Section M
Last taught Winter 2006-07

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English 111 M Winter Quarter 2006-07 Message of the Day

Important class announcements, notes, comments, and suggestions will be made in-class and via email. Please be sure to check your email regularly for messages of the day. Messages will have "[English 111]" in the subject line. MOTDs will also be archived here from newest to oldest.

March 11, 2007: Final Portfolio Reminders

1) Your final portfolios are due tomorrow, Monday, March 12, between 10 AM and 12 PM sharp. I have an appointment to leave for right at noon. So, don't be late. I will be collecting the portfolios in Suzzallo Espresso on the first floor of Suzzallo Library. Folks are welcome to sit and hang out and have a cup and chat. (If you foresee a problem with getting your portfolio in on time, please make arrangements sooner rather than later.)

2) Make sure your final portfolios are COMPLETE. Check the assignment sheets for what you need to include, turn in, and how to organize the portfolio. Incomplete portfolios automatically earn an inadequate grade.

3) You will be able to pick up your portfolios sometime next quarter. Just wait for an email from me announcing when and where.

4) Grades will be reported by March 19. They should appear on MyUW shortly after that. If I get them in earlier, I'll let you know.

5) The class website and blog will be archived indefinitely. You are more than welcome to check back or to continue to use it for discussion and staying in touch.

P.S. Don't forget that Daylight Savings Time started today! We sprang forward!

February 25, 2007: Week Nine Reminders

I hope you are having a productive weekend so far. It seems like such a long time ago that we've been in class together, but I hope the conferences last week were helpful and focusing.

Here are the reminders for this coming week:

1) The rough draft of your Major Paper is due tomorrow at the start of class. Bring an e-copy of your draft, as much as you have, for peer review and workshop. Make sure your paper is saved in WORD format (or Rich Text Format) to prevent conversion issues. You will work in small groups reading, commenting, and help each other with your papers. Workshop days are very important. Come prepared.

2) We will begin the Portfolio sequence tomorrow as well. You should start gathering up all of your commented on work, worksheets, and class paraphernalia and organize them into a 2-pocket folder. You will need to bring your portfolios to class on Wednesday, particularly all of your short papers, for further peer review.

3) The last week of class, next week, will be dedicated to workshopping your cover letters and any last minute details. On the last day of class, which is very important to me, we will do course evaluations, have a little shindig, and recap the quarter.

4) Your final portfolios are due on MONDAY March 12 between 10 AM and 12 PM in SUZZALLO ESPRESSO.

5) Make sure you blog.

February 5, 2007: NOTES on SHORT PAPERS 1.4-1.6

Here's more fuel for the fire, fodder for your thoughts, fat to chew. As with my other comments -- in and out of class -- add the following corrections, concerns, explanations, and revision strategies to your running lists of comments.

If you have noticed, I am proofreading your papers less and less. You will see fewer edit marks. I might circle something or underline something with a question mark. Mainly, I am focusing on your overall claim, organization, reasoning, evidence, warrants, and overall rhetorical effectiveness of your paper. That however does not mean the details and the little things no longer matter. For the most part, I have covered many common issues and editorial concerns that you should be catching, correcting, and preventing yourself. (If you have further questions about things like grammar, punctuation, outlining, paragraphing, claims, argument, or rhetoric, bring them up in class, via the blog, or see me during office hours or collegial hours.)

The rationale for the first sequence and the first half of the second sequence is to introduce you to the notion and definition of everyday media as a kind of "literature," a cultural and textual production that can be "read" and analyzed and critiqued in much the same ways as traditional, written texts. The short assignments are designed to give you multiple opportunities to practice generating claims, subclaims, and supporting evidence about a variety of different texts, concepts, and cultural studies' interventions. This practice hopefully will culminate in your Major Paper and in an extended analysis and explication of an everyday media artifact.

Here are some new (and continuing) concerns, questions, and meditations about Short Paper 1.4: Identities Matter, Short Paper 1.5: (Un)Real World, and Short Paper 1.6: Major Paper Conference Memo:

TAKING NOTES: An important study and analytical skill that everyone should develop (or continue to develop) is the skill of taking solid notes. There isn't any one system; everyone settles on their own way of doing things. However, I am noting that a majority of the class does not take notes during class. Listening and discussing and participating are obviously essential to learning (and teaching), but having some material record (other than the electro-chemical variety) is very helpful. Why am I bringing this up? Well, I think it's a useful skill to push, it's something that I'm noting not happening in class, and I think it's affecting the success of your writing, your close-readings, and your overall performance. Since it's my job to make sure that you walk out of this quarter with some best practices under your belt, I am encouraging notebooks open, pens out, and active notetaking to commence. (You should already be doing this with each of our readings.)

CLAIMS: One sign of the lack of notetaking is evidenced by your claims. More accurately, the lack of specificity and telling detail in your claims. Moreover, many of you are still depending on simply describing what you have been watching or reading. Not being able to cite specific situations, particular details, people's names, or even failing to get the name of the show right is just sloppy. Claims, as we have been working on for the past five weeks, need to be arguable, complex enough (which for a 2-page precis is not that same as a 6-8 page paper), and for this class, academic. Moreover, claims must be specific (which does not mean they are not complex) and articulate a particular position, intervention, critique (either positive or negative), and stake. For example, claiming that /30 Days/ is *about* masculinity is descriptive. Claiming /30 Days/ *constructs* and *defines* a narrow, stereotypical masculinity that delimits what it means to be straight or gay in the US is arguable, complex, specific, and academic. The claim could even ben narrowed further for the scope of a two-page paper to say something like Although /30 Days/ tries to teach tolerance of homosexuality, the show does so by stabilizing a stereotypical definition and representation of masculinity.

