of chess. The poems from any time period follow a commonality or tow, which are the expression of thoughts and the use of imagery.

    • Shiqi Lin
      English 130
      Professor Ashraf
      17 October, 2016
      Blog 3
      Though out centuries of poetries, poetics are more often changed the style and keep a little same style every century, so therefore in every century you can see a similarity and difference for every different poems. From the similarity between Robert Langbaum’s “The Walking Dead” and A.D. Moody’s “A Cure for the Crisis of Civilization”. In the walking dead, the poet uses something to describe death from every subject that it can be described as. Also, in the A.D.Moody’s poem it is describe every single thing to death as well. They all can be used the stanza and the elements in the poem to differentiate. In the 17 century’s poem, poets uses more the element of tones that how they can be described. In 20 century’s poem, the poets are more focused on the element of symbolism or imagery to develop the whole idea of the poem. By using senses and things around us to make a connection to the poem are what the poets did from the either the 17 or the 20th century.

    • Adrian Avila
      Professor Ashraf
      English 130
      17 October 2016

      In poems, John Donne “Death be Not Proud” and Allan Ginsberg “A Supermarket in California” are poems that come from different time frames but have similarities and differences with each other. Each poem signifies their own examples of symbolism and imagery that give stronger meaning to there story. John Donne is a metaphysical poet, therefore he does metaphysical poetry, the poem is from the early 17th century so ultimately we can say that metaphysics is the study of the ultimate reality beyond our day to day routine, including questions about God, Creation , and the afterlife. In “Death be Not Proud” John Donne explains how death is not as scary or powerful as people might think. “Die not, poor Death, not yet canst thou kill me. From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,” (3-4) Usually when people meet death they will just face darkness in their minds, but in reality we are just falling asleep because the body and the mind are shutting down for a brief amount of time. In other words when you experience death your life on earth has ended but you are still there in spirit. In “The Waste Land” T.S Eliot describes a poem from the 20th century that has five sections to it, which is The Burial of the Dead, A Game of Chess, The Fire Sermon, Death By Water, What the Thunder Said. These sections are all linked into many ideas but usually has a main motive for his readers to know. She is indicating this poem to human society because of the way he is expressing his writing within the poem itself. She wanted to remind the people of how modern literature is important to learn about and how it can effect the future of the modern world. From Comparing both poems we can see how T.S Eliot’s poem is very long compared to “Death be Not Proud” by John Milton. Poems that were written back in the 17th century shows a central idea of how the poem wants to be approached, while the 20th century poems can be very flexible and having their message in the poem be very distinct and unique.

    • Poems have been around for many years and been part of literature for a very long time. Some poems are easy to understand than others when reading it for the first time. In today’s society, a student reading a poem that was written in the 1500s may have some difficulties understanding the meaning of the poem. However, a poem that was written in the 1500s has some similarities with a poem that was written in the 1900s. What these poems have in common are the poetic elements that the author uses to create meaning behind the poem. The poem Sonnet 18 point out how short summer feels on line 4. Using personification and metaphor, the speaker suggests that summer has taken out a lease on the weather. The metaphor is also used on lines 12-14 where the poet talks about poetry. The phrase “lines of time,” creates a metaphor for poetry where poetry existence will never go away as long as humans live. Unlike Shakespeare, the speaker of A Supermarket in California is a free verse poem. In line 2 the speaker states “In my hungry fatigue and, shopping for images…”
      The speaker uses metaphor where he is shopping for inspiration instead of actually shopping for food.
      While there may be a different meaning of these poems, a couple similarities between these poems are the expression the author uses during their time period and the usage of the poetic devices. During the 17th century, poetry was mostly written based on love or death while in the 20th century, it was based on the free verse of any topics. However, they all have something in common with was an expression.

