due_dates: February 2008 Archives

Choose a passage from any literary reading we have done. It can be a whole short poem, a few paragraphs in a story or a few lines of dialog or a speech in a play.

Note: If you get an A or a B on this exercise, you do not need to revise your close reading workbook. I will just drop the zero from my gradebook. (You'll have proved you can do it!)

Demonstrate your ability to read the text closely

  • not by pharaphrasing it line by line
  • not by posting wild ideas about what the text "could" mean
  • not by jotting down the thoughts that popped into your head as you read
  • not by writing about something else (a song or movie) on a similar theme
  • demonstrate (by quoting significant lines) how the passage you chose is part of a web of meanings embedded into the text (that is, if a poem mentions a bird, quote several other passages in the poem that refer to freedom, or power, or nervousness, or rudeness, or stupidity, or some other meaning that the word "bird" might have)
  • demonstrate (by making claims supported by textual evidence) that the passage you chose offers a consistent, coherent, plausible way of interpreting the whole text. (It's not possible to prove that yours is the only way or the best of all possible ways.)

Begin with a thesis.

Due Today:

WB1-8: Interview 1

Interview a recent SHU grad or senior who has entrepreneurial experience relevant to your career goals.

As we discussed in class Friday, you need not submit a formal interview written as a news story. You may instead simply write an informal essay about your interview.

Due Today:

Portfolio 1

If you have been keeping up with your blogging, this should only take you a few minutes to compile. If you've fallen behind, this assignment is a chance for you to catch up.

Generally, you should include all your entries, if only to demonstrate that you blogged each time I asked you to.  But some people blog more than they strictly have to, so I don't formally require everyone to include every blog entry they wrote. (You might, for instance, post an agenda item before the due date, but then post a longer, more thoughtful entry after the class discussion. I'd rather you put the more thoughtful essay in your portfolio.)

Due Today:

WB1-7: Meter

The section on meter in the Hamilton book (193-202) is a bit too encyclopedic for our purposes, so I am taking some extra time to create some exercises that teach the points I want to make. You should scan those pages so that you will know what resources the book offers, but you won't be expected to do those exercises.

WB 1-7 Meter.doc
Due Today:

WB1-6: Prosody

Prosody is the general term for the sounds we encounter in poetry.

Poetry is meant to be read aloud. Every word counts, not just for what it means, but for the sounds the word makes when you say it aloud. This is one of many reasons why it is not enough to be able to re-state the idea of a poem in your own words; to understand a poem you need to engage directly with the poet's exact words.

WB 1-6 Prosody.doc
There's a peer review exercise in Turnitin.com, due before class today.

1) Find an advertisement for a job that you feel your English classes have prepared you to take. The job ad can be for the job you want to get after you graduate, or a summer or part-time job you might apply for now.

2) Print out the advertisement and include it with your submission.

3) Write a half page reflection that addresses your strengths (what specific accomplishments make you a good candidate... not "I love children" but "I volunteered 40 hours in a summer literacy program for 150 middle school students")

4) Write a half page reflection on resources that are available to help you boost areas where you are weak (what volunteer activities can you join, or what classes can you take, in order to make you more competitive for the job? Bear in mind that if you do plan to take classes, everyone else who is competing for the same job will likely have taken similar classes, so think of what else you can do, as well)

5) Provide the names of 2 people on a career track that interests you, whom you might interview for upcoming assignments. (These can be teachers, if you wish.)

Due Today:

Ex 1-2: Short Story

About 800 words; 5 pages maximum.

There is also a peer-review exercise in Turnitin.com, due Feb 13.

For this assignment, you may choose to expand a dialog that you began as a workbook exercise, but note that I may have given you an "A" on the dialog exercise simply because you demonstrated the ability to punctuate it properly, and because somewhere in the scene you demonstrated the ability to show. If you do re-use an exercise that you have already submitted, you should look at every scene, every line, and every word.

Five pages is not a lot of space. I've posted some helpful tips, so you can make the most of your alloted space.

Due Today:

WB1-4: Dialog

Demonstrate your ability to write, and properly punctuate, a dialog between two or more characters.

