Searching for

journey of a ten through talons


ZIP Document of Learning #4

Describe the ups and downs you have encountered to date in your inquiry. Specifically, when you were frustrated or struggling in your inquiry, what did you do to address the situation?

It’s been a very tumultuous journey so far! I’ve listed a few major positive and negative moments below:

Positive – actually starting to enjoy the reading. It took me roughly one week for this to occur, but when I started to hit a ‘reading groove’, and was able to follow Joyce’s seemingly impenetrable writing style, I felt myself being more intimately acquainted with the characters, particularly Bloom.

Negative – trying to read the book! Despite the occasional glimpses of light (as mentioned above), I often found myself struggling to understand what was happening. Also, when I was constantly flipping back and forth between the text, annotations, and online guides, it definitely broke up my ability to read a longer ‘phrase’, if you will. To counter this, I read the annotations of a page first and tried to understand the smaller details of the text, and then read the whole page. This was immensely helpful.

Positive – finding a proper question, and output for my project. Originally, I envisioned myself reading a section of Ulysses, reading three-four lengthy literary reviews, analyzing them, creating my own review of the section, and writing an expository essay about it all. Quickly, I found that would be impossible, but after a few discussions with Mr. Morris, I was able to focus my question (see my previous post). Now, I actually find myself enjoying creating my final presentation, because it directly incorporates my main goal of the project – reading Ulysses!

Negative – creating my presentation. Because reading is such a personal journey, I originally had no idea as to how to make a presentation, or guide, to how to read difficult texts. I’m still struggling a little, but we’ll see in the very near future if I’m able to solve my problem!


ZIP Document of Learning #3

Reflect on your inquiry question and how your understanding is changing, becoming more focused, or is perhaps being reaffirmed by your research. What do you now know that you didn’t know when you started this inquiry?

Much has shifted since my last document of learning! After much contemplation and discussion with Mr. Morris, I decided that my original question wasn’t actually what I wanted to get out of reading a section of the book. Instead, we brainstormed a topic that was a) universal, so I could teach the class something that they could apply to their own readings, and b) made more sense for the timeframe I had:

How does one make a challenging text more enjoyable to read?

Basically, how does a reader approach a difficult read before, during, and after the experience so that they will get more out of it? This way, as Mr. Morris mentioned, I can hopefully give the class a few pointers about how they can break down a seemingly large and impenetrable block of text (like much of Ulysses is), and use it in future English assignments such as Romeo and Juliet. I plan to display my learning by teaching the class a lesson.


ZIP Document of Learning #2

Take a moment to reflect on your inquiry plan. Do you need to make any revisions to your original plan? If so, why? If you haven’t made any changes to your plan, why do you feel you have been so successful in sticking to it?

My original plan was to complete reading 190 pages of Ulysses by Friday, December 15. Unfortunately, I am still 8 pages (around 20 minutes of reading) away from meeting my goal. This is due to the sheer difficulty of reading such a complicated text that requires constant dictionary searches, Irish history Wikipedia articles, and Latin-to-English translations to even begin to comprehend its meaning. I usually read ‘normal’ fiction books at around 1.5 pages per minute, but my Ulysses reading speed is only roughly 0.4 pages per minute. Also, with several other assignments and piano recitals occurring around now, I’ve only had time to read at home every two or three nights. Below is an example of a relatively tame quote from the book:

The cords of all link back, strandentwining cable of all flesh. That is why mystic monks. Will you be as gods? Gaze in your omphalos. Hello. Kinch here. Put me on to Edenville. Aleph, alpha: nought, nought, one. (3.6)

I will finish reading Ulysses before the Zip block on Monday, and determine three reviews of Ulysses that fit best for my inquiry question. I will read all of them before Friday, and discuss essay outlines with Mr. Morris around during CL on Thursday.


ZIP Document of Learning #1

What is a specific source of information that you have found valuable in answering your inquiry question? How has it proved valuable?

