Enter Frankencycle

Junior English

August 23rd, 2011

Themes: ,

We wrapped up our discussion of the soul and radio broadcast today. Unfortunately, we ran out of time just before I blew your minds with insight into this thing we call “the sublime.” More tomorrow.

If you haven’t started reading Frankenstein yet, go ahead. As I said in class: we won’t have a reading schedule for this novel, but I’d like to be finished reading/discussing by September 6th1. Read and journal for an hour or so tonight, then see how far you’ve made it. Adjust your reading schedule accordingly.

We’ll begin with #4 in your syllabus on Thursday of this week. As you journal, note any interesting sentences or passages you’d like to discuss with the class. Type up the section, send it to me in an email, and come to class2 on your scheduled day prepared to discuss the quotation’s importance to the novel, connection to something we’ve been discussing, or general awesomeness3. We’ll come away from the discussions with some interesting quotations, a clearer connection between the book and other topics/works, and a better sense of presentation style. All good things.

  1. the day after Labor Day weekend []
  2. We’ll sign up for this tomorrow. []
  3. Run this “awesomeness” by me before you present. []

Ghosts and Airwaves

Junior English

August 20th, 2011

Themes: , , ,

We began listening to an episode of the radio program To the Best of Our Knowledge on Friday. Entitled “Does the Soul Still Matter?,” it brings together scientists, philosophers, believers, poets, and skeptics to offer their opinions on the subject. You can listen here.1 Be sure to take notes, as we’ll continue our discussion Monday.

A few questions that came up as we listened:

It would be a good idea to revisit the notes you took during our listen and attempt to answer the questions you asked. If the answer takes some research, major bonus life points if you bring a copy and share with the class on Monday.

You can find the rest of the series here. If something catches your attention, you may use it for #1 in The Cycle2–just let me know before you begin synopsizing.

In case you’re looking/planning ahead, your final project during our study of the Romantic movement will be a researched paper addressing this question:

Why is Frankenstein considered a Romantic novel?

We will delve much deeper into the movement as we begin the novel, but rest assured: our soul/mind, religion/science discussion will be very relevant to your writing.

  1. We left off before Parker Palmer’s story (around the 23:00 mark), but you are free to keep going. []
  2. check your syllabus []

Some things to double-check before you wrap up your finals

British Literature, World Literature

November 10th, 2010

Themes: , , , ,

I’ve mentioned some of this in previous posts, but I thought I’d bring it all together. The following is an annotated version of the rubric I used to grade your midterms and will be using to grade your final essays.

Communication—Do you have a point?

Your thesis statement should connect Shelley’s novel to the Romantic movement in a way that illuminates the novel’s themes, other works written at the time, and/or elements of the movement itself.

Credit—Do you back it up?

As we discussed in class, this will be an “all or nothing” grade. I provided sample citations for most of the works passed out in class. For more information about properly formatting this page, see the OWL at Purdue.

The general rule for in-text citations: use the first word of the Works Cited entry. See OWL at Purdue, above, or your notes for examples.

This is a skill that can take some practice to master, but many of you have greatly progressed in this from the beginning of the year. The goal with integrated quotations is to remove the unnecessary or redundant information from either your writing or the quotation in order to create a seamless flow of information to your readers. Here is an example of what not to do followed by a smoother one:

During the Enlightenment, philosophers saw nature as something that can be logically understood. “Nature can be understood. Nature is rational. Man is part of Nature, therefore, man can be understood” (Lecture 9).

The student simply paraphrases the beginning of the quotation, so that bit can be removed. The sentences can be combined to create a clear flow between the two:

Enlightenment philosophers believed that “Nature can be understood. Nature is rational. Man is part of Nature, therefore, man can be understood” (Lecture 9).

Block quotations are rarely necessary. If you find yourself wanting to pull a large passage, highlight the parts you need in order to support your point, and cut the rest. Instead of all this:

He strove to shelter her, as a fair exotic is sheltered by the gardener . . . to surround her with all that could tend to excite pleasurable emotion in her soft and benevolent mind (23).

