Archive for Class Discussions

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

I can see that Lady Mary gave us some headaches this Friday.  It was our first foray into the 18th century and, surprisingly, it’s even more difficult than the 19th.  Hawthorne is pretty easy compared some of her sentences.

And it was difficult because Lady Mary is so well-spoken, so clearly educated, so unabashedly upperclass that the way she presented herself seems to be utterly foreign.  Our world is characterized by a lack of hierarchy and of such thorough silliness that even presidential candidates appear on comedy and day time talk shows that have no other purpose than to chat away an hour.  Now, I have as much fun as the next Joe (insert job here, eg., the plumber, the cook, etc.), but Lady Mary would have thought that an egregious breach of decorum.

Well, all of her good old fashioned stuffiness aside, who was she?  She was a major figure in the world of letters of the early 18th century in England.  She found herself in a series of literary and pubilc quarrels with the camp of Alexander Pope, the most famous poet in England of the time.  She also travelled widely and was herself an example of the rational feminism of her time.  She wrote voluminously, but her letters were never published during her lifetime.  She also adventured across Europe, living abroad for the last 23 years of her life.  While on an earlier trip in Turkey, she was innoculated against the small-pox virus–an experimental treatment at the time.  She worked diligently to bring the practice to England and prevent the death and disfigurement that the disease leaves in its wake.  You see a portrait of her and read a full biography at Luminarium.

Some letters and poems are online at Renascence Editions, published electronically by the University of Oregon. You can download a complete version of her letters from Project Gutenburg

The Financial Crisis Comes Home

DJI adjusted for the price of goldAlright.  So we hear things are bad, getting worse, but what does that actually mean?  What it means is that the poison that was released into the international financial system this September, when things got really crazy, when our brave leaders finally took the time to look into what was really happening, is now traversing through the system and showing up in the most unexpected places.

For example, (exempla gratia), a school district in Wisconsin is finding itself in such difficult straits that it may have to declare bankruptcy because of a German bank that moved to Ireland’s decisions.  They didn’t even contract with that bank!  In fact, they never did any business with it at all.  But because of the networked nature of the globalized economy, no one is safe from the shock waves emanating from multiple epicenters simultaneously.

Listen at NPR.org;s Planet Money Blog: A Tale of Intertwined Misery

Discussion Topics for this week — Analysis

Brady, “I Want a Wife”

  1. What is her tone. How does repetition affect her tone? Cite evidence and explain.
  2. What kind of jobs does she enumerate? From this list what can we generalize “woman’s work” is?” How is it different than “Men’s work?”
  3. How does she attack man without ever mentioning them?

Brott, “Not all Men are Sly Foxes”

  1. What (event, thought, observation) begins his analysis of children’s books?
  2. How does he marshall evidence to support his analysis?
  3. How does he make an argument from his analysis? What is it? What do you think?

Prager, “Our Barbies, Ourselves”

  1. What is Prager’s tone? How can we tell? (there may be more than one)
  2. What part does sexuality play in her analysis? What is she driving at? Isn’t Barbie for young girls?
  3. How does she actually divide (analyze) her subject? What assumptions does she find/explain? What does this say about the author herself?

In the news and history (“What’s going on?” -Marvin Gaye)

So I’m sure that many of you have heard about this and that about this financial crisis.  I’m sure you smell a vague scent of despair and fear.  You must.  I feel it and smell it.  And what’s scary is that the closer I get to the epicenter of this debacle (through my research) the more intense the smell becomes.  And that’s frightening, because then it’s the media that is making it LESS intense–not the other way around, which is usually how they hype things.  This one is real and it won’t go away.

So there are many of us who say to ourselves, “What would it be like to live in one of those great historic moments?”  Frankly, you are because that time is now.

Since we are going to be dealing with this for the rest of your lives, and many of you will be leaders in whichever industry you set your sights on, I thought I might make a suggestion that you should inform yourself about what’s going on.  I would like to steer you to two remarkably clear explanations from a radio show called “This American Life.” (In fact, it is where I first heard Sarah Vowell first read her story “Shooting Dad”–long before I ever assigned it in class.)

This first episode, “The Giant Pool of Money,” is an explanation about how all these loans and mortgages got so crazy, why everyone was signing up for them, and why a large number (but still less than 3%) have found themselves unable to pay their bills and have been forced into foreclosure.  Then step two, “Another Frightening Show About the Economy,” explains what is happening in our financial markets and why we had to pass $840 billion bailout and why the whole ting could be so devastating to the entire world.

One important note: Although things look bleak, as a country we’ve been through the worst before and we’ve triumphed.  And so we will be able to set things straight, but it’s going to take all of our efforts combined.

