End of the Year; Pick up your papers

Hi Class. It’s been a super semester. Grades are submitted to the Registrar midnight, May 31. I will be back at school to drop off your papers June 2nd. I will leave them in folders marked with our class number and name outside the Adjunct English Office in Namm 529.

Final Exams are filed with the English Department in a sealed folder and remain on file there.

Spring Break Reading Assignment

Hi All. Welcome to Spring Break.

Ok, now, three articles to read. You will write a “reflection” in your journals for us to discuss in class when we return.

The seeming subject is: The Donald — and also, a man named David Brooks, who wrote about him recently. Here you go:

Article number one, linked here: A NewYork Times Editorial by David Brooks

Article numbers two and three linked here and here: two pieces about Brooks by Slate magazine writers.

Really, the subject is: how what you feel about a person colors what they say.

Journal Reflection for next class, May 3:

Think and write a few sentences on the notion of what happens when someone you may not like says something that makes sense to you. Specifically: Slate’s feelings about Conservative journalist David Brooks.

Do you think that Brooks is a good writer? Do you think he sounds “unbalanced” in his NYTIMES opinion piece? What would you think about him, if you hadn’t read Slate?

Words you should briefly define, below, in your journal reflection:

What is misogyny? What is chivalry?  What is (loosely defined, here) feminism?


Major Assignment Schedule for April and May

April 19: First Draft of Research Paper due. [You will not receive a grade on your Final Draft Paper if you do not submit a First Draft.]

April 21: Official National “Poem In Your Pocket Day”; assignments on how to participate given in class. (These will go in your Journal.)

SPRING BREAK April 22-May 1.

(check your email over the break, please, for comments from professor; check here on OpenLab for any readings assigned over break!)

May 3: Receive your First Draft from the professor. If you have not already discussed the comments, discuss them this week.

May 10: If you are one of the students asked to complete an Annotated Bibliography, it is due May 10.

May 13: Journal Check Day.

May 17: Final Draft of Research Paper due. Final Exam sheet distributed to take hom.

May 19: Final Exam

May 24: Last Day Party

What is “An Annotated Bibliography”?

A number of you may be asked to not only do a regular bibliography, but also to annotate your bibliography. If you are asked to do this, it is due May 10. (The Professor will read your First Draft papers first, and then reach out to you via email or in person to tell you.)

Here is information Online, published by Cornell University. You may find it helpful. You can also visit the link directly here:


An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.


Abstracts are the purely descriptive summaries often found at the beginning of scholarly journal articles or in periodical indexes. Annotations are descriptive and critical; they expose the author’s point of view, clarity and appropriateness of expression, and authority.


Creating an annotated bibliography calls for the application of a variety of intellectual skills: concise exposition, succinct analysis, and informed library research.

First, locate and record citations to books, periodicals, and documents that may contain useful information and ideas on your topic. Briefly examine and review the actual items. Then choose those works that provide a variety of perspectives on your topic.

Cite the book, article, or document using the appropriate style.

Write a concise annotation that summarizes the central theme and scope of the book or article. Include one or more sentences that (a) evaluate the authority or background of the author, (b) comment on the intended audience, (c) compare or contrast this work with another you have cited, or (d) explain how this work illuminates your bibliography topic.


For guidance in critically appraising and analyzing the sources for your bibliography, see How to Critically Analyze Information Sources. For information on the author’s background and views, ask at the reference desk for help finding appropriate biographical reference materials and book review sources.


Check with your instructor to find out which style is preferred for your class. Online citation guides for both the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) styles are linked from the Library’s Citation Management page.


The following example uses the APA format for the journal citation.

Waite, L. J., Goldschneider, F. K., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults. American Sociological Review, 51 (4), 541-554.

The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.

This example uses the MLA format for the journal citation. NOTE: Standard MLA practice requires double spacing within citations.

