Reading List
Rosa Alcala – “The Pyramid Scheme” (1)
Jake Graham – “I Won’t Live Long” (73)
Yusef Komunyakaa – “Wheelchair” (88)
John Yau – “Overnight” (161)
Kevin Young – “Dog Tags” (167)
Ishion Hutchinson – “David” 82
we will do some work based on the first six poems from the file “Reading List.”
1. I am assuming you read the first six poems in the file “Reading List.”
2. The first five poems on the list are about an aging relative who used to be
very mean but is now in a nursing home with dementia, an old person telling
a young person they want to be remembered, someone dealing with a
disability and being inspired by a relative who also had one, giving a farewell
to a friend, and a deceased relative who had a vice that took away all the
family’s money (gambling).
3. When looking at the file “Literacies,” which would be the best to apply to one
of these poems? Tell me which and write 1-2 sentences on why (no need to
4. Write 2-3 sentences total on how you relate to the topics brought up in #2. If
you are struggling, you might write about another way you connect to one of
the poems (it might help to read the author’s comments in the back, though
not all of them comment). If you are REALLY struggling, you might mention
an additional literacy you found valuable instead.
5. The poem “David” is a poem about a statue of the same title. This is known
as an Ekphrasis, which is writing about a work of art, Look at the five links on
Canvas titled Ekphrasis, and write 1-2 sentences on the “story” the image is
telling. It might not be easy but do your best. What is the story there? Is there
one? Also, mention 2-3 images you found interesting.
the-birthday-1915-Marc-Chagall.jpg (948×800) (totallyhistory.com)
40042455812_381806f31f_b.jpg (1024×683) (staticflickr.com)
kahlo.jpg (820×550) (imgix.net)
The-Sound-of-Silence-1800.jpg (1600×1103) (aaronreedphotography.com)
The-Sound-of-Silence-1800.jpg (1600×1103) (aaronreedphotography.com)
The following modes of literary and rhetorical criticism and some of their key underpinnings
have been
adapted from Barry Brummett’s
Rhetoric and Popular Culture.
Economic Criticism
-Materialism, bases, superstructure
According to this type of criticism, everything belonging to the world of ideas, concepts, and
behavior comes from material conditions and practices. How do the material conditions of the
story, ie the available resources, relationships, cultural norms, and natural environment
influence characters’ behaviors?
-Economic metaphors, commodities, signs
How are certain physical details mentioned in the story indicators of class status, or economic
conditions? How do these conditions vary among characters? Do the various conditions
each have their own accompanying images?
-Preferred / Oppositional readings
What would be considered a “target” audience? Why? What type of reader would be inclined to
side with the protagonist, or dislike the protagonist, and why?
Visual Criticism

Images as the focus of meaning attribution
Do images serve a rhetorical purpose? Do they accentuate the central meanings/moods of the
text? How?

Images as collective memory, community
Identify some important images in the text and describe their possible cultural meanings. How
might “insider” and “outsider” cultures, as they pertain to the world of the story, see these
Psychoanalytical Criticism

Making the mind and the self
How do characters define themselves in relation to other people? When and why do they say
they are “like” certain people, and “unlike” others? Who are their friends and enemies, and
what does this say about them?

What is it that the protagonist wants, and why do they want it? How might the protagonist react
getting what they want? Is anyone trying to prevent this character from getting what they
want? What does
person desire?
Feminist Criticism

Standpoint theory
This theory states the world is only known to us through marginal perspectives that are limited
by class, race, gender, geography, and sexual identity. Are the perspectives of the characters
limited in these ways, or not? Why is this so?

Gendered language and images
What power structures do the characters experience? What are the “normal” or “expected”
gender roles? Is gender related to power or the lack thereof in any way? How are different
genders expected to behave? Is this significant to the plot?

Empowerment and alternative worldviews
Who exists outside of the dominant power structures of the story? How do they feel about this?
What is their emotional reaction? To what extent is gender a factor in their outsider status?
Narrative Criticism
-Language and motive
Who in the story is adept at using language? How does this serve them? How do characters
attempt to persuade each other? Why or why not does persuasion work?
-Comedy and tragedy
How is social transgression a source of comedy? Is the transgressor accepted back into
What social taboos are committed by the characters? What are the consequences of these
actions? Do the consequences represent societal rejection?
Media Criticism
How are technology and media used socially? Professionally? For good? For evil?
-Media logic
How do media and technology influence people’s daily routines? Their expectations? Their
relationships? Their value systems?

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