  • Your Name

    Professor Ashraf

    English 130

    10 October 2016
    Essay 2: Analytic Theoretical Essay (5-8 pages)
    Examine the theoretical implications of any of the works of fiction that we have looked at so far. […]

  • Exploring literary experimentation dealing with consciousness has been an illuminating and awe inspiring experience. Illuminating in the way that many of the works that we have read for class expand the scope of […]

    • Speaking of literary theory, The Unconsoled reminded me of Lacan. So the main character, Ryder, cannot rely on his memory and because of that he has trouble with his own identity. There is a disconnect with relating to himself because he can’t believe himself.
      In one of his essays, Lacan says that what comprises the self is a bunch of arbitrary thoughts that are related to one another but are not each other and this is how Lacan explains the illusion of the self. So these thoughts are supposed to relate to each other and create a self but in Ryder’s case the thoughts or memories can’t be reconciled so he’s constantly tormented.

  • It was very refreshing to read a novel that deals with math the way The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time does. In the way that math is used in the novel Mark Haddon, illustrates the various practical a […]

    • The passage-of-time notion that you touch upon in your post is cool. Seeing Christopher in the context of the weighty incidents that take place around him highlights the perspective of the narrator and in the case of Christopher, the narrative is SO different than would be the case for what Jurecic would call “neurotypical” individuals. The kind of life-changing circumstances that come up in the book are reported by Christopher as being more like factoids than crushing developments; but then again, this assessment may be a bit black & white, & Christopher–we know–is not.

  • This issue of the note was a intriguing and elusive literary technique employed by Powers. For me, I originally thought that somehow Mark himself wrote the note, in some kind of fugue state, but that would have been impossible due to his lack of motor skills when the original note had manifested. If however, in some illogical, magical kind of way…[Read more]

  • You raise an interesting issue in regarding the representation of illnesses and their relation to the sympathy towards the person narrating. This is a issue that arises in multiple works that we have encountered in class, and for me certainly if I am in the “drivers seat” of the illness I am much better able to comprehend the qualia of that…[Read more]

  • The second title of the book The Modern Prometheus, was an allusion that I never read or heard about in any of my past readings of Shelly’s Frankenstein. The reason I bring it to attention is also to point out the limitations of the the popular myth associated with Prometheus, merely as bringing fire to man. Maybe it’s just me, and maybe my knowledge of Greek mythology isn’t where it used to be, but as the note in the novel (I have the Norton critical edition) suggests, the myth of Prometheus involves a lot more than bringing fire from Olympus, but the actual creation of man. The note states, “In Greek mythology, the Titan Prometheus created humankind out of mud and water and then stole fire from the gods to give his creation.” This really makes the work of the good doctor in the novel that much more profound, and complicates the narrative implications of the work, giving it yet another dimension.

    Creating life, commonly the function of a deity, or in the aforementioned case a Titan, but not in the  usual capacity of man. Interesting, how in the footnotes of the earlier chapters there was a focus on alchemy and secret societies, ultimately to indicate the latent desire in man to artificially master life. In this almost blind quest, the implications, of such a feat perhaps is not much questioned. The potential benefits outweigh the risks. But creating new life, may not result in simply linear consequences but exponential ones. The problem of creating a companion for the creature, for example, would be analogous to biogenetic pollution, which is much harder to clean up if it gets out of control. The unknown risk then becomes a dire threat  to mankind, as opposed to being a solution.

    I was reading Capital by Marx and I was thinking how Marx defined commodities, when he states, “…man, by his industry, changes the forms of the materials furnished by Nature, in such a way as to make them useful to him,” this resembles the way that the doctor took inanimate body parts that no longer had any use, to create his creature. Marx continues, “So soon as it steps forth as a commodity, it is changed to something transcendent.” At some point, this transcendence occurs in the mind of the creature. Of course the creature couldn’t think of himself in relation to other creatures like him, for there were not any, but there is a certain commoditization of thought, but this is a stretch regarding thought as the product of the labor of the mind at best.

