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English 270 A, Fall, 2019

Assignments and Updates

See also: Blackboard

(Back to Main 270 page)

This page has the most up-to-date information available on this website. Please check this page frequently throughout the quarter!!

(Information on this page will be listed in reverse chronological order--beware!)

For help with grammar and mechanics for ELL/ESL students, first, read my short essay on the challenges of learning English at:

then try:



As I have already explained, this will be an electronic final. At the beginning of the scheduled exam time, 8:30am-10:20 am PST, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, I will post a link to the final from this webpage. I will also send you an email with the link, but that may be delayed (depending upon where you are on this earth), though probably not for long. You will then write an essay of up to 500 words on ONE of the passages. Obviously this means that you can write the exam at home or anywhere else. You will be given at least two different prose passages to choose from, but you will write on just one. You will have until 10:20am PDT to complete your essay.

After you have finished your answer, please copy and paste your essay into an email addressed to me: DO NOT SEND THE EXAM AS AN ATTACHMENT!! Your answer must arrive NO LATER THAN 10:30 am.

The Link to the Exam will be HERE.

Wednesday, December 4

Paragraph Presentation day

Each group will have 8 minutes to present; that means 2 minutes for each of you. One of you will introduce the paragraph and give a general account of its style, and lead the class in reading it aloud. Then each of the other three will take a single sentence from the paragraph, read it aloud (better yet, recite it!) and give an account of how it contributes to the overall stylistic effect of the paragraph.

Remember that you will have 2 minutes apiece; that is not a long time. I will be the time keeper and will make sure your group doesn’t go over. This means you will have to practice as a group ahead of time!!

We will present in seminar mode. Groups 1-5 will come to class for the first hour, and groups 6-10 will come for the second hour. (You can come for both hours if you want, but you only need to be there for your group’s hour)

Monday, December 2

Reading: Today is the day we meet to enable you and your group to finalize your choice of passage and the ensure you have your roles sorted out.


You have a group of 4 people (and 2 with 5). What you need to do before December 2 is:

1. Each of you will find a stylistic passage you think is of interest (first paragraphs of things often work the best). You will be writing a short paper (no more than 2 pp) describing your passage’s style and how/why you find it interesting. (Refer to the The Speaker in the Text if you have questions about how to proceed. The final section of that essay deals with writing about style.) You will be handing in your passage and your stylistic description of that passage on December 2.

2. Meet as a group (not online!) before we meet as a class on December 2, and share your paragraphs. Talk about what you see in your paragraphs, and then choose one of your four/five as the one you feel has the most interesting style. This will be your group’s presentation piece on December 4.

3. For Presentation Day you will each take a role. You will have 8 minutes to present; that means 2 minutes for each of you. One of you will introduce the paragraph and give a general account of its style, and lead the class in reading it aloud. Then each of the other three will take a single sentence from the paragraph, read it aloud (better yet, recite it!) and give an account of how it contributes to the overall stylistic effect of the paragraph.

4. Remember that you will have 2 minutes apiece; that is not a long time. I will be the time keeper and will make sure your group doesn’t go over. This means you will have to practice as a group ahead of time!!

5. We will present in seminar mode. Groups 1-5 will come to class for the first hour, and groups 6-10 will come for the second hour. (You can come for both hours if you want, but you only need to be there for your group’s hour)

6. Bring copies of your materials with you to class on Monday, December 2. We will review the assignment, give you time to work together and go over again what will be due on Wednesday, December 4. We’ll also stage a mock final.

Your Portfolio along with your final paper will be due on the December 4, but you can hand it in on the 2nd if that is better for your schedule. The Portfolio assignment is described on the 270 Blackboard page.


Wednesday, November 20

Second Midterm. I've explained this in class; it will be in effect a (credit-bearing) mock final, and thus a chance for you to build your analytic skills for the final. Many of you are already doing well with this; some of you have planned to attend my office hour today, Tuesday (from 2:30-4). That's fine--all are welcome, and it works especially well when we work as a group. We'll look together at a couple of different samples, and troubleshoot for any of you still figuring out how best to succeed here.

