Category Archives: Homework Instructions

No homework!

You must have noticed that I did not post a homework assignment for this week. I hope that you used that time instead for all of the other work that’s coming due in the next week for our class: finishing the glossary, the glossary write-up, the presentation, maybe even some belated work on Project #2 in the past week. I noticed that many have not yet participated in this week’s discussion. Please do so before class so we can bring your ideas into our discussion–plus, remember that your participation counts as your attendance for our online session.

Looking forward to discussing “What You Pawn I Will Redeem” with you tomorrow.

Peer feedback for Project #2

Now that you have submitted drafts of Part 1 of Project #2, let’s share our ideas in the form of offering constructive feedback. That means offering classmates the sense of what they have done well and what needs improvement–but it can also mean just reflecting back to them what you understand and observe as you read their work.

Your homework will be in the form of comments on classmates’ posts. Choose two students to offer your feedback, which you will share as a reply to their Project #2 Part 1 draft post. Please do not give feedback to someone’s work if two classmates already have, unless there are no other classmates to respond to.

In your comment, let your classmate know:

  • what you understand to be that pivotal passage in their essay
  • what argument they make
  • where that argument is stated (although it should be in the introduction, sometimes this doesn’t happen until later, such as in the conclusion! Good to know that now so it can move earlier in the essay!)
  • if the examples support the argument
  • if you can detect any of the five steps for incorporating quotations in the body paragraphs of the essay, and which ones they are.
  • what you think the essay’s so what? is.
  • anything else you think is extremely important for them to know about your experience reading their work.

Feel free to ask more questions in the comments–either directed at the classmate who has reviewed your work, or in advance of that to help guide the feedback they offer.



Quoting Beloved effectively

In our most recent class, we talked about using quotations more effectively. For homework, and to help you develop your next project, please use the method below to discuss one quotation you plan to use for Project #2. In your post, rather than writing this as a paragraph as you will in your project, break your work into each of the five steps, identifying each part so you can see what goes where, and so we can identify each part in each other’s responses.

Also include a response to using this method: what does it offer you that you didn’t already have in your writing tool-kit? What might it restrict you from doing?

Using Prof. Rebecca Devers’s IQIAA Method, with minor revisions, we’ll call this the five-step method for incorporating quotations:

Introduce: Use transitional phrases to inform your readers that you’re about to use someone else’s words.

Quote: When you quote someone, you are obligated to represent their words accurately. This means avoiding typos and mistakes, and it means providing accurate citations that tell your reader what source provided the words or images.

Interpret: If a quotation can stand on its own without interpretation, then your readers don’t need to read your project or essay. After including a quotation, explain it to your readers. Put that quotation into your own words, or into a language or discourse that your audience can better understand. To get comfortable doing this, consider starting sentences after quotations with phrases like, “In other words, . . . .”

Analyze: Interpretation translates the original author’s words into a language your audience will understand. Analysis tells your readers why that quotation is so important. It highlights the significance of an author’s word choice, argument, example, or logic. Analysis goes beyond the obvious, telling the reader what they may have missed if they didn’t read as carefully as you are.

Apply: Each time you use a quotation, make it clear to your reader how it supports your argument. You can do that by applying your analysis to your thesis statement. Remind your readers of your purpose for writing, and tell them how this quotation, and your analysis of it, helps you support your argument.

As you follow this method to construct a paragraph (or to write your broken-apart paragraph here), you may want to “quote the quote,” pointing to specific words or phrases within the quoted passage that carry meaning or deserve attention.

Pivotal passages in Beloved

In your questions in this week’s discussion, it is clear that the flashbacks can confuse us as readers, that there are details we miss, that there are whole sections that require re-reading. In class, we can think about the extent to which this is important in how the story is told. We will continue to discuss the novel so that we can all understand it better.

For homework this week, consider a scene that you think is so pivotal that if it hadn’t happened, the whole novel would be different. Identify the scene, and write a post, 350-500 words, about what is so important about it for the novel.

Categorize your post under Homework, Week 10. Choose the tag Beloved, and any other tags that apply or that you want to create.


Close readings of Beloved through p. 100

We’ve started an interesting discussion about setting, characterization, narration, and plot in Beloved. I’ve set up a poll (see the sidebar) to see globally what you’re thinking about the novel. To take our thoughts into the text and focus more carefully on it for this week’s homework, choose a passage that stands out to you, one that you want to spend more time thinking about. Write a post that includes the following:

  • the passage, for all of us to read (you probably want to choose something about a paragraph long so you have enough material to focus on, but it might instead be a section of dialog or a piece of a longer paragraph)
  • what you understand the passage is saying. This is a chance for you to say what the passage says, but in your own words. You might decipher any difficult or figurative language, or clarify any references to previous plot points. This is like a translation of the passage into language we will all understand clearly.
  • what  you think it means: this is where you analyze the language and ideas in the paragraph. What is significant about it, and why? This is where you can look closely at particular words or images and analyze their meaning.

Posts should be approximately 350-450 of your own words in addition to the passage.

Choose the category Homework and subcategory Week 9, and the tag Beloved, plus any additional tags you want to add or create.

Finally, please read your classmates’ posts and click the thumbs-up if this is a passage you want us to discuss further.

