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Monday, September 17

September 17, 2012
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Argument: Today we turned in the homework on types of claims. Then we reviewed it. Then we took a quiz on it. I have looked at the results and think we need to revisit this idea just a bit on Wednesday.

Remember a few tips:

1. Terms like “most successful,” “significant,” and “influential,” for example, are obviously subjective, and require agreement about the definition before the claim itself can be considered. However, a claim like:

“The Steelers are the most successful NFL franchise of all time.”

or

“Taylor Swift is the most commercially successful artist of the last 20 years.”

are best described as claims of fact because there is quantifiable evidence available to support the claim. (Super Bowl wins, record sales, etc.)

2. The best example of a claim of definition is when there is actually some debate over what to call something, or how to define it. The quiz question from today about “family values” is a case in point. The author of the essay made the point that “family values” had become a term that now had a very specific and limited meaning.

3. When you see the terms “better,” “best,” “worse,” or “worst,” it might be a clue that you are judging the value of something. (But there are exceptions! “The best thing to do when you are not prepared for a test is to lie to your teacher” seems to be a policy claim, first and foremost.)

4. Claims of cause describe one event that allegedly caused another event. Key words can include “because,” “is responsible for,” “created,” etc. But there are ways to make a claim of cause without using any of these terms. (“Thanks to Student A’s negligence, we are going to be punished for the rest of year.”)

5. If all this seems confusing, relax: it is! And we’re not going to do this forever. The important thing is less that you can identify every type of claim whenever you see it, and more that you know what they are and how to both use them and respond to them.

No assignment for Wednesday — we’ll begin talking then about appeals.

Bookbinding: Today went a lot better, thanks for your cooperation. Remember, people who are not in press sit at the big table. @press people stick together, binding team people stick together.

We’ll continue the current project on Wednesday.

Act I: Today we took a quiz on the Prologue and the first two scenes of The Bacchae. Then we did a reading of a portion of that reading assignment.

A few points:

1. The Bacchae is a lot like a horror film, and not just because of the gore. You have an old sage (actually two: Cadmus and Tiresias) who try to warn a headstrong teenager. The result if the same as it is in any slasher flick.

2. Tiresias, the blind prophet, is a key character. He figures into other important Greek works, including The Odyssey (where he appears as a ghost) and the story of Oedipus (where he delivers the really, really bad news to Oedipus). He also shows up in T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” but more on that later.

3. The play starts with a monologue by Dionysus that features lots of exposition. But it’s believable: a) he’s standing next to his mother’s grave, and is reminded that people who believe he isn’t a god think she is a liar, and b) he is already mad because of this: people aren’t giving him respect, so he’s assumed human form to get it. (And to talk to us, the audience.)

For Wednesday: please read Scene 3, if you haven’t already.

Press: Today we continued to do what we’ve been doing. PLEASE remember that reading submissions is, in fact, a required thing — please don’t make it so that I have to assign quotas as homework, but it will have to come to that if things don’t pick up a bit. Remember, you don’t have to spend a million years evaluating each one — just give it a quick once-over and jot down a couple of notes.

We’ll chat a bit more about this on Wednesday, but in the meantime, if you have any submissions that you’ve completed, please bring them in so that the 2nd readers can get to them.

Stephen King: Today we watched a Twilight Zone episode called “The Howling Man,” which depicts Satan as a poor, tormented soul kept prisoner in a remote monastery. Watch it here:

We compared this depiction with your homework, which I collected. (And which you owe me if you were absent.)

Then we discussed, briefly, the first eight chapters of Pet Semetary. We talked about the ways in which it mirrored King’s own life; the ways in which he made the story’s opening relatable (being a new neighbor or having one); and the ways in which he foreshadowed the coming events. (Everything from the focus on the cat, Church, and the road, to the time of the year in which the story takes place.)

For Wednesday, please read Chapters 9 through 14 and expect a quiz.

Survey: Fiction: Today you did prompt 5 in class (respond to Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper: a) what do you learn/discover about the narrator/voice by the end of the story? Age, gender, attitude, etc. and b) how is persona being utilized in this story?). We discussed your answers and then got notes on transformation, form, and epistolary form. Make sure to get these from a classmate if you were absent.

Prompt 6 was also started in class. If you were absent, instead of doing the prompt as we did it in class, all you need to do is use the persona you were assigned for prompt 4 and write a letter (epistolary form…) using that voice.

A series of short stories were handed out and need to be read for Friday. Please note that these are NOT in the Norton Anthology and if you were absent, you need to pick up your copy from the box on my desk asap. Do NOT wait till Friday! There will be a quiz, as usual.

7th Grade: Today we did a writing exercise in which you all a) read Chapter 3 of Sorcerer’s Stone and 2) got to realize your wildest dreams and write from the perspective of Dudley Dursley. Nice job — we’ll do more of this next week!

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