Friday, October 25, 2013

Writing about "On Seeing England for the First Time"

Write an essay analyzing the rhetorical strategies Kincaid employs to convey her attitude toward England. (1200-2000 words, 12-point font, double spaced, MLA heading)
Self/Peer Assessment of Rhetorical Analysis Essay (Q2) on Jamaica Kincaid’s “On Seeing England for the First Time”

Does the introduction end with a clear, bold, nuanced insight into Kincaid's attitude? _____  Does the introduction include a precise, accurate statement of the rhetorical strategies that Kincaid uses to convey her attitude? _____
In your draft both parts of the thesis should be identified.

Introduction. (The purpose of the introduction is to engage the reader with a big idea essential to the thesis and to let the reader know what the essay will be about.)
Is there a big idea that leads into the essay? _____  What is the big idea? _____  Is it clearly stated? _____  Is it relevant to the thesis? _____ 
Is there an effective transition between the big idea and the thesis? _____  Where? _____ 
In your draft the big idea and transition should be identified.

Plan. (The purpose of the plan is to give the essay a provisional structure.)
Have you organized your essay by strategy (strategy 1, strategy 2, etc.) or by working through sections/passages of Kincaid's essay (the beginning of the essay, the next section, etc.)? _____  Have you outlined the strategies you think convey the attitude? _____  Have you found the evidence that shows how each of the strategies conveys the attitude? _____  Have you briefly explained how the evidence shows that the strategy conveys the attitude? _____ 
The parts of the plan should be evident in the plan you turn in.

Body Paragraph Draft. (The purpose of a body paragraph is to develop and support a part of the thesis.)
Have you kept all the promises made in your thesis? _____  In other words have you developed each part of the thesis in a particular body paragraph? _____ 
Mark your draft to show where you’ve developed each part of the thesis (the attitude and the strategies)?
Is there a statement at the beginning or near the beginning of each paragraph that indicates exactly what part of the thesis (the attitude and the strategies) that paragraph will develop? _____  These statements are called “topic sentences” or “mini-theses” or “body points”. It’s likely that each of your body paragraphs will either show how a particular strategy contributes to conveying Kincaid’s attitude or will show how several strategies within a particular section contribute to conveying Kincaid’s attitude. In the rest of the paragraph have you kept the promise made in your topic sentence/mini-thesis/body point? _____ 
Mark your draft to show the “topic sentences” / “mini-theses” / “body points”.
Within each paragraph you need evidence (including direct quotation) that shows how the strategy conveys the attitude. Is the evidence specific? _____  Is it precise? _____  Is it thorough? _____ 
Mark the evidence.
You also need to explain clearly and convincingly how each piece of evidence shows how a strategy conveys the attitude. Is the explanation clear? _____  Is the explanation focused on supporting the thesis? _____  Is the explanation accurate? Is the explanation well-developed? Is the explanation convincing? _____ 
Mark the explanation.

Conclusion. (The purpose of the conclusion is to drive home the point of the essay and to drive home the significance of that point.)
Do you return to the big idea? _____  Have you woven the big idea together with your thesis? _____  (Consult the example essay JJ1 if you have questions.) Have you given the reader a sense of why the ideas explored in your essay matter? _____ 
Mark where you see the big idea and the thesis in the conclusion.

Style. Have you created a title that indicates the essay topic and your take on the topic? _____  Have you created logical transitions between the paragraphs? _____  Have you varied your sentence structure? _____  (I forgot to write this next one on the board.) Are all your word choices precise and nuanced? _____ 

Conventions. Does the essay have any run-on sentences, incomplete sentences, or homophone errors? _____  _____  _____  Does the essay use third person and present tense when analyzing the text? _____  Does the essay handle all quotations, including block quotes, correctly? _____

Write questions and comments in the space below.

