September 18, 2006

Articles

Each of you will be assigned a news source that you will be responsible for monitoring. For six out of the fifteen weeks of the semester, I want each of you to find an article that is relevant to the topic we will be discussing in class. You can either print out the actual article and make notes on the page or write a brief summary of the article and some notations as to why you found it interesting. You must write both your name and the contemporary public issue it deals with at the top of each article. For the time being, I will assign each of you a news source. However, if there is an alternative newspaper, political journal, or magazine that you would rather work with, just come see me during office hours so I can approve it. These brief assignments (and please keep them brief) should help improve the kinds of discussion we are able to have in class. You will keep these articles or your notes on them in a folder that you will bring to class each week. I will collect these folders every Tuesday of the Semester. Folders should include everything you have read and or written over the semester (Please arrange everything in the order in which it was completed). These sources have been assigned at random:

Jason C. - Washington Post - http://www.washingtonpost.com/

Jordan L. - Times (UK) - http://www.timesonline.co.uk

Mrinal P. - St. Petersburg Times - http://www.tampabay.com/

Michael H. - Seattle Post-Intelligencer - http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/

Rebecca B.. - San Francisco Chronicle - http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle/

Danielle W. - PBS – http://www.pbs.org/newshour/

Alexander T. - New York Times - http://www.nytimes.com/

Jeremy C. - Miami Herald - http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/

Sheila L. - Los Angeles Times - http://www.latimes.com/

Daniel M. - International Herald Tribune - http://www.iht.com/pages/index.php

Christine W. - The Independent (UK) - http://news.independent.co.uk/

Chase S. - The Guardian (UK) - http://www.guardian.co.uk/

Stephen H. - BBC (UK) - http://news.bbc.co.uk/

Philip M. - Boston Globe - http://www.boston.com/news/globe/

Peter N. - CBC (Canada) - http://www.cbc.ca/news/

Carissa L. - Chicago Sun Times - http://www.suntimes.com/index/

Elizabeth T. - Chicago Tribune - http://www.chicagotribune.com/

Alexandra L. - Al Jazeera - http://english.aljazeera.net/HomePage

Kevin B. - Al Jazeera - http://english.aljazeera.net/HomePage

Kristin R. - The Nation - http://www.thenation.com/

Bianca L. - Star Tribune - http://www.startribune.com/

Aneesh S. - Newsweek - http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032542/site/newsweek/

Ryan K. - CNN International - http://edition.cnn.com/

Dereck F. - Atlanta Journal-Constitution - http://www.ajc.com/

Sara K. - USA Today - http://www.usatoday.com/

Lori P. - The Independent (UK) - http://news.independent.co.uk/

September 20, 2006

First Writing Assignment

EngC 1014: University Writing and Critical Reading
Section 007, Spring 2007
Instructor: Michael Coleman
Email: Cole0384@umn.edu

First Writing Assignment: Reading American Consumer Culture

After having read “Brought to You B(u)y: The Signs of Advertising? and “Video Dreams: Television, Music, and Cultural Forms,? you should all have a better sense of the extent to which consumer trends are both constructed and manipulated by advertisers and media companies. You first assignment is to do a semiotic analysis of an element of popular culture. You should start by selecting a music video, a popular television show, or a block of commercials that produce specific ideas about sexuality, gender, race, family, etc. Make sure that you make a recording of your object of analysis, as you will need to watch it several times over the course of writing this paper.

If you choose a music video, you will want to start by discussing who the performer is and speculate as to what target demographic this artist might be aimed at. For example, we can assume that Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson are produced to be appealing to women somewhere between the ages of ten and thirty, but are they not also targeting male audiences? How do you think recording companies accomplish this? What is the basic plot of the video? Who are the characters and what kinds of behaviors do their actions encourage or discourage? What is the setting of the video? How do camera angles and effects change the way you interpret what you are watching? What about the lyrics to the song? Do you think the video would have a positive effect on people viewing it or a negative one? What images are particularly striking to you and why? How do you think someone who was not raised in American culture might interpret the video?