If you are having difficulty generating claims (and this is not unusual because it's hard work), go back to Stygall's chapter in /Reading Contexts/ about academic claims or use the Claims Worksheet as a way to map out what you're thinking. Central to the claims problem is the lack of thinking carefully through what it is you want to write about, what you want to argue. A general exigence equals a general claim; an unexamined and unfocused idea equals an unfocused claim. A claim should always address a specific problem, a specific consequence, a specific question, or a specific detail.

ASSUMPTIONS: In Toulmin's construction of an argument (you can take a look at the Toulmin model via the handout on the class website in the Readings section or the chapter on argument from /Reading Contexts/), one of the most important things to keep in mind are the warrants, the assumptions that you make as you argue for something. Make sure that you do not make the same kinds of critical mistakes that you are seeing in your artifacts. If you believe your text is stereotyping a particular group or identity or culture, then make sure you don't resort to using (the same) assumptions to support your claims. Sometimes as you are writing you don't realize the warrants you have in the back of your mind as you put words to paper. You must take some /time/ to go through, edit, and think about your arguments and their assumptions. Some assumptions are inevitable, but you have to make sure that the assumptions you make are not so flawed, so generalized, so problematic to weaken your argument or to put off your audience. Assumptions can take the form of simple, innocuous words like "natural" or "true" or "perfect" or "American" or "democratic" or "free." Be sure that you don't deploy these words without thinking through what they mean and without identifying how you are using them in your argument.

One assumption that many of you are making is the assumption and argument that reality television is not real and that it does not show true reality. Here the terms "real" and "true reality" assume that there is something that is Real and something that is True Reality, apart from what is being filmed, edited, shown on a TV show. Yes, there is a difference between the space of the show and the space of your lived experience. But I think there's more going on than just one is real and one is not. Such a statement also assumes a near omniscient third person objective eye that can see things as they really are -- alas that perception is impossible for us. We will also see things and filter things and misperceive things around us. Does that mean we can't find any kind of meaning or "truth"? No, but that meaning and truth is constructed, contingent, and contextualized and requires evidence to support it.

I think what most people are talking about when they argue about the tension between "reality TV" and plain ol' "reality" is that TV *mediates* experience, perception, narrative, history, bodies, emotions, and so on. What does mediation mean? It means that the show offers us a *version* of reality that we can agree with, talk about, disagree with, analyze, and even identify with. Again, things are rarely all or nothing. Moreover, what are the consequences of just dismissing a TV show as not real? As just entertainment? As popular culture? What do we lose? What opportunities are eradicated?

SUPPOSITION IS NOT FACT: To suppose something does not necessarily mean that what you suppose is factual, actual, or obvious. Be careful of writing statements that presume an answer, particularly if the answer is necessary for your argument. Build your argument on solid reasoning. Start with a claim. Develop a clear analysis. Use solid examples and evidence. Then conclude. Do not jump from claim to conclusion. To assume the connection is faulty reasoning and weak writing. To assume that the reader will automatically make the connection in the way you want does not make for strong argumentation. See Assumptions.

I THINK: In academic writing, depending solely personal opinion is generally considered to be the weakest of arguments, the weakest of support. However, this does not mean that you cannot use first person or include personal anecdotes. Just keep in mind the rhetorical situation and your overall goal for the essay. Remember to try to locate /your/ authority in the writing, in the argument. Try to avoid statements that begin with "I think" or "I believe" or "In my opinion." There is a big rhetorical difference between saying "In my opinion, I think Gibson's 'Burning Chrome' is about isolation" and writing "William Gibson's 'Burning Chrome' is about isolation." Again, particularly for analytical or research papers, the first person is generally not used.

MECHANICS: Spelling, punctuation, citation, bibliographic, manuscript format, and grammar should be the last thing your reader should have to worry about. However, when there are many mechanical errors -- most of which can be caught simply by reading your paper over -- they become a distraction and hurt your ethos as a writer and an arguer. Papers are still making the same mistakes from the Photo Autobiography (on up). Please edit carefully. Please consult your usage manual. For example, titles of TV shows or films or books are underlined or italicised (not both; titles of articles are in quotation marks. Please ask questions about mechanics in class or via the blog. Simple errors like the confusion of its/it's or spelling an author (or my name) wrong or missing a title page or a sentence that ends mid thought should not happen at all.

Overall, I am seeing progress, but I think the progress can continue to make some leaps and bounds. Keep on working hard. Keep on thinking. Keep on reading your papers out loud. Keep on seeing me during office hours with questions and additional help. Keep on going to writing centers for added help, too.

February 3, 2007: Sequence One: Writing Center Visit

A few of you have contacted me about the Sequence One Writing Center Visit (specifically wanting to turn the sheet in late). If you have your visit done already, go ahead and give me the signed and filled out sheet on Monday. If you need a little more time, you have till Wednesday's class to get your sheet in.

There is a Sequence Two Writing Center Visit sheet that you can print out from the course website. The second visit is not required. But you can do one for extra participation credit. That sheet is due by the end of the second sequence.

