Sunday, September 20, 2020

Comment Wall for Tolkien's Underworld

My storybook project is located here! Please enjoy!

Here's a lovely meme to kick things off.

Storybook Topic Research: Tolkien and the Greek Underworld

After research and consideration, I have decided to do my storybook on Tolkien's underworld. Tolkien very rarely mentions what happens to characters after they pass, especially men. There is an obvious afterlife as evidenced by Gandalf's journey into death before he comes back as Gandalf the White, the literal green and glowing ghost army, and more. That being said, we are unsure what the actual underworld is like. For my storybook project I will be researching the Greek Underworld and using it as inspiration for an underworld for Arda, the world Tolkien created. 

  • Story 1: The Underworld
    • The Greek underworld is wide and sprawling with several different sections that make up its geography. I think using a loose map of the Greek underworld will be extremely helpful in developing the Tolkien underworld. The six rivers that represent emotions are something that strike me as Tolkien-ish, and I think I will use them in my own creation story.  
  • Story 2: Erebus
    • Throughout The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit books/movies, there is a darkness throughout Middle Earth that is not necessarily a person or being. I think a good counterpart to this is the Greek deity of Erebus. He is described as not a person but a place and state of being, although he does physically appear as a man. I think using him as inspiration to describe the darkness of Middle Earth will be very helpful. 
  • Story 3: Thanatos
    • One thing I believe it is critical to recognize about Tolkien's view of death is that it is not necessarily negative. Like Gandalf says when comforting Pippin in The Lord of the Rings, "Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it."
    • The thing I like about Thanatos, and something I will draw inspiration from when designing the Tolkien underworld, is that he is described as a gentle and non-violent god of death. His twin brother is Hypnos, the god of Sleep, which I think is very beautiful and a nice touch to add to the storybook. The story linked is a good depiction of the god. 

A gravestone depicting Thanatos.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Week 4 Story: Damon and Samantha

 Damon and Samantha

Samson and Delilah by Lucas Cranach, 1537

    There once was a girl named Samantha who was the most coveted being in all the land. She was called a witch for her supernatural powers of strength and healing, but in reality, even she knew not the source of her magic. All she knew was that her mother told her to never cut her hair, for it held her powers in its strands. One day, she happened upon a man named Damon. He was known throughout the land for his manipulative and cunning ways, but Samantha was blissfully unaware of this fact. In her ignorance, she easily fell for him and his way with words. She felt safe with him, trusting him with her deepest secrets. 
    In the night, the soldiers from the royal guard came knocking on the door of the two lovers' home, seeking Samantha. Humans tend to fear what they do not understand, and this was no different when it came to the young woman's powers. She was wanted for witchcraft and was to be thrown in prison but first the king wanted to destroy the source of her abilities. The guards easily bribed Damon with the promise of jewels and wealth and convinced him to find the source. 
    When Samantha awoke, Damon asked, "My love, there is one thing you have not told me about you. What is the source of your magic?" Samantha said "If you bind my fingers and toes together, I will no longer have powers." So that night Damon bound her fingers and toes and called upon the royal guard, but Samantha easily escape her bondage. The next day Damon asked again, "My love, you lied to me and made me look like a fool. Tell me, what is the source of your magic?" Samantha said "If you place a crystal in my mouth and shut it, I will have no strength." Once again, in the night Damon placed a crystal in her mouth and called the guard, but she still had strength to escape. 
    On the third day, Damon asked her again, "Samantha. You have made me a fool twice now. I ask you to trust me because I would never do anything to hurt you. What is the source of your power?" Samantha was greatly troubled and would not give him an answer, but pondered this for days while Damon kept asking. Eventually she could bear his questioning no more. She finally told him, "The source of my power lies in my hair. If you take a razor and cut off my locks, I will be powerless." That night after Samantha was asleep, Damon took a razor and cut her hair clean off. He called upon the royal guard, and this time Samantha had no power left in her. She struggled and fought, but she was weak and weary. She was bound and carried to the palace, where the king sentenced her to prison for the rest of her days. 