Notes on conventions: (1) In the introduction make sure you mention the author's full name and title of the piece you are analyzing. (2) Use present tense when writing about literature: "Kincaid implies..." or "The author illustrates...."(3) When a quotation ends in a period, place the period inside the last quotation mark: "like this." (4) Avoid stand alone quotations: "Consider using a colon after a complete thought to introduce the quotation."

Monday, October 21, 2013

"Upon Seeing England for the First Time" by Jamaica Kincaid

Extend the "Upon Seeing England for the First Time" discussion in the comment box below.
Explain your understanding of how some challenging, complex, nuanced aspect of the text contributes to the overall development.

Take notes (in electronic or handwritten form) on the following AP documents.
Questions to consider.  

What seems important in the prompt? How might reading just the beginning of Kincaid's essay (from "When I saw England..." to "...I was unable to draw a map of England correctly") lead to a different response to the prompt? What rhetorical strategies would you write about if you had to respond to the prompt? How would you characterize Kincaid's attitude toward England? How might your response be different if you had only read the beginning of Kincaid's essay (from "When I saw England..." to "...I was unable to draw a map of England correctly")?  

What are some of the important elements assessed in the rubric? What is the difference between an upper-level and lower-level response on the rubric? 

What are some strengths and weakness of the student essays responding to the prompt? Using the 9-point AP rubric, what scores would you give the student responses? What strategies do the students use that you would emulate? What choices do the students make that you might avoid?

Rhetorical Analysis Prompt (Q2) (1999) about a Passage from "On Seeing England for the First Time"
The passage selected starts with the beginning of the essay ("When I saw England...") and ends with "...I was unable to draw a map of England correctly..."
Go to page three of the document for the prompt.

Sample Student Responses (1999) to Rhetorical Analysis Prompt (Q2) about a Passage from "On Seeing England for the First Time"

Rubric (1999) for Rhetorical Analysis Prompt  (Q2) about a Passage from "On Seeing England for the First Time" Go to page three of the document for the grading rubric.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Memoir-Essay / Personal Experience Essay

Tomorrow (Friday) you'll hand in a final draft, a previous draft, a self-assessment, and a peer-assessment.  
12-point font
double spaced
MLA heading
Brevity publishes well-known and emerging writers working in the extremely brief (750 words or less [sic]) essay form. We have featured work from two Pulitzer prize finalists, numerous NEA fellows, Pushcart winners, Best American authors, and writers from India, Egypt, Ireland, Spain, Malaysia, and Japan. We have also published many previously unpublished authors, and take a special joy in helping to launch a new literary career.
That’s what the editors at Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Fiction have to say about their online literary journal.

Here’s your assignment: Write a concise personal essay (750 words or fewer) about a significant relationship in your life. It could be a relationship with a person, a group, a place, an object, or something else. In writing your essay, consider using the literary elements that we have investigated, particularly voice, organization, storytelling, description, and reflection. All of these elements should contribute to characterizing the relationship and to thematic development. (Use the class readings as models.)

For revision ideas the memoir-essay vocabulary might help. Click here.

What makes a personal essay successful?
  • Title (explicit? suggestive? symbolic? ironic?)
  • Voice and style (“a living voice” that uses “verbal nuance” and shows “self-awareness”)
  • Detail: emotional detail, physical description, literal and figurative imagery, dialogue, the exact name of people, places, things
  • Storytelling (compelling, suggestive events with “tension”)
  • Reflection (“constructing meaning” with “unreconciled tension,” “complexity” and “self-awareness”)
  • Organization (chronological, episodic, spatial, circular, etc.)
All elements contribute to the purpose, which in this case is to use the elements of personal essay writing to characterize a relationship that is important in your life.

Here are some prompts that will help you with the self-assessment and peer-assessment of your draft.

Give a sense of the relationship between the title and the essay.

Explain how it is either explicit (stating something about the essay directly) or suggestive (implying a more symbolic and/or playful relationship with the essay).

Voice and style (“a living voice”)
Describe the voice and style of the essay.