Monday, November 18

Reading: The final will include two passages and ask you to give your best stylistic reading of one of them. That will involve doing what we've done for the past weeks: extend and apply to specific written texts some of the stylistic knowledge you've been developing over the course of the quarter.

To help you prepare for this, you have several resources, beginning with your own notes from class. You also have the fairly full explanation given in The Speaker in the Text on the Blackboard. It may help most to reread the section entitled: SPEAKER ANALYSIS--Step 1: Intuitive Responses, or, Where to begin--giving special attention to the Style Checklist.

Moreover, here I have supplemented those resources by giving you my own Review Notes on four of the passages we looked at over the past few weeks. These notes don't cover everything we talked about in class, but they make a start—and I think of each as a full credit answer. I first post a passage, then follow that passage with my paragraphs summarizing my own view of these particular speakers.

Your final exam answer will probably not be as full as the examples I give you here—don't worry about that. Instead focus on what details are noted and especially how they address voice (sometimes referred to as "tone"), syntax, diction, register. They may also describe rhythm or sound effects.

For these passages go to: Passages.

Writing: You will need to reread these passages, and as you do so think about what you can see as you read. THEN read the accompanying analysis.

AFTER you have reviewed these analyses, then go back through what you have written for this course. Find what you think is your strongest paper. Then reread it and analyze it for your OWN style. (Yes, you have one!) Analyze the writing you have done as fully as you can, modeling your description and analysis on what you see in the descriptions of the professional writing I've written about on the Passages page.

Don't worry about whether you are a good writer or a bad writer or anything like that. Just focus on what you see and how you can best describe it. I know you are not Hemingway or Ecclessiastes (!). This is about thinking about your own writing through the lens we have been creating in this course. Don't apologize for anything--Just describe as best you can what you see.

Wednesday, November 13

Reading: Two passages: the first from Margaret Atwood's "Surfacing", and the second one is from Ralph Ellison's "Living with Music." For the Atwood, just do what we've been doing--try to think of the passage's voice, its tone, by finding 4-6 adjectives that characterize it. Then note specific phrases or sentences or words that lead you to choose those adjectives.

For Ellison I want you to think a little more deeply, so I give you an early page from Ellison's essay "Living with Music." It comes from a book about Jazz in New York City, and these paragraphs show him create special sound effects throughout the piece. (The process for working with Ellison's piece is set out below.)


1. Margaret Atwood, from Surfacing

I can’t believe I’m on this road again, twisting along past the lake where the white birches are dying, the disease is spreading up from the south, and I notice they now have seaplanes for hire. But this is still near the city limits; we didn’t go through, it’s swelled enough to have a bypass, that’s success.

I never thought of it as a city but as the last or first outpost depending on which way we were going, an accumulation of sheds and boxes and one main street with a movie theater, the itz, the oyal, red R burned out, and two restaurants which served identical gray hamburger steaks plastered with mud gravy and canned peas, watery and pallid as fisheyes, and French fries bleary with lard. Order a poached egg, my mother said, you can tell if it’s fresh by the edges.

Writing: These passages are obviously contrastive. Read through them and then list 3-4 adjectives for each that you think could be used to describe the speaking voice. Then go on to note 5 or more characteristics of the language in first one passage and then in the other that you think help to create the effects you have described with your adjectives. They two passages are very different, but your task is to use your growing knowledge of syntax, diction, and any other language choices the author has made that creates each passage's voice.

2. This passage is from an essay by National Book Award winner Ralph Ellison entitled "Living with Music." It is the title essay in a collection of essays written about jazz. I've numbered the sentences (the numbers are in parentheses at beginning of each sentence).

We have talked some about rhythm and sound in sentences (as with both Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and Ecclesiastes). For Monday I want to work more on this, and this paragraph offers a good chance to do so. "Living with Music" is its title, and Ellison's prose is designed to provide a musical complement to his descriptions. Read the paragraph through, aloud as well as silently, and listen to the rhythms and sound effects. Look for the ways "music" itself becomes a theme in the paragraph, and listen for the ways in which this is reinforced by stylistic choices. Then, having located a sentence in which you can see a kind of verbal "music" being made, explain how Ellison uses language to create that effect.

