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Really great to read your responses! You'll find below some responses that are specific to your group, but also some responses that are an overview for all of us. You're welcome to read comments addressed to other groups, to learn from what they did well and from my suggestions to them - working collaboratively and in groups helps increase the range of things to which we can pay attention.

A major point about the format: please see how Group 2 and Group 6 have linked directly to their passages. Please present all your annotations this way; you can even do it with the quotations, if appropriate (if they apply to specific moments in the text). Doing so is fairly easy: instructions here (scroll down). Group 1 offered a really concise formatting, including links to quotations and connections on their passage pages; that would be a good model to follow.

Comments for Everyone

  1. Offer a range of types of annotation
    Many of you have chosen to focus directly on meaning, sometimes of a single word. Form and technique are essential to understanding literary texts, in addition to content. And, of course, form/technique go hand-in-hand with content: to notice the form of the kennings, those riddlic poems, may well help us to understand their meaning. 

    See "Ways of annotating text" for more ideas.
  2. Honor alterations in meaning as you quote from critics

    A critic might use a term that's similar to one you use, but that doesn't mean they're using it in the same way. You need to explain what they mean, and then account for your differing use; while we have to be consistent, not mis-applying terms, we can shed new light on them as we apply them to literary texts. Similarly, we have to acknowledge that critics may not be writing about the same text as us: Siegel and Wulff are concerned with modern travel (writing), so we can't suggest that their ideas are direct agreements or disagreements with the Vinland Sagas. Instead, we have to think about how their ideas help us to understand these quite different texts, and/or how the Vinland Sagas complicate or deepen Siegel and Wulff's ideas.

  3. Provide evidence from the text, not summations of Icelandic/Greenlandic/Viking society

    It's tempting to take these texts as evidence of how Greenland was, especially since the events and customs are so strange to us. But one point that Siegel and Wulff make is that travel writing is ideological, not innocent: that is, travel writing proffers selective, subjective views of a society. As some of you have insightfully noticed, the two sagas have very different emphases, undermining any attempt to see them as offering a coherent picture of the people. They might help us write history, but they are not history - and our focus here is literary analysis, which may be informed by history (Jesse Byock is worth reading) but should not try to be history. Focus, then, on the evidence and details of the text, and not on Icelandic custom in general. (By the way: Icelanders/Greenlanders are not Vikings! Vikings refers to a specific Norse activity, pursued by some, but not all, Greenlanders, Icelanders, and other Northern peoples.)

Group 1 (Renee, Aran, Kristin, Amy)

I'm impressed by the range of important elements you've managed to highlight about the Vinland Sagas, from key concepts like obligation and honor to the operations of social class and the need to be public. That you can do so is evidence that you've selected passages well; your passages provide a rich store of information, and you're also paying some attention to their formal devices (e.g. repetition), though you could develop that aspect more in future projects. (Remember, moving to direct speech is itself a formal device, and relates to the them of public/private.)

What you need to offer more of is an account of why such concepts and observations matters, both to the text itself and to your interpretations of the text. What should we make of the need to be public? Does it relate to obligation or class or travel? As is true also of your use of quotations, you're really strong on pointing out aspects of text, but aren't taking the next step, which is to comment on the meaning and significance of those aspects - that next move, meaning or significance, is crucial because it ensures you are analyzing. Push your thinking further by asking yourself, "Okay, but why? Why does this detail within the text or within a critical article help me to understand the text?"

Keep an eye on whether you end up making one person do all of your typing; aside from burdening one person with a specific kind of work, it can lead to only one voice or way of reading a text being expressed on the page (we all formulate ideas in our own way). You'll benefit from revising each other's words, or having different people react in writing to quotations. You'll see more ways of doing such work, and that's helpful.

Group 2 (Marley, Emily W, Emily P, Katie)

Some lovely work here, especially with the quotations, which are smartly chosen and well-linked to specific moments in the text. Watch, though, that you account for the ways you're discussing different meanings of the same term; you must always fully account for a quotation, not just the part of it that works for you - the context of the original quotation matters. That said, your use of quotations is also striving towards revealing new knowledge about both your main source (The Vinland Sagas) and the original quotation itself; to do both is excellent, so try to achieve that in Project 2!

In Project 2, I'd also like to see you attend to a great range of features of the text. You've annotated four words, and each annotation, while solid in and of itself, focus only on the meaning of that word, a choice made more complicated by the fact that the Vinland Sagas are in translation, so words like "intend" are a modern translator's choice. Remember that close reading - essentially what you are doing in annotating - involves attending to form and technique as well as meaning; remember that you can make observations about phrases as well as words.

