Read the following essays.
- “Asthma” by Seneca– Word file (you will need to sign in to Box). For context, it may be helpful to know that Lucius Seneca (the Younger) lived in Rome c. 4 B.C. – 65 A.D. He was highly educated and from an influential (and probably wealthy) family. In addition to lifelong asthma, he had a long period of illness in his 20s, probably tuberculosis, and was nursed through it by his aunt. This essay or letter was probably written later in his life, and is addressed to a friend, Lucilius. (Not important to the context of the essay, but he didn’t die of respiratory ailments. He was working for Nero, who suspected him of plotting assassination and ordered him to commit suicide. Which just goes to show that you never really know what will kill you, but maybe avoid working for sadistic tyrants.)
- “Under the Influence” by Scott Russell Sanders–View on web: https://sfuadadvancedcnf.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/under-the-influence-scott-russell-sanders.pdf or download PDF: under-the-influence-scott-russell-sanders.pdf under-the-influence-scott-russell-sanders.pdf – Alternative Formats (If you like, you can hear it read at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hD7BlvffyM)
Select two questions below–one from the “analysis” list and one from the “synthesis” list–and submit your answers in our discussion board. A few sentences or a short paragraph is enough to answer each question.
Analysis:Pick one question to answer!
- Pick one essay: Cite three specific sentences that you find to be particularly effective. Explain what it is you like about them.
- Pick one essay: What do you think the author’s purpose was in writing this essay?
- Pick one essay: What overall message/meaning do you take from the essay?
- Pick one essay: Does this essay have an explicitly stated thesis? If so, where? If not, why not?
- Pick one essay: How does the author choose to organize this essay?
Synthesis: (For these questions you must look at both essays and explain what relationship you see between them. Are they saying similar or different things?) Pick one question to answer!
- How does each author think about illness? Do their concepts of illness match your own?
- Seneca gives a few names for his illness: “its Greek name” (asthma), “difficulty in breathing,” and “rehearshing death.” Sanders supplies a large list of synonyms for “drunk.” What does each author say about such synonyms? Why do you think people come up with so many words for these concepts?
- Both authors write about futility. What does each say about the benefits of accepting the unchangeable? Do you agree?
- Sanders says that children of alcoholics don’t “[celebrate] the drunk as one freed from constraints,” but “pity him as one enslaved.” How is that similar to Seneca’s thoughts on “going out” as opposed to “being thrown out”? What are your thoughts?
- Seneca is the only “character” in his essay. The only other person he mentions is the friend to whom he is writing. Sander’s writes about his entire family, plus neighbors, biblical figures, literary characters… Why do you think each author chose as they did? Imagine Seneca writing about his asthma using Sanders’ style full of events and characters OR Sanders writing about addiction using Seneca’s style of an intimate letter to a friend. Pick one of those two possibilities and describe what you think that essay would be like.