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September 28, 2014
ENGL: 651 Response 2
Despite always enjoying Bean, this week I got the most out of reading Re-Visions: Rethinking Nancy Sommers’s “Responding to Student Writing”. A quick side note: how incredibly inspiring is it, that here is a woman who has penned an award winning article and yet two decades later she revisits her work and reevaluates her previous viewpoint. If that alone isn’t a nod to the importance of drafting and revising, I’m not sure what is. However, it wasn’t just Sommers’s scholarly work ethic that caught my attention but rather her ideas; hierarchy, balance and partnership are the three key terms that stuck out to me.
Hierarchy had been on the brain thanks to Bean’s section, “General Strategy for Commenting on Drafts: A Hierarchy of Questions” which draws attention to the fact that establishing a priority list of sorts is necessary (Bean 322). While Bean uses the term hierarchy to develop differences between ideas and organization as opposed to grammar and spelling, suggesting the more trivial latters can occupy the back burners if indeed entire paragraphs need re-structuring; Sommers’s focuses less on student problems and more on effective teacher comments. Sommers’s jokes that experienced educators offer “prescriptions to new teachers that imply a hierarchy of comments: offering praise, for instance, is more constructive than criticism; posing questions is better than issuing commands” (Sommers 249) and ends with the infamous ‘avoid red ink’ suggestion, but isn’t there truth behind these strategies?
I’ve peer reviewed zillions of times; middle school maybe, high school definitely, and in my undergraduate years we brought multiple copies of our drafts to class and endlessly exchanged with one another. While I am no stranger to reading other’s work and giving feedback, I have never done so in an authority position. For the first time in my young life, I am the teacher, or to be politically correct, I am an assisting teacher, and will be commenting on students’ work as their superior.
Much like Bean insists on establishing hierarchy to avoid the overwhelming want to completely re-write a student’s entire work, Sommers is pushing hierarchy when it comes to commenting so that students do not get lost in translation. In her December of 2006 CCC article, Sommers writes, “the language of comments makes it difficult for a student to sort out and decide what is most important and what is least important” (247); as a new teacher is Sommers telling me to pick my battles? Not only should my comments be legible, perhaps in English instead of “squiggly or straight lines” (Sommers 249), but I do not need to address every single error. I do not need to confuse or inundate my students but rather find a balance.
Balance goes a long way in terms of prioritizing and finding the hierarchy of need for each student, but balance is necessary in relationships as well. Sommers speaks frequently about the partnership between student and teacher, claiming “as in any relationship, it develops its own language and meaning” (Sommers 255). Both Bean and Sommers touched on the epidemic of feedback plagued with fatigue, caffeine and frustration and how that combination, along with the comments it produces, isn’t beneficial for the student or teacher. I imagine it quite easy to grow tired and irate, but that is when it’s most important to remember your students and trust that they’ve made a good faith effort. This is where the idea of a “partnership” comes in heavily; not only is this relationship teacher versus student, but reader versus writer. Sommers suggests that the most useful feedback isn’t a matter or right or wrong but a discussion (yes back and forth between both parties) about ideas. Students are responsive to comments because they “imagine their instructors as readers waiting to learn from their contributions, not readers waiting to report what they’ve done wrong on a given paper” (Sommers 255).
I like to think that I have always had an understanding of, or rather an appreciation for, the relationship that flourishes as a result of taking a writing intensive course. Speaking from experience, it’s an incredibly nerve-racking endeavor to embark upon, entrusting your deepest thoughts and your ability to convey them through words, to a stranger who will be judging you.
According to Bean in chapter sixteen of Engaging Ideas, when writing comments on students’ papers the overall goal is to facilitate improvement (Bean 321). Bean states that during the drafting stages of writing it is our role, as teachers, to coach but then quickly makes the transition to the end of the writing process and claims, “when students submit final copy, our role is judge” (Bean 321). I have somewhat of an affliction to the word “judge”. The act of judging seems to come with a negative connotation, passing judgment is frowned upon, and I can still hear my mother’s voice telling me not to “be judgmental”; no matter what form of the word is used, to judge is harsh and it’s scary.
With that sense of the word in mind, I must disagree with Bean. I think when students submit their final copy, our role is to grade and if as teachers, we were successful in the coaching stages of commenting then grading can and should be pleasurable. It excited me to learn that Sommers focus and life devotion has been working with first year writers; as a Core 101 GTA, I too am working with first year writers. Despite my experience, I still find them to be slightly intimidating, possibly because they out number me, but also because I want them to take my advice seriously, I’m passionate about both writing and their success. It was a great comfort to learn about the “first-year student’s willingness to accept and benefit from feedback, to see it as instruction, not merely as judgment” (Sommers 253), to me that says these kids want to learn and are genuinely interested in what I have to say. It’s become a goal of mine never to pass judgment on a paper or its author, my student, but rather to coach them through the process. Attaching a grade to the end result is inevitable, but that’s simply holding up my side of the partnership.