If you choose a television show, focus your discussion around questions of genre, characters and plot. For instance, are you writing about a crime drama? A sitcom? A reality television show? Perhaps you will want to make a comparison between this show and other shows in the same genre. What kinds of people do you think fall into the programs target audience? Back up your conjectures by analyzing specific scenes in the episode. What are the primary characteristics of the main characters? What characters act as foils to one another? How does this further develop the major themes that are at work? What larger social commentary do you see the show’s producers making? Do you believe this to be an accurate depiction of an element of American culture? Why or why not?

If you choose a block of commercials, you will probably want to begin with a discussion of what show they were broadcast during. Briefly explore the questions above that focus on target demographics. How do these commercials give you insight into who might watch this show? Who are the characters in the commercials and what types of activities are the engaged in? Do the commercials reinforce certain ideas about gender, sexuality, the family, etc.? Do they in any way challenge the way we think about these categories? What strategies do the advertisers use to get you to buy their product? Does the order that the commercials occur in work within a larger narrative framework? (Try to focus on two or three commercials within a given block.)

This assignment is meant to make you more aware of something that you do all the time without even realizing it: reading the cultural signs around you. How people dress, the kind of music they listen to, the kinds of movies they watch, these things all speak to us of cultural preferences, but these preferences, these personal choices, are directly influenced by media companies and advertisers. When we make a purchase or decide to watch a certain show, we are consuming not only a product but also an idea (or several ideas) about that product. We live in a culture saturated with stories. I’m asking you to critically analyze some of those stories, so we may get a better sense about where certain elements of American culture come from.

The questions above are only meant to give you a starting point for your analysis. You are all encouraged to think of additional questions that you feel need to be addressed. Essays should be five pages in length and must contain an introduction, a thesis statement, a conclusion, and proper citations. You will be graded based on content, organization, grammar, analysis, and responsiveness to comments. A preliminary short summary of your object of analysis will be due Thursday, January 25. Three copies of a first draft will be due on Thursday, February 1, so that you can participate in our peer review session on Tuesday, February 6. Failure to come to class with a draft will result in the grade of your final paper being lowered one full grade. The Final draft of your paper will be due on Tuesday, February 13. N.B. – I will require that you hand in your final draft, the two peer review sheets your classmates will have filled out and your rough draft that I will have commented on.

October 2, 2006

1st Group Assignment

EngC 1014: University Writing and Critical Reading
Section 007 Spring, 2007
Instructor: Michael Coleman
Email: Cole0384@umn.edu

First Group Assignment: Politics and the Body

The first group assignment is not so much a group assignment, as it is an assignment that a group of you will work on. (Whoa, I hope you are all as blown away by the profundity of that statement as I am.) As I mentioned in class, for each day we are working on these presentations, half of you will read one article and half of you will read the other. The class period will be divided into two halves with each group having approximately thirty minutes to present on their essay. At the end of the class period, each member of your group will be expected to turn in their own written analysis [typed] of the article. In other words, out of a group consisting of four students, I should have four different written responses. Each of you will be graded based on the merits of your written work as well as the overall group presentation.
Regarding the essays, I anticipate that some of you will disagree with your respective author’s positions and/or feel that political figures you identify with are being needlessly slandered. I, therefore, encourage you to disagree with the author’s claims—just be sure that you are equipped to respond to them with counter-examples.

What to do for the written portion of the assignment:

The purpose of this project is twofold: to give you all an opportunity to examine closely how arguments are constructed, and to train you in some of the techniques that will be essential for writing at the college level.

One of the most important skills to learn is how to incorporate outside materials into your actual writing. The three major methods of doing this are summary, paraphrase and direct quotation.

1.) Write a few paragraphs that summarize the articles main ideas, i.e., what topic does the article deal with, what is the author’s position on that topic, what major examples do they use to make their point. (This should be anywhere from half a page to a full page)
2.) Choose one passage from the essay and paraphrase it.
3.) Choose one passage that you think might be worth quoting in its entirety. Explain why this passage is particularly noteworthy.
4.) List some of the polemical strategies used by the writer to make their points, e.g., narratives, statistical data, definitions, editorializations, humor, etc. How do these affect your response to the article?
5.) Do you object to anything the author says? Why or why not? How does their word choice effect the way you read their essay?
6.) Finally, think of three questions/comments that might spark some debate about the topic you have been reading about. Also, list two or three other contemporary public issues you see as relating to your article.

