Blog Prompt #6: Primary Texts

Blog Post #6 Due: Tues 12/4, 12noon // Comments #11-12 Due: Tues 12/4, 11:59pm

In preparation for your Thesis Proposal, this blog post will be an opportunity to introduce and reflect on two primary (literary) texts that might be a good fit for your Senior Thesis. In this post, you must:

  1. Introduce and describe your general fields / areas of interest. Describe the kinds of questions, themes, issues you’re interested in – push yourself to be as specific as possible.
  2. Transition from your interests to an introduction and brief summary of two primary texts that you are deeply excited about. These introductions and brief summaries should cover basic publication information (author, title, year of publication), and include concise but concrete summaries of key characters, events, plot points, etc. For an example of focused and specific text summaries, see Lindsey Green-Simms introduction of “On Monday of Last Week” on page. 151 of her article, “The Emergent Queer.”
  3. For each text, describe what you find especially interesting, complex, and/or problematic about the text: What might you try to unpack or analyze in this text? What patterns or motifs keep nagging at you about this text? How does this text speak to, illuminate, or complicate your areas of interests?
  4. Conclude with a focused reflection on what challenges you’re facing as you think about these texts. What are your concerns about choosing between (or choosing both) these texts? What are you wrestling with? What are you unsure about? Again, try to be as specific as possible. Think of this section of your post as an opportunity to get focused feedback from me about the selection of your primary texts.

A few notes on organization:

  • This blog post will not follow the length or organization of our other posts. Write as much as needed to provide full and detailed responses to the requirements above.
  • After completing step 1, you might want to tackle each text one at a time. In other words, introduce the first text you’re interested in working with (step #2), then provide the reflections required in step #3 for just that text. Then, move on to the second text, and repeat steps #2-3 for that text. Keep in mind that your introduction and reflection on each text may take 2-3 or 3-4 paragraphs.
  • Your conclusion should speak to challenges / concerns regarding both texts.
  • This post should still feature lively, vibrant, and clear writing that is attentive to mechanics, topic sentences, paragraph breaks, and transitions.
  • Be sure to include an image, tags, and Works Cited list.

Blog Prompt #5: Field Report Draft

Blog Post #5 Due: Tues 11/6, 12noon // Comments #9-10 Due: Tues 11/6, 11:59pm

In preparation for your Field Report, you’ll be using this blog post to draft 3 focused paragraphs reflecting on 2 different sources from your reading list. If you find it necessary to write more than 3 paragraphs in order to do justice to the requirements for this prompt, please feel free to do so. Please note that this post will be necessarily longer than the usual word limit allotted for blog posts.

Friday Night Lights Meme

Meme courtesy of Academic Coach Taylor. If you haven’t watched Friday Night Lights, you really need to get on that.

You can pick any combination of sources (e.g. 1 journal article and 1 book, or 1 book chapter and 1 journal article, etc.). These three paragraphs must cohesively and fluidly accomplish the following:

1. Introduce and provide critical summaries of the two sources. These summaries should describe (a) the text’s main argument, (b) the logic or process by which the text proves this argument, and (c) the main terms and concepts central to the argument.

2. Describe how these sources speak to one another. in other words, how do they reflect on related concepts or problems within your field, or how they illuminate two very different aspects of your field?

3. Map what you’ve learned about the fields / key terms that frame your project based on these two sources. Consider the following questions: What questions or problems do these sources raise about your relevant fields / key terms? How do these sources point to specific debates / blindspots within your fields? What kinds of methods / theories do these sources rely on and/or critique?

4. Describe how reading these two sources have shaped your sense of your emerging research interests. What specific questions and ideas have these sources brought to the forefront for you?

Blog Prompt #4: Half of a Yellow Sun (pp. 1-183)

Blog Post #4 Due: Tues 10/30, 12noon // Comments #7-8 Due: Tues 10/30, 11:59pm

Cover of Half of a Yellow SunAfter reading the first 183 pages of Half of a Yellow Sun, describe a specific tension, conflict, resonance, or affinity between any two characters in the novel.