Bean, John C. Engaging Ideas: The Professors Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active
Learning in the Classroom. 2nd ed. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, 2011.
Sommers, Nancy. “Re-Visions: Rethinking Nancy Sommers’s ‘Responding to Student Writing.’” College
Composition and Communication 58.2 (2006): 246-66.
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While it might seem like an accomplishment most strive towards, having the final word in the academic world is not viewed as a positive. University work especially that which centers around critical analysis of another scholars ideals, should focus intently on expansion. Much like Harris describes in chapter two of Rewriting, intellectual work favors that of a conversation (Harris 34). A conversation that happens to be give and take between those so inclined to dive deeply into a topic, which brings me back to my initial point: unlike parents who insist on having “the final word” when disciplining their children, there is no such thing in the literary world.
Think of writing as a vehicle, a mode of transportation from one destination, or in this case, one opinion to the next. Harris’s term “Forwarding” can instead be thought of as Drive. Driving a car is the act of operation towards a new place; however, Driving in this sense refers to the movement of your own ideas. In keeping with my clever vehicle analogy, Neutral might be the necessary time spent pondering, not moving in any set direction but idling at a standstill which provides the opportunity to think. Reverse could then be used in a context similar to “Countering”, if all of a sudden you as the operator of that vehicle (or as the scholar attempting to devise a meaningful response) do not like the direction being taken, reverse is used as a way to back track.
In the scenario above, the car is the tool necessary to get to the next place of interest but YOU are needed to drive. In our world, the scholarly article is the tool necessary to bridge the gap but once successfully put to use, YOU are in the driver’s seat, steering this academic ride any which way you see most fit.
Say you are planning a road trip and in an attempt to gain passengers, rarely will it matter what kind of vehicle you are traveling in, the appeal rests solely in the destination. Now, this road trip is not so far-fetched because it is actually the journey YOU, WE, as students partake in regularly; the outcome solely based on our ideas founded with help from another’s work.
Harris identifies four tactics as helpful ways to use another’s car and still reach your own destination:
Illustration, or in my own words, manipulation, is the art of re-presenting a text “in a way that shows how it illustrates the point you want to argue” (Harris 41). By all means, manipulate that text in a way that advocates for your own self!
Authorizing is more or less letting another, briefly make a point on your behalf. Perhaps a more established source, this speaker is simply reinforcing that perhaps you are not such a space cadet after all. P.S. this is Ethos at its finest.
Harris’s third suggestion, borrowing, helps to think through your own ideas. Reuse another’s material in order to re-shape those philosophies and advance them to become your own.
Extending, the fourth and final strategy Harris discusses, is quite self-explanatory. Establish a connection to the other’s text and then push beyond (Harris 47). The idea of shifting is common throughout this passage, “the punning echo or substituted term” (Harris 48), use the primary source but then offer a similar segue (synonyms) into an argument that is YOUR own.
Despite these suggestions being explained independently, as Harris distinguishes the four and outlines differences, they can be used together as well in hopes of successfully “Forwarding”. The objective of this chapter is to provide strategies (Harris 49) detailing how to utilize sources for your own scholarly benefit; with that being said, Harris most definitely achieves his goal. Manipulate other works, use those speakers as credible sources and goodness gracious, please develop YOUR own position. After all, having the final word is frowned upon, it’s much more fun to keep the conversation alive. Drive that car, anywhere YOU want to go.
Harris, Joseph. Rewriting: How to Do Things with Texts. Logan: Utah State University Press, 2006. Print.
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I noticed first in the mentioning of characters on page 687 that God is listed but also as Deus. Deus is simply the Latin word for God (footnote 689) but why use both? God speaks several times but as far as I can tell is only referred to Deus once, my question is why bother at all? Am I missing some hidden meaning? Also, it seems as though the animals that each person contributes to the ship are slightly grouped: the women mostly bring birds and smaller animals, while each son all bring important animals but do their status' correlate? I'm assuming Sem is the oldest, Cam the middle and Jafett the youngest, lions trumph camels as camels trumph dogs (lines 161-192).
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There seems to be a lot of, for lack of another term word, symmetry in Sir Gawin. Specifically in the description of the Green Knight there is so much balance; he is both green and gold, "shining spurs below of bright gold" (158) but "truly all his clothing was brilliant green" (161). Traditionally green represents the earth and gold symbolizes wealth, so it's this balance between what's natural and what is earned? The descriptions of what the Green Knight is carrying is also interesting; "in one hand he carried a holy-branch" (206) // "And an axe in the other" (208). There is a sense of symmetry and balance in his props too, the axe a symbol of war while the branch is peaceful.