What to do for the group portion of the assignment:

I want you to work with your group to formulate a brief presentation that begins by highlighting the main points of your essay. This should primarily be a synthesis of each of your individual summaries, paraphrases and quotations. The goal here is to present the essay in such a way so that those students who were not assigned to read it will have a basic idea about the author’s major points. You should be able to accomplish this in about ten to fifteen minutes. Then spend the rest of the time either answering any questions people have about the essay or leading the class in a discussion of some of your related questions. Since there will not be much time leftover for discussion, I want you all to think of this as more of a lecture to inform your classmates about an issue they might not have had much exposure to. One final point, this first group assignment does not necessarily require you to meet with the members of your group. I do, however, recommend that you come to class on the day of your presentation with some sense of how you want to divide up the work of presenting. You can set this up either in person or via email but make sure that each member of your group knows what is expected of them. [N.B. An acceptable alternative when answering the questions is that each of you take a few pages from the essay and write a slightly more in depth summary of your particular section. However, you should make sure that you have read the article in its entirety, so you will be able to answer the remaining questions.]

Here is the information about the articles we will be working with for this section:

Farber, Celia. “Out of Control: AIDS and the Corruption of Medical Science.? Harper’s Magazine Mar. 2006: 37-52.

Glasser, Ronald J., M.D. “We Are Not Immune: Influenza, SARS, and the Collapse of Public Health.? Harper’s Magazine July 2004: 35-42.

Gorney, Cynthia. “Gambling With Abortion: Why Both Sides Think They Have Everything To Lose.? Harper’s Magazine Nov. 2004: 33-46.

Keizer, Garret. “Life Everlasting: The Religious Right and the Right to Die.? Harper’s Magazine Feb. 2005: 53-61.

Souder, William. “It’s Not Easy Being Green: Are Weed-killers Turning Frogs into Hermaphrodites.? Harper’s Magazine Aug. 2006: 59-66.

Wypijewski, JoAnn. “Judgement Days: Lessons from the Abu Ghraib Courts-martial.? Harper’s Magazine Feb. 2006: 39-50.

The groups for this assignment have been selected at random:

Group 1:

Jason C.
Jordan L.
Mrinal P.
Michael H.
Rebecca B.

Group 2:

Danielle W.
Alexander T.
Jeremy C.
Sheila L.
Daniel M.

Group 3:

Christine W.
Chase S.
Stephen H.
Philip M.

Group 4:

Peter N.
Carissa L.
Elizabeth T.
Alexandra L.

Group 5:

Kevin B.
Kristin R.
Bianca L.

Group 6:

Aneesh S.
Ryan K.
Dereck F.
Sara K.
Lori P.

Here is how I want the assignments to be grouped:

Day 1: 3/20

Group 1:

Present on Celia Farber’s “Out of Control: AIDS and the Corruption of Medical Science.? Groups 3 and 5 read this article and be prepared to comment on and/or add to any significant points that are missed.

Group 4:

Present on Ronald J. Glasser’s “We Are Not Immune: Influenza, SARS, and the Collapse of Public Health.? Groups 2 and 6 read this article and be prepared to comment on and/or add to any significant points that are missed.

Day 2: 3/22

Group 2:

Present on Cynthia Gorney’s “Gambling With Abortion: Why Both Sides Think They Have Everything To Lose.? Groups 4 and 6 read this article and be prepared to comment on and/or add to any significant points that are missed.

Group 3:

Present on Garret Keizer’s “Life Everlasting: The Religious Right and the Right to Die.? Groups 1 and 5 read this article and be prepared to comment on and/or add to any significant points that are missed.

Day 3: 3/27

Group 5:

William Souder’s “It’s Not Easy Being Green: Are Weed-killers Turning Frogs into Hermaphrodites?? Groups 1 and 3 read this article and be prepared to comment on and/or add to any significant points that are missed.

