Nuanced Death in Shakespeare—Treehouse Talks #2

Shakespeare was a man who wrote about complex and controversial topics for his time. At times he subtly delved into the discrimination of women and racial minorities. In this podcast we discuss the nuance in Shakespeare’s writing—and how he critiques society through it.

Posted in #PBL #StudentCentered, Collaboration, English IV Honors, Injustice, Podcast, Shakespeare, Shakespeare Podcast #PBL | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is Love?

In order to obtain a more comprehensive understanding of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and how it translates into modern day depictions of love and the accuracy of this renowned love story, we decided to interview Ms. Rawlings D Period AP Literature class and comment on some of their opinions. The questions we ask are as follows: What is your definition of love? Is Romeo and Juliet an accurate depiction of love? What book, show, or movie do you feel is a better depiction of love? Is it ok to betray the person you love for greatness? Listen as we unpack how elements of forbidden love, obsession, loyalty, devotion, and misogyny are seen through 21st century and Shakespearean love alike.  

Posted in #PBL #StudentCentered, LoveInLiterature, Shakespeare, Shakespeare Podcast #PBL | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Examining Hamlet to recognize Mental Health– Then & Now

Through both medias, our Hamlet comic and our podcast, Anna, Emilia, and I (Kira) explore different perspectives of Hamlet in modern times. Our comic strip is a modern twist of a scene from Hamlet and exemplifies the weight of social media in today’s world. Our podcast dives into the implications of social media on mental health and ties into the CASEL principles of addressing social and emotional learning. We hope that through our projects we can shine a light on modern issues in the way we communicate today. Here is a link to the CASEL website for more information:

Thank you and enjoy:)

Posted in #CASEL, Mental Health, Podcast, Shakespeare, Social-Emotional Learning | 1 Comment

Oh William, Elizabeth Strout Podcast, Sullivan E Period

“I would like to say a few things about my first husband, William.”

Protagonist and narrator Lucy Barton commencing her story with this casual claim about what’s to come sets the tone for a stream-of-consciousness type of intimate novel.

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Survival Guide for Glory

Luna Kwon and Logan Lee

              NoViolet Bulawayo sets Jidada, a reflection of Zimbabwe, as the setting of her story. In her narrative there is no space for human beings – there are only animals (mals and femals to be specific). This might remind you of Orwell’s Animal Farm, but stop that thought, because Bulawayo warns you from the start of her work of satire – “This is not an animal farm but Jidada with a -da and another -da! . . . And if you have any ears at all you’ll heed my advice because what you’re doing is swallowing all manner of big rocks, and very soon it shall be seen just how wide your asshole is when those very rocks will need to be shat!” Bulawayo, NoViolet. Glory (p. 33).

What We Enjoyed

  • The Repetition
  • “And the Father of the Nation, in his signature fashion, accordingly and incisively went on to denounce the West for neocolonialism, for capitalism, for racism, for economic sanctions, for ugly trade practices, for aid addiction, for the shutting down of factories and businesses in Jidada, for the absence of jobs, for the poor performance of farms, for the brain drain, for the homosexuals, for the power cuts and water cuts, for the miserable state of Jidada’s public schools and government hospitals and bridges and public toilets and public libraries, for the loose morals among the youth, for the potholes on the roads and the unpicked trash on the streets, for the black market, for the fluctuating crime rates, for the atrocious pass rate in national examinations, for the defeat of the Jidada national soccer team at the recent continental finals, for the drought, for the strange phenomenon of married men having second families on the side called small houses, for the rise in sorcery, for the dearth of production of exciting works by local poets and writers.”
    • Bulawayo, NoViolet. Glory (p. 18). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  • As you can see, it goes on and on. It may seem unnecessarily long  at first, but if you catch the rhythm of this never-ending list, you can actually realize that this simple mode of listing things – specifically the corruption of Jidada (even Zimbabwe) in this quote- is effective to mercilessly satirize the socioeconomic situation. This kind of listing appears frequently (very frequently), and the ridicule of these lists highlights what Bulawayo wants to say through her story. 
  • Symbolism of the Sun
  • Tholukuthi the sun twerked in the lewdest fashion and sent out such an epic blaze a few animals passed out at different points in the stadium while a hen, thoroughly overwhelmed by the heat, laid a fried egg.
  • Bulawayo, NoViolet. Glory (p. 13). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

  • The Opening scene of Glory is set during a speech given by Jidada’s dictator, the Old Horse, and the crowd in front of it. Bulawayo uses the Sun as a recurring literary device to remind the readers of the mockery of the Old Horse’s reign. He (alongside with Dr. Sweet Mother, the first femal) thinks that the Sun is something that they can manipulate – as well as the country of Jidada.
  • The Language
  • Tholukuthi 

Tholukuthi this word also makes a frequent appearance. Meaning indeed, you find that, only to discover, and really anything along those lines, this Ndebele word gives the book a whiff of the culture of the setting. 

There are also other words that introduce themselves during the story; here are some examples:

  • “kana, ngitsho,” “futhi”
  • Bulawayo, NoViolet. Glory (p. 20). 
  • “kukuru—”
    • Bulawayo, NoViolet. Glory (p. 21). 