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Again, I can’t help but notice the coincidences; Palamoun finally escaped after seven years of imprisonment and just so happens to stumble upon Arcite deep in the back woods? It’s puzzling how Palamoun condemns Arcite for not being a good brother, “and art my blood and to my couseil sworn” (725) but then immediately disregards their kinship as they prepare to duel. Palamoun is a hypocrite; preaching about what would have been right or wrong for Arcite to do, but then announces that one of them must die, “I wol be deed or ells thou shalt dye!” (729). Palamoun doesn’t care about how Arcite feels in the least bit, he is only interested in his own love for Emelye.
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I'm curious about the descriptions of these fellow travelers; it's as if each person in the group has a downfall, like every portrayal is immediately followed by a fault. The Squire is young and strong but lusty and too interested in love, the nun is as well, with "Amor vincit omnia" (162) in plain sight. The narrator continues on with the munk (165) and friar (208) but is pointing out the corruptions in their social roles. Now, it was revealed that the narrator is human too, using the first person pronoun "I", "In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay" (20) and he even inserts himself in the same group, using the pronoun "we" (29), as those flawed individuals he describes; what does this say? Why give each character a negative trait?
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Even though I missed the deadline for posting, I’ll still contribute to the classroom discussion for the day! I’m extremely curious about the way in which Holofernes first sword slash is described, “with a deadly wound/ though as yet unslain” (106-107). Assuming the first blow to his neck did actually kill him, judging from the “deadly wound” why and how did he appear not dead? The lines just before paint a bloody description, “with fateful blade, /carved halfway through/ his hateful neck” (104-105) and the speaker continues on about Holofernes lying motionless in his what was drunken, now dead state- I’m stuck on the word “unslain”. Was the job not fully done? Although Holofernes is actually dead after the first attempt, was he not spiritually dead until his head is completely detached? Was this clear separation between the head and body necessary? So “unslain” is simply referring to the lack thereof at that moment?
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I'm finding this piece a little contradictory. The speaker starts out discussing exile and his lonliness during his travels, "no sheltering family" to help his "desolate soul" (25) but then encourages exploration in order to find one's own self. Is the speaker implying that suffering is unavoidable but worth it? Likewise, death seems to be unavoidable as well but something that shouldn't be feared; if one lives a filfulled life on earth his name will live on after death. To act "bravely on earth against the enemies' maliace, do bold deeds to beat the devil" (75), to "steer a strong mind and keep it stable", stable? But how can a suffering mind possibly be stable? Earlier the speaker was promoting travel and curiousity but then ends by saying "the Maker mightier than any man's thoughts" (116) and that "fate is greater" (115). Back and forth, back and forth, and yet God is always the answer and fate is set? Then why explore at all?
What is the significance of the narrator's early morning conversation with his son Ben just before he takes a train to Boston? It seems unecessary but there must be more to it, something behind it! For a little boy, Ben has a good grasp on reality and what's actually in the realm of being possible, abilities his father clearly lacks. When his dad has doubts about being able to find the elephant, Ben reassures him that "an emperor can get anything he wants" (297). I know Ben is only five, maybe six but he is giving him father valuable advice; could this elephant really be a code word for Fanshawe? Obviously Ben doesn't know anything about the situation, but is Auster using him a tool to fuel his father's confidence?
After reading the first three chapters of The Locked Room I notice a pattern with Fanshawe and a direct correlation between his habits and the title of this book. As a child, Fanshawe developed his own secret world in a cardboard box from a new television set his parents purchased; "It was his secret place, he told me, and when he sat inside and closed it up around him, he could go wherever he wanted to go, could be wherever he wanted to be. But if another person ever entered his box, then its magic would be lost for good" (216). Ten years later, Fanshawe has a similar experience laying in a grave (or atleast the narrator relates the two) and now Fanshawe is missing.. which brings me back to the title, "the locked room" just like the grave and the cardboard box. Is Fanshawe held up in his own private, personal space? Afriad that if he is found, the magic will be lost?
At the end of the play Barbara's mind set has drastically changed, "There is no wicked side: life is all one."(83) And when Cusins agrees to inherit Undershaft's canon company, Barbara doesn't leave him; in fact she does the opposite and begins to think of what house they'll live in together. Has Undershaft won? Did he convert Barbara to his way of thinking? Has she given up on saving souls and searching for the greater good? I don't think anyone has necessarily "won", Barbara took a step back and realized that even though money doesn't buy everything, it does buy most things. With Cusins love and their strength as a couple, Barbara stops worrying about where the money is coming from, because regardless it's coming and it's helping.