Finally, pick one from the sentences numbered 1,2,4,6,7,8,9 and write your own sentence, but with a different topic, following as closely as you can the syntactic and rhythmic structure of your model. You don't need to be exact; the point here is mainly to help yourself see and hear more clearly what Ellison manages to do.

For Example: If I were imitating sentence 3, I might describe a visit to a disappointing natural history museum by writing:

"Happily there was the tyrannosaurus, various castings, and a tea room."

Finally, for the sentence you compose, include a brief description of what in your new sentences is the same and what differs from Ellison's sentences. In my example I have closely imitated the syntax—substituting a different adverb to begin the sentence but maintaining the underlying syntax and its short list of illustrative items—which are, like the original, written as a three-unit parallel structure of NPs.

Ralph Ellison, from “Living with Music”

(1)In those days it was either live with music or die with noise, and we chose rather desperately to live. (2)In the process our apartment—what with its booby-trappings of audio equipment, wires, discs and tapes—came to resemble the Collier mansion*, but that was later. (3)First there was the neighborhood, assorted drunks and a singer.

(4)We were living at the time in a tiny ground-floor-rear apartment in which I was also trying to write. (5)I say “trying” advisedly. (6)To our right, separated by a thin wall, was a small restaurant with a juke box the size of the Roxy. (7)To our left, a night-employed swing enthusiast who took his lullaby music so loud that every morning promptly at nine Basie’s brasses started blasting my typewriter off its stand. (8)Our living room looked out across a small backyard to a rough stone wall to an apartment building which, towering above, caught every passing thoroughfare sound and rifled it straight down to me. (9)There were also howling cats and barking dogs, none capable of music worth living with, so we’ll pass them by.

*The Collyer Mansion was famous for a while as a place left crammed full of papers, magazines, and other collections of all kinds at the death of its wealthy, but very disturbed owners (brothers, both of whose corpses (one of which had mummified) were actually found in the building when it was finally forcibly entered after no one had heard or seen either of the two brothers in some very long time). (You can find pictures of the by clicking here: Collyer Mansion)

Wednesday, November 6

Reading: The passage below.

Writing: Here I would like you to do two exercises.

First, read this through and again look for 3-5 adjectives to describe the voice. Then, second, I want you to work on its diction. First do this simply by replacing as many of its Latinate (or Greek) words as you can with words from the English language's Anglo-Saxon/Germanic lexicon. (Look up etymologies in your dictionary if you don't know where a given word has been borrowed.) What effect does this have, do you think? Where is it clearest? Would you change any of the 3-5 adjectives you used to describe the voice?

And second, now, just with the first paragraph below, replace as many of the Anglo-Saxon words as you can with Latinate/Greek derived words. Again, what if any effect does this have?

Anonymous, from Faculty Career Planning

The change from a period of rapid growth to a period of stability may create serious problems in faculty career planning both for the individual faculty member and for colleges and universities. Administrators must be aware of the implications for faculty and for the institutional units for which they hold responsibility. Every effort should be exerted to develop guidelines for faculty career planning which will optimize the well-being of individual faculty members in a manner consistent with the institutional well-being of the university and its several sub-units.

From the institutional point of view, the planning objective should be to maintain maximum structural flexibility to accommodate shifts of enrollments among disciplines. Although it is by no means possible to predict specific shifts with a high degree of precision, a review of past enrollment patterns suggests that shifts do occur on a more of less continuing basis.

Monday, November 4

Reading: On the Blackboard there are a pair of essays on Metaphor. Read the first of these two, on literary metaphor (the second is on conceptual metaphor—we won't be dealing with that yet). Then go on to the Writing Assignment below.

