Blog Prompt #6: Calvin Trillin’s, “Have They Run Out of Provinces Yet?”

Blog Post #6 Due: Mon 11/26, 8:30am // Comment #6 Due: Mon 11/26, 11:59pm

Trillin's New Yorker ImageRead Calvin Trillin’s poem and Katy Waldman’s commentary on it. Then, develop your own argument about Trillin’s poem in conversation with Waldman. Focus on one specific literary device / pattern in Trillin’s poem and produce a detailed close reading of this device / pattern. Your analysis must clearly demonstrate how you are agreeing with, adapting, extending, or challenging Waldman’s argument.

Remember to introduce both Trillin’s poem and Waldman’s article. Please also be attentive to the format and organization requirements of the blog post (see Blog Post Assignment Sheet).

Finally, come to class on Monday prepared to lead a segment of our class discussion based on your blog post.


Blog Prompt #5: Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake

Blog Post #5 Due: Fri 11/2, 8:30am // Comment #5 Due: Fri 11/2, 11:59pm

Cover of Jhumpa Lahiri's The NamesakeOkay folks, we’re going to switch things up here, so pay attention! : ) Each of you will be responsible for leading a portion of our opening discussion of Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel, The Namesake, on Friday, 11/2. You will use this blog post assignment to help you facilitate that discussion.

First, decide on a central tension, problem, or pattern that you find especially compelling from Chp. 1-3. Then, in this blog post, introduce this tension / problem / pattern and close read a specific literary device in conjunction with it. Remember to pay attention to the key steps in the close reading process.

In class on Friday, you will have 5-8 minutes to facilitate our discussion. You should come prepared to complete steps 1-3 listed below in a thoughtful and engaging manner. This will require that you review your own blog post carefully, develop thought-provoking annotations on the assigned chapters, and make note of at least 2-3 interesting and focused questions to facilitate your portion of the discussion.

(1) Summarize your blog post for the class in an engaging and conversational style (1-2 mins for this step)

(2) Pose a specific question emerging from your post to the class. This question should be one that invites multiple interpretations / close readings centered on either: (a) the scene you analyze in your blog post or (b) a different scene in the novel that you direct us to.

(3) You will also be responsible for helping to facilitate responses from your peers and developing connections between your peer’s responses and your own analysis. This means: (a) asking follow-up questions as necessary or (b) making comments that build on your peers’ responses. (4-6 mins for steps 2-3)


Blog Prompt #4: Nam Le’s “Love & Honor”

Blog Post #4 Due: Fri 10/26, 10:30am // Comment #4 Due: Fri 10/26, 11:59pm

Cover of Nam Le's short story collection, The BoatIn this post, describe how Nam Le’s short story, “Love & Honor,” reframes / challenges one aspect of what you’ve learned so far about Asian American Literature. Support this reflection with a detailed close reading of one specific literary device from the text.

First, consider what we’ve learned about the field of Asian American Literature up to this point in the semester and, more specifically, what we’ve learned about the literature surrounding the Vietnam War. Think back, also, to the two previous primary texts in this unit: The Gangster We Are All Looking For and “Aubade with Burning City.” Describe how any combination of the primary and secondary texts in our current unit have illuminated a specific theme, tension, or central concern of Asian American Literature / literature of the Vietnam War. Be sure to use quotes from at least one text in this unit to showcase the theme / tension / central concern you are describing.

Then, describe one specific way in which “Love and Honor” reframes or challenges this theme / tension / central concern, and provide a detailed close reading of one specific literary device from the story to illustrate this shift. Remember to pay careful attention to articulating (a) what effects emerge from this literary device, (b) how these effects are produced, and (c) why they are significant to the shift you are describing.


Blog Prompt #3: The Gangster We Are All Looking For

Blog Post #3 Due: Wed 10/10, 8:30am // Comment #3 Due: Wed 10/10, 11:59pm

Cover of Gangster We Are All Looking ForSelect and introduce 2 images from the first 2 paragraphs of the novel (pp. 3-4) that convey forms of movement, displacement, or dislocation. Use a combination of quotes and paraphrasing to introduce/ describe these scenes.

