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English 270, Winter 2019

Final: Write your essay in any word processing program you'd like, and then Block, Copy and Paste your essay into a standard email, and send it to me AT or BEFORE 5:00 pm. Late papers will be penalized at the rate of 1 point per minute! (I repeat: DO NOT SEND YOUR PAPER AS AN ATTACHMENT! BLOCK, COPY, AND PASTE it into a standard email addressed to!)

Below are three passages from different sources. Choose ONE for your analysis, and then go to work.

In your answer I will be looking for pretty much exactly what we have been doing in class for the past few weeks and on the mock midterm:

  • Appropriate adjectives that characterize the speaking voice of the passage--e.g., is it formal, informal, chatty, serious, high, low, wise or is it any other set of adjectives?
  • a careful and full description of the specific stylistic features of the text that you see as having led to your conclusions about the style and purpose you are claiming the passage enacts. What stylistic language choices doyou see the author to have made? how do those choices work to create the tone of voice you have identified and enable her or him to pull off the effects you have described?
  • An explanation developed as best you can from your understanding of the passage of why you think the author makes the choices s/he does in the passage you analyze. Put a little differently, what is the intention, as you see it, of this speaking voice? Why is s/he taking the tone s/he takes? What is s/he trying to accomplish in this section of the text?

Word limit: 800 words.

Passage 1: "Learning about Learning" Jay Mark

As human beings, learning is one of our primary activities—up there with foraging, mating, playing, and working.  We start learning at birth (some suggest we’re doing it even before we leave the womb), we learn at fantastic rates through our early years, and we keep on doing it as adults pretty much up until the end.  Which makes a second point about learning:  we tend to think of it primarily in educational settings, but in fact we are learning like crazy all over the place. 

Of course, educational learning is not the same as much of the other learning we do in a day.  For one thing, while we want educational learning to last as long as possible, we learn many other things for relatively short—sometimes very short—periods. My mind, for example, tracks how much coffee is left in my cup over the course of an hour or more, but by late afternoon, well after the coffee is gone, I will not remember how full my cup was at any given point. We experience a similarly short retention time while driving, when we pay attention to where other cars on the road are, “learning” (which really only means “storing in memory”) for a short time their positions relative to our own, a learning that is continually being updated as our car’s position changes. Indeed, one mark of a good driver is (among other things) an ability to keep relearning his or her position relative to other cars on the road nearby. 

So while a lot of our real life learning is indeed long term (think about song lyrics from groups 10 or more years back), much of the learning we do in a day is very short term, a kind of “temporary learning,” every trace of which is gone by the time we put the car in the garage—something we would not like to say about what we learn in school. 

Passage 2:

William Faulkner, from Light in August

     Memory believes before knowing remembers.  Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders.  Knows remembers believes a corridor in a big long garbled cold echoing building of dark red brick sootbleakened by more chimneys than its own, set in a grassless cinderstrewnpacked compound surrounded by smoking factory purlieus and enclosed by a ten foot steel-and-wire fence like a penitentiary or a zoo, where in random erratic surges, with sparrowlike, childtrebling orphans in identical and uniform blue denim in and out of remembering but in knowing constant as the bleak walls, the bleak windows where in rain soot from the yearly adjacenting chimneys streaked like black tears.

Passage 3:

Barack Obama, 2009, Presidential Address

I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning, and for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt's advancement. Together, you represent the harmony between tradition and progress. I am grateful for your hospitality, and the hospitality of the people of Egypt. I am also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: assalaamu alaykum.

We meet at a time of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world - tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.