Writing: We talked about metaphor last week; the reading here on metaphor repeats a lot of what we said. After reading this account of how metaphors work, then read "Cat in the Rain"(click on link) —a two-page short, short story by Ernest Hemingway. As you read, look for any word that is connected with "cat." Once you have finished reading the story, then go back and first underline each and every reference to any sort of cat (not just the cat that is out in the rain), and second, write about how you think "cat" functions as a metaphor in the story. What features of cats does Hemingway invite you to transfer, and what features does he NOT invite you to transfer? (Hint: what is relevant early in the story may not be the same as what is relevant later on.)

Don't worry if you feel you are not very good at this. The point is not to be a great literary critic (you can become that NEXT week!), but only to approach the story from the perspective of one who has begun to think about metaphor in a more conscious and analytic way.

Wednesday, October 30

Reading: The two passages below.

Writing: Using the Speaker in the Text to guide your work, write out a description of each of these speakers as you "hear" them, and then note as many characteristics of the language in first one passage and then the other as you can. Start with adjectives describing voice—then explain as best you can how the effects you have noticed are created by the author's language choices.

1. Ecclesiastes, from the Bible, King James Version

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth forever. The sun also riseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. All things are full of labor; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. The thing which hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

2. Ernest Hemingway, from “Big Two-Hearted River”

Nick looked at the burned-over stretch of hillside, where he had expected to find the scattered houses of the town and then walked down the railroad track to the bridge over the river. The river was there. It swirled against the log piles of the bridge. Nick looked down into the clear, brown water, colored from the pebbly bottom, and watched the trout keeping themselves steady in the current with wavering fins. As he watched them they changed their positions by quick angles, only to hold steady in the fast water again. Nick watched them a long time.

He watched them holding themselves with their noses into the current, many trout in deep, fast moving water, slightly distorted as he watched far down through the glassy convex surface of the pool, its surface pushing and swelling smooth against the resistance of the log-driven piles of the bridge. At the bottom of the pool were the big trout. Nick did not see them at first. Then he saw them at the bottom of the pool, big trout looking to hold themselves on the gravel bottom in a varying mist of gravel and sand, raised in spurts by the current.

Monday, October 28

Reading: Finish The Speaker in the Text, including the sample paper on "The Gettysburg Address."

Writing: Your first memorization of sentences for this class, and an exercise with "The Gettysburg Address."

First look carefully at the structure of Lincoln's 10 sentences. This has been one of the most quoted, and best remembered of all the speeches ever given in this country. Every single sentence of this speech is carefully "built," but it works as a set of 5 smaller units, as well.

Those units are: sentence 1, sentences 2-5, sentences 6-7, sentences 8-9, and sentence 10.

Here is the address:

The Gettysburg Address

Unit 1:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Unit 2:

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

We are met on a great battle-field of that war.

We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.

It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

Unit 3:

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground.

The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far aboveour poor power to add or detract.

Unit 4:

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

Unit 5:

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.


Your Writing: Having read the address with care, then:

(step 1) Pick one unit that you think is particularly well made (a case can be made for ANY of the units here, so don't worry about making a bad choice!), and then

(step 2) Memorize that unit. Then, once you have done so, close your eyes and listen closely to your unit's sounds, its rhythm, and its syntax. Then:

(step 3) write about the sentence you've picked from Lincoln's address describing its syntax, diction and anything else you can notice. Explain as best you can why and how it is successful.

(step 4), Finally, now write your own version of this unit, not about Gettysburg or about history—just about whatever you want to describe from your ordinary life. Imitate your unit's structure and its rhythm as closely as you can, though you don't have to make it exact. An example:

A very long time ago my grandfather created in Reading, Pennsylvania a new business, planned as an optical company and organized expressly to provide lenses of value to every customer.

To get a more specific idea of how to do this kind of writing be sure you read/re-read the student essay included on The Blackboard at the end of The Speaker in the Text. The student who wrote that essay (a very strong essay and a good example of what I hope most of you will feel able to do by the time of our final) points to a number of things they have noticed ranging from rhythm to diction, to syntactic structure, to figurative/metaphorical language. We'll be dealing with all of those dimensions of style over the next three weeks, but as we begin I'd like you first to become more aware of how many effects of language writers can use.