Then, explain how these images work together to illustrate the effects of movement, displacement, or dislocation. In other words, WHAT do these images convey about the narrator’s experience as a Vietnamese refugee and HOW do they convey this experience?

The goal here is to produced a detailed and layered close reading of the two selected images.

Blog Prompt #2: John Okada’s No-No Boy

Blog Post #2 Due: Wed 9/19, 8:30am // Comment #2 Due: Wed 9/19, 11:59pm

Cover of John Okada's novel, No-No BoyIntroduce and describe one specific aspect of the novel’s point of view / narrative style (from chapters 1-3) that you find especially effective or powerful. Provide a quote that illustrates this aspect of the text and offer a detailed close reading that illuminates why it is effective / powerful.

Blog Prompt #1: Suheir Hammad’s “First Writing Since”

Blog Post #1 Due: Wed 9/12, 8:30am // Comment #1 Due: Wed 9/12, 11:59pm

Suheir Hammad

Suheir Hammad

Provide a detailed close reading of one specific literary device from Suheir Hammad’s poem, “First Writing Since,” that you find especially compelling. Given that this is a long poem, select a specific and focused literary device from a particular stanza. Use the steps detailed below to develop a fluid and cohesive argument about the significance of this literary device within the selected section of the text.

Introduce (name/describe) the literary device you plan to analyze and frame a cohesive quote illustrating the selected literary device. Remember to provide enough context to situate your reader within the relevant section of the text.

Describe what specific effects this device produces – remember, you will need to re-quote / reference specific portions of the text in this portion of your close reading.

Explain how the device produce these effects – again, re-quote / reference the text as needed to illustrate your claims.

Explain why these effects are significant to your understanding of the poem.

“What I Try to Do is Write”: Blog Aspirations and Advice

Quote from Maya Angelou on Writing I have a confession to make. I don’t always think of myself as a particularly creative or vibrant writer. In fact, I consider my writing pretty ordinary. By contrast, I’m in awe of the lyrical and seemingly effortless writing of my friends and colleagues. At times, this assessment of my own writing can stop me in my tracks – it makes writing seem almost impossible and it saps all the joy from the act and art of writing. Does this sound at all familiar to you? I’m guessing it does because I think we’ve all been there – either at some point in time or on a fairly regular basis. But, as Maya Angelou explains, we need to try to write…even if it’s “the most boring and awful stuff.” And so here, on our course blog for ENGL 321, you’ll all engage regularly in this practice of writing. This will be an ongoing and collaborative effort to move past the “boring and awful stuff” in order to find your muse, develop your voice, and expand your ideas.

Throughout the semester, you are responsible for uploading 6 posts (300-400 words each). Each post will offer a polished, focused response to a specific prompt, based on one of the assigned primary or secondary texts (prompts will be posted here as well). These short writing assignments will help you develop ideas and arguments for in-class discussions and upcoming course assignments, while also honing your critical thinking and writing skills. For each week that a blog post is due, you will also upload one comment (150-250 words) in response to a peer’s post. Due dates for blog posts and comments are listed in the course syllabus and with each blog prompt.

Jimmy Fallon

Refer to the blog post and blog comment assignment sheets (uploaded to Moodle) for details on the assignment requirements and how they will be graded. At its core, your blog post should develop an interesting and original response to the assigned prompt. Analysis of the assigned text should be detailed, specific, nuanced, and creative. Let your voice flow freely, but be sure to cite and analyze specific quotes from the assigned text. Focus on developing clear and fluid sentences, effective and creative transitions, and use at least one image or gif to amplify your ideas.

Writers at the 2018 AWP conference

Writers at the 2018 AWP conference

For tips on crafting an effective blog post, see this list of “10 Crucial Points.” And for some great examples of student blog posts for Dickinson English courses, check out Prof. Kersh’s 2017 course, “Writing in and for Digital Environments.” You might also enjoy checking out her students’ projects and their posts on what makes a great blog.

Remember that this is a space in which we’ll be collectively developing clear, vibrant, and analytical writing. In order to do so, we need to keep in mind that writing is a labor, a practice, and an art! It is also the medium through which we will think carefully and critically about Asian American literature and culture.