    It is in the realm os psychoanalysis however that Frankenstein has the more digestible interpretations. First, I would like to suggest that Freud had it backwards, and that people aren’t originally male, or masculine in character but in fact feminine. In this regard, penis envy, in my opinion was symptomatic of the phallocentric misogynistic prejudices of his time. Shelly seems to suggest that the impulse of science, demonstrates what I like to call “womb envy” or this preoccupation of creating life, which is something that man can only contribute to, but not actually do themselves. This feministic interpretation could have easily been something Shelly herself may have had in mind, considering she is the daughter of Marry Wollstonecraft, author of A Vindication for the Rights of Women. But this biographical connection may have nothing to do with my theory, it is no doubt that perhaps Shelly was influenced by her mothers works.




  • I think that comment about the illness defining an individual is an extremely importont issue that is often times overlooked when dealing with people that have disorders. Although David B.’s account revolved around the issue if epilipsy, who his brother easily may have been more dynamic than B. depticted. The age old question of representation…[Read more]

  • The art really helped me focus on the reading, I had much more of a hard time with Mrs. Dalloway, in terms of understanding whats going on and when there is a flashback, or what have you, or maybe its because I sketch, and occasionally dabble in art that inhad a relative ease kind of divesting the novel. But beyond my personal inclination, or…[Read more]

  • I am really drawn to your “Alice in Wonderland” reference and both David B. and Lewis Carrol both use unconventional methods to explore psychological and even logical issues. What David B. does with art, Carrol does with mathematics and logic throughout his novel. I think there is something to be said about the roll of art and how it sheds a…[Read more]

  • Reading Maud Casey’s The Man Who Walked Away, was very different than reading other works that took place in mental asylums. I’m thinking of a work like One Flew Over the Cukoos Nest or Shutter Island, where the do […]

    • I think the questions that you end your post with are questions that Albert asks himself once he lands in the asylum:

      “How can he explain to Nurse Anne that, for years, his greatest fear was that he would disappear, and now he wonders what will happen if he doesn’t? Before, he expected nothing; now he is poised for more. All those years of yearning to be still and now that he is still, what is he expected to do?” (139).

      In the closing scene of the book, Albert responds to these thoughts: “Night had not yet sucked the shape of the earth when, his heart poised for more, he set out” (228). So, what’s next for Albert? I can’t answer that, but it seems to me that Albert has set out with anticipation for the future. Although I was hoping that Albert wouldn’t leave the asylum so suddenly, I was happy with the conclusion because Albert does seem to retain a sense of himself (and his “story”): “He is not vanishing. He is not disappearing. His is not nothing. He is a man” (229). He has walked off, but as “a citizen held by the days” (228).

    • I think you bring up an interesting point regarding empathy and Albert’s treatment. In order for the Doctor to aid Albert in any capacity, he must empathize and learn to form a connection with him. As a result, the minor characters and the Doctor have to piece together the fragments of their own pasts to build a relationship with Albert’s fragmented self. The implication is that the Doctor cannot help the patient until he himself suffers the affliction in a simulated fashion. In the end, the patient can only help one’s self with the guidance of the Doctor. Albert’s departure from the asylum is a necessary break from the guidance the Doctor has given to him, but only after he has been made whole again through the treatment of the Doctor.

  • The exploration of crossovers and interconnection was really intriguing in both of these works. The notion of “synesthesia,” “pan-psychism” and the body itself for me provides metaphors for the inter-connectivity of all things human, and non-human. Perhaps a kind of universal “one-ness” or monism, as implied by Demasio, and espoused by Spinoza.…[Read more]

  • The ambiguity to me was also intriguing. I really appreciated the humility and acumen of Hustvedt, in that she had so many sources and quoted to so many neurologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, philosophers, etc. but realized that her ailment is something that is still remains a mystery.

