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Thursday, October 16

October 16, 2014
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Argument: Today we reviewed the claims in “Letter From Birmingham Jail.” I didn’t do the best job is class of walking you through this essay the way we did “Modest Proposal,” so I’ll try to do a better job here.

Remember the back story. King is writing this letter in response to an open letter by eight white ministers who essentially called for an end to protests (and suggested King, an outsider, should leave town). His rebuttal is a masterpiece of rhetoric because, like all good arguments, it anticipates objections and addresses them.

First of all, King has to explain why he’s here in Birmingham, sticking his nose into their business. He does this simply through a claim of cause: “I am in Birmingham because injustice is here.” And he rejects the ministers’ policy claim by making a policy claim of his own: the protests are going to continue.

That leads to a bigger problem, because the eight ministers clearly don’t believe that “injustice” describes what’s going on, or that protests are necessary in response. King begins to address this by making a claim of fact. He points out that demonstrators called off their protests the previous fall after business owners and city officials promised to make concessions — removing “Colored” signs, for example. They didn’t.

Still, you’re not going to convince people that you’re fighting on the side of justice if they can respond that you are breaking the law to do so. King understands this, and to overcome it, he has to change the way his audience talks about things. He does this by making some claims of definition. He points out the difference between a just law and an unjust law. And he makes an even more basic claim about the way language has been used:  to black Americans who want their rights affirmed, “‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.'”

That leads, of course, to the inevitable claim that segregation is not just an inconvenience — it is immoral. (A value claim, in other words.) Conversely, King must claim that while violent protest might be questionable, nonviolent protest is not only defensible, but moral — another value claim. Yet King isn’t above making a threat, via a claim of fact: “Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever.” He backs up this claim by pointing out what has happened in other countries where the oppressed have fought back against their oppressors.

The remainder of the letter deals specifically with the failures of the church to address the civil right movement. We’ll talk more about that Tuesday.

I then gave you an “open letter” which I want to you to respond to, using the four steps of Rogerian argument, in written form for Tuesday.

New Media: Today you took a “did you read it quiz” for the readings that were assigned for today. Then we talked a bit about what you thought was interesting or relevant – seems like there was a lot of stuff that caught your eye. That’s good, because this is going to be an ongoing conversation.

We started talking about layout and design, since that’s what you’ve been doing lately anyway as you initially set up your blogs. We looked at several websites (they were all linked earlier to The Battleship as about page examples) and picked apart their designs, layout, and posting styles.

Keep the things we discussed today in mind as you continue to work on your own site. I expect to see a little more progress over the weekend. As soon as all of the permission slips are in, you’ll get your first posting assignment.

There is a reading for Tuesday, which was handed out last class. Again, it’s a bit lengthy, so don’t wait till the last minute. We’ll discuss it – or at least begin to discuss it – on Tuesday. Also for Tuesday, fill out this sheet: New Media 10.16.14 – Blog Design Analysis Assignment.

Siren: No class today because of the lip dub.

Style: No class today because of the lip dub. Flowcharts are due on Tuesday.

8th Grade:

Survey: Poetry: Today I gave back your exams and we reviewed them. You turned in your sonnets/rhyme royals. Then we talked about the rondeau — another French form adapted to English. I gave you a handout that outlines the details. The big ones: a rondeau has 15 lines, and its first line is repeated twice, at the end of the second and third stanzas. These refrains are usually half the length of the first line.

We brainstormed some lines in iambic tetrameter — I chose that line length because it’s easier to split for the refrains. Here’s the list:

1. White roses, all color sucked out

2. The moon surpasses all the stars

3. She loves to watch the Hunger Games

4. He loved her soul with endless grace

5. An awful boy had nothing left

6. He heard her speak when silence fell

7. A simple thing, it has to go

8. The man was walking all the time

9. Don’t fight the urge to kill the man

10. The way they die’s revolting, now

11. Your dark eyes led everyone close

12. A girl in pink eats pumpkin pie

13. Somewhere I dream beautiful things

14. In winter, melancholy grows

Your rondeau is due on Tuesday. It must be written in iambic tetrameter. It must follow the rhyme scheme. And it must make sense. Think first: what is it you’re trying to say? And what image are you going to use to get it across?

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