assignment 4-2: Junod’s rhetorical situation

Due: Wednesday 11/2
Format: Leave a comment on this post
Length: two or three paragraphs

For this assignment, describe your sense of what Junod’s purpose, audience, and context (his rhetorical situation) might be. Keep pushing yourself to find and cite specific evidence from the text as you write.  (If you are not that familiar with the events that happened in the US on 9-11-2001, you might first want to do a little research on the Internet to gather information about Junod’s context. See some links below for a starting point.) Your post could address some of the following questions:

  • What in the world around him is motivating Junod to create this piece?
  • What is it about the time he is living in? What historical events or changes are shaping how he sees the world?
  • How does the way he sees the world fit with the ways he sees/imagines his readers? Does he want to draw their attention to some issue or problem they might not be noticing?
  • How does Junod relate to his readers? Is he confrontational, caring, friendly, personal, distant or… ? How do you get a sense of his personality or attitude towards the audience?
  • Why does Junod try to accomplish his purpose in an Esquire Magazine article? And does it matter that his essay was published in 2003 instead of 2001? Why might he have waited two years?
  • How does Junod use the elements of an essay (such as paragraphs, reference to outside sources, description, section breaks, etc…) to accomplish his purpose?
  • What thoughts, feelings, and/or behaviors might Junod wish to change in his audience? How would he like to see his readers respond to the piece?
  • What other kinds of changes might he be seeking?

Some notes about context:

Local context: In September 2003, many readers would have encountered “The Falling Man” in Esquire Magazine since this is the original publication venue. Does the publication date and place change or help your understanding of Junod’s essay? Do you think this is a “typical” Esquire article?

Larger context: “What are the values and concerns of [the author’s] time and place? What has happened recently that might affect how someone responds to a text?” (DK Handbook 7). The larger context for an author’s essay is the response to these questions. You need to know what is shaping Junod’s rhetorical situation. For example, the DK Handbook mentions that after September 11, 2001, “it was a long time before people felt it was appropriate to tell jokes and be humorous about politics or world events” (7). Junod writes in September 2003, so how can we gather information about a rhetorical situation that happened 8 years ago? How can we ever know Junod’s larger context in the moment he sat down to write? We can never truly know, but we can do some research to build a reasonable background of context that might be guiding the author’s choices.

Use the links below to research the larger context of “The Falling Man.” Do not read the sources from start to finish. Instead, skim the sites/articles that interest you, looking for important contextual clues that you might be able to interpret in light of something Junod wrote.

assignment 4-1: preliminary observations about “The Falling Man”

Due: Monday 10/31
Format: Leave a comment on this post and bring your lists to class
Length: Two or three paragraphs

Read “The Falling Man” on pages 69-80 in the Course Reader. You’ll find that this essay has much more text than the other things we’ve been reading in class.  Junod’s essay is layered, fragmented, complex, and ambient.  It will help you to take notes as you read in order to track what you observe and to make sense of it later. As you work through the essay, make marks in the margins or underline passages that seem significant to you for any reason.

In Assignment 2-1 and Assignment 3-2, I asked you to make lists of your observations:

  • Notice details that stand out
  • List patterns of repetition and contrast
  • List anomalies – things that seem unusual, that seem not to fit the pattern

For this assignment, use what you already learned from these steps to take notes on your initial impressions of ‘The Falling Man.”  In a notebook, make your lists of details, patterns, and anomalies. Additionally, now that you’ve had more practice with rhetorical analysis, you might also note other strategies, key terms, distinctions, or questions you see in Junod’s essay.  After you, have made your lists in your notebook, write two or three paragraphs about what observations/patterns/anomalies/strategies you think are the most significant (and why) for understanding and interpreting “The Falling Man” at this point.

Leave your paragraphs as a post on this blog. Bring your notebook with your lists to class on Monday. We’ll be using your notes in small groups during class. Also, bring your textbook.

assignment 3-6: writing an interpretation of a comic

Due date: Monday October 24
Format: Please type your essay. Print two copies, staple them, and bring them to class.
Length: As much room as you need to fully develop your thesis statement and accomplish your purpose. I will say that essays shorter than 2.5 pages tend to fare poorly in final portfolio review.

Guidelines: Using what you learned from your previous writing about Josh Neufeld’s “A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge,” write a formal essay that pulls all the pieces together into a clear and coherent explanation of the piece as a whole. How do Neufeld’s main strategies fit together in order to accomplish his overall purpose, given his audience and context — as you understand it? In other words, use your sense of Neufeld’s overall purpose to support the interpretation you offer.