After around a week of reading, I’ve actually found Ulysses an enjoyable, albeit unconventional read. I have found two wonderful supplements of information to help me comprehend the reading: this website, entitled “Ulysses page-by-page”, and the notes at the end of the Annotated Student Edition of Ulysses. Reading the book without other notes has proven completely impossible, as there are frequent references to Aristotelian philosophy and the Bible, allusions to past books that Joyce wrote, and phrases in German, Latin, and French. “Ulysses page-by-page” inserts pictures beside lines that help me visualize the time period that Ulysses is taking place in, such as photos of mentioned objects (ex. frying kidneys, large keys, and Irish towers) as well as creating maps of the characters’ paths around Dublin. The annotated notes are extremely helpful for translations and political explanations, and also make connections between chapters and characters that I never would have spotted otherwise. For example, the word “metempsychosis” (definition: the transmigration of the soul) appears in both “Proteus” and “Calypso”, although the two featured characters don’t know each other.



ZIP Proposal: Tackling ‘The Hardest Read in the English Language’

Question: To what extent does James Joyce’s Ulysses deserve the critique of being the most challenging text in the English language?

Big Ideas: Questioning what we hear, read, and view contributes to our ability to be educated and engaged citizens.

Curricular Competencies:

  1. Apply appropriate strategies to comprehend written, oral, visual, and multimodal texts.
  2. Recognize and appreciate how different forms, formats, structures, and features of texts enhance and shape meaning and impact.
  3. Think critically, creatively, and reflectively to explore ideas within, between, and beyond texts.


  1. Read 190 pages of Ulysses (Episode 1-7).
  2. Read four different reviews of Ulysses.
    1. Three academic, one informal.
  3. Write a research essay answering my inquiry question.
  4. Decide whether I want to read the rest of the book.



  1. What would you like to learn to do/what question would you like to pursue in your inquiry? Why did you choose this skill/question? What motivates or excites you in pursuing this line inquiry?

I would like to investigate James Joyce’s Ulysses by reading a section of the book, and then reading and analyzing multiple reviews of the book and deciding whether they are fair assessments of Ulysses. My question is the following:

To what extent does James Joyce’s Ulysses deserve the critique of being the most challenging text in the English language?

I chose this question because Ulysses is a very formidable part of the English literature. I haven’t read many early-20th century novels, and am interested in the stream-of-consciousness narrative style that James Joyce is renowned (and scorned) for. I am excited to take on the challenge of reading it, and being able to determine for myself what makes it so controversial.

  1. What do you currently know about this topic/skill, and what skills do you currently have that will help you succeed in your work?

I currently know very little about James Joyce and his writing style, or Ulysses. Most of the prior knowledge I know about the book is from this Guardian article. However, I am a fairly avid reader, and can read at a pace of 473 words per minute (according to a comprehension test).

  1. What is a specific list of skills that you hope to have expanded on / learned by the end of this assignment?
    1. Learning how to read quickly (this project is only three weeks long), but also with comprehension.
    2. The ability to interpret a text and translate it into something that makes sense for me.
    3. The ability to critique reviews (ex. finding places of personal bias).
    4. The ability to properly identify characteristics that make a book difficult to read.
  2. Who can you approach for support during your work / research?

Mr. Morris, first and foremost. Ms. Walstrom (she has studied the book before). If necessary, other teachers in the English department?

  1. What are some other resources that might be useful in helping you complete your inquiry?
    1. The library copy of Ulysses I am using for the project has a whole section of notes that help explain the meaning of the prose.
    2. This website, which has a complete page-by-page analysis of Ulysses.
    3. A dictionary, to look up vocabulary I do not understand.
  2. How might you demonstrate your learning at the end of your inquiry?

I will write a research paper (around 5-6 pages) detailing my own reading of Ulysses and comparisons with other reviews of the book. For an in-class lesson, I could give groups different passages from the book and ask them to try and interpret its meaning, and write their own condensed version of the passage.

  1. What is your schedule for learning?

December 5th – Finish proposal.

December 5th – Begin reading, annotating, creating a list of words I don’t know, and summaries of chapters.

December 15th – Finish reading, write a review.

December 18th – Read four other reviews of Ulysses and make an essay outline.

  • Approve outline with Mr. Morris.

December 22nd – Begin writing essay.