Waite, Linda J., Frances Kobrin Goldscheider, and Christina Witsberger. “Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Young Adults.” American Sociological Review 51.4 (1986): 541-554. Print.

The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.


Your Assigned Reading from April 8

(copied from “Assignments,” above. Am reposting it here.)

April 8: Here is your next reading, in pdf format. Please extract three quotes from it that you find most inspiring. Type and print them yourself on paper. Paste the paper near you desk/workspace/where you will see them all the time. Show me a photo of where you posted the paper.

These two chapters are excerpted from a larger book on what it’s really like to be a fiction writer. Hope you enjoy — even though you are not writing fiction, you are writing fact!:


George Orwell says…Don’t Drink and Think (well, sort of)

People wonder why English departments are such sticklers for grammar and the like. I’ll tell you honestly that, as a teacher, it’s not easy to uphold SWE (Standard Written English) when people (real people, my good friends, my respected colleagues) don’t really speak it themselves. Most people in an urban environment speak some version of what I think of as a “dialect” of Standard English. Call it AAVE, Ebonics, Slang, or whatever you want to, given the situation. No matter what you call it, the term will sound like you’re talking down to the speaker, and that’s not kind, not good. It doesn’t let that person be heard.

Now that we’ve said that, I still have to grade papers. Lots of them. And I have to convey to my students why it’s important that they write in SWE to the best of their ability. One of the better arguments I’ve found is that of “consistency.” If you conform to a standard, your concepts and innovations can be adopted faster.

Here is what one famous writer had to say about why people aren’t speaking English well anymore. And he wrote this at least 75 years ago!:

A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible. Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers.


Thoughts? Accuracy is important. And it can be fun to be accurate, and to enforce accuracy in others…


(George Orwell, pictured above. He wrote Animal Farm, and 1984.)

A reminder: My Office Hour is Thursdays, 10:45AM – 11:45 AM in the Common Room near the Library, Atrium, 4th Flr.

Presentations — 5 minute

Students with last names “A” through “I” will give a five minute (no longer!) presentation to the class on their research paper topic. The class, in turn, is there to help and guide the student. (We want to arrive at a good thesis statement, opinion, crux of the paper.) Next to go will be students with last names “J” through “Z” — please see “Assignments” on menu above for more deadlines. Days below:

April 5: “A” through “I”

April 7: “J” through “Z”

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 4.21.29 PM

Links to Research Paper Help Online

Let’s start with a quote from the Purdue OWL Website:

The research paper

There will come a time in most students’ careers when they are assigned a research paper. Such an assignment often creates a great deal of unneeded anxiety in the student, which may result in procrastination and a feeling of confusion and inadequacy. This anxiety frequently stems from the fact that many students are unfamiliar and inexperienced with this genre of writing. Never fear—inexperience and unfamiliarity are situations you can change through practice! Writing a research paper is an essential aspect of academics and should not be avoided on account of one’s anxiety. In fact, the process of writing a research paper can be one of the more rewarding experiences one may encounter in academics. What is more, many students will continue to do research throughout their careers, which is one of the reasons this topic is so important.

Becoming an experienced researcher and writer in any field or discipline takes a great deal of practice. There are few individuals for whom this process comes naturally. Remember, even the most seasoned academic veterans have had to learn how to write a research paper at some point in their career. Therefore, with diligence, organization, practice, a willingness to learn (and to make mistakes!), and, perhaps most important of all, patience, a student will find that she can achieve great things through her research and writing.

This handout will include the following sections related to the process of writing a research paper:

  • Genre– This section will provide an overview for understanding the difference between an analytical and argumentative research paper.
  • Choosing a Topic– This section will guide the student through the process of choosing topics, whether the topic be one that is assigned or one that the student chooses himself.
  • Identifying an Audience– This section will help the student understand the often times confusing topic of audience by offering some basic guidelines for the process.
  • Where Do I Begin– This section concludes the handout by offering several links to resources at Purdue, and also provides an overview of the final stages of writing a research paper.