As you write, use and analyze evidence from “A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge” — quotations, summaries, paraphrases, and images or descriptions of images — and from class discussion and the writing of others in class to support your critical interpretation. Use this as a chance to demonstrate how your particular understanding of this text has been arrived at critically, so choose your supporting evidence from across the text.

In the writing you turn in, remember that you’re moving from “writing to learn” to “writing to communicate.” In part, this means you should attend to how other people might interpret the comic differently from you (and why). Write to others in a way that addresses what might matter to them. This also means that you should pay attention to the conventions that have developed over time in academic writing. Please remember the helpful overview of components of an academic essay on pages 148-149 in your DK Handbook. Here is a more detailed description of some of the “academic essay” conventions you should try to follow in this paper assignment:

  • Include a thesis statement that reflects your purpose, and maintain that purpose each time you reiterate and evolve your thesis in the essay. You should have already written a working thesis and a statement of purpose for Assignment 3-5, so you may know what I mean by “evolving thesis statement.” If you look at the goals on page 6 in the purple student’s guide, you’ll see the first goal is to “articulate and maintain a controlling purpose.” This is the #1 element that your final portfolio readers will look for, so it’s important that you begin trying to meet this goal in your first drafts.
  • Include an introduction (see DK Handbook pages 234-235), a conclusion (see DK Handbook pages 233-233), and a title.
  • Give ample supporting evidence in the form of direct quotes and paraphrases. To get a quick review of how to work with sources in your paper, see the DK Handbook pages 300-309.
  • Summarize the comic as needed to contextualize your analysis. In your essay, I would suggest that you give a one- or two-sentence summary of the comic in your introductory paragraph (see page 306 in the DK Handbook for an example of a one-sentence summary) and then add more summary as needed to introduce quotes and give grounding to your analysis.
  • Write in the Plain Style. You should know what that is if you have been doing the reading and participating in the discussions. (if not, see “Nuts and Bolts” uploaded to Course Documents and review DK Handbook pages 146-147).
  • Format your paper according to MLA guidelines on page 330 in the DK Handbook. Also read this web page for a description of how to format your margins, spacing, etc. in your word processor. If you are confused about how to double space or page-number your essay automatically, please check out that link.
  • Cite your references in the essay and at the end of your essay.
    • The basic MLA format for in-text citations is shown on page 344 in the DK Handbook.
    • Include a Works Cited page at the end of your paper. See page 340 in the DK Handbook for an example of what this looks like. Pages 364-365 show the Works Cited page citation for “parts of books.”

week 8 overview (10/24 – 10/28)

Next week (week 8 on our semester calendar) requires that you pay attention to some changes. All of this has been roughly outlined since the first day of class on the schedule. But, here is a more detailed day-by-day summary of what’s going on:

Monday: Essay 2 (Neufeld interpretation) is due. Bring 2 (two) printed copies on paper to class. They can be printed on both sides to save paper if that’s an issue. Also, bring the first statement of purpose (assignment 2-4) you wrote for the Kalman essay. In class Monday, we will not do a peer review. Instead, we will discuss the reflective essay component of your final portfolio and we will practice reflective writing (assignment 3-7).

Tuesday: Museum trip. Meet in the main lobby area of Riverview at 12:15. Bring a pencil and a notebook. Plan to be gone for an hour and a half. Attending, I have Leif, Tristen, Amandla, Ke’Air, Christian, Molly, and Jackie Samuelsson.
In the gallery, we will take a tour and then you will select one artwork to focus on. While looking at the artwork, take note of the title of the piece, the artist, the year of creation, the medium, and the dimensions of the piece. Do your notice-and-focus procedure, and then look for patterns, contrasts, and anomalies. Take these notes in your notebook. By Wednesday, write a short (2-page) summary and analysis of the artwork. Post this essay to the correct Ning forum.
If you do not post an analysis, that will count as one class absence whether or not you go on the class trip. So, it’s important to take the assignment seriously even if you are not attending the trip.

Wednesday: No class meeting. Post your artwork analysis to the Ning. I will be in Curtin Hall, office 284, most of the day for optional one-on-one (20-minute) student conferences. If you choose to sign up for a conference, I will have comments on your Neufeld interpretation ready for discussion. We can also talk about other issues that you want to raise. Sign up for a conference here.

Thursday: Online conferences most of the day. To use this option, you need to install the AOL Instant Messenger program and send a message to eng101rachael at your specific appointment time. Sign up for a conference here.