    The work made me really think about the concept of…[Read more]

  • I think your analogy of the sweet-spot of the consciousness is spot on. However, it has to be felt by something, no? And although Noe makes the situation more “accessible” supposedly, he also overcomplicates an already complex matter. I feel like Demasio not only offers a simpler solution, but already acknowledges Noe’s arguments and exceeds them.…[Read more]

  • @Sarah: In terms of your question “does Damasio’s scientific contact preclude a hypothetical meeting of the minds between him and philosopher Noe?” I think looking at the beginnings of science, there was philosophy, so every scientist is implicitly a philosopher, like if the brain represented the scientist, the brainstem would probably be the p…[Read more]

  • I feel like I would be far less critical of Alva Noe’s work had I not read Self Comes to Mind. Although I appreciate the relative simplicity of Noe’s language, it certainly seems there is an over simplification of […]

    • I agree with you in regards to being worried about Noe’s philosophical approaches to consciousness. As I’ve said in another comment, Damasio has the scientific research to support his claims. Noe, in my opinion, has thought long and hard about defining consciousness. Since very little is genuinely understood about consciousness and the mind, there will always be several interpretations. I fall more on Damasio’s “team” than Noe’s- while Damasio’s (scientific) interpretations are more dense and at times hard to understand, they are still quite founded, in my opinion.

    • I too appreciate the fact that Noë’s book and his theories are written in a simple style. And yes, he may be oversimplifying a complex phenomenon. But I don’t think he means to say that the brain is not necessary for consciousness to arise; we need the brain to shape and organize what we see, for example. The brain is sort of like a script for the organism maybe, and the script allows for the organism to have certain experiences but not others. But the script needs the organism to enact consciousness through interaction with the environment. I think he just doesn’t want the brain to be considered the sole or forerunning effector of consciousness.

    • It’s going to be hard to follow this up! I agree! Your explanations of the problems within Noe’s arguments are spot on.

    • Does Damasio’s scientific contact preclude a hypothetical meeting of the minds between him and philosopher Noe? I am reminded here of positive and negative space in artwork, to create an analogy. Just as there is no positive space without negative space, so too Damasio’s and Noë’s claims emerge from positing the opposite claims of one another. Their arguments revolve around the same subject matter, certainly, and Noë practically quotes Damasio’s theory of (brain-originating) consciousness countless times in his text.

    • @Sarah: In terms of your question “does Damasio’s scientific contact preclude a hypothetical meeting of the minds between him and philosopher Noe?” I think looking at the beginnings of science, there was philosophy, so every scientist is implicitly a philosopher, like if the brain represented the scientist, the brainstem would probably be the philosophic base, and the cerebral cortex modern insights into science. So in that regard, Demasio is like a matured form of Noe’s argument.

      I think it would be really being gracious to Noe to say that his argumentation, is opposite. I don’t think that Demasio denies the influence of the environment, the same way Noe denies the influence of the brain. I’d like to offer the analogy between squares and rectangles to compare Demasio and Noe, in that all squares can be rectangles, but not all rectangles can be squares, by means of a simple geometric definition. I feel as if Self Comes to Mind resembles the square, whereas the Noe the rectangle. I honestly don’t feel that logically and objectively Noe makes the better argument. But that’s me. I’m curious though as to what you think makes Noe an equivalent force to be the opposition of Demasio. But I really like the positive negative space analogy.

      @Rachel: Thank you, I tried to sum up as much as I could in five paragraphs.

      @IzabelaK: I get what your saying, but I just find his argument logically too repetitive and insulting really, as if I wouldn’t remember it or something. Whereas I feel like Demasio’s demands on my memory are a little more challenging I’ll give you that, but I just feel like because the guy spend so much time learning and working with the brain directly, his insights are more substantial, than someone working on people who speculate about minds, or wisdom, because philosophy (although one of my favorite subjects, so please don’t get me wrong) don’t have access to brains the same way neuroscientists would, and don’t have the same high tech state of the art tools, which of course Noe kind of looks down upon in terms of the brain imaging machines. But something like seeing through an electron microscope is something that isn’t standard protocol for a typical philosophy student, whereas it might be for someone like Demasio. But I certainly get Noe’s emphasis on the environment. It kind of reminds me of that Goethe quote, “The unnatural that too is natural.”

      @Jenn: I agree with you, but I feel like that Royals song, “Were on each others teams,” just in the sense that it’s all part of the process of understanding. I feel like their just describing the same phenomenon but through different lenses, I think what’s being forgotten that each of the lenses have their own kind of function and yield different kinds of images. Can’t they both just get along? I feel like they already do, but Noe wants to be fancy, lol.

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