Intro to Literary Study (EL150, Sp 2006)

Ex 3-3: Response to Wit (30pts)

Permalink | 5 May 2006 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Ex 3-2: Media Fasting Reflection (30pts)

Write an essay on your participation in a media fast during TV Turn-Off Week. Demonstrate your level of proficiency in Standard Written English. Your essay may inform, delight, and/or persuade a general reader with a high school education. 700-800 words.

Permalink | 3 May 2006 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Portfolio 2 (100pts)

Permalink | 3 May 2006 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

Term Paper Final Draft (100pts)

Permalink | 3 May 2006 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Ex 3-1: Term Paper Peer Review (30pts)

Note - Due on J-Web by 9 Tuesday morning.

Permalink | 25 Apr 2006 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Quiz 3: Style and Usage (40pts)

Grammar, punctuation, syntax, and MLA style. In short, a compressed version of what you'll need to know in order to succeed in your English studies.

Questions might include...

1) Which of the following is a better thesis statement, and why?

1.A) In the story "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, it shows a naive, uninteresting girl from a provincial town learning the ropes from her more cosmopolitan cousin. Because Bernice learns from her cousin Marjorie, gains power, and eventually becomes a threat to Marjorie, I think it is saying something important about adolescence.

1.B.) According to F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Bernice Bobs Her Hair," the only way to prevail in "the drama of the shfiting, semicruel world of adolescence" (par. 3) is to subvert the petty, conformist rules that determine the individual's placement in a rigid pecking order based on popularity, shock value, and networking skills.

2) Which of the following is correct?

2.A) Developing a thesis that depends on your interpretation of the author's intentions is risky, because proving the author's intentions is "almost impossible" (Foster, 84").
2.B) Developing a thesis that depends on your interpretation of the author's intentions is risky, because proving the author's intentions is "almost impossible," (Foster, 84").
2.C) Developing a thesis that depends on your interpretation of the author's intentions is risky, because proving the author's intentions is "almost impossible," (Foster 84").
2.D) Developing a thesis that depends on your interpretation of the author's intentions is risky, because proving the author's intentions is "almost impossible" (Foster 84").
2.E) Developing a thesis that depends on your interpretation of the author's intentions is risky, because proving the author's intentions is "almost impossible." (Foster 84")
2.F) Developing a thesis that depends on your interpretation of the author's intentions is risky, because proving the author's intentions is "almost impossible." (Foster, 84")

You should also review coordinating and subordinating conjunctions, punctuation as presented by Truss, and the lesson I gave in class Friday, on nominalization.

I won't test you on active and passive verbs on Monday. (I plan on reviewing that subject shortly.)

Permalink | 24 Apr 2006 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Term Paper Draft (40pts)

Permalink | 24 Apr 2006 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Term Paper Presubmission Report (40pts)

Your current thesis statement, with a brief assessment of how your research has affected it.

Include direct quotations from your primary source(s) and three to four academic sources that support your thesis. My goal with this assignment is to encourage you not to write the paper first, and then afterwards look for quotes that agree with what you have already written.

Required Reading:

Introduction to Modern LIterary Theory

Be prepared to discuss which two critical approaches have most influenced your thinking at this point. In your proposal, please try to integrate some of the key phrases and concepts listed on the stite I liked to above.

Permalink | 21 Apr 2006 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Bibliography and Thesis (20pts)

Advance work for the term paper. A new topic - not an expansion of work you have already done. Two parts.

First, a properly-formatted MLA-style works cited page, including the primary source(s) you plan to examine, as well as at least four academic sources.

Second, a sample thesis paragraph, followed by at least two quotations in support of your thesis, and two quotations that form an opposing or alternative argument. (If you can't find credible evidence against your thesis, then your thesis probably doesn't need any defense, and is thus not worth presenting in an academic paper).


You may choose any work or works we have discussed this term. You are welcome to bring in additional works that we have not discussed in class, but you need to tell me what they are in advance so I'll have time to read them.