As for the midterms, I'm working on those now. Most of you did just fine; a few are still finding what we have been doing a challenge. That is pretty normal in a class this big and this linguistically diverse. We will do a make-up/catch up exercise next week to support that few and anyone else who wants to take part.

See you Monday!

Wednesday, October 23

Midterm day. This will be an hour exam, but you will have the entire class period to work on it. Most of you will finish within an hour.

Monday, October 21

On Wednesday I gave you some sentences with a key to help prepare for Wednesday's Midterm. I said we would have a mini-midterm today, Monday, October 21 just to make sure you all know what you'll be asked to do.

We also chose two times to have a review session for anyone who would like more work thinking through and diagramming sentences successfully. The times were for this Monday--at 10:30am and then I think 3:00pm in the afternoon (if I misremember that we can sort that out in class today.

Below I give you materials to work on for class tomorrow. You may not have time to complete them since this has taken me more time to rework both here and on the Blackboard page than I had planned. So we'll do them tomorrow....

Reading: None. We'll work with a new style passage in class on Monday during the second hour.

Writing: Write out constituent structure diagrams ("trees") for the sentences below. Hint--4 of the 8 have passive constructions. Read the notes about #1, #3, and #7. We have talked about each of the things mentioned, but they need emphasis because they occur very frequently! We will get them clear tomorrow so you will be able to recognize them on Wednesday.

1. After she parked her car, Melissa forgot to lock the doors.

[Note: Remember that ALL uses of the infinitive (like "to lock") in English are formed by our using the (for-to) nominalizer--even if we often drop the "for + NP" when the subject of the embedded sentence has already been mentioned. The full logical form of sentence 1 is: "After she parked the car, Melissa forgot for Melissa to lock the door." Speakers of English just delete the repetition of "Melissa" along with the "for" because we can recognize the construction and fill in the right meaning without those two words being there. (Remember that we also often delete the "that" nominalizer when a sentence is the object of a verb: "I promise that I will go"—›"I promise I will go." Again, we can, and usually do, mentally fill in the missing nominalizer because we don't really need it to understand that a sentence has been embedded as the object of the verb "promise."]

[Here we do with syntax what we also very often do with pronunciation. Thus we quite normally say [I wanna go] instead of [I want to go], and in doing so we leave out the "t" of the word "to." It is a rule in most languages that if we can shorten things up without losing the meaning of a phrase or a sentence, we almost always will do so.]

2. The person who came to the man's rescue refused the reward that was offered.

3. Sally’s wanting to play golf daily caused trouble at home. [Note: What has been left out in the nominalized sentence?]

4. When the grass begins to grow again we know that spring has arrived.

5. The play that I saw yesterday was written by Shakespeare’s cousin.

6. For a person to survive nowadays requires that they earn a good salary.

7. My having received a bonus meant that the bills I had received could be paid. [Note: who is likely to be paying the bill?]

8. Russell Wilson’s being intercepted changed the game’s outcome.


Wednesday, October 16

Reading: Two things. First, we'll start on the next section of the course: the more formal study of stylistics. For this read the opening sections of The Speaker in the Text through to the end of the Speaker Checklist. (That's the first 19 paragraphs; you can stop when you get to "SPEAKER ANALYSIS--Step 2.")

Then go on to read the the style example below. Pay special attention to its syntax, its diction ("word choice"), and its register(s) (the range of things named and [for contrast] NOT named). It is the opening paragraph of Nobel prize-winning writer Alice Munro's short story "Boys and Girls."

You know the drill: analyze this paragraph for its voice and style. It is the voice not of Munro herself, but of the young woman who is telling a story of an important moment in her life. This paragraph is the opening paragraph of the story. Again, focus on adjectives first--and then go on to decide what it is stylistically in the passage that can explain your adjectives.