The above is directly taken from Purdue OWL. Are you interested? Do you want to read more? (links are included below, at the end of the post.-ss)


The first step of any research paper is for the student to understand the assignment. If this is not done, the student will often travel down many dead-end roads, wasting a great deal of time along the way. Do not hesitate to approach the instructor with questions if there is any confusion. A clear understanding of the assignment will allow you to focus on other aspects of the process, such as choosing a topic and identifying your audience.


A student will often encounter one of two situations when it comes to choosing a topic for a research paper. The first situation occurs when the instructor provides a list of topics from which the student may choose. These topics have been deemed worthy by the instructor; therefore, the student should be confident in the topic he chooses from the list. Many first-time researchers appreciate such an arrangement by the instructor because it eliminates the stress of having to decide upon a topic on their own.

However, the student may also find the topics that have been provided to be limiting; moreover, it is not uncommon for the student to have a topic in mind that does not fit with any of those provided. If this is the case, it is always beneficial to approach the instructor with one’s ideas. Be respectful, and ask the instructor if the topic you have in mind would be a possible research option for the assignment. Remember, as a first-time researcher, your knowledge of the process is quite limited; the instructor is experienced, and may have very precise reasons for choosing the topics she has offered to the class. Trust that she has the best interests of the class in mind. If she likes the topic, great! If not, do not take it personally and choose the topic from the list that seems most interesting to you.

The second situation occurs when the instructor simply hands out an assignment sheet that covers the logistics of the research paper, but leaves the choice of topic up to the student. Typically, assignments in which students are given the opportunity to choose the topic require the topic to be relevant to some aspect of the course; so, keep this in mind as you begin a course in which you know there will be a research paper near the end. That way, you can be on the lookout for a topic that may interest you. Do not be anxious on account of a perceived lack of authority or knowledge about the topic chosen. Instead, realize that it takes practice to become an experienced researcher in any field. 

For a discussion of Evaluating Sources, see Evaluating Sources of Information.

Methods for choosing a topic

Thinking early leads to starting early. If the student begins thinking about possible topics when the assignment is given, she has already begun the arduous, yet rewarding, task of planning and organization. Once she has made the assignment a priority in her mind, she may begin to have ideas throughout the day. Brainstorming is often a successful way for students to get some of these ideas down on paper. Seeing one’s ideas in writing is often an impetus for the writing process. Though brainstorming is particularly effective when a topic has been chosen, it can also benefit the student who is unable to narrow a topic. It consists of a timed writing session during which the student jots down—often in list or bulleted form—any ideas that come to his mind. At the end of the timed period, the student will peruse his list for patterns of consistency. If it appears that something seems to be standing out in his mind more than others, it may be wise to pursue this as a topic possibility.

It is important for the student to keep in mind that an initial topic that you come up with may not be the exact topic about which you end up writing. Research topics are often fluid, and dictated more by the student’s ongoing research than by the original chosen topic. Such fluidity is common in research, and should be embraced as one of its many characteristics.

The Purdue OWL also offers a number of other resources on choosing and developing a topic:

Here you go (LINKS):

On Getting Started:


On MLA Style:


For Homework: TO DO Exercise, Due March 24

We started this at the beginning of class on March 22nd. Please write a response. No length. Have it for next class.

The world’s knowledge and wisdom is before you. You get ONE QUESTION. Make it a good one: “I want to know…[G-d, Science, Power, Mystery—all these are fair topics]? Why?

Try to answer it as best as you can with your limited ability.



In case you are interested in my inspiration for today’s assignment — writing without the word “the”  — here is a link to information on the Surrealists. These artists welcomed input from the Unconscious Mind.

Pictured immediately below: “Two Children Are Threatened by a Nightingale,” 1924, by Surrealist artist Max Ernst.



Pictured immediately above: “The Fugitive from Natural History,” 1926, by Surrealist artist Max Ernst.