Rather than "Adolescence in 'Bernice Bobs Her Hair," I'm looking for a topic that includes a critical literary approach, such as "Entereprenurial Adolescence in 'Bernice Bobs Her Hair'" (which might do a Marxist/Capitalist reading of how Marjorie and Bernice use their assets to vie for social status), or "The Necessary Distortion of Innocence in 'Bernice Bobs Her Hair'" (which might be a psychological reading of Marjorie as an insecure tyrant who seduces Bernice, due to Bernice's strong desire for sisterly affection), or "'Music, Mayhem, and Mutilation: Adolescent Rites of Passage in 'Bernice Bobs Her Hair' ' (which might take a mythic/symbolic/ritualistic approach).

We've addressesd many of these issues in class, and Foster introduces many more in his book. I realize that you might not know how to categorize whatever approach you plan to take, but a good resource to consult is Introduction to Modern Literary Theory (which is actually an assigned text for April 21).

Permalink | 17 Apr 2006 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Ex 2-4c: Entrepreneurial Activity Revision (20pts)

Update, 11 Apr:

I ended up not creating a J-Web slot, and in class I'll show you why. Have an electronic version of your resume/cover letter available during class tomorrow -- perhaps by e-mailing it to yourself.

We'll visit the computer lab and I'll introduce you to how to submit papers via, which has a much more efficient interface.

Permalink | 12 Apr 2006 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time 1

Update: Up to page 119, which is the end of chapter 157.

Permalink | 3 Apr 2006 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Ex 2-2c: Critical Essay Revision (20pts)

Minimum 5 pages.

A student writes,

I'm a tad confused as to where I should put my antithesis in my paper, since I don't recall ever writing a paper with one that has been spelled out so clearly. Is this something I should include in my opening paragraph? Or should it just appear later in the paper?
My response:
There's no single set place where it has to be. "While Darcy at first appears to be a good catch, Elizabeth Bennet becomes keenly aware of several character flaws that give her good reason to doubt his intentions."

That neatly gives the antithesis first, and the main argument second. It can be as simple as that. If you feel your audience is likely to disagree with you, you can start by making a lukewarm argument FOR your antithesis, then exploding it with a list of weaknesses, which you then examine in great detail, and then continue with positive support for your thesis (support that any argument for the antithesis won't be able to touch).

Did that help?

Permalink | 29 Mar 2006 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ex 2-4a: Entrepreneurial Activity (10pts)

Bring in a printout or clipping of an entry-level job advertisement in a field that lets you employ the skills you are learning in your English studies. Write a resume and cover letter for that job. Include a submission note that describes your reaction to this assignment.

Readings: (Required, but you don't have to blog about them)

Resumes (includes sections on top 5 problems, content, and layout.)
Cover Letters

Avoid empty claims. Rather than writing, "I will work tirelessly for you," give a list of concrete accomplishments.

Please read the handouts very carefully, especially the "Top Tips" handouts. I wrote them after marking hundreds and hundreds of resumes and cover letters, written by students who kept making the same mistakes.

Permalink | 27 Mar 2006 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Ex 2-1c: Punctuation 3 (15pts) (Delayed -- New Date TBA)

I'm putting this off until we've had a chance to discuss the previous punctuation exercise.

Permalink | 24 Mar 2006 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ex 2-1b: Punctuation 2 (15pts)*

Rescheduled from March 20.

Permalink | 22 Mar 2006 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Ex 2-2a: Critical Essay Expansion (10pts)

Improve upon the work you have alraeady done for your critical essay.

Permalink | 17 Mar 2006 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Ex 2-1a: Punctuation 1 (15pts) (Resecheduled from 15 Mar)

It's on J-Web now.

Update: Sorry about that. I've said I'll try a paperless semester, and gosh darn it, I'm sticking to that promise. So we'll try this again... now I've reset the deadline for Friday morning. I apologize to everyone for the inconvenience.