January 28, 2007: Week Five Reminders

Here are your reminders for this week:

1) Your first conferences are Monday and Tuesday of this week. Class on Monday is cancelled in lieu of conferences. Remember that conferences are mandatory (and count significantly toward your class participation grade) and are designed to help you with the major paper process. You need to come to your conference prepared with your major paper topic, your Major Paper Conference Memo, and any questions or concerns about the class as a whole. Also, your Short Paper 1.5: (Un)Real World is due at your conference.

ALL conferences will be held in SUZZALLO ESPRESSO (first floor of Suzzallo Library). Be sure to check where that is if you have never been there. Please be on time, preferably a few minutes early to your appointment.

8:30 AM -
8:45 AM - Nick T.
9:00 AM -
9:15 AM - 9:30 AM - Won Hee C.
10:00 AM - Stephanie T.
10:15 AM - Maria S.
10:30 AM - Chris P.
10:45 AM - Anna F.
11:00 AM - Cooper C.
11:15 AM - Florentina P.
11:30 AM - Melvin D.
12:30 PM - Russell R.
12:45 PM - Michael G.
1:00 PM - Chris F.
1:15 PM - Jenjira V.
1:30 PM - Katherine S.
2:00 PM - Jihye K.
2:15 PM - Ashlee C.
2:30 PM - Eric M.
2:45 PM - Sandy K.

11:30 AM - Tani M.
11:45 AM - Kevin W.
12:00 PM - Kaitlin W.

2) Wednesday's class marks "mid-quarter" for us and is an important class. We begin the second sequence as well as do a mid-term evaluation.

3) Our first screening for the films we're working with in the second sequence is this Thursday, February 1. We'll be watching The Matrix. The screening is 3:30 PM to 6:30 PM in the Allen Auditorium (first floor of the Allen Library, the side with all of the computer stations and information desk). Please come if you can. If not, you are responsible for watching the film before next week. It is on reserve at Odegaard's media center.

4) I will be posting a required thread on the class blog. Remember that required threads must be read. This one will ask you to post as well.

January 23, 2007: Week Four Reminders & Announcements

Here are a few reminders and announcements for the coming week and next:

1) Remember to keep all of your commented on work, worksheets, and drafts in a folder for the quarter. All of such work will be required by your final portfolio.

2) You should start generating your ideas and claim for the major paper assignment. By next week, by the time you come to your conference, you should have an artifact selected and a start on what you are interested in writing about. Remember that all artifacts need to be cleared with me. If you want to let me know before your conference and get your artifacted checked off, just email me with your idea. Again, you can write about an image, an artifact, a commercial, a television show, a written text, or a film (you could even write about architecture or public art).

Here are a list of films that would be great for this project (try to select from the list if possible):

Babe (1995)
Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
Blade Runner (1982)
The Breakfast Club (1985)
The Sound of Music (1965)
Lilo and Stitch (2002)
Boys Donít Cry (1999)
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Clueless (1995)
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Do the Right Thing (1989)
The Searchers (1956)
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
Joy Luck Club (1993)
Mulan (1998)
Super Size Me (2004)

You can also pick from the two films we will be discussing in class The Matrix (1999) and Brokeback Mountain (2005).

The whole point of the major paper is for you to formulate a complex, academic, cultural studies, and researchable claim. Make sure you go over the assignment sheet carefully. Come to class with any questions.

3) Mandatory conferences, the first of the quarter, will be held next week on Monday and Tuesday. Monday's class is cancelled in lieu of conferences. You need to come to your conference prepared with your Short Paper 1.6: Conference Memo. Your Short Paper 1.5, to be assigned Wednesday, is also due. Try to show up to your conference about five minutes early and definitely try not to be late. ALL CONFERENCES WILL BE HELD IN SUZZALLO ESPRESSO, on the first floor of the library.

8:30 AM -
8:45 AM - Nick T.
9:00 AM -
9:15 AM - 9:30 AM - Won Hee C.
10:00 AM - Stephanie T.
10:15 AM - Maria S.
10:30 AM - Chris P.
10:45 AM - Anna F.
11:00 AM - Cooper C.
11:15 AM - Florentina P.
11:30 AM - Melvin D.
12:30 PM - Russell R.
12:45 PM - Michael G.
1:00 PM - Chris F.
1:15 PM - Jenjira V.
1:30 PM - Katherine S.
2:00 PM - Jihye K.
2:15 PM - Ashlee C.
2:30 PM - Eric M.
2:45 PM - Sandy K.

11:30 AM - Tani M.
11:45 AM - Kevin W.
12:00 PM - Kaitlin W.

If you have a scheduling problem, you need to try to resolve it quickly. Use the blog or class to try to switch or reschedule.

4) Go to the class blog. Use the class blog. Respond to the class blog. A number of people are posting regularly, which is fantastic. A number of people are starting to fall behind. Part of class participation asks you to actively use the blog and to post at least once a week. We're in week four--do you have four posts? Are they substantive? There are a number of fascinating blogging point conversations going on, and I do not want to be the only person responding. Get in there.

5) In a related note to #4, I'm also noting that class participation is not as robust as it could be. Less than half the class speaks up or asks questions. And like Santa, I know who's talking and who's not. Let's make a push for getting as many people into the conversation as possible.

6) Two very important announcements: Starting in February, we will begin the second sequence of the course. We will be discussing two films in class, which need to be screened prior to discussion. We will be only watching select scenes in class. You are required to rewatch both films even if you have seen them before. Our class will have two screenings: Thursday, February 1 from 3:30-6:30 PM for The Matrix and Wednesday February 7 for Brokeback Mountain from 4:00-7:00 PM. Both will be held in the Allen Auditorium in the Allen Library. They're free and you are welcome to bring a friend if you'd like. I will announce the screenings again in class.

