Wallace Analyses

AP Language

August 26th, 2013

Themes: , ,

Tonight you are to begin writing your outline for a rhetorical analysis of David Foster Wallace’s commencement address to Kenyon College. The goal is not to churn out a perfect example of the form (b/c you’re taking the wrong course if you’re at that point) but to begin collecting your thoughts into a workable flow. Here’s a way to go about it if you’re stuck:

  1. Look over your annotations of the speech.1
  2. If you notice a pattern (“jokes,” “stories,” “slang,” “syllogisms,” etc.), group them together. These will fall under the main points of your essay.
    2b. If you don’t notice any patterns, look for the three basic appeals: How does he help his audience trust him? How does he make his argument seem reasonable? How does he make his audience care? Group your answers to the last three questions together. These will make up the major points of your essay.
  3. Take a step back. Whether you are organizing this by patterns or by appeals, you may have lots of evidence under one major point and little under the others. If so, consider bolstering the little ones by looking back over your annotations or dividing the larger one.
  4. Write down what you believe his argument is. It doesn’t have to be worded perfectly, but it should be accurate.
  5. Above each group of patterns or appeals write how the group supports the appeal of his argument. In this step you’re writing the gist of your topic sentences while preparing to show your audience how the disparate rhetorical elements of his argument tie together to make it convincing.
  6. Stop. Or continue, but that is really all we need for discussion tomorrow. You can fiddle with the bullet symbols if you like. I enjoy hederas, myself.
  1. If you don’t have annotations, remember the small panic you’re feeling now during the next week-long discussion of a work. Now put that aside for now, take a deep breath, and read through the speech again, marking answers to the questions on our first post. Once you’ve annotated the entire speech, make an attempt at briefly summarizing his thesis. Now head to #2 above. []

Analytic Appetence

AP Language

August 24th, 2011

Themes: ,

Those analyses just keep comin’, don’t they? Well, fret not my friends: you’ll be rocking the rhetoric in no time.

Your assignment for the evening is to analyze the “Usemonopoly” section of Jonathan Lethem’s article on copyrights, plagiarism, and intellectual property1.

If you’re a bit unsure after your first analytic go-round (and subsequent meeting with me), I’ve penned a handout for your edification. To access it:

  1. Go to Google Docs
  2. Log in with the email you gave me2 in the “Tell Me About Yourself” form
  3. Find the document entitled “How To Write an Article Analysis”
  4. Rejoice

We’ll discuss your analyses tomorrow.

  1. Full text []
  2. If you didn’t fill out the form, do that then send me an email from the address you want to use. I’ll share lots of handouts this way. []

How To: Head Your Paper

AP Language

September 7th, 2010

Themes: , ,

…by popular demand:

Read the rest of this entry »

How To: Hanging Indent

AP Language, British Literature

February 16th, 2010

Themes: , , , ,

For all your bibliography needs:

The trick is to move your indentation markers all the way to the left (make sure your margins are set to 1″!), then, with the cursor on the citation you want to change, move the bottom marker (looks like a little house) over 1/2″.

Note: This assignment called for an annotated bibliography, so there is a sentence or two between the citations explaining how the source was used. Check your assignment instructions (or ask your teacher) if this is necessary for your assignment.

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About a Boy Essays

British Literature

August 28th, 2009

Themes: , , ,


The format for any essay in my class (and the works cited page) can be found here. How to head your paper is over here.

Read through chapter 20 for Monday. (See the reading schedule for the rest of the week here.)

Third Hour:

Use the following prompt to guide your first essay over the novel. While we have not finished the book, you should have more than enough information to support your claims.

The following quotation comes from John Donne’s “Meditation #17”:

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

In your paper, create and support an argument about how theme of About a Boy compares or contrasts with the theme of John Donne’s “Meditation #17.” Remember that the actions and thoughts of the characters contribute to the theme of the book, so your support will primarily come from the characters’ thoughts and actions.

Put another way, you should do the following:

  1. Decide what you believe Donne’s message is in “Meditation #17.”
    1. Write it down so you can reference it as you begin writing your paper.
    2. Remember the short paper you wrote over Donne’s piece? That might help here…
  2. Read through your notes over the book, and skim through previous chapters.
    1. Which characters interact like Donne says he does?
    2. Which do not?
    3. Mark passages that answer these questions.
  3. If a character changes his or her actions over time, definitely mark the passages that show this.
  4. Create an outline.
    1. Write your overall explanation of the characters’ actions in relation to “Meditation #17” at the top. (This would be your thesis.)
    2. Group together similar (or contrasting) scenes together in your outline. (These would be your paragraphs; include as many paragraphs as necessary to make your point.)
  5. Use your outline to write a rough draft.
  6. Type it.
  7. Be proud.
  8. Bring it to class Monday.

This may seem like an awful lot, but break it down into manageable parts. For example, do #1-4 Saturday morning and #4-5 Sunday afternoon, and edit it as you type it Sunday night.

Fifth Hour:

Follow the format guidelines at the top of this page; bring your rough drafts to class Monday.


As always, email or post questions below.