Permalink | 17 Mar 2006 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

Ex 1-5a: Critical Essay Presubmission (15pts)

Your critical essay presubmission should include a thesis paragraph, a sample paragraph that follows the claim/data/warrant pattern, and a Works Cited page that includes at least three credible academic sources. (You are free to change your thesis and/or use completely different sources in your actual paper. This exercise is designed to get you started early, so that you won't be tempted to write the whole paper first and then "do research" looking for quotes that back up the conclusions you've already made.)

Thesis Paragraph:

thesis paragraph. Your thesis should include an enthememe -- a specific example (taken from the text you are going to study) that illustrates your point.

Because Little Red Riding Hood disobeys her mother and thus upsets the relationship between the female-only domestic spaces that begin and end the girl's journey, the fairy tale presents the heroine's plight as an indirect consequence of the girl's actions. The danger Little Red Riding Hood faces during her foray into the masculine outside world (inhabited by the wolf and the woodsman) supports traditional gender roles.

Sample C/D/W Paragraph:

Note that you can use the CDW approach several times in a single paragraph, or you can spend a whole paragraph on "claim," several paragraphs on "data," and a whole page on "warrant." There really isn't a specific form called a "CDW Paragraph" -- I just mean I want to see a sample paragraph that employs the CDW structure.

Works Cited Page

Follow MLA style. In addition to your three credible academic sources, also include entries for your literary source. Remember to alphabetize by the author's last names.

Permalink | 3 Mar 2006 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Ex 1-4c: A Clever Blank-Verse Entry on Your Blog (10pts)

I know they're only doing it because
I've made them; still, it thrills me every time
My students write in blank verse on their blogs.

Permalink | 27 Feb 2006 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Portfolio 1 (100pts)

A collection of your informal responses to the assigned readings. Keep up with the agenda items and reflection papers for each class meeting, and this assignment will be easy and rewarding. Fall behind, and this assignment will feel... otherwise.

Examples of portfolios from previous classes have included a no-nonsense list and a more personal essay. Either format is fine, but however you present your work, it's important to me that you specify where each of your posts falls amongst the categories listed below. The same post can count for more than one category, but if you keep re-using the same handful of posts that's probably a sign you can do a little better next time.

Submit your portfolio by using MT Quickpost from this page, or by pasting the URL of your portfolio entry into a comment on this page.