Looking forward to seeing your next project!

Group 3 (Shannon, Nico, Conor, Darby D)

You have followed the letter of the instructions in selecting passages of 1-2 paragraphs, but you've also made your task harder by giving yourselves less material to analyze. These are really interesting and important moments in the Sagas, and well-chosen, but there's much, much more to say if you look beyond just these short moments and if you look more closely at what's happening. For instance, the text allows for an interpretation of the "tainted" whale meat as a natural occurrence, an encounter with the new world the Greenlanders have discovered, rather than as necessarily a Christian miracle. And yet, in its form, it resembles Biblical parables (manna for the Israelites, for instance). The relationship between Christianity and paganism here is not straightforward, nor is it in the rest of the text.

I'm partly reminding you of the need to not accept the text at its word, not to take the literal meaning only: texts mean more than they literally say, which is why we need close reading and analysis. The same goes for the way you are reading the Siegel and Wulff's critical article: you need to engage with the complex ideas they suggest, and the specific language they adopt, showing us how you can apply their ideas - which aren't about the Vinland Sagas - to the Vinland Sagas. How do their ideas help us to read the literary text you have before you?

I hope to see a marked improvement in the depth of engagement with these texts, which will partly come from being more in contact as a group: that some of your responses cover the same ground suggest you're not keeping in as much touch with each other's ideas as you need to. Secondly, look at how other groups (especially  Group 2 and Group 6) have annotated specific words and phrases, rather than addressing the passage generally - it's this attention to details that makes close reading so useful.

Please also refresh your memory on the ways to create links to child pages within your text, so people can click directly on the text itself: Home


Group 4 (Noah, Kelly, Darlene, Julia)

You're doing some effective work here tracing the ways each saga reveals different elements of the same incident, and having noticed this you're in a position both to analyze what those differences might mean (does one saga suggest that our actions are more important than our character, for instance?) and to think further about whether this applies across the two sagas.

Your responses, however, need to be much more analytical, rather than relying on a summary of what happens. Where you do move to make arguments, you're stopping at a fairly straightforward interpretation of the text, one often based not on the text but on your assumptions about how the characters should have behaved, or how they behave oddly. It's fine to have some assumptions lead to our noticing elements of the text - you're right that Eirik's reaction is somewhat unexpected for a modern reader - but you need to offer more objective, analytical understandings of these moments. Take a look at how the other groups have done their annotations, and try that in your next response.

Please also refresh your memory on the ways to create links to child pages within your text, so people can click directly on the text itself: Home

Group 5 (Sarah, Darby S, Hannah, Taylor)

You're drawing out key themes and preoccupations from these sagas, and I'm particularly impressed by the ways you're noticing subtle but key differences between the two sagas. At the same time, your annotations really only scratch the surface of the meaning of the phrases you highlight. Having spotted, for instance, the significance of "domineering" as a term, look both to focus on the complexity of its use in the specific moment, and also to create precise connections to other moments in the text, rather than generalizing about "European women" as a category.

Your attention to detail - particularly proofing - is somewhat slapdash; there are a number of basic errors in the writing which suggest you're not re-reading or thinking about how your prose will be clear to a reader. Next time, have a second person responsible for revising and then proofing each entry, so that your prose really makes its argument clear; consider working on such revisions together so you can learn from one another.

Please also refresh your memory on the ways to create links to child pages within your text, so people can click directly on the text itself: Home

Group 6 (Shayna, Laura, Gaby, Ben, Emily B-C)

Some excellent annotations here: they stand out both because you're able to explain why specific moments in the text matter, and because you're able to offer thought-provoking interpretations, as when you recognize a symbolic dimension to the grapes. I'd like to see more evidence for "the Promised Land," especially since that's a concept that doesn't quite occur in the text - you're headed in the right direction, but you need to think about how you might convince us of your argument here.

One of your two quotations is more strongly applied that the other: the second use makes more of an effort to link the quotations original words and ideas to the new context (that is, to the Vinland Sagas); both could strive to do this even more, especially since in both case you're adapting Siegel and Wulff's ideas in interesting, but significant, ways.

Overall, a strong set of thoughts and observations; if you can provide more specifics to explain your ideas in your next project, you'll have a really outstanding response. 

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