Jonathan Morse
  Professor of English
Phone: 956-8802
  Office: Kuykendall 518
  Office hours, spring 2017:
  MWF 9:30-10:20 and by appointment

  The English Department's page
  My blog about language and photography

General information, spring 2017

About textbooks, your grade may depend on belief in these two truths

Truth 1: the bookstore will not keep your textbooks in stock until the end of the semester. After a while, it will return unsold copies to their publishers.

Truth 2: not everything is online, and even the things that are online may not be there for you when you need them.

About truth 1: one recent semester, several students of mine learned this lesson all at once. I kept telling them not to depend on being able to buy their books one at a time, but they didn't believe me. They were able to buy their books one at a time, too -- until a month before the end of the semester. But then, suddenly and horribly, the consequence of their disbelief executed its strike. Suddenly and horribly, the bookstore no longer had the last books we were scheduled to read, and every UH or State Library copy was checked out, and there wasn't enough time left for Amazon to make deliveries. At finals time, the consequence of the consequence was even more horrible. Imagine somebody trying to explain that awful grade to a job interviewer.

About truth 2: I first wrote this note in July 2016. That month alone, one of the scholarly world's most important resources, the Library of Congress, was knocked offline by a denial-of-service attack, and both my wife's cellphone and mine were knocked out of service by malware that forwarded our incoming calls to a nonexistent Google Voice account. According to my phone provider, every provider was hit by that one. Some years ago, too, Google itself was disabled by malware that redirected people's searches to advertising sites. No, your guardian angels in the aether are not always on duty.

And in the aftermath of the election of 2016, you should probably consider scanning down the page to this footnote.*

I'm sorry to say all this, because I know textbooks are expensive. If you can obtain the books online in a secure way, or rent them, or borrow them from a library or a friend, fine. But you will have to get them one way or another, and you will have to get them soon.

University disability information: if you have or think that you may have a disability and therefore need some support, you are encouraged to contact the KOKUA Program for students with all disabilities including learning, mental health, and physical disabilities. Contact KOKUA at 808-956-7511,  (V/T), email KOKUA at, visit KOKUA in room 013 Queen Lili'uokalani Center for Student Services, or visit the KOKUA website at for further information. KOKUA services are confidential and there is no charge to students.


The university's statement regarding sexual harassment and sexual violence

Sexual harassment is one type of sex discrimination under Title IX, United States Education Amendments of 1972. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) states that sexual harassment is any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual violence is a severe form of sexual harassment. Some examples of sexual violence include threatening someone into unwanted sexual activity; sexual contact with someone who is drunk, drugged, unconscious, or otherwise unable to give a clear, informed “yes” or “no”; and rape or attempted rape. For more examples, visit the Office of Gender Equity website.

Under Title IX, responsible employees cannot ensure confidentiality. Responsible employees must report any instance or disclosure of alleged sexual harassment. If you would like to speak to someone confidentially about your options regarding something you have experienced or witnessed, please contact the UH Office of Gender Equity at the number or address below.


Related campus resources:

University Health Services


Counseling and Student Development Center


Office of Gender Equity


LGBT Student Services


Women's Center


PAU Violence Program


In case of emergency:

Honolulu Police Department, 911

Manoa Department of Public Safety, 956-6911. The Department of Public Safety provides escort services on campus.


English 270


For "My Kinsman, Major Molineux": Masaccio's fresco "The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden." Brancacci Chapel, Florence, Italy, 1424-1427.

Paper 1

For the paper discussion on February 3:

In 1846 the American historian Francis Parkman (1823-1893) realized that history was being made on the western frontier and set out to see it for himself before it vanished into the books. His record of what he saw, published and republished with many revisions between 1847 and 1892, was this book: The Oregon Trail.

As of 1820, a substantial 44 years after the Declaration of Independence, trying to think about American literature and American culture involved Americans in a problem. That year, the English critic Sydney Smith laid out the problem with embarrassing accuracy in these words.

For Emerson's "The Poet," the manuscript of Emily Dickinson's "I taste a liquor never brewed,"

showing the variants, and a demonstration of leaning against the sun.

Paper 2

"Because I could not stop for death," as first published in 1890

Paper 3

Stephen Crane, "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky"

F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tales of the Jazz Age. We'll read "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz."

Paper 4

English 271

For Euripides and Gurney, a quiz about tragedy.

Some ways of
thinking about the quiz. Notice the date at the top. When I wrote this teaching aid I deliberately decided not to update it because I was sure that the death of Nicole Simpson would turn out to be only one more media-generated pseudo-tragedy like an airplane crash that kills a lot of people but is forgotten two weeks later. So far, though, I seem to have been wrong.

But by way of getting a sense of what Aristotle called catharsis and Milton called "calm of mind, all passion spent," study the face in this ancient painting that's known now as "the Roman Hamlet." A video about what happened to it on August 24, 79 is at 

(It isn't clickable here because my web page doesn't accept YouTube links.)

Paper 2

About those theater jokes in The Guest Lecturer . . .

English 361

For the introduction to rhyme on February 6, and for exam prep:
Ogden Nash's "Very Like a Whale"

The ideogrammic method, from Ezra Pound's ABC of Reading

* The footnote
"Gossip aids the foe!"