I'm still piecing together what exactly Major Barbara's Salvation Army is all about. Definitely saving souls, I understand that much but the overall mind set doesn't seem quite right. Rummy almost immediately in Act II insinuates that although the Salvation Army is a wonderful aid to those in need, they do their fair share of passing judgements and lose their sense of "Christianity" at times too; "Them Salvation lasses is dear good girls; but the better you are, the worse they likes to think you were before they rescued you."(21) The first thing that comes to my mind is that saying that goes something like, 'if you go looking for trouble, you will find it'-- I think this Salvation Army goes looking for people to fix, and if you are constantly looking for the wrong/bad then eventually that's all you'll be capable of seeing.
When we are first introduced to Lady Britomart she comes off as a very strong, intelligent woman. Everything from her language to the manner in which she has raised her children seems put together and well thought out. But there is something about her personality that borders between firm and a bully, Lady Brit is manipulative and controlling but only towards those who allow such behavior (Stephen and in some instances Cholly too). When Andrew Uundershaft arrives, Lady Brit is overshadowed and for once is taking orders instead of giving them. I think we're going to see major changes in her character throughout the play. What about Undershaft shuts Lady Brit up? Does she still love him? Will they possibly rekindle their flame throughout the play?
I think it's really ironic how Quinn describes Stillman's disappearance, "The old man had become part of the city. He was a speck, a punctuation mark, a brick in an endless wall of bricks." (90) But isn't this exactly what became of Quinn as well? There's just no way Quinn can be a sane man, what kind of person allows themselves to become so consumed with something (case, person, anything really) that it destroys their life?
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With Virginia Stillman's approval, Quinn has decided to engage in conversation with Stillman. Their first meeting at the park in the afternoon seems normal except I noticed that Stillman never offered up his name to Quinn. I think it's strange that Stillman never introduces himself considering it bothers him so much not knowing others names; "It's just that I prefer not to speak to anyone who does not introduce himself. In order to begin, I must have a name." (73) I also found it strange that Quinn never asks Stillman what his name is, if someone made such a big deal about knowing my name, I would want to know theirs in return. The second meeting puzzled me as well, wouldn't Stillman recognize Quinn's face from the day before? I understand the reasoning behind claiming to be Henry Dark but it just seems highly unlikely that Stillman wouldn't remember Quinn from the park. Was that weird to anyone else?
I'm very curious about Quinn changing his name and in doing so, ultimately creating another identity. "Quinn was no longer that part of him that could write books, and although in many ways Quinn continued to exist, he no longer existed for anyone but himself" (4). Quinn no longer exists for anyone other than Quinn, why is that? Isn't William Wilson trying to escape from Quinn? Why would Quinn still need to exist at all?
The very first thing that comes to mind after reading "Sure Thing" is just a blank, what in the world just happened.. kind of feeling. I've concluded that the bell indicates a change of scene or at least a changing point in the conversation if nothing else. But what is this play about? What is the purpose of showing how many different ways one conversation could go? Or is the purpose just that? To show how one single conversation has so many different potential outcomes and that you never know if you don't try?
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Alice Walker's 'Everyday Use' made me seriously question Dee's identity. At first I admired Dee for making something of herself and escaping the only life she's ever known to find something more. But as the story continued on, my admiration turned to discomfort and then to disgust. Was Dee's (Wangero's) behavior when she visited home acceptable? Am I reading too much into her name change or is Dee actually a selfish individual? I don't think selfish is the correct wording, but I do believe that somewhere along the way Dee's passion and drive towards success got side tracked by forgetting where and who she came from. Her mother seems to feel the same way, at first wanting to be supportive of Dee's name change- "If that's what you want us to call you, we'll call you" (309) but as the evening goes on, whenever she refers to "Wangero" it is presented as "Dee (Wangero)" in the text. To me the parenthesis is being used to reject not only the name change, but Dee's new persona as a whole.
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Arnold Friend's automobile and it's description first caught my attention because of it's strange details. Arnold seems proud of his vehicle, "Don'tcha like my car? New paint job," (275) but as the text continues to describe the car, my curiosity rises. Arnold's first and last name is spralled across the side of the car, easy for anyone to read and definitely memorable. And the numbers, 33, 19, 17 which Arnold refers to with a chuckle as some sort of "secret code" (276). What do the numbers mean? And is it really that smart of a criminal to have his name so visable for everyone to see? Arnold is awefully confident courting Connie, he knew exactly what to say, how to get inside her head, it's like Arnold has done this before. Has Arnold done this before? And what exactly is it that he is doing? Kidnapping Connie? The numbers could be the ages of three different girls he has taken, and now Connie's age will be added to his car as his fourth victim?
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Throughout The Cask of Amontillado most make the assumption that Montresor is a man but what if this character is actually a woman? Why do readers usually think of Montresor as a male? Would it change your interpretation of the story if Montresor was indeed a female? I think if Montresor was a woman it would change the story dramatically, this act could have been a sick revenge of a broken heart in which case is slightly more understandable. I feel like if Montresor was clearly a female figure, that would have generated more sympathy.