  • The Cover Entry: Post a blog entry that contains links to all the entries that you plan to submit for your portfolio. For the benefit of an outside reader (that is, someone who doesn't know what a blogging portfolio is), introduce each of these links and explain why they are significant. (For example, see "Favorite Blog Entries: Journaling Mode.")
  • The Collection: Your blogging portfolio is supposed to be a collection of your best weblog entries. For the purposes of this class, a "good" blog entry is one that demonstrates your intellectual engagement with the assigned readings and student panels, and/or the questions raised by your peers. I will accept a bulleted list of entries, but please write for an audience that does not know or care about your homework requirements.
    1. Coverage. Ensure that you have blogged something for each of the assigned readings (for a C-level grade, at least brief agenda items for each assigned reading; for a higher grade, demonstrate your intellectual involvement with the assigned readings). If we looked at a group of poems, but I only created one web page for the whole group of poems, then I'm only expecting one entry for the whole group. (You can focus on one or several items in the group. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me.)
    2. Depth. Some of the "coverage" entries you selected above should demonstrate your ability to examine a concept in depth. Do some original online research, and link to the precise pages where you got ideas that helped you formulate your ideas. If you prefer to use a library book, quote a passage that you found interesting. Here are a few examples of a blog entry that goes above and beyond the standard "what I thought about the book" blog entry: Fitting in in the Diamond Age and Forced Reading-- Beloved Character.
    3. Interaction. Of the "Coverage" blogs entries included above, some should demonstrate your ability to use weblogs to interact with your peers. For instance, you might disagree (politely) with something a peer has written; link to and quote from the peer's blog entry, then carefully (and respectfully) explain where you disagree. Rather than hurl accusations in order to make the other person look bad, cheerfully invite the other person to explain their perspective. Quote passages from the texts your peer has cited, or do additional research that helps unveil the truth. (These may or may not include some entries you have already included among your "Depth" entries.)
    4. Discussions. Blogging feels lonely when you aren't getting any comments; you will feel more motivated to blog if you enjoy (and learn from) the comments left by your readers. Your portfolio should include entries (which may or may not overlap with either the "Interaction" or "Depth" entries) that demonstrate that your blog sparked a conversation that furthered your intellectual examination of a literary subject.
    5. Timeliness. A timely blog entry is one that was written early enough that it sparked a good online discussion, before the class discussion. A timely blog entry might also be an extra one written after the class discussion, if it reacts directly to something brought up in class. The blog entries that you write the night before the portfolio is due won't count in this category. And don't try to change the date in your blog entries -- I know that trick! ;)
    6. Xenoblogging. "Xeno" means "foreign," so xenoblogging (a term that I coined last term) means the work that you do that helps other people's weblogs. Your portfolio should include three entries (which may or may not overlap with the ones you have already selected for "Coverage") that demonstrate your willingness to contribute selflessly and generously to the online classroom community. Examples of good xenoblogging:
      • The Comment Primo: Be the first to comment on a peer's blog entry; rather than simply say "Nice job!" or "I'm commenting on your blog," launch an intellectual discussion; return to help sustain it.
      • The Comment Grande: Write a long, thoughtful comment in a peer's blog entry. Refer to and post the URLs of other discussions and other blog entries that are related.
      • The Comment Informative: If your peer makes a general, passing reference to something that you know a lot about, post a comment that offers a detailed explanation. (For example, the in the third comment on a recent blog entry about the history and culture of print, Mike Arnzen mentions three books that offer far more information than my post did.)
      • The Link Gracious: If you got an idea for a post by reading something somebody else wrote, give credit where credit is due. (If, in casual conversation, we credited the source of every point we make, we'd get little accomplished. But since a hyperlink is so easy to create, it's not good practice -- or good ethics -- to hide the source of your ideas.) If a good conversation is simmering on someone else's blog -- whether you are heavily involved or not -- post a link to it and invite your own readers to join in.
    7. Wildcard: Include one blog entry on any subject -- related to online writing or not, serious or not -- that you feel will help me evaluate your achievements as a student weblogger.
Permalink | 27 Feb 2006 | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)

Quiz 2: Antony and Cleopatra (40pts)

As with all scheduled quizzes, there may be additional questions relating to other important course concepts.

Permalink | 24 Feb 2006 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ex 1-4a: Poetry Mechanics (10pts)

Complete online exercises on poetic form, including rhythm, rhyme, and sound.

Permalink | 20 Feb 2006 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Ex 1-4b: Sonnet Analysis and Abuse (10pts)

Two parts. Analyze a sonnet by Shakespeare or Donne, and then re-write that sonnet as if the author were a student at Seton Hill University.

Recommended reading: Foster "If it's square, it's a sonnet" (22).
Valuable tool: Online rhyme-finder.

I want you to think carefully about every word, so I'm asking you to hand-write this assignment (as neatly as possible). There won't be anything for you to upload.

Part 1

Pick a sonnet by Shakespeare or Donne, copy it out by hand (with blank space between each line), and mark up the text in order to demonstrate your ability to identify such concepts as similar sounds (not rhyme, but also alliteration, assonance, and consonance) ambiguity, tone, and the definitions of unfamiliar words and the significance of any important symbols (animals, flowers, mythological or historical figures, theological concepts). You don't need to write a full essay about this poem -- the notes you make in the margins an between the lines will be enough. Bring this page to class on the due date.