Authors Note: The original story comes from the Bible Women's unit and is the story of Delilah and Samson. I wanted to swap the genders and do a more Medieval re-telling of the story, so that's what you read here. 

Bibliography: "Delilah" from the book of Judges, New King James Version. Web Source

Extra Credit Reading Notes: Biblical Women, Part A

The Story of Delilah and Samson

Samson and Delilah by Lucas Cranach, 1537


    Delilah was a young woman with whom Samson fell in love. The Philistine army wanted to take down Samson because he was such a great warrior, so they bribed her with silver and told her to find his greatest weakness. She professed her love to Samson but kept asking him what the source of his strength was. In total she asked him four times before he finally told her the truth. She was manipulative and used their love as a tool to get him to confess that his hair was the source of his strength. She immediately turned around and gave the Philistines this information so they would pay her. When Samson had fallen asleep on Delilahs's knee she immediately had a a man come and cut off his hair, which caused the strength of the Lord to go out of Samson and make him as weak as any other man. The Philistines took hold of him, gouged out his eyes, and made him a prisoner. 

Text Notes: Delilah

  • From the valley of Sorek
  • Author gives insights into her character with the entire premise of the story
    • Easily swayed
    • Manipulative
    • Untrue to her word
    • Deceptive
    • Greedy
    • Smart
  • Author is good at creating tension with dialogue and description
    • Each time Samson lies about where his strength comes from, Delilah manipulates him because she has been "mocked"
      • "Hitherto thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: tell me wherewith thou mightest be bound."
    • Delilah continuously grates on Samson's nerves with her begging
      • "And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death, that he told her all his heart..."
    • She is manipulative in saying "How canst thou say, I love thee, when thine heart is not with me? thou hast mocked me these three times, and hast not told me wherein thy great strength lieth."
      • New International Version Translation: "How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you won’t confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven’t told me the secret of your great strength."
      • This is textbook manipulation and gaslighting

Outside Research

  • Delilah = "delicate" in Hebrew    
  • Has been compared to Judas for his betrayal of Jesus and her betrayal of Samson
  • Was the only woman to be named in Samson's story
    • there were sex workers and other women


Sunday, September 13, 2020

Topic Brainstorm Session

"One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them." -J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

    The first topic I am interested in should come as no surprise to anyone if they have read the post of my favorite places for The Lord of the Rings, and the mythology in the legendarium of the Tolkien universe, is something that greatly intrigues me. When it comes to background knowledge on this topic, I have a general idea of the mythology surrounding the world that Tolkien created over his lifetime, but there is still a lot that I do not know. I think one could spend years studying his world and never truly know all the ins and outs of all the lore. There are some things that are considered pre or post canon, but I think narrowing it down to the canonical lore would be helpful. More specifically, I would love to examine the lore of what happened to the other Rings of Power from the time Sauron gained control over the One Ring to the time it was destroyed. Neither the Lord of the Rings books nor the films give any real indication into what happened to them, other than the division of them among the inhabitants of Middle Earth and that some of them lost power after the destruction of the One Ring. This is the topic I am leaning toward for my project, but it is still to be determined. This Wikipedia page seems like a promising resource in doing this project.

    The second topic I am potentially interested in is the stories surrounding women pirates. As far as background knowledge on this topic is concerned, I am severely lacking. I definitely do not have a grasp on really any of the stories surrounding famous female pirates, but they have always been intriguing to me. Stories of powerful women are always a good time, but powerful women pirates? Now that seems really fun. I would like to learn general knowledge of the famous female pirates, such as Mary Read, Anne Bonny, and Rachel Wall, who were all mentioned in the UnTextbook. Furthermore, I think it would be very interesting, and make for a cool project, to study the ways these women lead their ships that were different than their male counterparts. Perhaps studying three or four different women who crossed paths in their time might be interesting as well. This website seems like a good place to start researching.

