Tag Archives: readings/research

Zemi

“Zemi: A divinity worshipped by the Arawaks of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, and Jamaica. Zemis are human or animal in form, and are found on a variety of objects of stone, wood, and shell. Ceremonial centers, ball-courts and caves are associated with the cult, which may have reached the island from Mesoamerica.”

Excerpted from: Bray, Warwick, and David Trump. The Penguin Dictionary of Archaeology. New York: Penguin, 1984.

Andes

“Andes: Mountain system, western South America. One of the great natural features of the globe, the Andes extend north-south about 5,500 miles (8,850 kilometers). They run parallel to the Caribbean coast in Venezuela before turning southwest and entering Colombia. There they form three distinct massifs: the Cordilleras Oriental, Central, and Occidental. In Ecuador they form two parallel cordilleras, one facing the Pacific and the other descending toward the Amazon basin. These ranges continue southward into Peru; the highest Peruvian peak is Mt. Huascaran, at 22,205 feet (6,768 meters), in the Cordillera Blanca. In Bolivia, the Andes again form two distinct regions; between them lies the Altiplano. Along the Chile-Argentina border they form a complex chain that includes their highest peak, Mt. Aconcagua. In southern Chile part of the cordillera descends beneath the sea, forming innumerable islands. The Andes are studded with numerous volcanoes that form part of the Ring of Fire. They also are the source of many rivers, including the Orinoco, Amazon, and Pilcomayo.”

Excerpted/Adapted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

Juan Jose Arreola

“Juan Jose Arreola: (1918-2001) Mexican short-story writer and dramatist. Arreola had a vivid imagination, a pointed, wildly comic humor, and an extraordinary command of the Spanish language and of short forms of literature. Arreola’s workshops have trained a flock of Mexico’s new writers, and he hosted a popular TV show that analyzed literary subjects. Though he began in theater, his fame rests on his stories, fables, and vignettes which are often only a page long. Confabulario (1952; tr Confabulario and Other Inventions, 1964) is perhaps his most important prose work; it features rueful and hilarious meditations on the battle between the sexes, politics, religious hypocrisy, and the frustrations of daily life. His only novel, La feria (1963; tr The Fair, 1977) depicts, through and impressive array of colloquial nuance, the daily life of a small town as a collective portrait instead of focusing on a few protagonists. Among his other collections of short fictions is Palindroma (1971), which includes a remarkable play, “Tercera llamada,” a meta-theatrical reworking of the Adam and Eve myth that moves between the human and archetypal levels with great skill and humor. Arreola’s influences (Camus, Kafka, Borges) do not diminish his brilliant contribution to the modern Latin American short story, which places him alongside Rulfo, Quiroga, Borges, and Pinera. Arreola won the Juan Rulfo Prize in Literature in 1992.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

The Weekly Text, 17 September 2021, Hispanic Heritage Month 2020 Week IV: A Reading and Comprehension Worksheet on the Gadsden Purchase

For the first Friday of Hispanic Heritage Month 2021, this week’s Text is a reading on the Gadsden Purchase with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. The Gadsden Purchase brought territory in the far southern reaches of the present-day Arizona and New Mexico into the United States, and was concluded in 1854, six years after the Mexican-American War, which was arguably an imperialist move by the United States to seize territory that rightfully belonged to Mexico.

To clear up any confusion (mostly my own, I guess), the Gadsden Purchase was concluded by Ambassador James Gadsden. He is not the namesake of the Gadsden Flag, which has become a symbol of far-right political movements in the United States, including the perpetrators of the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capital. Rather, the Gadsden Flag is named for its designer, Christopher Gadsden, who was, among other things, a delegate to the Continental Congress in colonial North America. Unsurprisingly, though, James Gadsden was the grandson of Christopher Gadsden.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Andean Civilization

“Andean civilization: Complex of aboriginal cultures that evolved in the Andean region of western South America before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores in the 16th century. Unlike the peoples of the Mesoamerican civilization to the north, none of the Andean peoples developed a system of writing, though the Incas devised a sophisticated system of recording numbers. In its level of cultural development and technical expertise in the arts and crafts, however, this civilization constitutes a New World counterpart to those of ancient Egypt, China, and Mesopotamia.”

Excerpted/Adapted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

Isabel Allende

“Isabel Allende: (1942-) Chilean novelist, short-story writer, and journalist. Touted as the first major female figure in Latin America’s book of narrative fiction, she has become one of the continent’s best known and bestselling authors, but has been dismissed by some as an epigone of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and his school of Magic Realism. Born in Lima, Peru, she worked as a journalist in Chile. After President Salvador Allende, her father’s cousin, was deposed in 1973, she emigrated to Venezuela and then to the U.S. Her best-known novel is her first book, La casa de los espiritus (1982; tr The House of the Spirits, 1985); set in a nameless Latin American country, it is the story of several generations of the upper-class Trueba family. It was followed by the novels De amor y de sombra (1984; tr Of Love and Shadows, 1985) and Eva Luna (1987; tr 1988), and the short-story collection Cuentos de Eva Luna (1990; tr The Stories of Eva Luna, 1991). Later books include El plan infinito (1991; tr The Infinite Plan, 1993), the story of a Chicano lawyer in San Francisco, and Paula (1994; tr 1995), a moving account of her daughter’s illness and death.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Cultural Literacy: Salvador Allende

Today begins Hispanic Heritage Month 2021. So let’s begin with this Cultural Literacy worksheet on Salvador Allende. This is a half-page worksheet with a four-sentence reading and four comprehension questions.

Allende was overthrown in a United States-sponsored coup in 1973. This was a particularly disgraceful moment in the history of United States foreign policy–though a similar event, the coup that overthrew President Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala, certainly competes. But so do so many other covert U.S. interventions in sovereign states around the world.

In fact, if you’re interested in learning more about how anti-communism informed a variety of political and social disasters across seven continents, I highly recommend Vincent Bevins’ recent book, The Jakarta Method. Mr. Bevins is a skilled journalist, and his book is a masterful synthesis of how United States foreign policy has distorted global development–and caused the deaths of over a million people guilty only of having a communitarian vision of a more just world.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

The Weekly Text, 10 September 2021: A Lesson Plan on Lesson Plan on the Number of Characters Used in Writing Systems from The Order of Things

This week’s Text is a lesson plan on the number of characters used in writing systems. Like all of the lessons and other materials under the heading of The Order of Things, this lesson and its list as reading and comprehension questions are adapted from Barbara Ann Kipfer’s magisterial reference book of the same name.

Nota bene, please, that I adapted these materials to assist students who struggle to work with two symbolic systems–i.e., in this case, numbers and letters–at the same time. Needless to say, these documents can be adapted for your use; they are, like almost everything else here, in Microsoft Word. In other words, they are open source.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

On the Road

Here is a reading on Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road along with its attendant vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. Kerouac, and particularly this novel, influenced me greatly as a very young man. I probably read On the Road five times, and The Dharma Bums another five.

I recently listened to some recording of William S. Burroughs on the streaming music service I use, and some of Kerouac’s recordings popped up as recommendations. So I listened, and realized that Jack Kerouac (and all the Beats, really) will probably always be in my life.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Cultural Literacy: Conspicuous Consumption

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the concept of conspicuous consumption–an idea which requires attention, I submit, in our benighted age. This is a simple, half-page worksheet with a two-sentence reading and two comprehension questions.

Which includes a reference to Thorstein Veblen, the progenitor of the idea of conspicuous consumption, as well as conspicuous leisure. Veblen is, I think, an important figure in the history of American thought. I’ve posted several quotes from him on this blog, which you can find simply by searching his name in the search bar above.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.