Friday: No class meeting. Today, your peer review essay (assignment 2-8) is due. Email the assignment as a .DOC or .RTF file to your partner and copy me (Cc:) on the email. Do not send a .DOCX file or .PAGES file because your classmate might not be able to open your feedback. Instead of attaching a file, I would suggest pasting your review into the email itself.

Monday: Class picks up again as normal. We’ll be starting a new unit with Tom Junod’s moving Esquire magazine essay, “The Falling Man.”

What should you do if you are not attending the museum trip Oct. 25? Here are some options around campus:

** Sum Total 2011
October 14-November 5, 2011
Location: Inova/Arts Center Gallery
Arts Center Building, 2nd Floor
2400 East Kenwood Blvd., Milwaukee, WI 53211
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11 am – 4 pm.
Cost: Free

** Crossing Over
October 21-November 11
Opening Reception: October 21, 5-8PM.
UWM Union Art Gallery (UAG) – cost = free
Hours: Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri, Sat 12-5pm; Thu 12-7pm

** The Expressionist Portrait, Pathos and Persona in German Art
Art History Gallery (Mitchell 154)
Runs until Oct. 27 (that’s Thursday, so go soon)
This exhibit showcases important paintings, prints and drawings by some of the premier German and Austrian artists of the 20th century and provides an in-depth examination of important social and psychological themes in expressionist portraiture. Featured artists include Max Beckmann, Oskar Kokoschka, Käthe Kollwitz, Emil Nolde, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Ludwig Meidner, and others. Nathan Gramse, a graduate student in art history and museum studies, will curate the exhibition. Free and open to the public. Mitchell Hall is located at 3203 N. Downer. Regular gallery hours are Monday through Thursday from 10 to 4.

** In Mitchell hall, on the second floor, there is a long hallway where student artists hang artworks on the wall. Some of these are in-progress, but you might find something of interest there.

assignment 3-5: forming a sense of purpose and a working thesis

Due: Friday, October 21
Format: Please print the assignment on paper and bring it to class. Only one copy is required.
Length: A sentence (or two) for your working thesis and one healthy paragraph for your statement of purpose

For this assignment, review the DK Handbook pages 138-139 and pages 200-203. Then write a statement of purpose and a working thesis for your interpretive essay about “A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge.” Type and print your working thesis and statement of purpose and bring this paper to class on Friday. This assignment is not about Neufeld. Do not write about his purpose. You already did that in Assignment 3-3. For your statement of purpose, you should follow the directions on pages 200-203 in the DK Handbook, focusing on the bullet-pointed questions on page 202. If you are still confused, you could look at this student sample [RTF] of a statement of purpose written for an interpretation of “Back to the Land.”

You have already tried this assignment for your previous essay about “Back to the Land.” I won’t ask you to do this assignment again for your third essay, but I do want you to try it one more time now. As you might recall, a thesis statement for an essay is not the same as a purpose for writing. A thesis expresses (states explicitly as one or two sentences) the main idea or central claim of your essay. In contrast, your purpose is the motivation for writing your essay; it is not an explicit statement, but it works in the background to guide and control your analysis and what you want to say to your readers. As you develop your statement of purpose, you will be “thinking on paper” to get a clear sense of “what you really want your readers to think, feel, or do as they read your writing and when they are done reading it” (DK Handbook 200).

For example, if a student is protesting the construction of a Wal-Mart in her town, the thesis statement on her protest sign could be “Wal-Mart kills communities and destroys local businesses.” Her purpose is obvious, but it is unstated: She wants to prevent Wal-Mart from building a location in her town. Her purpose is also to generate media attention and join a crowd in protest. Thus, thesis statements and purposes are different.

Also keep in mind:

  • You should follow the guidelines in the DK Handbook, but your statement of purpose does not have to be as long as the example on page 203. It could be one longer paragraph or two healthy paragraphs.
  • You will not be making a “proposal for action” claim like the thesis in the example on page 139. Your thesis might be something like “In this comic, Neufeld uses x y z to show…” or “The placement of x and the contrast of y and z help Neufeld’s readers understand that…” or “The comic shows white readers the experiences of black Katrina victims through Neufeld’s use of x y z strategy.” (or whatever you want to say about the comic)
  • Look at this model for an evolving thesis statement [PDF]. You will see an example of a working thesis statement, and then you can see how this statement evolves as the writer presents evidence to complicate the initial claim. Your goal now is to simply write the working thesis statement, keeping in mind that the revised thesis statements will come later as you draft and evolve your essay and your thinking.

assignment 3-4: forming interpretive questions

Due: Wednesday, October 19
Format: Leave a comment on this post
Length: At least two questions

In class on Monday, we returned to our observations about “A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge.” (Check out this document [RTF] to see a list of these observations.)  We tried to explain some of these observations as choices or strategies that Neufeld is using to accomplish a purpose, with an audience in mind and a context at hand. For Assignment 3-4, write two (or more, if you like)  interpretive questions about “A.D.” We will discuss these questions in class on Wednesday.

