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Junior English

August 25th, 2013

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Earlier this week you voted to write over the three short stories we’ve read so far1. You’ve been working alternately solo and in groups to understand what these authors are arguing about rebellion.

As we’ve moved through this writing process I’ve asked you to keep a few things in mind. As you write your rough drafts this weekend, please make sure these haven’t disappeared from your writing:

Email or post a comment with questions. They are due at the beginning of class on Monday.

  1. “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman,” “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” and “The Greatest Man in the World” []

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

British Literature, World Literature

November 10th, 2010

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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.

As you are wrapping up

British Literature, World Literature

September 29th, 2010

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your papers, here are a few things to double-check:

If your paper does not meet these requirements, check the links above for more information or go to the OWL at Purdue and dig around.

Outlines and Rough Drafts

British Literature, World Literature

September 23rd, 2010

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Just a quick reminder:

You should spend most of your time working out the organization and collection of evidence, ensuring that each of your points have proper support. Email a copy of your outline to me this weekend; I’ll give you feedback if necessary. Once you have that squared away, make a copy of the outline file, rename it “rough draft,” and turn your major points into paragraphs, add an introduction and conclusion, transitions between the paragraphs, and you’re all set.

These rough drafts are due Monday. We’ll do a peer review then.

If you have questions at any point in this process, send me an email or post a comment below.

Proposal Prep.

British Literature, World Literature

September 19th, 2010

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Quick reminder that you’ll be presenting your proposals in class on Monday. I want to emphasize that this is not a stand-in-front-of-the-class-and-read-from-notecards sort of thing; you’ll remain sitting, explain your potential thesis and the support you have, the research you still need to do, and the class will provide suggestions for further connections/evidence and questions about your argument.

How are they coming? Send me an email or post a comment below if you have a question.

Here’s a quick question to ask of your proposed (hypo)thesis1:

Is it something I need to prove (that’s good), or something that just happens in the texts (that’s bad)?

Bad (hypo)thesis2: Hamlet and Meursault both isolate themselves from the rest of society, commit murder, and accept a death by the hand of another.

While this is a neat connection, it provides little insight into the texts—merely provides comparison. For a better comparison, I looked into how each views his death and why he accepts it as he does:

Better (hypo)thesis: On the night of Meursault’s execution, he realizes the “gentle indifference of the universe,” while Hamlet notes that there’s “special providence in the fall of a sparrow.” Though their paths are quite different, both Hamlet and Meursault find a kind of solace in the inevitability their deaths; Hamlet is resigned to divine providence while Meursault finally welcomes the absurdity of life and death.

This connection provides better insight into the characters’ motivations and will elicit questions for further explanation (is Hamlet really religious? what does “absurd” mean in this context? how are their paths different?), which will be addressed in the body of the essay. Remember that your theses are tentative at this point; they need not be perfect (this one certainly isn’t), but only to provide a starting point for further study and elucidation.

After your (hypo)thesis you should include as much support as you have discovered, any resources (or parts of the works) you still need to mull over, as well as any problems you foresee in the process.

  1. I’m using The Stranger by Albert Camus and Hamlet so I don’t step on any connections you may be considering, but the format should be the same. []
  2. go sit in the corner. []