  • Why Animals?
  • “By taking humans out of the equation, Bulawayo eliminates the hierarchies that their presence would impose.” (NY Times , 2022)
  • Bulawayo uses the connotation of certain species of animals to convey her ideas; for example she makes all the policemen dogs, because dogs are ferocious and strong. By drawing these kinds of lines in between species of animals, isn’t Bulawayo contradicting her purpose of utilizing animals to replace people? Or is it too far of a stretch to interpret the species of animals as the ethnicity or social status of people?
  • Also, if there are different species of animals ranging from horses to peacocks in Jidada, how does the reproduction work?

Overall Impression/Tips if you choose Glory as your next read

  • It may be difficult to understand from the perspective of a reader who is not aware of specific political backgrounds of Zimbabwe (However, this is also were Glory’s significance comes in- it sheds light to the current corruption and pain certain countries on the African continent is going through, which for some reason never makes the headline of papers).
  • We highly recommend doing a quick research on the political history of Zimbabwe, as Jidada and the Jidadan political scene are a strikingly direct reflection of it. 
  • Reading reviews of Glory may ironically be a more enjoyable experience compared to reading the book itself. The reviews fill you in with ‘inside jokes’ such as “General [Tuvy’s name] — a play on the Shona word for shit, duzvi,  setting up the joke of his name: General Shit” (Voices of Zimbabwe: On Noviolet Bulawayo’s “Glory” 2022).
  • Glory definitely isn’t an easy read – it requires effort an energy to stay on track. In other words, it reads like a nonfiction (Bulawayo started Glory as a nonfiction and then switched lanes to satire, which sort of explains why). There are phrases and paragraphs that are hilarious, and there are fragments that I absolutely adored

Here are some articles to read beforehand- they will give you background knowledge on the setting of the story and keep you in the loop. To fully understand what Bulawayo would like to say through this story, skim through these first.

Posted in 2022 Booker Prize Short List, Literature Circles aka #litcircles | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Within the Branches: An Exploration of The Trees

Our podcast, “Within the Branches: An Exploration of The Trees,” discusses Percival Everetts Booker Prize nominated novel, The Trees. For our podcast cover, we chose the cover of the hit single “Strange Fruit,” by Billie Holiday. The first four lines of this song are:  
“Southern trees bear strange fruit 
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root 
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze 
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.” 
This song represents the many lynchings throughout the USA at the time this song was produced (1939). This novel handles the harsh topic of the lynchings of innocent people, mostly focusing on the south. A case primarily discussed in The Trees was the lynching of fourteen-year-old Emmett Till. Emmett Till was a young African- American boy accused of catcalling a white female grocery store worker, Carolyn Bryant, in Money, Mississippi. After this incident, Till was brutally murdered and lynched because of this accusation. Emmett Till’s murder has gone down in history as one of the most infamous lynchings in history, though it was only one of over 4,700 lynchings in the United States alone between the years of 1882 and 1968. The Trees is both incredibly emotional and dark, while also incorporating the aspect of humor at the same time. We go further into depth about all of these topics in our podcast. Thank you for listening and enjoy! 
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Small Things Like These

After just finishing Small Things Like These, I most definitely agree with Ron Charles’s opinion that Claire Keegan has “carved out a profoundly moving and universal story.” Each chapter reads so quickly with simplistic prose and lines that flowed from one to the next, blending into a tale very reminiscent of A Christmas Carol. The beginning chapters led me to contemplate one’s consciousness through day-to-day life, as Bill Furlong seemed to drift from one day to the next without much thought of change. I perceive the ending where Furlong saves the young woman from the laundry center and walks her all of the way home in the snow to be the quintessential Christmas ending as one of compassion, kindness, and hope. The historical references to the Magdalene Laundries was very interesting, and I interpreted the ending as a subtle manner in which to criticize Ireland’s attempt to hide such institutions, as well as condemn the Catholic church for facilitating the imprisonment of fallen women.

Posted in 2022 Booker Prize Short List, booker prize, Collaboration, English IV Honors, Lit Circles, Project-Based Learning, Reading, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

The Treehouse Talks

Racial injustice drives the plot of The Trees by Percival Everett. Reminiscent of an activist, Everett uses his novel to both criticize the institution of the police force and the ever-present racism in America. He speaks out against these institutions, spreading awareness on issues that should be left in history textbooks as he calls for change.
Posted in #PBL #StudentCentered, 2022 Booker Prize Short List, American Literary Studies, AP Mindset, Book Reviews, booker prize, Percival Everett, Satire | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Small Podcasts like These

Our #Smallthingslikethese #litcircle did a deep podcast discussion on the themes and inspirations of the #ClairKeegan novel. Listen to us break down the main ideas of this Christmas Carol retelling and share our meaningful insights on the message of empathy in a patriarchal and poverty-ridden society. 

Signed, BANJ.

Posted in 2022 Booker Prize Short List, Literature Circles aka #litcircles | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Oh Podcast!

Our LitCircle is excited to continue to read OhWilliam! , Elizabeth Strout’s shortlisted Booker Prize novel. With every turn of the page, we learn more about Strout’s unique perspective of divorce and marriage, and see the similarities and difference the novel shares with other acclaimed works of literature.
Posted in #PBL #StudentCentered, 2022 Booker Prize Short List, AP Mindset, Brain-Based Learning, English IV Honors | 3 Comments