January 20, 2007: As You Write Short Paper 1.4

I have a few things that I want to reiterate and clarify for the class about your short assignments before the next one is turned in on Monday. As I am going through your Short Paper 1.3s, I'm noticing trends in the way you conceive of your claims, the way you tackle your artifacts, and the kinds of conclusions and assumptions you make throughout the analysis. So, while you work on your next paper (or when you go back to look at it again before submission), consider the following:

CLAIMS: The whole purpose of these short precis assignments is to get you to practice generating focused, complex, academic claims. Granted, you're still learning and working through what that means. However, go back to /Reading Context/ and the handouts on claims. Remember that a claim does more than just describe or summarize or ask a reductive question. Think very carefully about what you want to say, argue, and elaborate. Your papers are two pages long, which means you cannot cover every single thing about your artifact. Focus on one main idea. Make sure it's crystal. Your claim also needs to identify why your analysis is important, what are the stakes in what you are arguing? Again, because of the limited scope of the assignment, you need not solve all of the problems of the world or tackle all of the issues of the artifact or explicate every last nook and cranny. Develop one key argument that is about one key concept that is supported by details from your artifact. Finally, your claim needs to answer the prompt at hand and engage the academic discourse we have been working on.

SUBCLAIMS: Part of academic, argumentative essay writing is developing useful and effective subclaims. What is a subclaim? Subclaims are the various points that you want to make that tie into and further support your overall claim. Each section of your paper begins with a clear subclaim (otherwise called a topic sentence). Many of you begin paragraphs with description, with what you are seeing, reading, detailing. Then you sum up with some sort of argument as to why the details are important or what the details sum up to show. Flip it. Begin with your argument and support with details. For example: "The advertisement shows a woman with a low-cut dress, sexy pose, luxurious hair, and bright-red lipstick. She leans against the car and gives the camera, the viewer a 'come hither' look. The car is bright red, a sports car, a car that many would call sexy. The ad conflates the woman and the car as both objects of desire, objects to be had and bought." Try this change: "One way the advertisement perpetuates the objectification of women is by comparing, conflating, and equating the woman in the ad and the car. The model is stereotypically sexy: thin, curvy, wearing a low-cut dress, provocatively posed, with luxurious hair and bright red lipstick. She leans against the car..." See how that is set up? But you're not done yet. You need to express why all of that is important before moving on to the next subclaim.

ASSUMPTIONS: Be careful of the assumptions you make while you write and analyze. One significant way many of you are assuming too much is by using terms that you fail to define or articulate in anyway. For example, if you argue that an advertisement is stereotyping Asians, then you must define and explain what stereotypes are at work, how they are being deployed, and what critical intervention you are making with them. Do not assume your reader has the same conception of stereotypes as you do. Also be careful in assuming that your reader is automatically going to agree with your critique or your reader even things there is a problem with your artifact. Again, it's all about framing carefully and introducing your claim clearly.

I want to challenge the assumption that many of you use consistently when reading particularly advertisements: the notion that the ad is doing something "subliminal" or "subconscious" or that the advertisers are trying to "trick" or "brainwash" their consumers. I think every ad we've looked at as a class is pretty obvious about the rhetorical strategies, visual strategies, and cultural strategies it is using to get the reader's attention and to try to convince them of their product. I think what you mean is that the ad might argue something that seems invisible or taken for granted or that readers assume something and therefore do not really pay attention to it. For example, an ad with a sexy woman with big breasts and blonde hair is obviously using sex appeal. What most people don't see though or don't care about or take for granted is that the stereotype at work and how it works and why it might be limiting or sexist or misogynist. See the difference?

Overall, work on specificity. Work on detail. Work on clarity of claim and close-reading. If you have any questions, please bring them up in class or via the class blog.

January 17, 2007: NOTES on the CLOSE READING OF

Here are my notes on "Short Paper 1.2: Close-Reading Of" assignment. Again, you should print out and save for further reference. Look back on your notes about close reading, look back at the assignment sheet's rubric for close reading, and go back to the Lister and Wells essay; I think most of you would do well to read the article again.

You are 'getting' the idea of what a close reading is like, but need to work on zeroing in on exactly what you want to write about. As I've said before, in 2 pages, there is NO time to spend trying to set up a fancy introduction or conclusion; you should use the space allotted to get to the core of your explication and analysis. In other words, diving right in becomes your introduction.

Please add these to your running list of comments (and do your best NOT to repeat similar mistakes or problems):

ETC: I think I've talked about this before -- avoid using etc. when possible. If you want to indicate that the list could go on, use a phrase like "and so on." Generally, though, such phrases indicate a lack of detail or automatic writing, which should be avoided.

TITLES OF: Again, titles of books, magazines, journals, films, and albums are italicised or underlined. Titles of articles, essays, short stories, poems, and songs are put in quotation marks. Therefore, the article by Lister and Wells is put in quotation marks only: "Seeing Beyond Belief: Cultural Studies as an Approach to Analysing the Visual." The textbook that it appears in /Reading Context/ would be underlined or italicised.