  • On one level, I am checking to see whether you know the rules about paragraphing, where the punctuation marks go, and how to use dialog tags (such as "he said") effectively.
    • Include at least one speech that continues for more than one paragraph (so that you can demonstrate you know the proper way to punctuate such a speech).
    • There is no workbook page to download -- just submit a one-page scene that is mostly dialog.
  • On another level, I want to see whether you can SHOW using dialog effectively.
John hurried desperately into the room, his face white as a sheet, his chest heaving. "I.... I.... I think I saw something," he gasped, barely able to get the words out because he was breathing so hard.
The above example is wasteful.
John burst into the room "I... I think I saw something."
We don't need to be told John "hurried desperately" or that he was out of breath. We also don't need to be told "he gasped" (because "I... I" represents the gasping well enough), and we don't need "he said" either, since John is already the only character mentioned in the paragraph.

We could also revise it this way
John burst into the room. "I think I saw something," he gasped.
The dialog tag "he gasped" is sufficient to convey the way he speaks, so it would be redundant to record every stutter and stammer in his speech.  If, however, your character is ordinarily an eloquent speaker, you might wish to transcribe a stammer, in oder to SHOW that something is unusually meaningful to the character.

More guidelines about using quoted speech:
To redo this assignment:
  • Revise your original submission according to the suggestions I make (If I simply ask you to check the assignment instructions, chance are you missed something very important, such as turning in a few sentences instead of a whole page of prose dialog.  If you don't see what you missed, feel free to ask me.)
  • Write another page of dialog (a completely new situation).
  • Staple your new work on top of your old work; resubmit the original paper with my comments.

This is listed as 1 "WR1 (Ex 1-1D)" in Turnitin.com.

The purpose of this exercise is for you to call attention to the most significant changes that you made when you revised Ex 1-1. Quote passages from the "before" and "after" versions, and explain why you made the changes that you made.

Both telling and showing are important ways of communicating; however, experienced writers recognize the power of showing.

  • Telling: Richard walked into a room full of zombies.
  • Telling: Richard noticed the unlocked door, peeked inside cautiously, and was horrified to discover a room full of zombies.
  • Telling: "Mr. President, I'd like you to meet the geniuses behind the Xavier Institute," said Richard. He threw open the door, revealing a room full of rampaging zombies.

The last one is actually fairly effective -- as long as it doesn't go on to say "Richards was surprised, since he didn't expect the zombies to be there."  Or "Richard was horrified by what happened next." 

No I was so thrilled that I beat the football captain in a chess game that I made a fool of myself. I'll never live that down.

This is straight telling -- we know that the protagonist makes a fool of himself, but we don't feel embarrassed for him, because we don't see any of this foolish behavior ourselves.  
Maybe My heart was pounding and my adrenaline was pumping. When I finally beat that big bully of a football captain in a chess game, I jumped around like an idiot, taunting him and laughing at him in front of the whole school. Arrogance and geekiness are not a combination that leads to social success.

While the author has added details, those details merely assist the telling -- they don't actually show anything important. We still don't get the chance to see the behavior and judge for ourselves whether it is foolish.
Yes "Your bulging muscles are useless against my superior intellect!" I laughed, as the vanquished football captain and the whole cafeteria stared. "I have captured your queen, and in three moves, I shall utterly destroy your king's little white plastic ass! Bwaaa ha ha hah!"

The completely over-the-top content of the quoted speech communicates the protagonist's emotional state as well as his arrogance; the author does not have to come out and tell us that this behavior is idiotic, because there are enough details that we can come to that conclusion ourselves.

See also: Show, Don't (Just) Tell
Due Today:

Ex 1-1C: Revision

This is listed as item 1a, "Revision 1" on Turnitin.com. Revise Ex 1-1a, based on feedback you have received from peers, from me, and from the lessons you find in workbooks 1 through 3.

Here is the file for Workbook 1-2.  WB 1-2.doc

As with WB1-1, you may type out your answers or write them by hand. Bring the page to class.

If you are asked to redo the assignment, follow the same instructions as above, but use one of these poems:

  • http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/poem/2618.html
  • http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/poem/2620.html

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