Final Blog Post: Ackland Museum


The piece that most interested me from the Ackland Museum was The Batture Ritual.  The video showed the beauty of life by the water and how beautiful water itself can be.  By Jeff Whetstone’s use of sound and a video instead of a picture, the artwork was able to capture the activity in the area and not just what was perceived and interpreted by someone in a specific moment of time.

In the other artwork dealing with water that we viewed, what was important was the people, the location, or the object and not the nature as a whole.  By Whetstone filming the Mississippi River we are able to focus on all the uses that the river can serve for the people as well as capturing how the beings other than humans are participating in the area.  Due to the cruise ship that passed by the camera, we can tell that the Mississippi River is used for travel as well as it is a resource for food as we see when the man by the water’s edge was fishing. The fishing scene proved that there were living things in the water and by including sound, such as the noises produced by the crickets, we could tell there are more animals nearby.  This adds more depth to the art as you have used two senses to receive the work, giving a better idea of what is happening in the video beyond what you can see, which is more than you can acquire from a picture.

My favorite aspect of the work is the fact that Mr. Whetstone decided to take multiple different videos of the Mississippi River.  He could have much easier taken a single photo which could have captured the image of the man by the water as the ship passed by. However, from the video we can take much more from the setting than we could from an image.  We get to see life in action. The moving, unscripted behaviors of the animals and people found in the video give us a true view of the culture and the beauty of the life in the Mississippi River Batture.

Third Blog Post: Wilson Library Visit by Miller Kittrell

      On October 23, our class visited the Wilson Library and had the opportunity to observe several of the original and special editions of Robinson Crusoe, Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, and Sherlock Holmes.  In our viewing time, my group made an effort to look at one book in each section and understand the different ways in which the literature we have read in class has been presented in the past.  One piece that caught my eye was the poster for the Jane Eyre theater production.  Today, plays are not as common as movies, and viewing a form of advertisement such as the Jane Eyre piece is uncommon.  Upon inspecting the artifacts, we considered the several marketing techniques, such as the font sizes and the lack of focus on the story itself, used by the creator, to determine what we found in the poster to be successful.

        First, I want to reflect on how the sign endorses the story of the book Jane Eyre.  In 1872, it was probable that a majority of people attending the play, would not have read the book and therefore, would not know the story of Jane Eyre. Because of this, it would be necessary to include a brief summary of the story on the sign.  When you look carefully over the placard you see the powerful, one-word descriptions, such as “LOVE” and “FEAR,” for each act. The purpose of these is to grab the attention of the viewer and create a desire to watch the production. We agreed that the word selection was very persuading and would most likely have successfully drawn people to view the production.

        The second aspect that stood out is about how the poster markets the performance.  Immediately upon taking a glance at the poster, you noticed the big names followed by words so small you cannot even read them without looking closer.  This technique is very common on many ads, papers, and advertisements to get the reader to focus on main ideas without worrying about the lesser details.  What made the Jane Eyre poster different from what our group was most familiar with was the fact that it bounced from one font size to another; large, to small, to medium, etc.  When discussing as a class, we determined that the purpose is still the same as when other creators use different font sizes, but the designer for this poster, was very creative in her way of shouting out what they found important.  One of which was the name of the actor portraying Jane Eyre, Maggie Mitchell. On this particular theater poster, the actor’s name was printed in a larger print than the title, which led us to believe that the play likely was not viewed by large numbers of people.  By enlarging Ms. Mitchell’s name, who was a famous actor and in her last couple performances as Jane, the marking contributors used the technique to bring in more people to watch the show.

        Due mainly to the fact that theater posters are far less common than they were in the time period this was created, it made the work fascinating to view.  Focusing primarily on how it was used to market the play, our group determined that it was likely a successful work of advertisement as its font sizes captured your attention and brought you to recognize the lead character was to be portrayed by a popular artist.  We also felt that by giving detail about the acts of the play without giving a summary was also a good contributor when trying to attract a wide range of spectators. By the several different components of the piece we assumed the turnout to be a very successful one.

Second Blog Post: The Silence Worth Hearing

In class the question came up whether Friday had more of a voice in Robinson Crusoe or in Foe.  I would argue that Friday’s voice, or instead, his complete silence, was actually a stronger presence in Foe than his actual voice in Robinson Crusoe.  Due to a lack of words, Susan Barton finally gave up in her curiosity about what had happened in Friday’s life and began to think he was dumb and his life held no real significance if he could not talk back.

