Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ayn Rand - due 2/23/11

Article's on the site; I have warned you that Rand is sort of . . . notoriously crazy. I think the best thing I can do with asking you to do this blog is a standard summary/response one, mostly because it'll give you another fairly well-structured piece that you can put in the portfolio, if you like.

So, first paragraph - give me Rand's message. Even though this is an analytical essay, not a narrative, it still might be a challenge to get to the root of her argument. I would suggest that you wait until you get to the end of the piece before you try to make a claim about what her point is, and think carefully about what she's saying on that last page. What does she want to happen? The legislation she's talking about, incidentally, is here:

It might help to have the context for it.

Second paragraph, you can once again respond in any way you see fit - approval, disapproval, questions about some of her references. But what I'd be most interested in seeing is whether you can pick up on any of the article's flaws. Are there any points Rand makes that seem strange, or poorly supported?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

David Sedaris - due 2/18/2011

What I'd like you to do with Sedaris for Friday:

Don't summarize it, that would be kind of dumb. I want to use Sedaris as a jumping-off point to spend a little bit of time talking about humor. So, and this can be super short, instead tell me what the joke(s) is/are. If you found it funny, what was funny, and why? If you think it's dreadfully dull and not funny at all (which I'm guessing some of you will), tell me what parts are supposed to be funny. How can you tell? How does the humor in this piece work?

Secondly, tell a joke in your blog. Long or short as you like. Feel free to read each others'. I'll give you a variation on one:

I told my roommate I was thinking about asking you guys to do this, and he said, "I wouldn't want to do that. I'd get performance anxiety about thinking of a joke."

I said, "Well, I don't care, it can just be some dumb riddle from elementary school if they like. You know the sort of thing, like, 'Why was six afraid of seven?'"

"Oh," he says, "because seven is a pedophile."

That made me laugh way harder than I should have. That's all you have to write; explain Sedaris and give me one joke. I am genuinely interested in talking about why I found my roommate's response so funny.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Second prompt - for Ronson, due 2/11/11

This time around, we're doing a chapter from Jon Ronson's Them: Adventures with Extremists, titled, "The Klansman who Won't Say the N-Word." As with Kincaid, you're a little robbed here - because this is a chapter from a much longer piece, you're missing some of the context surrounding it. It's probably enough to tell you that Ronson is a Jewish, British journalist (all of which is relevant in this chapter) who got really interested in conspiracy theories and groups of different kinds. The book follows his journeys as he meets with these various groups, and in this chapter, he'll sometimes reference previous chapters that you don't have access to. The groups he talks about shouldn't be too hard to figure out, though - if you have any real trouble, look it up, or ask a question here and I'll address it.

First chapter, standard summary. I'm guessing you may find this slightly harder than Gross, because it's presented so heavily in narrative format. Try as much as you can to avoid describing what happens, in favor of presenting what you feel is an implicit or explicit point of the piece. Again, try to get this focused down to one point: what is Ronson trying to say? What impression does he want you to leave with? Is he just talking about the people he actually meets, or gesturing towards more general ideas? How do you know?

The second paragraph can, once again, pretty much be your reaction. What do you think about this new incarnation of the Klan? Are they a vast improvement on the old? Is using inoffensive language a step in the right direction? Any bits that were confusing or obscure? And, of course, did you like it or not? I think it's hilarious; your mileage may vary.