I THINK: In academic writing, depending solely personal opinion is generally considered to be the weakest of arguments, the weakest of support. However, this does not mean that you cannot use first person or include personal anecdotes. Just keep in mind the rhetorical situation and your overall goal for the essay. Remember to try to locate /your/ authority in the writing, in the argument. Try to avoid statements that begin with "I think" or "I believe" or "In my opinion." There is a big rhetorical difference between saying "In my opinion, I think Lister and Wells argue that the conventions of photography are important." and writing "For Lister and Wells, the conventions of photography are important." In general, in third person academic conventional writing, particularly for genres like close-readings or research papers, the "I believe" and the "I think" are implied; in other words, the reader KNOWS that what you are writing is what you find interesting, important, and useful and that bias will show regardless.

LENGTH: Part of the rigor of this assignment (and like response papers) is their length. Two pages requires you to be very selective, to get to the meat of the matter immediately, to write concisely and with compression, and to require yourself to go back and cut what is unnecessary. It is a difficult task to be sure (I often think writing in a short form is much harder than writing a long paper). Keep length in mind. Going over a little or being under a little (though there really is no reason to fall short) is all right if the writing and analysis is solid.

BANAL CLAIMS: No more broad, generalised, banal claims. Phrases like "This is a very interesting article... " or "The dictionary defines..." or "Since the beginning of time..." or "Images and advertising are all around us..." If you're having difficulting 'getting things started', then by all means write what you need but CUT it afterward. As I say, banal language doesn't add anything telling to your writing. It's automatic writing of the worst kind and serves only to demonstrate that you are not certain of your goals, ideas, arguments (even though the rest of your paper might be well-written).

TOPIC STATEMENTS: Develop solid topic statements (subclaims) for each paragraph. The subclaims are in service of your larger claim, your larger goals for the paper. A subclaim, in a sense, takes up a part, a piece, an aspect of the larger claim and provides additional argument, evidence, support for your larger claim.

TRANSITIONS: Always consider how you are moving from one idea to the next, one paragraph to the next, one sentence to the next. In most cases, you should be able to follow your language, your ideas, and your argument without a lot of "transition phrases" or "transition words." Ideas should connect logically. However, if there is need, usually borne out of shifting gears or digression or moving to another main point, a more overt transition is called for. Consider transition words or signals like "Moreover" or "Also" or "Next" or "on the first hand" or "on the other hand." Use them sparingly and tactically. (I do however hate when writers end a paragraph with a sentence that signals what the first sentence in their next paragraph will be about. It is way too contrived and leads the reader by the nose.)

CLARITY: Clarity and precision still needs to be worked on, engaged. For the most part, imprecise language and generalised statements are the result of "thinking as you write" or "writing on the fly" when you are trying to work out what you are saying and trying to fill up page space. GOING BACK and revising a little will help focus your writing. Be telling. Be specific.

Part of clarity is the curbing of the desire to overly inflate your language. Some of you are trying to 'make your writing sound good' or 'sound academic' by either 1) using the thesaurus (like a rich relative) and 2) deploying words, terms, and jargon without definition and reason. How many of you know what "hypostatize" means? How many even looked it up? Why use it when perfectly simple and elegant language like "to fix" or "to regard as distinct" exist? Clearly, the term comes from Lister and Wells. Use it only if it actually does 'work' for you.

ALL-OR-NOTHING: Arguments that claim something is all-or-nothing do not allow for any complexity, for any layers, or for any possibilities. Your argument should be rigorous, focused, and specific /yes/ but be careful of claims that say things like "All advertising is fake and therefore no one should pay any attention to it." or "Lister and Wells argue that photographs have multiple meanings that mean different things to different people and therefore there is no way to tell what a photograph really means." or "America will never change and racism will stay because people are people." These kinds of arguments are closed, foreclosed. Claims need a little room for argument and exploration. Nuance, nuance, nuance.

SUMMARY: Many of you are very good at summarizing. You are good about identifying key points, major events in plots, describing characterization, and noticing main ideas. However, close readings are more than summary, more than just noticing things, more than just making generalised statements about the text. Close reading is more than just filling your paper with quotes. You need to make sure that you pick out particulars, focus on the main points you think are important, and then explicate and analyze why they are important for your reader. See Analysis.

ANALYSIS: In other words, don't just describe. Work on the analysis. Description is as follows: "Cultural Studies is the study of practices and productions of society. This is described by Lister and Wells when they say..." (Note: Avoid those 'this' statements when and where possible.) 'To be' or 'Is' verbs usually denote describing. Make sure you think about how your language reflections analysis, activity, in-depth thought. Analysis is as follows: "Central to Lister and Wells' essay is their definition of cultural studies. They explain..." Furthermore, when you identify a main idea or key argument and support it with quotes from the text, you must then follow up the quotes with your explication and analysis.

I hope people are reading their papers out loud very carefully. I am still noticing awkward areas or mistakes that would have been easily corrected if you had read the draft out loud. I noticed that a lot of people are having difficult with quotes and citation format; you can use your usage book to see how MLA does it, but we will be covering it in class soon. Moreover, I want to again say that everyone should probably reread the Lister and Wells; if you have questions or confusion with the essay, make sure you bring them up in class or on the blog. Finally, many papers still need appropriate titles.

If you have any questions, please bring them up in class, via email, or via the class blog. Take these comments and my marginal comments seriously. Look for patterns. Look for places that work. And attempt to rethink, rewrite, and reconsider places that need attention.