Towards the end of Foe, Susan began to attempt to teach Friday to write.  After a while, she asked “How can he write if he cannot speak?” (Coetzee 142), finding it pointless and a waste of time to try and help Friday learn her language.  Foe believed in giving him more time.  “None is so deprived that he cannot write” (144).  With further practice, Friday continued to learn and could copy letters that Susan placed before him.  The small ability to write and copy individual letters proved to Foe that Friday was much more intelligent than Susan was giving him credit of being. This showed that he could remember, that he had the mental capability to learn, and that deep inside, Friday had a voice.

In Robinson Crusoe, Friday was able to speak but, he could only respond to Crusoe with a short, one or two-word reply.  The few words Friday could speak were all answers to commands that were made by Crusoe for him to complete.  While he had the ability to speak, I don’t think his responses are worthy of enough credit to claim Friday had much of a “voice”.  By literally not having the ability to speak, he spurred the curiosity of the protagonist for a majority of the novel, and as he proved his ability to learn to write shows the intelligence that Friday does have in Foe speaks many times more than any unsophisticated answer he ever was able to give in Robinson Crusoe.


Works Cited:

Coetzee, J. M.. Foe. Penguin Books, 1987.

First Blog Post: Robinson Crusoe by Miller Kittrell

When faced in a desolate location with few resources of your own, it is important to be able to work with minimal supplies.  In the book The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe we are able to see Crusoe survive a total of over twenty-seven years in such a situation.  It can be argued that, due to his many years on the island, Robinson was a successful survivor.  However, there are many times where a decision or a thought made by Crusoe makes the reader wonder, “how has he possibly survived this far?”  It appears that the author could be including these occurrences as a means of beefing up his story and having a slightly comedic feel within his work, or trying to create an understanding within the reader that a person faced in this situation would very most likely be stressed and make similar decisions to Crusoe himself.


Throughout the book I found myself impressed with Crusoe’s intelligence and ability to work with the limited amount of resources that he had available: using the seeds to grow crops along with learning the growing season, using items from the boat to create shelters, and domesticating the island goats.  Yet I would not give Crusoe the title of a great survivalist, for a great survivalist handles every situation with great care and makes sure to do provide safety and care to themselves.  In several occasions during his time on the island, Robinson thinks to or even makes a decision that could risk his life.  An example of this was when Crusoe thought of destroying all of his resources and shelters to hide from the savages any evidence of a human living on the island.  If we stop to consider this, he would be left with no crops to eat for an entire year, would have to rebuild all his shelters, and have to now hunt the goats for all of his food supply with a limited supply of ammunition for his gun left.  While still possible to survive without these things, eliminating your shelter and crops would be quite a challenge to overcome when trying to last on an island with little to no other resources, and most likely would never be suggested as an optimal method for endurance.


While struggling to survive, the question of one’s beliefs may creep into the mind.  Crusoe’s back and forth indecision on whether to believe that God was behind his good fortunes or if it was all because of himself happens time after time again during this book.  Due to beliefs during the time this book was published, it brings into question when analyzing the work whether the book was intended to appear religious or secular.  Modern beliefs are that this book had to be written to adhere to one side or the other but Defoe’s writing leaves this question up in the air.


At multiple points in the story, Crusoe flips between putting his faith in God and quickly forgetting all about the divine.  His actions make it easy to believe that the story is a secular one.  To focus on one specific instance, we can look closely at when Robinson is first successfully growing crops.  Upon recognizing the accomplishment, Crusoe thanks God.  There is no doubt in Crusoe’s mind that the Lord was involved in the outcome of food.  Before taking his next step, Crusoe has already moved his train of thought from “God did this” to “I did this.”  This case is where I think that Defoe’s writings are actually able to be both religious along with being secular.  In 1719, when the book was first published, every book was supposed to be somehow or another, religious, but at a glance you would not consider Robinson to be the typical Christian man.  Because of his being what is known as a part-time or fair-weather Christian, one who only believes in Christ when it is easy to him, it makes sense that everything that happened to Crusoe was due to his own actions or by chance.  Everything good that happened was solely from Crusoe’s own work.  On the other hand, you can see how God was there helping Crusoe by providing the crops for him when there was no other easy way to have a good supply of food.  The alternate interpretation is what allowed this book to continue to be published during the early 18th century as the book was seen to be a religious story.  Due to his crafty writing and creation of the character Robinson Crusoe, I think Defoe successfully made this story in a way that it was able to be interpreted in either a secular or religious account.