You can use the DK Handbook page 108 and page 120 to help you. Please give your questions a lead-in or a bit of context so that we know where you’re coming from and so that you are not just rephrasing an observation from the list as a question. For example, don’t simply ask

Why does Neufeld make his comic all about black vs. white?

This question is too broad, and it gives no context for what you mean by “all about,” “vs.” or how you think Neufeld actually handles the issue of racial division. The question doesn’t add anything to the discussion because it simply takes a binary from the list and poses it as a “why?” question. Instead, do a bit more work by being specific and adding some interpretation to your interpretive question.  To be more specific, you could cite a passage or a particular scene as an example, you could define/analyze a key term in your question, or you could explain a point of uncertainty in your thinking so that we know where the question comes from.

assignment 3-3: reading for purpose, audience, context

Due: Monday, October 17
Format: leave a comment on this post
Length: two or three paragraphs

This assignment asks you to start forming a sense of Josh Neufeld’s purpose, audience, and context in the September 1 chapter of his comic “A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge.”  First, re-read the comic.  For this second reading, try to develop your observant stance into a more advanced, critical stance. You are still composing to learn, but now composing to learn more and learn deeper.

To help you read critically, look at

These objective readings will provide the background information you need to piece together Neufeld’s context and the problem he seems to be responding to. Remember, use these articles not to bolster your own personal opinion about the issues surrounding Hurricane Katrina, but instead try to find things that will help you analyze “A.D New Orleans After the Deluge” rhetorically. After you look at those articles, re-read Neufeld’s comic for a pitch, a moment, and a complaint:

  • A pitch. Neufeld’s comic makes an argument, although at first glance it might seem like a simple story about one awful day. “A.D.” does make some sort of case, even if that argument or case is never stated explicitly.  As you re-read the comic, look for language that reveals the position or positions Neufeld seems interested in having you adopt.
  • A complaint. His comic is also a reaction to some situation, some set of circumstances that he has set out to address.  To help you understand another person’s writing, it can be useful to figure out what caused the person to write the text in the first place. Look for language that reveals the writer’s starting point. If you can find the position or situation he or she is worried about and possibly trying to correct, you will find it much easier to locate the argument (or the position the comic is asking you to accept).
  • A moment. Lastly, Neufeld’s comic is a response to the world conditioned by his particular moment in time. In your attempt to figure out not only what a text says but where it is coming from, history is significant. When was the piece written? (August 2009, but he started writing the comic in 2006.)  Where? (the comic was originally published as a series on the web, and then it was revised into a graphic novel.) What else was going on at the time that might have shaped the writer’s ideas and attitudes?

Now, write two or three paragraphs explaining your sense of what Neufeld’s purpose, audience, and context (his rhetorical situation) might be. Your post could address some of the following questions, which will resonate with the critical reading guidelines above.

  • What in the world around him is motivating Neufeld to create this comic?
  • What is it about the time he is living in? What historical events or changes are shaping how he sees the world?
  • How does the way he sees the world fit with the ways he sees/imagines his readers? Does he want to draw their attention to some issue or problem they might not be noticing?
  • How does Neufeld relate to his readers? Is he confrontational, caring, friendly, or… ? How exactly do you get a sense of his personality or attitude towards the audience?
  • What do you know about Neufeld’s audience? Do they need any special knowledge to understand the comic? Do they come from a certain area or country, share certain values or identity markers, or subscribe to similar beliefs?
  • Why does Neufeld try to accomplish his purpose through a comic, instead of some other medium or genre?
  • Do the visual elements of the text help him accomplish his purpose? How?
  • What thoughts, feelings, and/or behaviors might Neufeld wish to change in his audience? How would he like to see his readers respond to the comic?
  • What other kinds of changes might he be seeking?

Keep pushing yourself to find and cite specific evidence from the text as you write this post. Avoid unsupported claims.

It is always possible that Neufeld did not consciously choose to do some of the things you observe in his comic, but for now assume that he did and consider how this helps you understand “A.D.”