Alice Munro: Boys and Girls

My father was a fox farmer. That is, he raised silver foxes, in pens; and in the fall and early winter, when their fur was prime, he killed them and skinned them and sold their pelts to the Hudson's Bay Company or the Montreal Fur Traders. These companies supplied us with heroic calendars to hang, one on each side of the kitchen door. Against a background of cold blue sky and black pine forests and treacherous northern rivers, plumed adventurers planted the flags of England or of France; magnificent savages bent their backs to the portage.

The rest of the class will be a review day in preparation for the midterm on October 23.

Monday, October 14

Reading 1: How We Make Sentences: The Basics of Constituent Structure (Part V). This is on the passive voice, and it's the last major element of syntax we will deal with. We introduced this construction on Wednesday. With what you will have learned to this point about English sentences you will be well-equipped to move on to looking at a wider range of writing styles.

Writing 1: Write out constituent structure diagrams ("trees") for the sentences below. Hint--4 of the 7 have passive constructions.

1. The Sheriff's having left town meant that citizens would defend themselves.

2. I met you for the first time near the stream that runs down the hill.

3. The stolen car was driven by a tall blond car-thief.

4. The exam was completed by everyone before the bell rang.

5. The man whom you met believes that the moon was created by pixies.

6. Before the police arrived, the man who took the money ran from the scene.

7. You are fired!

Reading 2: Below are two passages. Read them both and then focus on what is the SAME about them and what is DIFFERENT. The speaker of one of them mocks the other speaker, as if to say he'd never do what the other writer does. Again, find 3 adjectives that describe first one and then the other of the two passages (you might also find that the two share things as well as being very different). And then go on to explain exactly what in each passage leads you to choose the adjectives you do.

1. Dickens, from David Copperfield

    Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.  To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o’clock at night.  It was remarked that the clock began to strike, and I began to cry, simultaneously. 

     In consideration of the day and hour of my birth, it was declared by the nurse, and by some sage women in the neighborhood, who had taken a lively interest in me several months before there was any possibility of our becoming personally acquainted, first, that I was destined to be unlucky in life; and secondly, that I was privileged to see ghosts and spirits—both these gifts inevitably attaching, as they believed, to all unlucky infants, of either gender, born towards the small hours on a Friday night.

2. Salinger, from The Catcher in the Rye

   If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.  In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them.  They’re quite touchy about anything like that, especially my father.  They’re nice and all—I’m not saying that—but they’re also touchy as hell.  Besides, I’m not going to tell you my whole goddam autobiography or anything.

Wednesday, October 9 (Final posting: 10/6/19 21:25)

Reading 1 : How We Make Sentences: The Basics of Constituent Structure (Part IV). This is on relative clauses, the final way we will talk about of embedding sentences inside of other sentences.

Writing 1: Write out constituent structure diagrams ("trees") for the sentences below:

1. The man who plays with fire will burn his fingers badly.

2. After he had recognized the robber, Alex ran down the street.

3. The phone that fell to the ground broke into many pieces.

4. Bill's having studied the material carefully earned a high grade for him as the quarter ended.

5. Because he took the light rail, the friend who knew Sally arrived early.

Writing 2: Read the style sample below, and do again for this what you did last week for "The Rage of 2016."

Give me three (or more!) adjectives that you think describes the "voice" of this passage, and then explain what it is about the language choices the writer has made in this paragraph that explain each of your adjectives.

“After analyzing the game, I thought special teams was basically a push. Not a whole lot happened in terms of that phase. I thought it was nice that Peyton got two field goals again. It’s a good and a bad thing. But they did beat us in the field position game, which was hard. Our best starting field position was the 25-yard line, and they had two 50-plus field possessions: when we had to punt out of our end zone and then we threw the pick. We all know what that looks like.

“On defense, they made some plays on us, but putting the tape on, our kids played hard. The goal-line stands were really, really good, and we probably should have had a third, we just fit a gap wrong. But, on the other side, we just had too many explosive plays for our liking and they ran the ball really effective. I thought (Cameron) Scarlett did a really good job. He’s a hard-nosed back, I think he’s underrated and falls forward and is patient and he did a good job."