    The third topic I could see myself doing a project over would be over the Greek Underworld. I tend to enjoy dark/spooky things in life, and the underworld has always intrigued me. All I really know about the underworld of Greek mythology is the major characters like Hades, Persephone, and Cerberus. I know a bit about how Persephone was taken to be with Hades and her story, but I do not know any of the lore about the way the underworld was formed, how it works, or any of the other rulers of it. I would like to gain knowledge on all the different rulers of the underworld and their roles in the way it works. Specifically, I think it would be interesting to write about a few of the goddesses, like Nyx, Styx, or Keres, and the ways they work together in the underworld. This Wikipedia page will be useful in researching this topic.

    The last topic I am interested in for the project is the tales of the Brothers Grimm. As I said, I like the dark/spooky things in life, and I think I have talked about my love for the origins of popular fairytales before, but I genuinely do enjoy the horrific or twisted endings to classics (I am not sure what that says about me as a person, but that's a thought for another time). One of my favorite shows I sued to watch was simply titled "Grimm" and was about the truth behind modern fairytales, so I have a decent background on this topic, but there are so many tales that I haven't read or watched. I think I would love to do a project on the ways we have taken the original text and made it so it is palatable for young audiences. Perhaps a Disney themed project would be cool. I would potentially examine a few common tales, like Cinderella, Rapunzel, or Sleeping Beauty, and work with the origins of them. Perhaps I could do something where I take stories written in the same time periods and weave them together, but that is to be determined. This Wikipedia page will be helpful for this topic.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Week 2 Reading Overview

A Tentative Reading Plan

After examining the UnTextbook, these are the stories that stuck out to me. I don't know that I will end up reading all these in the end, but this is the plan for now!


My Interests

I tend to be interested in the backstories behind popular tales. I find it intriguing how popular Disney movies or television shows are rooted so deeply in fairytales or stories written with very different endings, or different meanings entirely. I also genuinely love tales like Percy Jackson (Greek Mythology) and learning more about the lesser-known gods and goddesses. I think my main interests are in Greek and Norse mythology, but that's just because those are the ones I vaguely know of. Another big interest of mine is in the mythology surrounding The Lord of the Rings and I am thinking of doing my storybook project over this, but that is yet to be determined. 

Saint Juliana of Nicomedia is taken from the Women Saints reading section. I chose her because I am interested in the women of the mythology world, so she fits that. 

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Time Strategies


This clock face is thought-provoking and beautiful. 

    It is no secret to anyone in my life that I am not the best at managing my time. I tend to procrastinate and while I do believe that I work well under pressure, I know that I would be much happier with myself if I had a more organized way of working. In the majority of my classes, the strategy is simply to get the assignments done on time or else I'll fail. While this is a highly effective motivator, it tends to allow for a lot of wiggle room on exactly when I start the assignments, typically it is the last second possible, and still get them done "on time." I truly appreciate the way this class has set me up for success, though. Having the 5-6 hours blocked out in a way that works for my schedule is going to be a tremendous help and something I think I will try to utilize in my other classes. 

    The articles I chose to view were titled "Eat the Frogs First Thing in The Morning (And Other Better Work Habits)" and "How To Beat Procrastination". The first article was about breaking down your to-do list into four categories: things you don't want to do but have to, things you want to do and have to, things you want to do and don't have to, and things you don't want and don't have to do. The trick to avoiding procrastination is to choose the tasks from the first category, the don't want to but have to category, and doing them before anything else. This was hard for me to hear because I tend to keep myself busy with the things I need to do but also want to do, and that's fine, but I tend to neglect the things I simply don't want to do. The second article was about different strategies for overcoming procrastination. A big thing it talked about was breaking down large tasks into bite-sized pieces and creating a to-do list based on those pieces. Another good thing the author mentioned was figuring out why we keep telling ourselves "no" to the first step of some tasks, and how a few "why" questions can get through that blockage. Based on previous semesters, I would say the strategy of breaking things down into smaller tasks really works for me and helps me stay on top of my assignments and personal goals alike. It also truly helps to write every single thing down on my to-do list and then prioritize them based on due-dates or importance. I am still learning how to manage time, but I am confident I can find a method that consistently works for me!

Comment Wall for Tolkien's Underworld

My storybook project is located here ! Please enjoy! Here's a lovely meme to kick things off. ( Photo by Mediaaa )