Mark or write down places where the voice and style is particularly apparent and effective.

Explain how the voice and style suit the topic and themes.

Are there any dead metaphors or clichés? ("At the end of the day..." "When all is said and done...") Or phrases that might be clichés? Where? (Note: Playing with clichés, using them ironically, or bringing them back to life can be an effective technique, but this is hard to do.)

Are there any immature language patterns? (“In this essay I will…”) Where?

Does the essay show signs of “verbal nuance”? Where? What words seem very precise and suggestive? What words might be reconsidered and sharpened?

Describe the tone. How do you know? Does the tone suit the topic and themes?

Where do you see evidence of storytelling? Where is the storytelling vivid? Where might it be more vivid? Where does it create tension or drama? Where might the tension or drama be heightened? Where is the storytelling suggesting something about the relationship? What is suggested?

Details: emotional detail, physical description (imagery), precise names for people and things, dialogue
Where do you see vivid, precise detail that suggests something about the relationship (or that characterizes the relationship)?

Where could the detail be sharper, more suggestive?

Has the writer helped the reader experience her/his world? Where?

Reflection: what does it all mean? why does it matter?
Where are the compelling insights into the relationship? Are they implied? Where? Are they stated? Where? What theme or themes seem to emerge from the essay?

Describe the organization and how it contributes to the essay’s effectiveness.
Is the organization straightforward? Inventive? Explain.
Is the opening effective in relation to the purpose?
Is the end effective in relation to the purpose?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Extending our Socratic Seminar on "Old Father, Old Artificer" by Alison Bechdel

Extend. Explore. Examine. Respond. Revisit. Revise. Analyze. Synthesize. Write.
(Focus particularly on specific scenes, panels, or techniques that we didn't talk about but that relate to things we did talk about. Or, focus on new (or revised) ways of thinking about specific scenes, panels, or techniques that we've already talked about. Or, make specific, insightful connections between this work and others. Think of the guiding questions for your annotations. You might also think about the guiding questions for the unit: What makes personal narrative writing successful? How can we use personal narrative writing to better understand our surroundings, our relationships, and our selves?)
Make sure you write something that feels substantial--something well-developed not perfunctory.

Image from Fun Home by Alison Bechdel copied from The Guardian

Friday, October 4, 2013

Personal Narrative Writing at Brevity Magazine

What are the features of engaging, insightful personal narrative writing?

1. Go to
2. Choose a personal narrative to read.
3. In the comment box below summarize the narrative you chose and explain how the author uses narrative strategies to explore a theme. (Narrative strategies include narrative point of view, narrative voice, plot (an arranged sequence of events), characterization, setting, vivid and suggestive imagery, significant objects (and/or symbols), dialogue...) Due by class time Monday, October 7.

4. Then, read what your peers have written in the comment box. Based on what you read choose another personal narrative to read at
5. Now, respond to what a peer has written about the story with a comment of your own. The comment should be substantial, which means it should demonstrate an understanding of the story and an understanding of your peer's comment, while also offering something significant and new. Due by class time Tuesday, October 8.

(Remember that our goal here is to understand what makes personal narratives work (or not work), so we can write effective analyses and write our personal narratives.)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Six Word Memoirs

As the start of our personal essay writing unit, go here for the six-word memoir assignment.
You're going to write six six-word memoirs to bring to class on Monday.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Rhetorical Analysis & Satire Vocab Quiz!

The quiz on rhetorical analysis vocabulary (including words that describe humorous and satirical tones) will be given on Thursday, October 3. The vocabulary words--most of which have been on the board in 2207 for weeks and have been discussed extensively in class--can be found in the tabs above. Be resourceful when finding definitions to study.

Tomorrow C-block will spend some time playing with the vocabulary words and F-block will spend some time explaining the categorizing you did today. Then, F-block will get an introduction to the next unit: Analyzing and Creating Personal Narrative Essays. C-block will get this introduction after the quiz on Thursday.