Part 2

Write your own sonnet, borrowing from the theme, tone, and even the language of the original. Turn the poem into something the poet might have written if he had been a student at Seton Hill University. I'm hoping that you'll do more than just throw in casual references to buildings. (You might use an article in The Setonian for your inspiration.)

Permalink | 20 Feb 2006 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Ex 1-3c: Short Story Revision (20pts)

Extremely important -- a half-page submission note, in which you call my attention to the most significant changes you made since the draft I evaluated.

Permalink | 17 Feb 2006 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Ex 1-3a: Short Story Draft (10pts)

Between 800 and 1000 words. Upload to J-Web.

Required reading:

Short Stories: 10 Tips for Novice Creative Writers
Crisis vs. Conflict
Quotation Marks

Optional additional reading:

Writing Tens (a collection of ten "Top Ten" tips for writers)

Permalink | 13 Feb 2006 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Quiz 1: Grammar & Syntax (40pts)

As with all scheduled quizzes, there may be additional questions relating to other important course concepts.

Topics that will be covered:

Permalink | 10 Feb 2006 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Ex 1-2c: Sentence Syntax (10pts)

Revising sentences, reducing wordiness.

Permalink | 6 Feb 2006 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ex 1-1c: Diagnostic Revision (20pts)

Two parts -- a revision (3 pages, or about 750 words) and a submission note (about a half page).

Your submission note should quote the "before" and "after" versions of a specific passage that you feel is most improved. It should also supply a bulleted list in which you call my attention to other specific changes that demonstrate the depth of your revision.

Note that correcting spelling mistakes and putting punctuation marks where I tell you they should go does not count as revision. Your revision should demonstrate clear evidence of improvement on many levels.

See "Editing vs. Revision."

If you have had me before, you will probably remember that I often asked you to re-submit your old drafts, and to highlight your revision in order to call attention to your changes. For this assignment, I am going to experiment with some of MS-Word's advanced document comparison features, in order to see whether we can forego all that printing and highlighting.

Permalink | 1 Feb 2006 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Ex 1-2b: Quotation Marks (10pts)

“I often see students use single quotations marks to indicate 'jokes' or 'ironic distance,'” said the professor. “This is incorrect for two reasons. First, in American English, one only uses single quotation marks withing quoted speech. Second, in academic writing (and journalism, too), a reader who sees quotation marks around a term will expect that you are citing somebody's exact words.” Thus, you are introducing an anachronism if you claim “Shakespeare is known for his 'bad-assed' use of slang.” You are correct but obscure if you write “Shakespeare's sympathetic presentation of the imperfection of 'all flesh and blood' is one of the reasons his plays are still performed after 400 years.”

You would be correct and informative if you quote somebody who wrote, “Shakespeare presented human imperfections with sympathy, as when the clown tells his mistress, 'I have been, madam, a wicked creature, as you and all flesh and blood are' (All's Well that Ends Well I.iii).” Note that if these examples are not isloated with quotation marks, but part of the body of a paper, all the single quotes would change to double quotes.

Shakespeare presented human imperfections with sympathy, as when the clown tells his mistress, “I have been, madam, a wicked creature, as you and all flesh and blood are” (All's Well that Ends Well I.iii). The clown's familarity with his mistress is a crowd-pleasing characteristic of Elizabethan work. Shakespeare's works contain elements designed to please both royal patrons and the groundlings -- the lower-class audience members who appreciated quick-witted servants as much as they enjoyed stage battles and slapstick comedy.

Another important use of quotation marks involves quoted speech in fiction.

  • Use double quotes to indicate quoted speech.
  • Start a new paragraph for each new speaker.
  • Beginning fiction writers often overdo the speech labels that indicate who is speaking and how they are delivering their lines. Cues within the quoted dialogue are often enough.