January 14, 2007: Week Three Reminders & Assignments

1) Short Paper 1.3: Culture Factory is due on Wednesday, January 17. The assignment sheet is available on the course website. Remember that you are generating a claim (at least a more academic and complex one) for this paper about a particular artifact. The claim should be specific, concrete, narrow, grounded (there's no need to solve the all the ills and problems of the world). Keep in mind that you only have 2-pages, a short precis to identify one key argument and supporting evidence. You need not expend any space nor energy on a generalized introduction or conclusion. Get right to the heart of the matter. You are to fill out the Claims Worksheet as a way to help you think through your short paper (if you download the Word version of the worksheet from the website, you can type right into it). Turn in both as part of your assignment: 2-page paper, typed, double-spaced, proper formatting, claim worksheet, artifact (or bibliography for artifact), all stapled.

2) If you haven't already noticed, at the bottom of every assignment sheet you have is a line that identifies the Course Outcomes -- -- addressed and practiced by that particular paper. Please take a moment to review the Course Outcomes, which are the skills, concepts, and academic strategies you will be using and exploring in this class. Begin to familiarize yourself with the Outcomes, and link up your assignments to what Outcomes are in practice (and why).

3) Make sure to read Dwight McBride's "Why I Hate Abercrombie and Fitch." Make notes, read rhetorically (as Stygall would say), and come to class prepared with comments, questions, and highlighted passages. If you get a chance, take a look at the Abercrombie and Fitch website, as well as Hollister, Ralph Lauren, Gap, and FUBU. The reading is available on e-reserve.

4) You are also to read the excerpt from George Orwell's "Such, Such Were the Joys..." and J.K. Rowling's /Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone/. Draw and connections? The readings are available on e-reserve.

5) Watch the first part of the most recent (December 22) episode of /Identity/ online at: It should be the episode that just plays when you go to the above link. You can scan some of the other episodes as well. You need not watch everything, or all of the episode. The goal here is to note the premise of the show, to watch the "game" in action, and to think about what the show is doing, saying, thinking (or not) about our world.

6) Some of you have taken to the blog like fish to a frypan. There are a number of solid conversations started on the board, and I want to see them continue and develop. I have responded to a number of posts (and claims), but I shouldn't be the only person reacting, counterclaiming, and asking questions. Particularly since we are missing class on Monday, use the blog as a way to get some theoretical and critical work done.

7) If you have questions about the first Short Paper that you got back last week, I'll start a Blogging Point about it. Don't forget to read over the notes on the first paper. You can also email me, see me during class, or come to office hours.

Wednesday's class will be a full one. Be there and (obviously) be ready to start on time. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me via email, via Instant Messenger (AIM: EDagogy), or via the blog. I will also have office hours this coming Wednesday morning from 9:30 AM till 11:30 AM in B33 Padelford.

January 10, 2007: NOTES on the PHOTO AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Your first paper draft, the Photo Autobiography, has been commented upon and returned to you. Take 10-15 minutes to go over the comments on the paper and to look at what you have written with a pair of refreshed eyes. Consider the grading rubric and the course outcomes for English 111, which are located in your course policies. Please take into account the marginal comments as well as the overall end comments when you sit down to work on your next paper (or when you work on your revision). Consult your your notes for the assignment as well.

Overall, I admire everyone's enthusiasm for the assignment, the varied and illuminating photos you chose, and the effort to try to make the assignment your own. I think everyone tried to write about something important to themselves, which is part of what establishing exigence is about. You already demonstrate some mastery over writing about something you know -- yourself -- and you should translate that kind of authority into all of the writing you do (since you will become experts through close-reading, research, and experience).

Over the course of the quarter, I will offer additional comments on your writing to supplement the specific marginal and end comments per person. Here is a list of things I saw and corrected across a number of papers. Please keep a running list of my notes to you. Print this email out for your records. The goal is that same errors and issues should not crop up again in further assignments. In the future, I will simply circle repeated problems or mistakes or difficulties, and you will have these lists as a legend to determine what needs attention and why. Perhaps the biggest complaint I have Take a look at the following:

COMMA SPLICES: Be careful of comma splices. For example, "John went to the store, he bought bread, cheese, hamburger, and a gossip magazine." To correct a comma splice, make each sentence separate or use a conjunction. Such as "John went to the store. He bought bread, cheese, hamburger, and a gossip magazine." Or "John went to the store, and he bought bread, cheese, hamburger, and a gossip magazine." Depending on whether you want two shorter sentences or a long sentence will determine which method you'll use.

COMMAS: Generally, fewer commas are better than commapalooza. See Lunsford's The Everyday Writer.

NUMBERS: Generally, spell out numbers under a hundred. Never start a sentence with numerals (e.g. "6 days ago, I went to the store."). Depending on the style manual you're using, the rules for numbers will vary. See Lunsford's The Everyday Writer.

TITLES OF: Titles of newspapers and books and movies are underlined OR italicised. Titles of songs or poems or articles are in quotations. See Lunsford's The Everyday Writer.

ETC: Avoid using etc. when possible. If you want to indicate that the list could go on, use a phrase like "and so on." Generally, though, such phrases indicate a lack of detail or automatic writing, which should be avoided.

THIS: Avoid "this" statements, particularly starting sentences with "this." Pointing pronouns or demonstrative adjectives can become confusing particularly if what you're pointing at is lost in a sea of nouns. It's usually a weak way of writing. Use it sparingly or when necessity requires it.

THAT AND WHICH: Same with "which" statements, which incidentally requires a omma beforehand. For more information about "that" and "which" statements, estrictive and non-restrictive clauses, see Lunsford's The Everyday Writer.

TYPOGRAPHY: be sparing (very sparing) in your use of boldface, underlining, all-caps, and italics. Remember that your papers should be in the conventional 12-point Times Roman font.

