W-Th Aug. 29-30 (Week 1)
Key Terms and Concepts
Course Handbook Quiz
First I gave you a quiz on the Course Handbook, which showed how some of the ways class works is different from what you'd expect, so it's important to read the course policies carefully. Here are some of the main points I hoped to get across:
What I write is more important than what I say -- if there is any doubt or confusion, we go by what's written in the handbook.
I write down these rules not just so you know what I expect you to do, but also so you know what you should expect me to do. If I were to be behave inconsistently with the rules I laid out in the handbook, you should hold me accountable to the rules, just as I hold you accountable to them.
I write all these rules down on paper so that I can be warm and friendly in person and focus on the content of class, rather than spending time lecturing students about how to behave. Think of the Course Handbook as the "strict policeman" who makes sure class runs smoothly. My philosophy is, I don't "govern" you; rather, the Course Handbook governs us both.
They Say, I Say introduction: conventional language and summarizing
Graff and Birkenstein believe that all good academic writing responds to others' views. In order to do so, they say, we must be able to state others' views in our own words -- to summarize them.
Many of your assigments will require you to summarize things you read. But how do you learn how to write an effective summary in English? A summary is, in a sense, a genre with its own set of conventions -- or, to borrow Graff and Birkenstein's term, a set of "moves" you need to master.
I gave you three examples of one-paragraph summaries of articles and books, and asked you to read them and observe the patterns they seem to follow. In particular, I asked you to pay attention to conventional language: the words and phrases common to the genre. (In some sections, I drew a comparison with conventional language in other genres of writing, like martial arts novels or romance novels.)
Many of you underlined verbs like "he/she believes," "he/she argues," "he/she points out that," and we made a list of these on the board. We will return to these later -- they are called "reporting verbs" -- and mastering them is important to writing an effective summary in English.
What is the origin of the term "liberal arts"? Why are they called "liberal"?
Due M-Tu Sept. 3-4 (Day 3)
Read Chapter 1 of They Say, I Say (pp. 19-28). You might find it helpful to read with this question in mind: "Why do Graff and Birkenstein believe it's so important to 'start with what others are saying'?"
Print the excerpt from Peter Hessler's River Town and bring it to next class.
SHORT ESSAY #1
Length: 300-400 words (roughly one double-spaced page. Please follow Formatting Guidelines for Written Work.)
In your short essay, please do the following:
Summarize Graff and Birkenstein's main ideas in TSIS Introduction and Chapter 1 (pp. 1-28)? What do they believe, and why?
One of Graff and Birkenstein's key points is that we need to learn to engage with the ideas of others in order to enter the "complex, many-sided conversations" of the contemporary world. Describe one example of a "complex, many-sided conversation" going on today that you particularly care about, or that has a direct impact on your life or the lives of your friends or family. What are the different "sides" of this conversation and what do they believe? Be as specific as you can.
Note: Though Graff and Birkenstein don't say so explicitly, when they write about "complex, many-sided conversations," it's obvious that they're referring to ongoing debates about controversial issues in the public sphere: things like education, language policy, globalization, environmental issues, etc., about which many people hold different views and there is no consensus about what the "right thing" to do is. You can write about any "complex, many-sided conversation" you choose -- it doesn't have to be a "big" issue necessarily -- but whatever it is, I'm interested to hear about one "debatable issue" you care about, what people believe about it, and why you care.
Q: How will I be graded?
A: I describe in detail how I grade Short Essays on the page Grading Criteria for Writing Assignments.