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Winter Quarter ’06– <<>>
Assignments and Updates

(Read Carefully-Assignments are posted beginning with the most current)

For January 30:

Reading: None!

Writing: The Looking Backwards Project.

What have you done as you’ve done English/Humanities?

This is a kind of literacy autobiography, focused on what you have done in your English/Humanities classes—an graduating major’s version of David Copperfield. It is also the investigatory phase for the e-Portfolio due in Week 9. Your audience for these essays is this class; we’ll be publishing these for you all to read and respond to.

You can write this as a narrative, or focus it thematically, or use any other structure that works for you. However you set it up, make sure you identify at least 3-4 key texts and/or moments and describe why they have been important to you and how. What was the context of those key readings? What did you learn in doing that reading that now seems of special value? Correlatively, what did you NOT learn? Where did you find yourself not growing as you would have liked? Why not? Be as specific as you can. (5-8pp).

For January 25:

Reading: Paulo Friere, bell hooks, Gertrude Himmelfarb.

Writing: Key Words. For each of the three readings, pick three words that seem to capture something particularly significant in each of these writers' arguments. Then for one word for each author, write a paragraph explaining as fully as you can why that word is worth special attention.

For January 23:

Reading: More, Utopia.

Writing: You are a minister in Henry VIII’s court. You know More has been theorizing about reforming the state for years—he’s bent your ear about it many a time over a good flagon of ale. But now he has produced this text, and though he has declared it just a little thing he whipped up one night, he keeps winking whenever he says it. You read More’s book, recognize that whatever More says he was doing, in fact Utopia is an argument for major social and educational change, and you report back to the King. You pick three (implicit) reforms you would recommend, and three you would oppose. List those changes, and then for one of each, explain what More is proposing, and then explain exactly how you think the kingdom will be better off for following YOUR advice instead of More’s.

For January 18:

Reading: In Richter, "Why We Read," pp. 15-30; Vendler, "What We Have Loved, Others Will Love"; and Richard Ohmann, "The Function of English at the Present Time."

Writing: For both Vendler and Ohmann, write a one page "What-Why-So What" summary.

For January 16:

HOLIDAY—no class.

For January 11:

Reading: A River Runs Through It.

Writing: Three Paragraphs. For Paragraph 1, Pick a paragraph in this novella you find interesting for one reason or another. Explain as fully as you can in one full paragraph why you chose this paragraph. For Paragraph 2, Pick some work you’ve read in a college literature class that seems to you to be parallel to or to contrast with RRTI, and explain that parallel or contrast. And for Paragraph 3, describe one way your experience as an English/Literature major has made you a better reader of this book than you would have been had you taken your friend’s advice and gone into plastics, instead.

For January 9:

Reading (or re-read, if you have read it before): Barthes essay, “The Death of the Author.”

Writing: This is a difficult essay, but one that has been immensely influential. One of its charms is that it argues by aphorism—though that’s also part of why it is hard to make sense of. On p. 256 Barthes writes: “Once the Author is removed, the claim to decipher a text becomes quite futile. … Hence there is no surprise in the fat that, historically, the reign of the Author has also been that of the Critic….” Write a response paper in which you do your best to explain how that summarizes Barthes’ claim. What is he saying? And why (extra credit) do you think he says it?






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