Group 6:

JoAnn Wypijewski’s “Judgement Days: Lessons from the Abu Ghraib Courts-martial.? Groups 2 and 4 read this article and be prepared to comment on and/or add to any significant points that are missed.

October 20, 2006

Second Writing Assignment

EngC 1014: University Writing and Critical Reading
Section 007, Spring 2007
Instructor: Michael Coleman
Email: Cole0384@umn.edu

Second Writing Assignment: Position Paper

“Admittedly, the irony of community is missing here, as is the playfulness of social life. The charm to be found in social graces and in the theatre of social relations is all transferred outwards into the advertising of life and lifestyles. This is a society that is endlessly concerned to vindicate itself, perpetually seeking to justify its own existence. Everything has to be made public: what you are worth, what you earn, how you live—there is no place here for interplay of a subtler nature? (Baudrillard 116).

“But this is precisely the point: the high point of liberation, its logical outcome, is to be found in the spectacular orgy, speed, the instantaneity of change, generalized eccentricity. Politics frees itself in the spectacle, in the all out advertising effect; sexuality frees itself in all its anomalies and perversions (including the refusal of sexuality, the latest fad, which is itself only a supercooling effect of sexual liberation); mores, customs, the body, and language free themselves in the ever quickening round of fashion? (Baudrillard 123).

Baudrillard’s essay makes significant claims about America as a country and a culture (and about Europe as a place and a way of thinking and living in the world). What would you say are the key claims made about America? What are the ones that strike you as most interesting, pressing, serious, or troubling?

Write an essay in which you respond. As an insider (or as Baudrillard’s essay invites you to imagine the position of the insider, the American), how would you speak back to this characterization of America? Before you begin to work on this essay, you will need to make some decisions about style. Will you respond in the style of his essay? Will you locate, what you take to be the key points in his argument and respond in the voice and style of an academic or classroom essay? You should think of this assignment as being similar to an Op-Ed piece in a newspaper. In other words, you will be writing an essay in which you will be expected to have strong opinions about the ways in which Baudrillard has (mis)characterized Americans. That having been said, strong papers will rely on evidence to illustrate your arguments. I expect that you will be scouring various media sources in search of evidence that supports and/or rebuts what Baudrillard is arguing.

The questions above are only meant to give you a starting point for your analysis. You are all encouraged to think of additional questions that you feel need to be addressed. Essays should be five to six pages in length and must contain an introduction, a thesis statement, a conclusion, and proper citations. You will be graded based on content, organization, grammar, analysis, and responsiveness to comments. A preliminary assignment that details your observations about American culture will be due on Thursday, February 15. Three copies of a first draft will be due on Thursday, February 22, so that you can participate in our peer review session on Tuesday, February 27. Failure to come to class with a draft will result in the grade of your final paper being lowered one full grade. The Final draft of your paper will be due on Thursday, March 8th. N.B. – For this Paper I will require that you hand in your final draft, the two peer review sheets your classmates will have filled out and your rough draft that I will have commented on.

Third Writing Assignment

EngC 1014: University Writing and Critical Reading
Section 007, Spring 2007
Instructor: Michael Coleman
Email: Cole0384@umn.edu

Third Writing Assignment: Rogerian-style Research Essay

This research assignment is probably unlike ones you’ve encountered in the past. One of the goals of this course is to introduce you to a variety of writing styles within the academy and beyond. The academic and professional disciplines you pursue will further instruct you in their particular discourse systems, which include using a specific vocabulary, formats, method of inquiry, and other conventions. Writing in history looks different than writing in business management and biological sciences. In order to develop basic writing skills and to practice working within disciplinary conventions, your research assignment will be framed around the Rogerian model (see details below). While writing with the genre convention of Rogerian argumentation you may employ a variety of rhetorical strategies and pursue a wide array of topics. By practicing using the Rogerian conventions you will be able to understand its limitations, pursue a variety of rhetorical strategies within its confines, and recognize your writerly flexibility.