I don't pretend that the following is good literature, but see how much it's possible to convey without labeling and describing the speakers directly.
     "Mister! Oh, mister! Sorry, did I scare you? Why are you throwing all those purses into the dumpster?"
     "Oh, uh... yuh might say I don't need 'em, seein' as how they're empty now."
     "Really? Because my mommy has a purse just like that one. Except her purse doesn't have red on it. Have you seen her around? Hey, wow -- is that gun real?"

Permalink | 1 Feb 2006 | Comments (2)

Ex 1-2a: Grammar and Usage (10pts)

To prepare you for the graded portion of the exercise (due on J-Web at 9:30am), take this online practice Grammar Quiz.

Permalink | 30 Jan 2006 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ex 1-1b: Diagnostic Peer Review (5pts)

Trade copies of Ex 1-1a with two peers. Bring the signed, marked-up copies of your peer essays to class, and also post a thoughtful, constructive critique to the Ex 1-1b slot in J-Web.

Your critique for each peer should include

  1. What you liked about your peer's work (with a quotation)
  2. What you think your peer should cut and
  3. What you think your peer should expand

Permalink | 27 Jan 2006 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Ex 1-1a: Diagnostic Essay (10pts)

In a draft of about 2 pages (roughly 500 words), convey your relationship to literature and the English language. Bring 2 printed copies to class, and upload your Word document to J-Web in the slot for Ex 1-1a. (That slot will close 30 minutes before class starts.)

Helpful Readings:


  • Format pages properly -- 12pt double spaced Times New Roman, following MLA style (title block, header, pagination, etc.).
  • Demonstrate your committment to English studies by writing grammatically correct, stylistically pleasing, well-organized prose.
  • Focus on a single theme and develop it with one or two specific, illuminating examples. Avoid a laundry list.

The following is too general -- it looks like a dry list of things that you might turn into an essay, if you had the time.

Every summer, my dog and I would play in the back yard from sunup to sundown. My mother tried everything to get me to come inside, but it never worked. I loved that dog more than anything, and I was crushed when he got cancer and died.

If you want me to feel the emotional attachment between you and the dog, make me feel that I am there in your backyard on one particular, significant day. Quote some of the actual words that your mother used to get you to come inside. Maybe your mother tempts you with chocolate cake, and your dog sees you edging towards the door, but growls and pounces joyfully on you, tumbling you into a ditch.

While we were lying there, a mass of sweat and dirt and fur and hair, I stroked his belly and we watched the sunset. That's when I first noticed the strange lump on his thigh. The next day at the animal hospital I learned what "malignant" meant, and a few weeks later I knew what "terminal" meant.
Do you see how the second version actually draws the reader into the author's thoughts, while the first version is more like a laundry list?

Intended audience: Undeclared SHU freshmen.


  • Be creative, but not overly flowery. If you write a narrative essay, don't confuse crisis and conflict.
  • Be informative, but not overly dry. If you write an informative essay, your conclusion should not merely summarize what the reader has just read.
  • Avoid phrases like "I think" or "It seems to me." Your whole essay represents your viewpiont, so there is no need for such labels.
  • Avoid phrases like "clearly" or "obviously." If what you're saying really is clear, you don't need to label it as such. If what you're saying really isn't clear, adding a label won't help.
  • Trim needless words. Instead of "hot and moist," write "sultry." Instead of "The scene I beheld was hard to believe. I stared at the mountains, marveling at how high they were. The longer I tried to comprehend them, the taller they seemed to get, and the more insignificant I felt", try "The mountains loomed impossibly. With each blink, I shrank."
  • In early papers like this, students often don't find the subject they really want to write about until the bottom of the second page. Once you've found that subject, you should probably cut out the first two pages of fluff, and start over again with your new focus.

Sample prompts:

  • What do you hope to gain from an introduction to literary study?
  • What work of literature has changed your life?
  • Who is your literary hero -- an author or a fictional character?
  • What part of literary study fascinates, annoys, or scares you? Make me feel that same emotion.

Permalink | 25 Jan 2006 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)