Last Zoom of the Semester

Hi Class,

[Note: the Final Research Essay and the Final Exam should both be emailed to me:]

Wednesday’s Zoom will be the last one of the semester. Tomorrow’s Zoom is optional, but it would be great if we could see/hear each other before the end of the semester.

Thank you very much for sticking with me through this semester. I really believe we made progress. You have all been super willing to share your ideas on the Virtual Coffeehouse. Even when we go back to in-person classes, I think I will use the Virtual Coffeehouse idea again! Your ideas and deep insights have kept me going. I’m constantly amazed by your collective optimism and hope. One of the reasons I love teaching is because college students–especially you guys– are filled with energy to change things, to do good, and hope…always hope for the best.

Cheers and good luck in all of your finals!



Topic: Sean Scanlan’s Zoom Meeting
Time: May 20, 2020 09:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 835 4719 9840
Password: 100802




Weekly Folder for May 18 – 25 and Zoom Info

Hi Students,



1–Zoom Info for Monday

2–Final Exam–Due Monday, May 25 by 5pm.

3–Research Essay–Due Monday, May 25 by 5pm.

4–Editing and Proofreading Tips


1–Zoom Info:

Topic: Sean Scanlan’s Zoom Meeting
Time: May 18, 2020 09:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 892 3358 7319
Password: 703485



2–Final Exam:

Although I am calling this a “Weekly Folder” there is only one assignment: the final exam. The final exam is simplified. It consists of two parts: quotation identification and one essay question. The quotations are taken from  the three genres that we have studied this semester: non-fiction essays, poetry, and short stories.  I have selected well-known text for students to chose from. The essay involves ethics and one shorts story. We will review the exam during our Zoom.

I think the Zoom will be short as we do not have any new material to cover. Reading over the exam will not take that long. Remember, this is an open-book exam.

The Final Exam:

ENG-1121-Final Exam-Spring2020


1–Open the Word Document

2–Read the exam carefully

3–Type directly onto the document: make it clear which quotations you are answering by providing adequate spacing

4–Make sure to proofread your answers (grammar and spell check too)

5–Add your name the file name. Example: SeanScanlan-ENG-1121-Final Exam-Spring2020

6–Email your exam to me:




3–Research Essay:

Many students have submitted a three-page draft for review. But there are not that many completed peer reviews. That is okay. Students still have time to perform a quality peer review and then revise, edit, and proofread with care. Remember, you must include the Works Cited at the end of this essay.





4–Editing and Proofreading Tips for the Research Essay:

1. Buy a friend a cup of coffee and ask them read over your essay and make comments. Or, offer to trade essays.
2. Pay a friend/colleague a nickel for every mistake or problem that they find.
3. Read your essay out loud. Enunciate each word. If something is wrong, your ear usually picks it up.
4. Read “backwards.” This is a technique used by professional editors and proofreaders: starting at the end of your essay, read each sentence in reverse order (don’t read the words in reverse order).
5. Revise each topic sentence to reveal exactly what the paragraph is trying to claim/assert.
6. Replace all weak verbs; change passive verbs to active verbs.
7. Make sure that your topic sentences are aligned with your thesis. Do they help support your overall thesis? They should.
8. Make sure that your thesis, topic sentences, and your conclusion speak to each other–that they are linked. Revise as needed.
9. Make sure that commas are inside the quotations. For Example:

The unnamed narrator reveals that Lila Mae was dedicated, that she had “taken an oath and such things are to be taken seriously,” a remark that confirms her strong moral compass (14).

10. Make sure to use grammar check and spell check. Set the grammar check to “formal.”


Email me any questions, and,

Best wishes,




One Million Thesis Possibilities–Don’t Duplicate My Example and Other Issues

Hi Class,

I hope that you are well. Four things to discuss:

1–The final day to turn in work for my class will be Monday, May 25 at 5pm. This is a strict deadline. Please contact me if you issues with this time/date.  The research essay and the final exam will both be due on this day and time. Can you turn it in early? Yes, you can turn it in early. In fact, I would appreciate it if you could turn it in early–via email.


2–Credit/No Credit option. The following is from an email I received. I think this link has been emailed to you as well:


3–We will have a short class on Monday and Wednesday of next week (May 18 and 20). No new material will be discussed– these classes are optional. In these short classes, I will spend a few minutes going over the final exam–which I will post on Sunday night. Please copy and paste the exam into a word processing document; type the answers and send the file to me via email.


4–I  provided a student example (on The Intuitionist) on how to incorporate research articles into the thesis and method. But it seems that I may have unintentionally given students the idea that they must duplicate this type of thesis. The main object of this paper is to research and argue for how ethics is used in a short story. The evidence that students bring into the essay should support their ideas on ethics in the story. Don’t force the story to support an article.

Here are the directions from the assignment details:

Specific Directions: Students are to analyze one or two short stories from an ethical standpoint (using our handout on Five Types of Ethics). Students are also to incorporate outside research that helps them explore ethics and their selected short story. Students should consider, especially, what characters decide to do in moments of stress. Therefore, students should select characters and scenes in which important events occur. When characters make decisions, that is when we can make a claim that they are acting according to some ethical principle. For example, does a character act to help others or herself or nobody? What forces are acting upon a character to act/react in a certain way?

So, when you are writing your own thesis and method, make sure the emphasize the story, characters, scenes, ethics, and decisions. The research you bring should support (or act as counter claim) your ideas.

You do not have to pit two articles against each other in a battle. You can simply have an article reinforce your idea about how ethics works. If you can’t find an article about your story or about your author, you can find an article about the type of ethics you are dealing with and have that article speak to the type of decision that a character makes. Also, you do not have include two articles in your thesis and/or method. You can mention one or none. It is up to you. I think that a research paper has to make use of the research, so I provided a model of how to do so. But it is one model. There are millions of possible thesis statements that could work.