Monday, October 7

Reading: How We Make Sentences: The Basics of Constituent Structure (Part III) This is on Adverbials--and includes Adverb Movement as well as a discussion of the three different kinds of adverbials.

Writing 1: Having read Part III, write out constituent structure diagrams ("trees") for the sentences below:

1. For children to eat well ensures our clinic's goal.

2. The thief ran because he saw that a police car was approaching rapidly.

3. My having lost my wallet complicated my life.

4. With tears in my eyes, I believed her sad story. (*Why might we prefer this form of this sentence to the form without ADV movement?)

5. In the morning I will take my car to the garage.

Bonus (hint: reread Part II of How We Make Sentences):

6. Let us go and let us make our visit.

Writing 2: Read the style sample below, and do again for this what you did last week for "The Rage of 2016":

Give me three (or more!) adjectives that you think describes the "voice" of this passage, and then explain what it is about the language choices made in this paragraph that explain each of your adjectives.

New Style Passage:

Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington Options, Inc. ("Kaiser Permanente") comply with applicable federal civil rights laws and do not disciminate, exclude people, or treat them differently on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other basis protected by applicable federal, state, or local law.


Wednesday, October 2

Reading: How We Make Sentences: The Basics of Constituent Structure (Part II)

Writing: Write out constituent structure diagrams ("trees") for the following sentences (and then notice how really hard it is to do this for a complex sentence!).

1. He complained about the food.

2. The little creatures landed on the beach.

3. His playing the trumpet irritated everyone.

4. That Fred had built a computer surprised us.

(Don't worry if this is confusing!--we'll straighten it out in class.)

We will also go back to the writing you did for Monday about The Rage of 2016.

Monday, September 30


1., Read the Syllabus Supplement at:

There will be an inclass quiz on the Syllabus and the Syllabus Supplement!

Second, read How We Make Sentences: The Basics of English Language Constituent Structure (Read just Part I)

Writing: Write out constituent structure descriptions of the following sentences:

1. Mary fixes cars.

2. The old building collapsed. 

3. The bricklayer knew his new neighbor. 

4. The very tall children played baseball.

Example: A healthy child needs calcium.

This is a simple sentence whose subject NP is "A healthy child" and whose predicate VP is "needs calcium."


NP1 = det adj N [a healthy child]

VP = V (NP2) [needs calcium]

(Remember that we are only just beginning this course, so I don’t expect you to be very good at answering these questions, but I would like to see how much sense they make to you now, as we begin.)


2. And finally, a little more reading: a beginning exercise in style-recognition. (Don't worry if you don't fully "get" it. Read it all through, do as much as you can, and we'll sort out what you come up with on Monday.)

Reading: Read the following paragraphs carefully, and think as best you can about their writer-speaker's style. 

Writing: Write up answers to the following questions. 2pp limit —typed and double-spaced. 

1. What sense do you have here of the speaking voice?  What adjectives would you use to describe that voice?  Find three or four or five. 

2. What do you make of his sentences?  Pick one that you think is an interesting sentence (or pick one at random if you feel that you don’t yet know how to recognize an “interesting” sentence).  Explain as best you can 1) the structure of the sentence, and 2) give an answer to the question:  Why does Cohen use that particular sentence structure in that particular place?

Roger Cohen, “The Rage of 2016”
December 5, 2016 New York Times

            The long wave unfurled at last. Perhaps it is no surprise that the two societies that felt its furious force — the United States and Britain — are also the open societies at the hub of globalized turbo-capitalism and finance. For at least a decade, accelerating since the crash of 2008, fears and resentments had been building over the impunity of elites, the dizzying disruption of technology, the influx of migrants and the precariousness of modern existence.

            In Western societies, for too long, there had been no victories, no glory and diminishing certainties. Wars were waged; nobody knew how they could be won. Their wounds festered. The distance between metropolis and periphery grew into a cultural chasm. Many things became unsayable; even gender became debatable. Truth blurred, then was sidelined, in an online tribal cacophony....