December 13, 2008

Last Discussion--Week 15

Here is your last blog opportunity. Since I was remiss in posting it last week (I thought I had, but apparently I didn't), you have until Tuesday (I have to have grades in Wednesday, so I can't give you any more time than that).

So here's the question:

Are you planning on doing any reading over the break? If so, what?

I have a long list of things my thesis adviser wants me to read, so I'll be busy reading Virginia Woolf, Colette, W. S. Merwin, and Elizabeth Bishop.

Thanks for a great semester! Enjoy the break.

December 4, 2008

What to consider when writing your revision narrative

Here are a few questions if you need some guidance on your one-page revision narratives:

1. Why did you choose this essay to revise?

2. What did you learn in workshopping this piece that you have been able to apply in your revision process?

3. What particular problems or issues did you try to address, and how did you go about it?

4. Were there any surprises? That is, was revising this piece harder, or easier, than you'd expected?

You don't have to use these questions, but they should give you an idea of the kind of thing I'm looking for. Basically, I would like to see a personal reflection on your process.

Discussion--Week 14

What is your favorite book and why?

November 25, 2008

Discussion--Week 13

Happy Thanksgiving!

For this week, something a little different that I stole from Facebook:

Grab the nearest book. Turn to page 56. What is the fifth sentence?

Post it here, with the title and author.

I'll start:

"Great indeed is Fear; but it is not, as our military enthusiasts believe and try to make us believe, the only stimulus known for awakening the higher ranges of men's spiritual energy." William James, "The Moral Equivalent of War" (in The Best American Essays of the Century, Joyce Carol Oates, ed.)

November 20, 2008

Critical paper guidelines

Download file

Reminder: You may use internet sources if you cite them, but you may not use Wikipedia as your main source.

This paper is due in class on Monday, Dec. 8.
Length: 3-5 typed, double-spaced pages with 1? margins, using 12 pt. Times New Roman.
Use MLA format . (Please consult the MLA Handbook. If you don’t already have one, the guidelines are probably available online.) Cite all your sources.
This is a more traditional college research/critical analysis paper. For this paper, please select an author and essay from one of our texts (Lopate or Cohen; if you want to use an author from our Moodle readings or a handout, please clear it with me first).
You may choose an author that we covered this semester, or one that we didn’t; however, the essay you select for the analysis must be one that we did not discuss. Again, if you want to write on an essay that does not appear in our texts, you must clear it with me first.
Here is what I’m looking for:
• Biographical information on the essayist. I am especially interested in any information you can find about the author’s writing process. This should comprise no more than half of the total paper length.

• A brief summary of the essay you are going to explore. Do not “pad? your paper with an extensive book report. This summary should take up no more than half a page, and is intended to show me how you have interpreted what you read.

• An analysis of the essay using the terms and concepts we’ve used in our class discussions (structure, language, symbolism and metaphor, insight, image, etc.). You may also talk about the historical context in which the essay was written, if applicable.

• Full MLA citations of any sources consulted.

Please come to your conference prepared to tell me which author and essay you are planning to write about.

Discussion--Week 12

Free choice discussion this week. Whatever is on your mind, related to the course.

This is due by class time on Monday the 24th (even though we are not meeting).

November 13, 2008

Discussion--Week 11

Please reflect on your creative nonfiction writing experience this fall. Was this your first experience with creative writing? Do you think you'll continue? What was the most difficult part for you?

November 6, 2008

Discussion--Week 10

For this week's entry, please take a moment to talk about our upcoming workshops. What can we all do to make it a productive experience?

November 2, 2008

"The Undertaking" on Frontline

I just found out that Thomas Lynch was the subject of a PBS documentary. You can watch the program in its entirety here:

If you have any interest in learning more about the undertaker's trade, here's your chance.

October 31, 2008

Discussion--Week 9

Your blog assignment will be free-choice this week; you can post thoughts
about your readings, questions or comments about your writing, or anything
else related to the class.

October 26, 2008

Discussion--Week 8

Because I posted this late, I will give you until class time on Wednesday, 10/29, to get credit.

What have you learned, if anything, from our readings thus far that you plan or hope to apply in your own writing? Which of the essays we've read did you find particularly effective or enjoyable?