About Rogerian Argumentation
Carl Rogers is a psychologist who developed a negotiating strategy that deals respectfully with a variety of counter-arguments and perspectives in the name of consensus. This is not a debate-style paper in which the goal is to conquer your opponent. Instead of the traditional win/lose model, this style of argumentation focuses on building bridges between the writer and audience in order to find common ground. The structure of Rogerian argument usually follows the outline below:

In the beginning of the paper, the writer introduces the problem/topic while exploring the common ground and relevance of the topic that s/he shares with the audience. Rogerian argument assumes that if a reader and writer can find common ground about a problem, then they are more likely to find a solution. Rather than presenting an issue that divides readers or a thesis that demands agreement, the Rogerian argument doesn’t begin with the writer’s position at all.

For example: The writer, in an argument in favor of handgun registration, might begin by stating her respect for individual rights, especially the right to self-defense and protection of one’s property, and show appreciation for sportsman and collectors, who regard handguns and equipment for an activity or collectibles to be valued.

In the body of a Rogerian argument, the writer describes the reader’s perceived point of view on the problem, acknowledges the circumstances and contexts in which the reader’s position or perspective is valid, and also gives an objective statement of her position. The writer explains the contexts in which her position is valid and explores how they differ from the audience’s.
For example, the gun registration writer might note that gun collections are frequent targets for thieves, and point out that registration might help the owners retrieve such stolen property before it is used to commit and crime.

In the conclusion, the writer presents his/her thesis. By making some concessions or compromises, the writer invites the audience to concede as well and hopefully reach an agreement about the issue. A Rogerian essay asks the readers not to give up their own positions, but show how they would benefit from moving toward the writer’s position. Sometimes, the final section of the Rogerian argument explores ways to compromise or finds alternative solutions to the problem (topic) to benefit both the reader and writer.

For example, the gun registration writer might concede that this law should only apply to new sales of handguns, not to guns the audience already owns.

About the research
You will need 3 to 6 secondary sources for this essay. You may choose sources for a variety of reasons: the source may bring to light a complication of your issue or an alternative viewpoint you can incorporate or dismiss or compromise with, the source may lend credibility to your own position, the source may be a good or bad example of the significance of your issue. Secondary sources may be characterized by: facts and statistics, expert testimony, primary interviews, examples, etc.

At least once source must be in print form. All sources that end in “.com? must be approved by me. You may choose a source from our readings if you have found any of those essays speak to an issue you are particularly curious about. You must have 2 sources that are not from our readings. Photocopy the most relevant page from each of your secondary sources and include that with your paper.

Remember, a research essay is NOT a summary or collection of other people’s ideas, observations, arguments, opinions, facts, etc. It IS an essay based on your own ideas, observations, arguments, opinions, facts, etc., which are supported (in part) by those of other people. The goal of the research essay is to present a well-informed argument about a specific topic that integrates and synthesizes ‘outside’ sources.

About topics
Find topics that interest you. You might want to choose something you have some familiarity with. Your topics can vary widely from philosophical issues to political problems to policy strategies etc. Some sample topics include:

· an argument for or against assisting the Lakota people of Pine Ridge in their efforts to move off the reservation
· an argument opposing or supporting the increase of tuition costs for the University of Minnesota
· an argument about women who veil themselves in Arab countries
· an argument concerning a learning unit on trans-sexuality and transgender practices that has been proposed for elementary school children
· an argument about what makes for good art
· an argument on behalf of or in opposition to parents who are interested in adopting transracially
· an argument about the virtues of democracy and its global expansion with a case study of Iraq
· an argument regarding non-hearing children who are under pressure to learn to speak despite their preference to learn sign language only
· an argument concerning preserving wilderness areas and what the factors for funding should be

You may not choose the following topics: gun control, capital punishment, abortion, prayer in school, legalization of marijuana, and lowering the drinking age.

Your essay should include:
· an acute awareness of your audience and the objections they hold to your argument
· A thesis/claim that you are arguing
· A set of claims and attention (dismissal, concession, compromise, etc.) that lead to and support your argument (Why are you right?)
· A discussion explaining the significance of your position (Why is your position important, interesting, and meaningful?)
· 3-6 research sources (journals, magazines, books)
· An appropriate scope for the page requirement (5-7 pages)
· Consistency of appropriate audience address
· Ability to stay to the logical and fair approach identified as Rogerian argument
· Effective integration of realistic counter-arguments
· Logical organization
· Adequate development
· Accurate use of terms and facts
· Credibility of evidence
· Smooth integration of evidence, quotes, and paraphrases
· Focus and cohesiveness
· No grammatical and mechanical errors

Purpose: Persuade your audience to compromise and/or change their opinions and agree (at least in part) with yours. You will engage your audience in a fair and convincing analysis of an issue’s multiple perspectives and persuade those readers of the validity of the position you support.

