assignment 4-5: reflecting on your writing

To be completed in class on Monday November 7. If you are absent, you should attach the Assignment 4-5 to your Junod essay (Assignment 4-4) and get both assignments to me a.s.a.p. in hard copy format.

On page 6 of the Student Guide, one of the reflective goals states that your final portfolio reflective essay will

…account for and evaluate the choices made in the interpretive essays by… considering the writer’s own composing and design strategies given the purpose, context, medium, and audience.

Given this course goal, re-read your essay drafts as they are now and write a reflective essay in which you identify your purposes, context, medium, and audience. Looking back at pages 2-11 in The DK Handbook might be helpful as you decide how to approach doing this. It may also be helpful to reference the statements of purpose your wrote for your Kalman and Neufeld essays.

Then, analyze several writing choices or composing/design strategies that you used in your writing for these essays, in light of how you identified your purposes, context, medium, and audience. Be sure to provide evidence from your own essay to support your claims; discuss specific places in your interpretive essays that serve your purposes.

assignment 4-4: interpreting “The Falling Man”

Due: Monday 11/7

Format: Bring two printed and stapled copies of your essay to class. Also, please bring all your past paper drafts, revision notes, and statements of purpose that you wrote for your essays.

Length: Aim for a full three pages, which is a “safe” length that you should strive to meet (or exceed) in all three of your final portfolio essays.

Directions: Using what you learned from your previous writing about Tom Junod’s magazine article “The Falling Man,” write a formal essay that pulls all the pieces together into a clear and coherent explanation of the article as a whole. How do Junod’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 Junod’s rhetorical situation to support the interpretation you offer.

As you write, use the quoting/paraphrasing guidelines you learned in class (download handout here) to incorporate and analyze evidence from “The Falling Man.” You can also use properly-cited evidence from class discussion and the writing of others in class to support your critical interpretation. Use this essay 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.

Include the essay elements that we’ve been working on all semester:

  • A thesis statement that reflects your purpose and that you maintain in each paragraph of your paper
  • An introduction and a creative title (something other than the name of the assignment)
  • Ample supporting evidence in the form of direct quotes and paraphrases
  • A summary of Junod’s essay as needed to help readers understand what he’s saying and to contextualize your analysis
  • Clear sentences in the Plain Style
  • 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 or ask me for help.
  • Correct MLA citations and a Works Cited page

    • The basic MLA format for in-text citations is on page 344 in the DK Handbook.
    • Include a Works Cited page at the end of your paper. See page 355 in the DK Handbook for an example of what this looks like. Pages 364-365 shows the Works Cited page citation for “parts of books.”

assignment 4-3: interpretive questions about “The Falling Man”

Due: Friday 11/4
Format: Leave a comment on this post
Length: Two or three questions

For this assignment, go back to your first observations, which you listed for Assignment 4-1. In class today (Nov. 2), we worked in groups to explain these observations as choices that Junod made for some reason. We asked some of the following questions to make “interpretive leaps” and come to conclusions:

  • Why did Junod do that?
  • How might that further his purpose?
  • Given what he seems concerned about in the world around him, and what he sees in his audience, why might he have chosen to do that?
  • What effects do you think this choice might have on readers?

For this assignment, develop three interpretive questions from your list of observations or from the classwork we’ve been doing.  These questions should be about some specific aspect of Junod’s text. Perhaps there is an observation that you cannot explain? Perhaps you cannot answer the question “so what?” for something on your list? Turn that into a question.

The goal of these interpretive questions is to push you and your classmates to identify choices and ask why Junod made those choices.  It is always possible that Junod did not consciously choose to do some of the things you observe in “The Falling Man,” but for now assume that he did and consider how this helps you understand his text.

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.