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October 26, 2007

Week 8 update

Next week we'll keep working at your research projects. On Monday, we're meeting in the lobby of Wilson Library. If you get there more than five minutes late, we'll end up down in the basement periodicals section, so you can look for me there. You'll primarily be exploring the place on your own, doing a kind of nerdy scavenger hunt.

On Wednesday, you've got a piece to read--"I'll Take Chop Suey" (disregard the student paper listed on the syllabus). We'll use that to talk a bit more about research and scholarly writing. We'll also have some more time to talk about research methods in class.

No class Friday--you'll be signing up for another round of conferences on Wednesday. That means I'll have people coming around for my office hours for the next week or two, so try to contact me beforehand if you're thinking of coming in without an appointment, just to make sure I'm not already scheduled for someone else.

Also, next Thursday, I'm moving office hours up two hours because of another commitment--to 10-12 in the morning. But again, it will be conferences for most of that time, so let me know if you're planning on coming in.

Thanksgiving is almost on the horizon!!

October 24, 2007

Office hours Thursday

Due to a family medical appointment, I have to cancel office hours tomorrow. Let me know if you were planning on stopping by. Sorry to abbreviate those so much this week--I don't see any problems for the foreseeable future.

A few more draft notes

In class today, I talked about proofreading for formal style--please remember to do that.

In addition, I saw that several drafts had problems giving a good context for their place--explaining the geographical or social context for it. Be sure to address that--where a place is, especially how that's important for who works/uses that place. Here's an example from a draft that I think does this well:


The historic site of St. Anthony Main, located near the heart of Minneapolis, MN, consists of boutiques, coffee shops and cafes. Among this area are some luxury condos and the grocery store, Lund’s. At night people navigate around with the help of street lamps that look like hanging lanterns. The view of the Mississippi River cannot be missed because of the lights that gleam across the water at night. The source of the light on the water is from a green suspension bridge that connects the Saint Anthony Main area with downtown Minneapolis. The streets are not full of people, but occasionally a couple walk by holding hands. At night Saint Anthony is completely different compared to a busy Saturday at lunch time. On a Saturday a parking spot is rare and there are people walking up and down the crowded sidewalks. Nestled among the chaos is a Panera Bakery-Café, in which has a little chaos of its own.

There's a nicely descriptive snapshot of the neighborhood surrounding Panera here, and its used to highlight something important about the place (its own chaos). Yours doesn't have to be quite so descriptive, but be sure to explain the context of your place early on.

One other thing I noticed is that people sometimes included great detail, but didn't really make any connections about why those details aren't important. Remember that your job here is to say something about what this place is like, not just to describe it. Here's an example of another draft that does this well:

For example, a man is sitting in the far corner of the restaurant and is (wait for it) facing the nearest wall. He is adorned in a blue gingham dress shirt and black slacks. Blue, as we’ll call him, has been ignoring the incessant stare of a homeless man who is sitting across the room. Blue glances up periodically to affirm that he is indeed being watched. However, his thick, black-framed glasses routinely prevent his pupil from establishing a visual relationship with the homeless man. After each episode, he returns to his meal and pretends nothing has happened.

In this case, there's a wealth of physical detail, but it's used to say something about the anonymity of the fast food experience, a point that's developed throughout this paper.

A couple of other brief organizational notes: don't always feel that you have to talk about each observation separately here. Sometimes that felt very forced, when it was obvious the main point was in one particular observation time. You can still use that other observation for comparison ("While this place was really busy on Friday night, a visit the following Sunday did show it had its down times"), but it doesn't have to have its own section.

Also, while I applaud the use of interviewing in many of these drafts, the interview itself doesn't make for a great paragraph purpose. That is, don't just use it for you "interview paragraph." Integrate the thoughts you got from that interview into a paragraph about the place you chose to focus on--using it to provide background or interpretation on some larger point.

Remember MLA format for your final drafts--let me know if you have any questions before Friday.

October 17, 2007

Comments posted

I've also now posted comments for most people on their observation journals (what you filled out Monday in class). Let me know if you'd like more input on any particular questions.

Thursday office hours

Due to a couple of meetings that have come up, I need to shorten office hours tomorrow (Thursday). They will end at 1:15 rather than 2. Please let me know if you were planning to come in during that time and we can set up another appointment.

