A Picnic With Jane, Hold the Ants : Analyzing Pride and Prejudice

Sometimes my brain gets stuck, like a record skipping. sometimes it’s a word or a song or a quotation which it can’t quite unravel, so the stuck word or phase plays back again and again. For me it was a quotation from Jane Austen.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.   – Jane Austen

This line in particular, the very opening of the book I had chosen to analyze for my English class in my junior year of high school, seemed to glare at me for the many days I waited to begin my reading. The 432 pages of proper English were daunting, and I hadn’t even begun to write the required five page analysis of the text. I had chosen Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice as a prime candidate to examine, because though I may not always care to admit, I’m a sucker for the occasional romance novel. In the beginning process of my assignment, I felt nothing besides enthusiasm for my chance to finally crack into a classic of the Western literary canon. My sense of enthusiasm quickly dissipated as I began to pour over the first chapter, my sixteen year old brain understood nearly nothing of what I had been reading. It took time, but I was able to finish the novel weeks later, with enough notes to fill the grave that I had metaphorically made for myself while attempting to complete this project.

When it came time to write my long awaited analysis, I felt as if there was nothing that would get in my way. I had the notes, a decent understanding of the text, and the entire boxed set of the TV adaptation starring Colin Firth. Nothing could have prepared me for the sudden wave of procrastination that came over me the second I first sat down to write.  I’ll admit I avoided completing this assignment for as long as humanly possible, bingeing the TV series Friends for countless hours, getting no closer to my goal. It wasn’t until about a week before its due date, where I finally decided to regroup and face the challenge at hand. Once I could organize my thoughts, words and ideas seemed to flow from my mind to my computer like a current down a wire. Approximately three days later, and about another season of Friends to help cope, I was finished. Thankfully, I  recieved a remarkably high score, despite my minimal remaining level of eagerness towards the subject. I was officially burnt out on Jane Austen for the time being.

This story of triumph over my lack of mental fortitude can be an integral example of my experience as a writer. Often times while I write, including now, I spend too much time in my head, contemplating every single word choice or sentence structure. I can make this experience as well as my many others, the main structure of my literacy narrative by discussing both my passions and frustrations regarding the subject. When I produce something well written, I feel such an immense sense of accomplishment. Though I can also frequently become stuck in my constant “writer’s block” purgatory, where I remain until I either push myself out using either sheer will or panic regarding an impending due date. Possibly while writing my narrative and exploring my experiences with writing, I’ll learn more about myself and maybe even help future Lauren not suffer the same fate as her past.

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Sponsors of Literacy : My Personal Take On It

In previous blog posts, I’ve written about my experience growing up with an exceedingly enthusiastic mother as well as an older brother with autism and how it affected my process of learning how to read and write. It can be strange to see how things so seemingly insignificant can play such an important role in shaping the kind of person you become. My mom being an english professor for almost as long as I’ve been alive and attending supplementary classes with my brother at the ripe age of about two and a half molded my personal relationship with literacy at an incredibly young age. I’ll be honest, in my most recent years I haven’t paid much thought as to why I am the kind of reader and writer that I am.  This has been changed entirely by enrolling in this English class. Looking back on my childhood, it’s been fascinating to view the small or large influences in my life and evaluate how they impacted my journey with literacy. The fact that I became interested in knowing more about my past allowed me to deeply connect with the topic of what a sponsor of literacy is. To my knowledge, a sponsor of literacy is an influence on a person’s understanding or involvement with literacy which can be positive or negative.

Like I’ve said before, I believe a crucial sponsor of literacy in my personal experience would have to be my family, and I’m sure many people could say the same. Like most others, my parents first taught me how to read and I inherited my attitude towards literacy directly from them. My mother has been a particularly influential person in my reading and writing experience. Starting from when I was young, I’ve wanted to be just like my mother, the reading enthusiast, and avid writer. What can I say? She’s my hero. As often as I was able to, I’d accompany her to writing workshops, bookstores, and even the occasional lecture while I was young enough to tag along. I didn’t know it at the time, but spending time with my mother at those types of events had already begun to shape my view on literacy. I just believed I was spending time with the person I treasured most in the world. I had no idea it could be so much more than that. I’ll be quite frank, at first, learning about what a literary sponsor was made me ask myself, “well, so what?” I wondered why knowing what such a thing was would come to be important. I can safely say after reading the stories written by both Malcolm X and Sandra Cisneros, as well as looking into not only my own personal history with literacy, but others as well, I can see why a sponsor of literacy is so significant. After all, rhetoric is one of the key concepts to producing a successful piece of writing. I feel that when people begin to understand the results literary sponsors can have on their lives as well as others, people can truly begin to understand each other as well as where they themselves come from. Knowing that, it’s much easier to appeal to your audience which can mean so much if you’d like to get your ideas across to others, and isn’t that what writing is all about?

