All posts by Jody R. Rosen

Fantastic opportunity: graphic texts

I hope you haven’t all forgotten about last semester and the fabulous work you did. Every year, City Tech’s English Department sponsors the Literary Arts Festival, and with it, a writing competition. One category added in the last couple of years, Graphic Text, hasn’t received the attention it should. That means there’s a great chance for all of you to submit your work and compete to win! What would winning mean? Recognition at the Literary Arts Festival on March 26th at 5:30pm. Your name in the program. A. Cash. Prize.

Check out the poster, read the description for the Graphic Text Award, and note that today is the last day to submit your work. Maybe you have something you’ve been working on, or have transformed your Humument from last semester  into a multi-frame text and want to submit that. I encourage you to send in your work, and soon!

Reviewing for the final

In advance:

  • read the article multiple times!
  • mark up the text: vocabulary, important passages, supporting details, explanations and short summaries in the margins
  • remember the template for the questions: write about your experience in relation to what the author writes about, referring to text; one related to the topic specifically, the other more broadly.
  • reflect on your experiences/those of people you know or have read about
  • practice writing thesis statements for your anticipated questions
  • think about your thesis statement as a roadmap to your essay: you should be able to write an outline based on it
  • review block and point-by-point comparison organization

During the exam:

  • read the questions (5)
  • take your time!
  • think of what you want to write: outline and thesis statement draft
  • to build outline, draw on the text for specific examples and quotations (20)
  • write the essay using the thesis statement and outline to guide you (30)
  • beginning the essay: start on topic, narrow into your thesis statement. You might try: In “A Natural Fix for ADHD,” Richard A. Friedman argues… OR In Richard A. Friedman’s New York Times article, “A Natural Fix for ADHD,” he claims… OR Richard A. Friedman, in his New York Times article, “A Natural Fix for ADHD,” demonstrates that… OR According to Richard A. Friedman’s New York Times article, “A Natural Fix for ADHD,” …
  • continue to revise your thesis statement as you write your essay
  • re-read and revise (15 minutes)

Class 25: A Humument and more

In class on Monday, we discussed the next reading, which was actually a series of images that combine the visual and the written, in the form of a reinvented book by Tom Phillips, what he entitled A Humument. Please review the official site–not just the home page but the other pages on the site. On the essays page, please choose one of the essays (not necessarily the first one), and read it to get a sense of what others have said about the project. I also encourage you to do a Google Image search for A Humument to see as many different pages as possible. Which pages stand out to you, and what design principles do they demonstrate? We will discuss this in class on Wednesday.

We will also workshop Project #4, so please have a copy of your work either in print or available to you electronically (we will do this in N1122). You might also bring copies–print or electronic–of the research you have done so you can work on incorporating it into your project.

At the end of class, if time permits, we will visit the Student Research Poster Session. Our learning community has a poster there, designed by Prof. Spevack using your work from the Grace Gallery show! We’ll look at other posters there, too, to think about how image and text combine to communicate the work these posters represent.

After class, some of you have appointments with me in my office, N520. We’ll need to keep to a tight schedule to fit all of these appointments in.

At 3:00 in N119, there will be an event linked to the poster session, the Undergraduate Research Mixer, which is a great opportunity to meet faculty members interested in mentoring undergraduates in research projects, and other students interested in or currently conducting research here at City Tech. There will be a reception at the event as well. Worth checking out!


A Picture of Language

A Picture Of Language: The Fading Art Of Diagramming Sentences

  • about diagramming sentences
  • it’s not used anymore
  • can be used for new readers and learners of English to understand the language
  • can help improve a person’s English skills by giving them a better understanding of what each word’s role in the sentence is
  • not everyone gets it
  • not a lot of people know it anymore
  • structure sentences better by seeing them “drawn as graphic structures”
  • NCTE: it’s “a deterrent to the improvement of students’ speaking and writing.”
  • Kitty Burns Florey: “When you diagram a sentence, those things are always in that relation to each other.”
  • invented in Brooklyn by two professors at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute

One-sentence summary:

Diagramming sentences can help someone improve their English skills. but it is not recognized in the Common Core.

In “A Picture of Language: The fading Art of Diagramming Sentences,” Juana Summers describes the now-forgotten practice of diagramming sentences as a graphic or spatial way to learn the English language.

According to Juana Summers, in “A Picture of Language: The fading Art of Diagramming Sentences,”  the now-forgotten practice of diagramming sentences was used as a graphic or spatial way to learn the English language.