Then, provide a summary of a specific scene, with relevant quotes, to illuminate the dynamics between these characters.

Follow this summary with a detailed close reading of 2 literary devices from the quotes you’ve cited to showcase the dynamics between these characters. In your close reading, you need to illustrate how these literary devices work in conjunction with one another:

  • Explicitly name / identify the literary devices you analyze
  • Describe what effects they produce
  • Explain how these effects are produced
  • Detail how these effects build on / interact with one another
  • Showcase why these effects are significant to understanding these characters’ relationship.

Reminder: Please carefully re-read the assignment sheet & rubric for both blog posts & comments. Make sure that each section of your post & each of your comments are meeting the specific requirements of these assignments.

Blog Prompt #3: Ghana Must Go (pp. 1-160)

Blog Post #3 Due: Tues 10/9, 12noon // Comments #5-6 Due: Tues 10/9, 11:59pm

Cover of Selasi's Ghana Must GoProvide a detailed close reading of one specific literary device from pp. 1-160 of Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go. Given that this is a large portion of a novel, select a specific and focused literary device from a particular scene or chapter. Use the steps detailed below to develop a fluid and cohesive argument about the significance of this literary device to how we begin to understand either time, family dynamics, or specific relationship in the novel.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Explain how the device produce these effects – again, re-quote / reference the text as needed to illustrate your claims.
  4. Explain why these effects are significant. What do they convey about either time, family dynamics, or specific relationships in the novel.

Blog Prompt #2: Things Fall Apart, Part II

Blog Post #2 Due: Tues 9/25, 12noon // Comments #3-4 Due: Tues 9/25, 11:59pm

Cover of Norton Anthology for Things Fall Apart

Introduce & summarize one key argument that Solomon Iyasere makes in his essay, “Narrative Techniques in Things Fall Apart” (pp. 370-385).

Then, reflect on the extent to which you agree or disagree with Iyasere’s claim. Be sure to specify how you agree/disagree with him or the extent to which you might modulate his claim. In other words, articulate a mini argument of your own in response to Iyasere’s.

Finally, provide a short close reading of one scene, literary device, or textual element from Part II of Things Fall Apart to illustrate the argument you’ve developed in conversation with Iyasere’s claim. Be sure to use different textual evidence than Iyasere uses in his essay. Remember to follow all the close reading steps you used in the previous blog post:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Explain how the device produce these effects – again, re-quote / reference the text as needed to illustrate your claims.
  4. Explain why these effects are significant to your reading of this scene, chapter, or section of the novel.

“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 Senior Seminar, 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 idea

Over the course of the semester, you will be required to upload 6 posts (500-750 words each) to our course blog. Each post will offer a polished, focused response to a specific prompt, based on one of the assigned primary or secondary texts. These posts will often center on specific critical methods, models of literary analysis, and/or keywords relevant to particular texts or theories. These short writing assignments will help you develop ideas and hone your analytical skills for in-class discussions, upcoming assignments, and your own research.

For each week that a blog post is due, you will also upload two comments (75-100 words) in response to two different peer’s posts. These comments should engage your peers’ reflections by building additional connections between ideas, texts, themes, and methodologies your classmate discusses. You may also pose tentative answers to questions raised by your classmates’ blog posts and/or extend their arguments and ideas.

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.

Blog Prompt #1: Things Fall Apart, Part I

Blog Post #1 Due: Tues 9/18, 12noon // Comments #1-2 Due: Tues 9/18, 11:59pm

Cover of Norton Anthology for Things Fall Apart

Provide a detailed close reading of one specific literary device from Part I (pp. 1-74) of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Given that this is a large portion of a novel, select a specific and focused literary device from a particular scene or chapter. Use the steps detailed below to develop a fluid and cohesive argument about the significance of this literary device within the selected scene, chapter, or section of the novel.

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 reading of this scene, chapter, or section of the novel.