October 20, 2008

Upcoming readings for extra credit

Tuesday October 21
Native American Oral Tradition: The Stories and Storytellers with N. Scott Momaday
12:15 pm, Ted Mann Concert Hall
Referred to as "the dean of American Indian writers" by The New York Times, Scott Momaday holds an important place in the American literary arts. Momaday was the first Native American to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his novel, /House Made of Dawn./ His has won the 2004 UNESCO Artist for Peace, in recognition of his outstanding achievements as a writer and painter and his efforts to safeguard Native American heritage, and in 2007, the National Medal of Arts, presented at the White House. He is also the poet laureate of the state of Oklahoma. But it is through the spoken word that his dedication to his people's heritage is most profoundly felt. Born a Kiowa in the Oklahoma Dustbowl, Momaday was raised on reservations in the Southwest, steeped in the oral tradition.

Tuesday October 28
Andrea Elliott in Conversation
7:30 pm, Coffman Theater
Elliott writes for the New York Times, where beginning in March, 2006, she published a Pulitzer Prize-winning three part series "An Imam in America," on the inner life of a mosque in Brooklyn, and the "dynamic, creative, conflicted and fearful imam at its center": Sheik Reda Shata. This exploration of the lives of immigrant Muslims after 9/11 is part of a wider body of work which includes a series on Muslims in the U.S. military. The Edelstein-Keller Endowment co-presents with Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs: a "Good Societies" Dialogue with Lawrence R. Jacobs, Walter F. and Joan Mondale Chair in Political Studies.

Wednesday October 29
Junot Diaz: "We Are the New America: A Reading"
7:30 pm, Coffman Theater
Diaz published his debut novel /The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao/ eleven years after his acclaimed short story collection /Drown/--and ended up winning the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Best Novel of 2007. New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani characterized Diaz's writing in the novel as: "a sort of streetwise brand of Spanglish that even the most monolingual reader can easily inhale." Professor Evelyn Ch'ien will interview Diaz as part of the program. Reception and book-signing to follow. Esther Freier Endowed Lecture Series in Literature.

Thursday October 30
Andrei Codrescu
7 pm, Minneapolis Central Library
Romanian-born poet, novelist, screenwriter, and commentator on National Public Radio. His newest collection of poetry, JEALOUS WITNESS, is published by Coffee House Press. Pohlad Hall, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis. Free. 612-630-6174

Monday November 3
Thomas Lynch Reading
7:30 pm, Cowles Auditorium
Thomas Lynch is an essayist, poet, and funeral director of Lynch & Sons funeral home in Milford, Michigan. His most recent book is /Booking Passage: We Irish and Americans/. He is most well-known for essay collections about his funeral home experiences: /The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade/ and /Bodies in Motion and at Rest: On Metaphor and Mortality/—both of which Alan Ball has cited as inspiration for the TV series /Six Feet Under/. An Edelstein-Keller Visiting Writer.

October 16, 2008

Discussion--Week 7

For this week's blog post, please contribute one discussion question from each essay ("The Crack-Up" and the two Orwell essays we're reading for Monday).

I would also like you to come to class prepared with these questions.

This post is due by class time on Monday, 10/20.

October 9, 2008

Revised Schedule for Week 7

Due to the cancellation of our class yesterday, I've had to tweak our schedule slightly.

As a result, here is what we'll be doing for next week.

1) FOR MONDAY: Over the weekend, please read Zora Neale Hurston's "How It Feels to Be Colored Me" (Cohen) and Alice Walker's "Looking for Zora" (class handout). In lieu of an in-class writing assignment on Monday, you will be writing a 1-2 page typed double-spaced paper focusing on the relationship of Walker's essay to Hurston's. (Think about the question of identity, since we'll be talking about that on Wednesday.) You will turn this paper in on Monday.

2) BLOG QUESTION: Due by class time on Monday. Did what you learned about the real Zora Neale Hurston and the town of Eatonville in Walker's piece change the way you looked at Hurston's essay? How do you think growing up in an insular Black community shaped Hurston's sense of identity? The question is posted in the next blog entry, below; please reply to that thread.)

3) FOR WEDNESDAY: Read the Toure (Moodle), Staples (Cohen), Fitzgerald (Lopate), and Benchley (Lopate) essays. On Wednesday we will discuss these as well as the Walker and Hurston essays. If we have time, we'll do a short in-class writing on identity; if we don't have time, you will do it as homework.

We will *not* be reading MLK's "Letter from Birmingham Jail"; we will also be pushing back the E.B. White essay "Once More to the Lake" until 10/27.

This should put us back on schedule by the following Monday, when we'll look at Orwell.

Please email me if you have any questions at all.


Discussion--Week 6

Due by class time on Monday, 10/13. Did what you learned about the real Zora Neale Hurston and the town of Eatonville in Walker's piece change the way you looked at Hurston's essay? How do you think growing up in an insular Black community shaped Hurston's sense of identity?