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My Experience with Literacy

Ever since I was first learning as a young girl, I’ve always valued the skill and privilege of being able to read and write. Like most others, I was taught how to read and write mostly from my parents. I feel very fortunate to have parents who care about me enough to devote so much of their time into helping me as much as they have. My parents also raised me with the mentality that the opportunity for literacy is precious. Because of how they taught me, I have never failed to consider it as such. To think there is such an easy way in the world to share information that could expand our minds and even completely alter our way of thinking entirely within a short period of time never ceases to amaze me. I also deeply enjoy the way it can open the doors to teachers whom I would have never had the opportunity to learn from in this lifetime. There are countless stories from people with all kinds of different experiences from all across the world and in some cases, even from different periods of time. I firmly believe it’s the exposure to other ways of life and other experiences that help you to grow as a person. Reading and writing have often times been a way of escape and peace for me, like I’m sure it can be for many other people. This escape was especially helpful in my early childhood while I was surrounded by so much chaos in my life. Because my life tends to seemingly be in a state of chaos, I tend to gravitate towards books of a more lighthearted nature. Romance stories continue to be my favorite kind of story to read but I try my best to keep my mind open and remember to try new things.

Of course, like anything in this world it’s nearly impossible for my current experience with literacy to be completely free of flaws. While I have a deep love of reading and writing, lately I’ve found myself in a continuous case of “writer’s block”. If you don’t know what that is, congratulations, I am so incredibly jealous. See, earlier on in life I was much more confident in my writing ability. By going through my storage area containing my childhood belongings, I’m absolutely positive it wouldn’t be hard to find multiple notebooks full cover to cover in stories I once created in hopes of someday sharing with the world. I’m not sure what happened in the past few years to have changed this, but I’ve fallen into a bit of a writing slump. Even something as small as a blog post has taken me much longer than it should have because I can’t seem to shake my feelings of uncertainty. This situation I find myself in happens to be something I am hoping will begin to change over the course of this English 2010 class. Writing has gone from being one of my greatest passions to something I dread doing. I’m hoping that by taking this class, I’m going to be much more comfortable in my writing abilities and I can get back doing what I love.

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Read, Lauren. Read. : Earliest Memories of Literacy

From an early age, I have been passionate about reading and writing. Considering my family, it’s impossible to be otherwise. My mom has a deep love of literature and shared her passion with me before I even came into this world. When she was pregnant with me, she would read to her belly. As evidence of her infatuation with writing, the walls in my childhood home were covered ground to ceiling with bookshelves, each stocked to the brim with books of every length, language, and genre.  The earliest memory I can recall is reading Go, Dog. Go! with my brother to accompany his speech therapy sessions. As a toddler, my older brother, Theodore, was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a type of autism. To help him meet the literacy level of his peers he began taking supplementary classes at 3 years old. My brother has always been my best friend and the person I’ve looked up to most, so I jumped at the chance to support him through class. I was just a toddler myself, but my mom took me along to help. As a result, I began to read and write at an early age.

My mother was ecstatic to find that I shared her passion, so she helped me by reading with me each morning and at night to strengthen my literacy skills.  The book Go, Dog. Go! is significant to my childhood experience with literature because it was the first book I could read completely on my own. I was so proud I could hardly focus on anything else for the weeks after. I carried the book with me everywhere I went. Following that first experience, it became a common occurrence for me to devour a new book every chance I could get. I feel that having such a strong support from my family made my first experience in literacy an especially positive one. The experience was crucial in me becoming the person I am today. Going into school, I was labeled a “precocious reader” and the title has carried with me to this day. Reading continues to be one of my hobbies I cherish the most, so if anyone has any book recommendations, I’m all ears.

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