Homework for the Midterm Exam

Rather than writing a blog post for homework this week, I ask that you spend that time preparing for the midterm by preparing your quotation sheet. This is a sheet that you will bring to the midterm. It should have your name and the quotations you will use to respond to any of the three questions that you have prepared for. It should not list the text names and authors, since you will be tested on that material in the identifications in Part 1 of the exam.

As you prepare, think about what passages from the stories best support the comparison you want to make. If you have two passages for each of the two texts for three essay topics, you might have as many as 12 quotations. Some quotations would work for more than one topic, so you might find that you don’t need 12, but instead 11 or 10. For example, you might draw on similar material to write about confinement as you do to talk about illness, so that there is overlap in the materials you have prepared for those topics.

Please make sure you have voted for your first choice among the topics–there is a poll in the sidebar of the site. I’ll take those votes into account as I choose the three of the five choices to include on the midterm exam. You will then choose one of the three topics to respond to in an essay. I may edit them to make them more consistent, but the ideas will be the same.

If you have any additional questions, please continue to add them to our discussion. Good luck with your preparation!

Responding to our retelling comparisons

As with the drafts of the retellings, you’ll post your drafts of Part 2, comparisons of the original story and your retelling here and then as homework for Week 7, write comments on at least 2 classmates’ drafts.

For your post:

  • title: the title you’re giving your comparative essay
  • include a link to your retelling draft
  • paste your comparative essay into the post
  • category: choose Week 7 under Homework AND draft under Project #1
  • tags: choose the tag for the story you’re writing about, plus any others you think are appropriate

In the comments you write to your classmates, reflect back to them any or all of the following:

  • what do you understand is the argument made in the comparative essay?
  • what is the thesis statement?
  • does the thesis statement reflect the argument?
  • do you have any suggestions about the examples chosen to support the argument?
  • do you have any suggestions about the organization of the argument?
  • what do you not understand?
  • what is clear and convincing to you?

Remember that in class last week we decided that the final version is due on Wednesday on our site:

  • post your retelling using the category Project #1
  • tag your post with the story you’re working with plus any other tag you find appropriate
  • for the post’s title, use your retelling’s title
  • in the post, write your retelling’s title, then paste in the retelling
  • next, leave two blank lines and then in the same post, add your comparison’s title and paste in your comparison.

I look forward to reading your Project #1 results and gathering all of your hard work into our anthology using a WordPress tool called Anthologize.

Responding to our retellings

Part 1 of Project #1 is due today on our site so that we can give each other feedback. I’ve gotten many questions about when exactly the drafts are due. I had said Monday on our syllabus, and since we need time to read them and comment on at least two classmates’ retellings, please post them by what would be the end of our class time today (if we met on Mondays),  2:15pm.

For your post:

  • title: the title you’re giving your retelling
  • paste your retelling into the post
  • category: choose Week 6 under Homework AND draft under Project #1
  • tags: choose the tag for the story you’re retelling, plus any others you think are appropriate

When you choose the two retellings you want to comment on, address the post’s author to let them know:

  • what shift in narrator did the retelling’s author make?
  • what do you understand are the changes the shift in narrator necessitated?
  • what effect do these changes have on your experience reading the story?
  • anything else you want to recommend?
  • as always, we’re respectful of our classmates, even if we disagree. Please be sure your comments treat your classmates and their work with resepect. Please also understand that when you read comments on your retelling, critiques are intended to help you improve your work, not to personally attack.
  • feel free to reply to the comments with follow-up questions, like you would do in class if you were working together face-to-face.
  • as with homework in general, these comments are due by end-of-day Tuesday.

Please bring a printed copy of your retelling to class on Wednesday. so we can continue this peer review activity and discuss the retelling process.

Blogging on “Young Goodman Brown” and “The Metamorphosis”

We have read two very different stories for our in-person class discussion this week: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” and Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis.” For your homework blog post this week, choose one passage you think exemplifies the story, stands out as the moment that defines the story for you. Quote that passage, and then write what you understand it to be saying and what your analysis of it is. You might include questions you have about it, or questions to prompt discussion among your classmates. If you have done any outside research (either to help you understand the story, or to look into the term Kafkaesque, or to look at the images from the graphic novel adaptation of “The Metamorphosis”) that helped you understand the passage, please link to it in your post.

Then read the other posts and click Like for the one or two you would like to talk about in class. I’ll include the most liked posts in our class discussion.

Note: you might click Like for a passage, or for the way the post’s author has written about it. You might not like the passage itself, but it should be one that you want discussed in class–and that you are willing to talk about. You can certainly like your own post.

Blogging on “A Rose for Emily”

After reading “A Rose for Emily” and others’ commentary on it on that New York Times blog, on, and on our site, it’s time to write a focused blog post in which you analyze a passage or series of passages from the short story.

In particular, think about power in the story. Choose (and include in your post) a passage or a few related passages that highlight some aspect of the power dynamics at play in the story. Who has power, who doesn’t, how do they interact, how to they negotiate their positions of powerfulness or lack of power?

Other factors to consider: how does narration style, point of view, setting, characterization or other elements of fiction play a role in the power dynamic you’re analyzing?

Much of what was raised in our online discussion touched on power, but in very different ways. If there is a different topic that you would like to address, either see how it intersects with this topic of power, or raise it in our discussion either on the site or in Wednesday’s class