Also on research

Feel free to do some online research to get context for the place/group you're studying. We'll talk more about research starting next week, but for now, be sure to use sources you feel are trustworthy. Anybody can have a webpage--why do you trust this one?

Citing interviews

Just a note to remind you that you need to cite interviews or other outside sources used in your upcoming draft. For interviews, the format would be as follows.

Smith, Joe. Personal Interview. 17 Oct. 2007.

As long as it's clear in your paper that the fact/quote came from this person, you don't need to cite. If not, then just use their last name--(Smith). If you didn't get permission to use their name, and they're not an "official" at the place, just a private person, then you might also consider using a pseudonym--a made up name that protects their real name.

October 12, 2007

Conference reminders for Oct. 15

By way of a reminder, I'll be posting upcoming conference times on the course blog. Remember to come prepared to talk about the current assignment--what you've seen or plan to look for in your observations. Let me know ASAP if you need to reschedule--a missed conference counts as a late assignment:

Monday, October 15
11:30-Ci K.
11:45-Ashley S.

Week 6 update

Next week we continue work on your observation projects. Remember to bring notes from your second observation to class with you on Monday. We'll talk some about the structure of your final project that day. On Wednesday, we'll talk about another piece that's a model for your essay--"Fulton St. Fish Market." Both it and "A Time to Gather" provide two different approaches to structuring and developing your piece. On both Monday and Wednesday you'll have 20-25 minutes to write in class, so come prepared to use that time.

On Friday, the first (and only) draft of your paper is due. We'll go over a draft as a whole class and begin talking about formal writing style.

Have a good weekend...

October 11, 2007

Grades posted on WebVista

I've now posted grades on WebVista for the first part of the course--including all assignments to this point, except for the one extra credit assignment, which I'll add soon. Let me know if you see any errors, especially attendance, since that's tricky to fix as time goes on. Just click on the "My Grades" button on the left hand tool-bar--it has an "A" on it.

Conferences for Friday, Oct. 12

By way of a reminder, I'll be posting upcoming conference times on the course blog. Remember to come prepared to talk about the current assignment--what you've seen or plan to look for in your observations. Let me know ASAP if you need to reschedule--a missed conference counts as a late assignment:

Friday, October 12
9:10-Shaniseia D.
9:25-Rachel F.
9:35-Allison K.
9:50-Sarah G.
10:00-Kelli L.
10:15-Alyssa L.
10:25-Jeff B.
10:40-Melanie V.
10:50-Jane E.

October 10, 2007

Questions for class discussion-Oct. 10

Questions for "Something Very Special" and "A Time to Gather"

  • Who is this writer studying?
  • Why do they want to study this group?
  • How are they an insider/outsider in their research
  • Do they make their own positionality clear in this piece? If so, how?
  • What methods do they use to get their information?
  • What physical details do they focus on here? What larger theme do those details illustrate?
  • How would you describe this writers' voice? What attitude or personality do you perceive here? What gives that sense of voice?
  • How would you describe the structure of this piece? How is it organized? Does that seem clear and the best choice?

October 5, 2007

Week 5 update

Next week we'll be digging into this observation project. On Monday, you should come to class with notes from your first observation. They should be in the double-entry format, as we talked about in class last week. If that format doesn't work for you, know that I won't be requiring it for the 2nd observation. You have a piece to read, "Polaroids," and we'll be talking about how to reflect on that observation.

On Wednesday, we'll begin talking about what this paper will look like. You'll have two pieces to read, "Something Very Special" and "A Time to Gather." I also anticipate having your projects graded and ready to pass back by this point.

Let me know if you have any more questions on what's coming up...

October 4, 2007

Conferences for Friday, October 5th

By way of a reminder, I'll be posting upcoming conference times on the course blog. Remember to come prepared to talk about the current assignment--what you've seen or plan to look for in your observations. Let me know ASAP if you need to reschedule--a missed conference counts as a late assignment:

Friday, October 5
9:10-Emily T.
9:25-Molly L.
9:35-Theresa A.
9:50-Collin J.
10:00-Dan M.
10:15-Dan J.
10:25-Jessica D.
10:40-Kyle M.
10:50-Dehang Z.

1:00-Margaret H.
1:25-Tyler K.