Audience: Imagine you are writing to an audience of educated people who have a stake in opposing your view.

Format: Standard exposition with MLA citation. You should have a title. You are writing for an academic audience in an academic form. Your essay length is 6 to 7 pages.


Due on Thursday, March 29:

1. Research Topic Identification and Explanation
For this part of the assignment write one-page; use these headings and answering these questions:

· Topic: What is the topic / issue you have chose?
· Argument: What position do you plan to argue?
· Purpose: What do you hope to accomplish with the argument and why?
· Background: What is your background with this topic? What caused your interest in it? Do you have any direct experience with it? What are your qualifications for discussing this issue?

2. Annotated Bibliography
For this part of the assignment write the citation (use MLA form) for 3 to 6 sources. Write one to three sentences about each source explaining what it is about and how you plan to use it.

Due on April 17:

Two Copies of you rough draft and one page outline of your paper (using full sentences).

Due on May 1st:

Final draft, rough drafts and peer review sheets

December 5, 2006

Fourth Writing Assignment

EngC 1014: University Writing and Critical Reading
Section 007, Spring 2007
Instructor: Michael Coleman
Email: Cole0384@umn.edu

Assignment 4: Course Evaluation

For your fourth and final assignment, I’m asking you to write an evaluation of the materials and methodologies used throughout our class. The purpose of this assignment is to both demonstrate to me what you have learned over the course of the semester and to help me determine what changes, if any, might need to be made to future syllabi. In many ways, this is the most important assignment of the semester, in that it allows students who have been less willing to participate in large group discussions to show me that they have learned something during their time spent in class.

Begin the evaluation by telling me which reading assignments you enjoyed the most and why. What did these assignments in particular teach you about reading and writing? [N.B. I would rather you refer to particular parts of certain texts that you found useful as opposed to more generalized comments.] Which of the assignments did you find least helpful? (Or, which assignment would you remove from the syllabus?) Why? For the second part of your response, I want you to evaluate the variety of teaching methods used in class, e.g., large group discussions, small group discussions, peer review sessions, unravel and films. Which of these contributed most to your learning throughout the semester? Which contributed least? Why?

This is meant to be an informal paper; however, it does still count for 5 percent of your final grade. Therefore I ask you all to take the assignment seriously. That having been said, I want you to speak your mind openly, so you can feel free to use a more conversational tone (something that I have been telling many of you to remove from your writing throughout the semester). This is the only paper where it will be acceptable to use “I? when talking about personal feelings and/or profanity (if you determine it’s warranted). The paper MUST be at least two pages (that means two full pages). Aside from that, I don’t care how long it is. Also, please make sure that you proofread. While I will not be returning these papers with comments, I will still be paying attention to how much time you put into it, and frequent errors will be taken as an indication that you did not take the assignment seriously. One final point, you will also be completing the university’s anonymous course evaluation at the end of this week, so if you want to say anything that will destroy me emotionally, I recommend you wait until then. The paper is due no later than 5 PM on Thursday, May 3.

January 16, 2007

Grammar Group Presentation

EngC 1014: University Writing and Critical Reading
Section 007 Spring, 2007
Instructor: Michael Coleman
Email: Cole0384@umn.edu

Grammar and Style Presentation Assignment

Assignment

With a partner, you will give a 10-15 minute presentation about your chosen grammatical or stylistic issue. You may conduct your class time in a number of ways: you may give a talk with your partner, you may prepare an in-class activity, you may show model examples, etc. Be encouraged to be creative, but first and foremost, deliver the content.

What to Turn In

You must have one document that you share with the entire class. This document could take the form of a handout, an overhead, a worksheet, etc. I will be available to make a transparency for you if you would like.