Review the three different examples in the post below.

Email any questions



Hi Class,

I know how hard this type of research paper can be. It is important to realize that it takes considerable time and effort to construct the first page. Please note that the main goal is to control the evidence and not let it overwhelm your ideas on the story and ethics.


Thesis and Method Sample 1: Notice how the peer review articles are mentioned in the method, but not the thesis:

While the obvious choice is to pursue virtue ethics in Borges’s “The Captive,” a less well-known choice is Global Ethics. The reason that Global Ethics is more rewarding is because the setting and context of the story point to Spanish colonization of Argentina in the late 1700s and that sets up the double kidnapping in the story. In order to explore Global Ethics, I will first address the question of who is to blame in the two kidnapping scenes in terms of Global Ethics using the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Second, I will use the ideas of Ed Folsom and Barbara Eckstein (student should provide article/chapter titles) to discuss storytelling, stereotypes, and violence in colonial fiction (as these ideas relate to the story’s ethics). Lastly, I will question the mysterious narrator who seems to come alive in the story’s conclusion.


Thesis and Method Sample 2: Notice how the peer review articles do battle against each other—but still serve the student’s argument about utilitarian ethics:

Borges’s “The Captive” is about the utility of war to shape people’s behavior. Therefore, while the boy in the story seems to have a choice to return to the forest, I believe he does not; he is really a “captive” to the idea of utilitarian ethics. In order to prove this I will first describe the first kidnapping scene and the knife scene in terms of our class handout on ethics. Second, I will use Ed Folsom’s article “The Worst Colonial Stories are Sometimes the Best” and Barbara Eckstein’s article “Folsom’s Ideas of Colonial Literature Are Wrong” to compare the idea of colonial choice. These two literary critics do not mention Borges’s story, but they do help me to understand utilitarian ethics in the 1700s. Lastly, I will hypothesize that the narrator is actually a character in the story.


Thesis and Method Sample 3: Notice how the peer review articles do battle against each other—this time within the thesis. But they are still serving the student:

This essay highlights an argument between two literary critics in terms of colonial violence that can be applied to my favorite short story. While these articles are not focused on Borges’s story “The Captive,” they do help me to understand the ethics of colonization and therefore they form the cornerstone of my thesis which is to prove that “The Captive” highlights how colonization is connected to utilitarian ethics more than Deontology (Duty) ethics. Specifically, on one hand, Ed Folsom’s article “The Worst Colonial Stories are Sometimes the Best” reveals the ethics of colonial power, and on the other hand, Barbara Eckstein’s article “Folsom’s Ideas of Colonial Literature Are Wrong” reveals the ethics of repressed indigenous peoples. In order to show how their argument help me make mine, I will first describe how the colonial powers shape the boy into a man and lead each side to think mainly of end results (utilitarian ethics). With utilitarian ethics in place, I will then describe the competing ideas of colonial choice put forward by Folsom and Eckstein. Then, with their argument of colonial choice in place, I can examine the colonial choices that each side makes in the battle to control the boy. Ultimately, the story is an unhappy one, one that reveals how focusing on end results can be bad for individuals caught between powerful forces.


Please note: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO INCLUDE TWO PEER REVIEW ARTICLES “DOING BATTLE” IN YOUR THESIS AND/OR METHOD. You can merely mention one article–or none. It depends upon your main goals.



Weekly Folder for May 11 – 17 and Zoom Info



1—Monday’s Zoom Link

2—Virtual Coffeehouse Prompt (Optional)

3—Essay 3: First Three Pages AND peer review due (Due Sunday, May 17)

4—Additional Zoom Session Possibility


Hi Class,

Introduction: Only two more weeks! We can do it! You can do it! The next few steps in our research paper are not easy, but I am here to help.



1—Zoom Link:

Topic: Sean Scanlan’s Zoom Meeting
Time: May 11, 2020 09:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 871 7243 2480
Password: 062443



2—Virtual Coffeehouse Prompt: If you want to write a Coffeehouse post, I will give you 10 points toward either your journal/quiz grade or your homework/participation grade. The topic is up to you. So, this week is completely optional. If you don’t want to write a post, your grade will not be affected. If you do chose to write one, it will only help your overall grade.



3—Literary Research Essay.

Today we will explore two important parts of the literary research essay. First, we will discuss organizing of the essay into discrete paragraphs–each of which has a job to do; and we will also briefly cover paragraph construction. Second, we will briefly discuss the Work Cited page. It is not necessary to have a lot of entries, but it is important to use high quality resources and to construct the Works Cited page with care.

Homework: Write a draft and peer review a draft:

Now that you have done some research and found peer reviewed articles, and now that you have studied essay organization and paragraph organization, write a 2-3 page draft of the essay (of course, you may write more than 3 pages). Then post your draft to the Category: “E3 2-3 Page Draft.”  Then, select a classmate’s draft that has less than two reviews and  peer review it. Use my peer review template –I will post this on Monday afternoon to the new Category (cut and paste it into a “Comment” and answer the questions as fully as you can. The peer review is worth 10 points; students are required to perform at least one peer review, but can perform one additional peer review for an additional 10 points.  Due Sunday, May 17, 10pm). Post your 2-3 page draft to the Category: “E3 2-3 Page Draft” and the peer review will a “Comment” on a classmate’s draft.



4—Additional Help for Research Essay:

I’m considering holding an additional Zoom class on Friday from 9-10. This would be an optional class in which students could ask me questions about the essay.


As always, email any questions.



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