FRAGMENTS: Watch sentence fragments (e.g. "Which is what led them to change the law." is not a complete sentence or thought). Sometimes sentence fragments can be very useful, dramatic, and create emphasis. They must be used with care and artfully, not accidentally.

RUN-ONS: On the other hand, watch run on sentences.

DASHES: Be careful of hypens (-) and m-dashes (--). Remember, a hypen connects words (e.g. ninety-four) and an m-dash connects parts of sentences, usually serves as a pause right before an important point or piece of information (e.g. "Johnny was very, very, very hungry--like a rabid wolf."). Usually, people have been using semi-colons (;) to signal a long pause and this is not correct. Either form two complete sentences or use an m-dash. Like most spices, m-dashes should be used sparingly, for emphasis.

SEMI-COLONS: Be sparing with semi-colons (;). See Lunsford's The Everyday Writer.

SLASHES: Avoid slashes (/). Usually, using the conjunction is much clearer and better looking. For example, I dislike the construction "and/or" or "he/she."

OVERWRITING: Avoid what I call overwriting or purple prose. When you inflate your language, use fify-cent words, complicate and convolute the language to sound prettier, more intellectual, or "academic" (in a negative way), you're not writing effectively. Formality has a place in writing, particularly in scholarship and professional writing, but that does not mean it needs to be stiff, choked with jargon, or indecipherable. Be simple and elegant. You prove your a smart writer if it's readable, if it sounds natural, if it makes clear points, and provides sound support or reasoning.

HALLMARK CARD: Akin to overwriting is what I call "hallmark card" writing, writing that is overly sentimental, effusive, and full of cliched emotions. This is a problem especially when you are writing about your personal life, about your friends and family. See cliches. Try to find a new, concrete, and specific way of talking about feelings and desires that do not slip into general, banal language. This is a kind of automatic writing, which is easy but not very helpful or useful.

CLICHES: Related to above, avoid cliche words like "unique" or "nice" or "interesting" when you are trying to be descriptive. Use better words, active words, compelling adjectives instead. But make them appropriate to whatever it is you are doing. In other words, don't become a thesaurus-aholic. Avoid cliche phrases like "a picture is worth a thousand words," unless you are deploying it in a new and critical way. Cliches are also a kind of automatic writing.

FORMALITY: I dislike the use of "thus" or "hence" or "often times" since they are overly formal to my ear. Use them sparingly, if at all. Avoid the pronoun "one" as well, particularly since this essay is so personal. Again, much of this depends on the rhetorical situation and the needs of your argument.

ORGANIZATION: Watch organization of ideas. If you have difficulty mapping out where your ideas are going, outline before writing AND outline after. Generating an outline from your finished paper (write down what each paragraph's main argument and subarguments and evidence are) can show you if you jump from topic to topic without clear transition. A good rule is that each paragraph should contain one main idea or one piece of information. Each paragraph should have a clear topic statement or argument. More specifically, be careful of chronology -- the order of things over time -- especially when you are narrating from the past to the present; jumping around in time without clear transitions makes it difficult to understand your points.

GENERALIZATIONS & BANAL CLAIMS: Avoid unnecessarily or overly nonspecific philosophizing or esoterics. Avoid banal claims, broad generalizations, useless generalizations, cliched generalizations, circular logic, and tautologies. Statements like: "The problem of war has plagued mankind for thousands of years" or "Since the beginning of time..." or "The problem can only be solved when the world comes together in harmony, peace, and understanding" don't really say very much to the reader and sound trite. It's automatic writing. Don't do it.

PAPER TITLES: Make sure that your titles are appropriate to /your/ project and not some broad abstraction or reference to something other than your critique. A good title is brief, expresses some key idea of your essay, and engaging to the reader.

LENGTH: Remember that paper length is an important consideration. Assignments must meet certain criteria. Your grade will be negatively affected if the paper is too short or too long. Part of the rationale behind length is to force you to consider how to focus or expand your argument, how to include or what to exclude in your writing, and to edit conscientiously. Your ability to control length demonstrates control over your argument, your ideas, and the organization and elocution of those ideas.

DETAIL: Be telling. Be specific. Be detailed. Too many papers began ideas and failed to follow through with enough relevant detail, enough support, enough exemplification. Also keep in mind that your audience, if it is a general one, does not necessarily know everything you know. When you mention specific places, towns, programs, items, you may need just a couple of words or phrases of set-up. If it is a particularly complicated or obscure reference, you might need more. Purposefully obscure or irrelevant references may ultimately detract from the paper.

SATISFY THE ASSIGNMENT: One issue (be it in class, in lab, or on the job) is making sure that you satisfy the task set before you. The assignment sheet and our discussion in class (and via the blog) are crucial to understanding what your paper should do, include, address. A very articulate and well-written essay that does not answer the assignment's questions is technically incomplete (at best) and a failure (at worst). Make sure that you refer to the assignment sheet during your writing and revision process.

Overall, I noticed general organizational, rhetorical, and mechanical errors that could have been corrected very easily if the paper had been read through once. There really is no excuse for not catching spelling mistakes or fragments or formatting errors. If I have to stop reading in your first sentence because there is a glaring error or problem, then you're already in the hole. Finally, read your papers out loud. Have someone read your papers to you. Let your ears catch things your eyes might not catch. Also, budget adequate time for you to work on your paper and then come back to it for revision.