How You Will Be Graded

I will grade you based on the accuracy of your information, the comprehension of your presentation by your colleagues, the balance of breadth and depth by which you cover your topic, the appropriateness and quality of your document, and the ingenuity and insight with which you approach with your topic.

Due Dates: See Syllabus

Resources

• Writing Center Quick Tips .
• Online Writing Center Handouts and Materials .
• Look up “grammar,? “style,? or your topic on your favorite web search engine,
• Writing handbooks, such as Rules For Writers (by Diana Hacker), which I can loan you.

1. Active Verbs
2. Parallel Ideas
3. Misplaced and Dangling Modifiers
4. Emphasis
5. Variety
6. Wordy Sentences
7. Appropriate Language
8. Sentence Fragments
9. Run-on Sentences
10. The Comma
11. The Semicolon
12. The Colon
13. Dashes, Parentheses, Brackets, Ellipsis and Slashes

January 30, 2007

Passive vs. Active Verbs

There are two main classifications for verbs:

1) Active – Express Meaning/ Action clearly
· Subject performs or does something a action
· Usually more effective and direct
· Easily comprehendible
· Orders are usually active verbs
2) Passive- Weaker semantically,
· Subject receives action
· Directly conveys no action
· Common examples are: Be, Am, Is, Are Was Being, Been (These words are not always passive but tend to be most of the time because they do not convey a direct action)
· Passive verbs should be used when the subject/doer is unwanted or unnecessary or when the writer wishes to emphasize the action, Or for greater sentence variation.

EXAMPLES:
Michael taught the class. (ACTIVE)
The class was taught by Michael. (PASSIVE)

A “State of Being? (also called linking verbs) is neither active nor passive.
EXAMPLE: Jenny is late. I am Hungry. This could be the first day of the rest of my life.

This is not the case in most languages around the world!


THE PASSIVE ACTIVE GAME!

1) The turkey must have been eaten by the dog.

ANSWER: The dog must have eaten the turkey.

2) The grammar test was passed by over half the students.

ANSWER: Over half the students passed the grammar test.

3) When the Declaration of Independence was being signed, our forefathers were exercising their spirit of resistance.

ANSWER: When the Declaration of Independence was signed, our forefathers were exercising their spirit of resistance.

4) Hurricane Katrina destroyed many homes.

ANSWER: Many homes were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

5) Yesterday the fish were caught by me.

ANSWER: I caught the fish yesterday.

Parallel Ideas

Parallel Ideas

Parallel ideas are a way of emphasizing two or more similar ideas by using the same pattern of words (nouns with nouns, verbs with verbs and etc.).

Not Parallel: Jill likes running, walking and to hop.
Parallel: Jill likes running, walking and hopping.
(Now all the words end with –ing and have the same pattern)

Not Parallel: During the movie they were laughing, they were smiling, and crying.
Parallel: During the movie they were laughing, they were smiling, and they were crying.
Or
During the movie they were laughing, smiling and crying.

Parallel: We must not be defeated. We will not be defeated. We will triumph again.

Not Parallel: The soccer player moved swiftly, quickly, and in a smart way.
Parallel: The soccer player moved swiftly, quickly, and smartly.

Not Parallel: The child not only ate his vegetables but also his fruits.
Parallel: The child ate not only his vegetable but also his fruits.
(Now, we combined a noun with a noun versus when it was a clause with a noun)

If you use parallel ideas incorrectly, it can cause confusion and disrupts the flow of the sentence. However, parallel ideas, when used correctly in your statement, can add emphasis and clarity.

Here are some examples when people use parallel ideas to add power to their statements.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. –Martin Luther King Jr.

Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.
-John F. Kennedy
Proofreading Strategies to try:
· Skim your paper, pausing at the words "and" and "or." Check on each side of these words to see whether the items joined are parallel. If not, make them parallel.
· If you have several items in a list, put them in a column to see if they are parallel.
Listen to the sound of the items in a list or the items being compared. Do you hear the same kinds of sounds? For example, is there a series of "-ing" words beginning each item? Or do your hear a rhythm being repeated? If something is breaking that rhythm or repetition of sound, check to see if it needs to be made parallel.