Color and the subway

After the attention we paid to subway maps, and all of your focus on color in ADV 1100, how exciting to consider their connection. Read Christine Haughney’s 2011 New York Times article, “Train Line Far From Arrival Has a Color To Be Noticed,” about the color assigned to the still-under-construction Second Avenue Subway Line. What do you think of the choice, and what do you make of others’ reactions to it?

Reading Lucy

You have just read “Reading Lucy” (Brooklyn Was Mine 2008), an essay by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan. As great as it would be to use our time at Brooklyn Historical Society to examine the Kolkin collection that Egan writes about, we can save time and examine some materials online.

A good place to start is the finding aid for the Kolkin collection at BHS. We can also examine two letters available online. We can see a photograph of Lucille Kolkin and three other women she worked with at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, as well as a photo Kolkin took at work. We can also listen to an interview with Lucille Kolkin, since BHS has digitized some of their oral histories.

Please link us to any additional materials you find on Lucille Kolkin or related subjects.

As you consider “Reading Lucy” and these additional materials, consider why they exist, and why they exist where we find them. What do they tell us about the materials? What do that tell us about preservation? How do they help us relate to Kolkin, or to Egan?

Annotating a reading/ reviewing for the midterm

What do we do when we read with a pen (or pencil, or highlighter) in hand?

vocabulary/cultural references–words to look up: underline, use context and then look up later. After: write them in the margins, or on the back, or on a separate sheet.

highlighted, underlined sentences that worked together to establish the article’s argument

think about color-coding the text

things that repeated–note page or paragraph #

short summaries of important paragraphs

connect ideas to other things you read/experienced

ask questions: for clarification or to engage with the author/speaker

tone: sarcasm, joking

note the things you know well, have expertise

main idea: or example that explains the main idea

passages you might want to quote when you write about this article

drawing–sketch an idea

drawing arrows, circles

number code for different ideas eg 1=walking 2=exploring life 3=landmarks

bullet points about the different people or places


reading more than once

identify arguments/main points:

  • walking vs drug addiction: helps him keep his mind off drugs, coping,
  • his experience of NYC vs other people’s experience
  • walking lets you discover, pay attention (buildings, parks), but if you’re driving, you miss all of these things. EXPLORATION, physically and visually/intellectually rewarding

anticipate questions:

  • Consider your preferred form of travel compared to Self’s idea of walking as the only way of exploration
  • think about a time when you developed a healthy habit. How does this relate to Self’s idea of walking instead of taking drugs?
  • What emotions do you experience when walking? How does walking affect your point of view?
  • How does walking give you a different/better experience than other forms of transportation
  • views on NY–exploration
  • views of perseverance/persistence

Organizing your in-class essay:

make an outline/organizational representation of your ideas

focused freewrite

bring in examples from the reading–


  • main argument or point of your essay
  • it’s a roadmap to your essay
  • it isn’t a question, it’s the answer–it’s a statement!
  • when you’re writing about a comparison, a good template for your thesis statement is to show how two things that  seem different are actually similar, or two things that seem similar are actually different, or some combination of these. Try “Although my healthy habits involved going to the gym rather than taking long walks like Self did, we both had the opportunity to explore places where people from different backgrounds come together.” I’d expect that the essay would describe your experience of making healthy choices by going to the gym, and maybe in another paragraph how it exposed you to different people from different backgrounds, all coming together in one place. Then you would do the same for Self’s experience, and then offer a comparison. Your outline is right there in the thesis statement!
  • it comes at the end of your introductory paragraph.

(leave space after the first paragraph to be able to come back and revise)

write the essay!

make sure that your essay fits with 1-the question 2-the thesis statement

at the very end, proofread a few times. Here are a few tips:

  • before the exam, check out the list of Frequently Confused Words (and add to it via the comments) to help you prepare for the midterm
  • You might try reading your essay sentence-by-sentence starting with the last one and moving backward to the beginning–it helps you read out of context, so you pay better attention to the construction of the sentence.
  • Read through looking for one thing at a time: first if you’re following all of the instructions/answering the question, then if you’re supporting your thesis statement, then if you have good organization, sentence structure, use the right words, spell them properly, etc. You can see that my list starts with the most important and moves to the less important.




Camera Lucida

Looking at the picture on p 22:

  • soldiers, guns, namely assault rifles->war
  • (Nicaragua)
  • rubble, aftermath ->destruction, depression
  • nuns
  • small village
  • trees
  • cloud?
  • ground, road
  • sandbags? = fortification
  • pile of bricks
  • pole–street light? telephone pole?
  • dictatorship?
  • why are there soldiers with heavy artillery next to the nuns?