…try this:

With her mother’s philosophy in mind, then, it is odd to find Victor describing Elizabeth as a “fair exotic” with a “soft and benevolent mind” (23), but this underscores Victor’s….

And a fantastic example that puts it all together, including the use of square brackets—[ ]—to indicate changes in tense to keep the quotation grammatically correct within the sentence:

Rousseau said “[humans] are undone if [they] once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to… all, and the earth itself to nobody” (Discourse on inequality).  It is the pride in claiming territory or “[trusting] to have equaled the most high” (Milton 40) that corrupts the goodness humans are born with. They will go to great lengths to achieve what they believe is important.  When people are getting their fame the ones  “next himself in power” are often the ones who find themselves “next in crime” (Milton 79).

Cogency—Does it make sense?

Your topic sentences should elaborate on the points you make in your thesis.

The rest of the paragraph should support the topic sentence. In this way you are able to provide a logical progression of ideas supported by the source text(s).

Each point regarding the source text(s) should be supported by paraphrased or quoted material. This provides credibility and clarification.

The work as a whole should represent a clear line of thought from thesis statement through elaboration in the paragraphs to a concluding statement that reflects thesis in light of what your audience has learned.

In addition, transitional sentences should connect paragraphs in a way that prevents abrupt changes in focus, tone, or subject. A good rule is “old then new”—begin a sentence with the information your audience has just learned, and within the same sentence bring up the topic to follow. This connection will smooth any transition.

Clarity—Does it look right?

Information on this section is available at the OWL at Purdue (link above), or in your notes.


British Literature

November 2nd, 2010

Themes: , ,

We set up Google Documents in class on Monday for the writing process. Keeping the information online rather than on our individual computers will make collaboration and communication more efficient (I think; this is the first time I’ve had an entire class do it this way), and if nothing else, will prevent the mishaps that occur with incompatible files and missing email. If you have not set up a document yet, click through the link above, hit “create an account” if you don’t have a GMail account, and get writing. Please share the document with me at my school email. If you have questions, send me a message or ask in class.

We will keep to the same schedule as the midterm this time around. The days are moved a bit, but you will have the same amount of time. (With that in mind, it would be good to think back to snags you encountered with the midterm and plan this time accordingly.)

Bring this to class on this day so you can do this in class (followed by this for homework).
Proposal Mon (01) Type up proposals, discuss, and continue research If necessary, continue search for connections/evidence and begin organizing
  Tues (02) Organize connections and evidence If necessary, continue to organize connections and evidence
Organize evidence (if outside of journal) Wed (03) Type outlines in comp lab If necessary, finish typing outline
Outline Thurs (04) Peer review of outlines Write rough draft from outline
  Fri (05) Complete outline, finish transitions, double-check and discuss thesis  
Rough draft Mon (08) Peer/teacher review of rough drafts, revision If necessary, revise rough draft
Revised rough draft Tues (09) Continued peer/teacher review, revision If necessary, revise rough draft
Revised rough draft, all sources Wed (10) Type works cited page in comp lab, final review, final revision If necessary, final revision
Final drafts Thurs (11) Presentation of papers, discussion of process  

Frankenstein Source!

British Literature

October 13th, 2010

Themes: , ,

Just came across this cool site that offers information about our author’s life. A few of you were asking about contemporary reactions–a few can be found here.

The site is part of Romantic Circles, “a refereed scholarly Website devoted to the study of Romantic-period literature and culture . . . published by the University of Maryland.”1 If you find anything interesting, post a link below or bring it to class.

A quick reminder for those re-working their midterms: your final drafts are due Friday. I will not accept them after that date. If you will be absent then, please email a copy before 3 pm on the 15th or bring it tomorrow.

  1. Read: goldmine of credible information about the history of the work and the culture it was a part of. Worth looking through. []