January 7, 2007: Week 2 Reminders

1) Please read through the course policies and syllabus thoroughly by Monday's class. If you have any questions about the class, how things are set up, what is expected of you, and what we will be doing this quarter, please ask them. I have updated the syllabus to take into account the holiday on January 15. You can print out a new copy (or take a look at it) from the class website.

2) You have a substantial amount of reading to do for Monday -- this will be the heaviest it will be for the quarter. All of the readings are available via the library's e-reserve page under our course number. As I said last week, the most important reading is the article by Lister & Wells "Seeing Beyond Belief." Then attend to the Reading Contexts excerpts. Please print the essays out, comment on them, highlight key concepts, and come prepared to class with questions and things to say about them.

3) Your first short assignment is due on Monday, Short Paper #1.1: Photo Autobiography. Make sure you read over the assignment sheet, which is available via the class website. Ask yourself does your paper satisfy the goals of the assignment. Read your papers out loud and proofread carefully. As per the assignment guidlines in the course policies, your paper must be typed, titled, double-spaced, page numbered, and stapled. You can see an example of short paper format here:

4) It's Sunday, four days after our first class and less than half the class has logged on to the class blog, read the posts, and introduced themselves via the welcome post. The class blog is not optional; participation online is mandatory and part of your overall participation grade. Via the blog, I can see who's been on, how many times you've posted, and how many times a message has been viewed. Go now, post now:

5) Remember, if you get a chance, bring a few interesting, provocative, strange, appealing print advertisements to class tomorrow. We're going to use them as way to think through Lister & Wells's arguments.

6) Don't forget: we are in the computer lab tomorrow, MGH 082. The door requires a card key, so just wait outside for me if you arrive early.

January 4, 2007: e-Reserves are Available

The readings for next week and beyond are now available via the library's e-reserve page:

Look for our course in particular, ENGL 111 M and you should find the class's folder. If you have any questions about the e-reserves or the readings, just ask.

Remember that for Monday you are to read the essay "Seeing Beyond Belief" by Lister & Wells; make sure to identify key ideas, key questions, and key passages to discuss in class. Next in importance is the excerpt from Chapter 3 of Reading Contexts on "Argument." Next in importance is the excerpt from Chapter 2 of Reading Contexts. So, if you have to pick and choose, do the reading in that order of priority.

December 28, 2006: Class Blog & Blog Etiquette

Remember, part of your class participation grade is determined by your use of and engagement with the class blog. We are using a new system being beta tested by the UW called GoPost. It's fairly straightforward to use and more "bloggy" than the older EPost system. If you have any questions about using GoPost, please ask for assistance.

You are expected to check the blog at least twice a week and post at least once a week. You can respond to current posts, current blogging points, or generate your own threads. Please make sure you try to keep posts relevant to class or to the classroom community or to the university in general. Keep threads neat. And don't forget to follow the blog etiquette:

The Rules of Engagement

Do participate.
Do post topics relevant to the class, to class discussions, to the assignments.
Do comment thoughtfully to posts.
Do ask questions about class, assignments, problems, details.
Do think before you write.
Do consider ideas in a deep way.
Do practice responsibility, accountability, and a certain amount of scholarliness.
Do react, respond, and reply.
Do consider other people's feelings, points of view, and differences.
Do use punctuation.
Do use complete sentences or thoughts.
Do consider your audience and realize that your classmates may have expectations different from yours.
Do remember the blog is a public forum.
Do treat the blog with the same respect, honesty, generosity, and efficacy as you would treat me, the classroom, and your classmates.
Don't be afraid to state your opinion, but don't make claims without some support.
Don't be silent.
Don't dismiss without at least consideration.
Don't be afraid to post.
Don't abuse your rights to authorship.
Don't hate, don't spam, don't despair.

Keep the Following in Mind

The blog IS an extension of the classroom; the rhetorical, cultural, and social context should dictate what you say, how you say it, and why you say it; do participate and enjoy the process and the experience, but don't do anything you would not do in person, in class.

Take ownership and responsibility for your words and actions online be it on the blog or in an email or IM; everyone should login or sign their comments with at least their first name and last initial.

Be encouraging and supportive of one another; the blog is a community and more importantly it is a safe space; everyone should feel like they have a voice, an opportunity to share, and a stake in the class and the blog.

Stay on topic, be relevant to the class; REPLY to the appropriate message/subject/contributor; try to include the name of the person you are replying to as well (e.g. "Ed, I saw your message and thought I'd answer...").

Remember that participation on the blog is part of your overall class participation grade; negative participation will negatively affect your grade and will not be tolerated and may result in the revocation of posting rights (which in turn will hurt your participation).

Finally, don't forget to keep up with the current posts and the comments to previous posts.

December 28, 2006: Course Mail "engl111m_wi07@u"

I have created a course reflector list, an email address designated for our class. Periodic announcements will be made via this list (and mirrored here on the course website). Sending an email to will send your message to the whole class. Please treat the course reflector list with the same rules and respect as the course blog.

December 27, 2006: Welcome

Welcome to English 111! The course website is up and running (though not completely up to speed); readings and assignments are still on their way. Stay tuned. Till then, I just wanted to extend a wintry, new year welcome to the class! Hopefully, you had a good fall quarter, a good break (albeit short), and are making a happy transition to the start of the new calendar year. Here's to a productive, fun, challenging (in a good way), and interesting winter quarter! If you have any questions or concerns or comments, feel free to talk to or email me.

Before the start of class, you may want to look over the course policies and the syllabus to see if the class is a good fit for you. Again, if you have any questions, just ask.