Here they are:

The Giant Pool of Money: http://www.thislife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=355

Another Frightening Show About the Economy : http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=365

Some new/old discussion topics

So this is for Compare/Contrast.  I know it was last week, but the blog as often down & I didn’t write them down before I went home on Friday (after 5p–wow! I work crazy hours). :)

Britt, “Neat People vs. Sloppy People”

  1. She says the distinction is moral. How so?
  2. How does she employ hyperbole and litotes? To what effect?
  3. Whose side is she on? How can we tell?

Barry

  1. Why baseball?  How does the title serve as a pun?
  2. How does Barry manipulate tone?
  3. How does his diction help create humor?
  4. How does he choose detail to illuminate both his and his wife’s mental states?

OK.  Be smart and productive.

Discussion Questions on our Readings

Well, it’s been an eventful week, and we all can feel the pace quickening and the thought deepening. 

Here are the discussion questions I said I would post.  We’ll be discussing them on Monday!

Brent Staples

  1. Define “Public Space”
  2. How does Staples employ anecdotes to illustrate his examples?
  3. What are his specific examples? What are thier purposes?
  4. What does it mean , to inhabit public space as an idividual?

Scott Russel Sanders

  1.  What is his THESIS?
  2. What exmples does he employ to illustrate his point?
  3. Why 2nd person narrative?
  4. Explain Sanders’s syntax in paragraph 1.  How does he use rhythm to create emphasis?

Good luck over the weekend!

A little knowledge

In recent days we, as in the AP English class, have been discussing DBQ’s and how knowing about current events can help. I have decided to help with that a little by introducing this topic that has recently hit the news:

WARNING: I in no way accept credit for the following article that is directly copied from the YCL Newsletter that I receive weekly.

II. In the News: “Food Price Crisis”
Food Price Crisis. By PWW Editorial Board
Among the necessities for human life — indeed, all life — food obviously occupies a central place. In recent decades advances in agriculture and in the ability to distribute food around the world seemed to promise an end to the age-old scourge of famine.

But lately, threats have grown to the affordability and even availability of food.Staples such as grains have been hit especially hard. Some traditional food exporting countries are limiting or barring exports.

For the rest of the story please go to: pww.org

Discussion Questions:

1)What are your thoughts on the use of biofuels?

2)The article notes that policies in industrialized countries have adversely affected the ability of developing countries to produce food. Is so, do you see any possible solutions? Why or Why Not?

Group Topics for Tuesday (11/20/2007)

 Please post your group response here; and include your group name!

Brady, “I Want a Wife”

  1. What is her tone.  How does repetition affect her tone? Cite evidence and explain.
  2. What kind of jobs does she enumerate?  From this list what can we generalize “woman’s work” is?” How is it different than “Men’s work?”
  3. How does she attack man without ever mentioning them?

Brott, “Not all Men are Sly Foxes”

  1. What (event, thought, observation) begins his analysis of children’s books?
  2. How does he marshall evidence to support his analysis?
  3. How does he make an argument from his analysis?  What is it?  What do you think?

Prager, “Our Barbies, Ourselves”

  1. What is Prager’s tone?  How can we tell? (there may be more than one)
  2. What part does sexuality play in her analysis? What is she driving at?  Isn’t Barbie for young girls?
  3. How does she actually divide (analyze) her subject?  What assumptions does she find/explain?  What does this say about the author herself?

Group topics for Monday

Saukko, “How to poison the earth”

  1. Why is this piece satiric?  How can we tell?
  2. What rhetorical devices does she employ?  What is their effect?

Mitford, “Behind the Formaldehyde Curtain”

  1. Characterize her tone.  What effect does it create?  Give examples.
  2. How does Mitford allow the business of death to insinuate its way into her essay?
  3. How does Mitford create a sense of the absurd? (or, at least, a passion for unreality)
  4. Explain her use of passive verbs

Miner, “Body ritual among the Nacirema”

  1. Characterize Miner’s Tone. How does this tone lead us?
  2. Characterize his diction.  What are some of the terms he uses for everyday objects?  How do these influence our initial opinions?
  3. This essay is 50 years old.  What would have to be added or removed to make it accurate for today?

Group Discussion Topics 10/15

Suzanne Britt, “Neat People vs. Sloppy People”

  1. She says her distinction is moral. How so?
  2. How does Britt describe each group’s value system?
  3. How does she employ hyperbole? Litotes? To what effect?
  4. Which side is she on? How can we tell? How seriously should we take her?

Dave BarryDave Barry, “Batting Clean-up & Striking Out”

  1. Why baseball? How does the title serve as a pun?
  2. How does Barry manipulate tone? How is the reader/audience supposed to feel? Give examples.
  3. How does the Windex digression figure? What purpose does it serve?
  4. How does Barry use diction to create a humorous effect?
  5. How does Barry’s choice of detail serve to illuminate his own consciousness and his wife’s?

Visit Dave @ http://www.davebarry.com