Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Analyzing Satire: The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce

We're now going to apply what we've learned about satire by studying "A Modest Proposal" to another satirical literary work: The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce.

What is it? Go here to find out.

Where's the text? Go here to get it.

What I'd like you to do before class time on Monday (11/2) is pick SEVEN (7)* word entries from Bierce's satirical dictionary that no one else has commented on yet. In your answer in the Google Classroom, copy a dictionary definition and copy Bierce's satirical definition. Then, explain how Bierce satirizes a particular target by deviating from the standard definition.

Try to figure out Bierce's target and how he uses particular strategies to satirize that target. Does Bierce use any of the satirical strategies we've discussed, including irony, satirical inversion (or reversal), understatement (meiosis, litotes), exaggeration (hyperbole), sarcasm, absurd incongruity, and asserting a position by pretending to sweep aside that position (apophasis/paralipsis)?

Explaining satire (like explaining a joke) is difficult, so I'd rather you risk explaining too much than risk explaining too little.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

An Introduction to Satire as Argument: "A Modest Proposal" by Jonathan Swift

Here's the text of "A Modest Proposal" with helpful footnotes. (The footnotes were added by an organization called "readthinkwrite".)

Consider the SOAPSToneS elements of rhetorical discourse:
speaker, occasion, audience, purpose, subject, tone, style.

1. Take SOAPSTone notes*. (Identify and explore the significance of speaker, occasion, audience, purpose, subject, and tone in the text. Explore the significance means write several thoughtful sentences that interpret the element and make direct references to the text.) Bring your notes (in sentence form) to class tomorrow.

2. While preparing your SOAPSTone notes pay particular attention to how all of the elements contribute to the purpose. In your notes include at least three direction quotations (each from a different part of the text) that helped you figure out Swift's** purpose***.
* WARNING: Stay on your toes, so to speak. Be careful not to take speaker, purpose, and tone at face value. (For example, consider the possibility that the speaker may not present the author's sincere ideas. Then, consider the "purpose" of having the speaker present those ideas.)

**Note on the author: Jonathan Swift (1667-1744) was an Anglo-Irish clergyman, satirist, and poet . He published "A Modest Proposal" as an anonymous pamphlet in 1729.

***David Cody of Hartwick College offers some relevant context that might help you better understand the complex relationship of speaker, occasion, audience, and purpose in "A Modest Proposal".

Monday, October 19, 2015

Comparative Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Self/Peer Assessment of Comparative Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Self/Peer Assessment of Rhetorical Analysis Essay (Q2) comparing Jamaica Kincaid’s “On Seeing England for the First Time” and James Baldwin's "Notes of a Native Son"
Prompt: In a well-organized, well-developed essay compare and contrast the ways the two writers use rhetorical strategies to convey their evolving responses to the complex role ethnocentrism and cultural hegemony play in their lives.

Does the introduction end with a clear, bold, nuanced insight comparing Baldwin and Kincaid's responses? _____  Does the introduction include a precise, accurate statement of the rhetorical strategies that Baldwin and Kincaid use to convey their responses? _____
In your draft both parts of the thesis should be identified. The thesis may be more than one sentence. (Look at the prompt for one way to identify the different parts.)

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? _____  How 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.

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 focus on comparing Baldwin and Kincaid's use of a particular strategy to convey their responses to injustice or will focus on comparing how they use various strategies to convey the responses to injustice in particular sections of the essays. In other words it is likely that the essay is organized strategy-by-strategy or section-by-section. 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 support your comparison of how Baldwin and Kincaid's convey their responses to injustice with rhetorical strategies. Where is the evidence specific? _____  Where is it precise? _____  Is it thorough or are parts of the essays neglected? _____ 
Mark the evidence.
You also need to explain clearly and convincingly how each piece of evidence supports your comparison of Baldwin and Kincaid's use of strategies to convey their responses to injustice. Is the connection between each piece of evidence and the thesis explained? _____   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? _____   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...," "The author illustrates..... " or "Baldwin suggests..." (3) Cite a quotation from page 587 of James Baldwin's essay: "like this" (Baldwin 334). Or, if the previous quotation was from Baldwin, do it "like this" (334). (4) Avoid stand alone quotations. Consider using a colon after a complete thought to introduce the quotation: "like this" (Cook 4).

Option if you're stuck:
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 the two essays (the beginning of the essay, the next section, etc.)? _____  Have you outlined a comparison of how responses to injustice are conveyed by rhetorical strategies? _____  Have you found the specific evidence supporting your comparative ideas? _____  Are you able to explain how the evidence supports your comparative ideas? _____ 
The parts of the plan should be evident in the plan you have in your notes.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Personal Experience Essay (Mini-Memoir)

"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.)
A complete first draft is due by class time on Wednesday, October 7.
The final draft is due before pumpkin time on Friday, October 9.

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 (create detail that is vivid and suggestive: emotional detail; physical description of people (characters), places, and objects; 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.)

Below are some prompts that will help you with the self-assessment and peer-assessment of your draft. Start with a self-assessment that you'll complete in class Wednesday, October 7. Use the prompts below to guide peer feedback too. Make sure it is clear to your peer what you want feedback on and what, if anything, you don't.

What's the best way to do this?

1. Use the color coding on the website to highlight words, phrases, sentences in your essay that address the prompts: Title, Voice and style (“a living voice”), Storytelling/anecdote/vignette, Details, Reflection, Organization.
To highlight in Google Docs click on the A to the right of the B I U near the top of the page. After clicking select "highlight." (Or, similarly mark up your paper draft.)

2. Click on the "Comments" button in the upper right corner. To respond to questions about title, voice, storytelling, details, reflection, and organization. You don't have to answer all the questions but you want to do an awesome job being thoughtful, reflective, and specific about the questions you do answer. (Or, similarly comment on your paper draft.)
It's a good idea to start each comment with the area(s)  you are addressing; for example: Storytelling and Reflection--I think I did a good job making my story about the first time I came to Gloucester vivid but I'd like some feedback on how I could do a better job reflecting on exactly how the experience affected me and, in many ways, changed my life. Or, here's another example: Organization/Reflection--I like the ending that I've written; it puts closure on the story, but I'm wondering if I need more reflection in the end. Have I done a good enough job drawing out the significance of the story I've told?

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) of people and places, 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?