Monday, January 31, 2011


Tonight, take some time to reread It's All In the Implications (or pdf) by Pico Iyer. Annotate it. Pour over it looking for allusions and meaning and implications. Look up things you don't know. Make connections. Don't stray from the is important.

Friday, January 28, 2011

How was that again?

I went to put your homework up on the blog, when I remembered that you have all that grammar to immerse yourselves in this weekend. So, remember to do the appositive exercises in Chapter 4 of the TLC book - bring them Monday and we'll go over it.

That's good though. It will give me a little time to ruminate on what I'd like to do next. We haven't talked so much about implication yet and this set of essays has revealed that it isn't necessarily a strength for us. Ergo, I think I may change gears ever so slightly and reinsert something I decided to skip earlier.

So, though we've been thinking more about argument lately, I think we may revisit analysis some. In the past, we've made the mistake of leaving analysis behind a bit too much and analysis tends to be touchy and whine about that. In fact it can get downright mean when it feels ignored. So, I have some stuff to think about over the weekend. ;)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hunk-a hunk-a burnin' moth!

The Hercules Moth -- bigger than a kid...
Annie Dillard's Death of a Moth is perhaps a bit more difficult to unravel than Woolf's moth musings, so we are going to try our hand at unraveling her meaning as well as how she crafted her essay.

From the packet, please blog your perspicacious answers to comprehension questions 1-2 and rhetoric questions 1-2 & 5-6.

As you do the questions above, you may find it useful to know the following:  "A volatile and peripatetic poet, the prodigy Arthur Rimbaud wrote all of his poetry in a space of less than five years" ( Hmmm, connections....
...and your head!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Woolf: The Death of the Moth

Virginia Woolf
Finish reading the essay The Death of the Moth by Virginia Woolf and blog thoughtful answers to the following questions:

  1. How would you describe the speakers attitude in paragraph 2?
  2. In what ways is the third paragraph the center of the essay (apart from its being the third in a series of five)?
  3. Why does the speaker lay down the pencil at the end of paragraph 4?
  4. Woolf's style in this essay might be described as discursive, with longer, complex sentences predominating. Yet she uses a few brief, simple sentences. Identify two and discuss their impact.
  5. Trace the emergence of combat imagery in the essay.
  6. Woolf does not explicitly state a thesis, but she could be said to have an implicit one. How would you state it?
  7. Describe the speaker's attitude toward death in this essay.
Don't forget! Friday is Grammar Day! Whoo hoo! Booyah! Yipppee! Do pages 167ff (the grammar section) of Chapter 4 on "The Appositive".

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

C.S. Lewis and The Rival Conceptions of God

Clive Staples Lewis
Prior to our nifty little finals week, we were in the midst of reading a series of arguments grouped around ethical issues. As you may remember, they were all assembled by the lovely editors of the 6th edition of the McGraw-Hill Reader except for On Compassion, which I tossed in the mix. I think it's an interesting amalgam thus far, dealing with issues of how to solve the issue of world poverty, what to do about the death penalty, how we form our ethical and moral systems from a young age, where morality comes from, the state of morality today, and the source of human compassion.

Tonight take a moment to reread The Rival Conceptions of God, excerpted from his work The Case for Christianity (originally a series of lectures if memory serves). Please blog the 6 rhetoric questions following the essay that you started?/finished? in class today.

Many of those who have blogged so far don't seem to have read the whole post. Not a good start to second semester in a class where close reading is so important! So, also read the red text below.

Then take a moment and identify the primary warrant Lewis relies on in this essay. Given that, which of the essays in the packet thus far does he have the most in common? Explain.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Line of Reasoning

Of the semester that is!
Today in class we read The New Immorality by Joseph Wood Krutch in our packets (if you were absent). In groups you were discussing the line of reasoning used by Krutch and explaining how made his argument effective. Be ready for your groups to present their findings tomorrow in class (we'll begin with each class compiling their findings on the board).

Tonight, read the next essay in the packet entitled On Compassion by Barbara Lazear Ascher. What is her line of reasoning? How does she choose to construct her argument? How do her techniques differ from Krutch's. Would either argument have been as effective if they switched techniques? Why or why not? 

Please blog your responses.

As the cartoon so ably illustrates, the end of the semester is imminent. You should be working on your This I Believe papers and studying the following:
  • The SAT Vocabulary
  • Toulmin
  • Aristotle (at least his triangle)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

This I Believe Paper

Ninja Nakayla Chan
Your This I Believe essay is due on Wednesday January 19th. It should be uploaded to your blog and you will be reading it aloud in class as well. Here are the requirements adapted from the This I Believe submission page (I encourage you to submit them to This I Believe if you wish).Keep the following in mind when you write your essay:
  1. Limit your essay to 350-500 words.
  2. Describe an event that shaped your beliefs or a person who inspired them.
  3. Avoid sermons and editorials—no soapbox declamations, please!
  4. Read more of the This I Believe essay-writing tips.
You can peruse multiple examples at Often the ones put on the radio are a bit better, but not necessarily so.

Andrea Kang's (Class of 2009) This I Believe essay. They re-posted it from its original posting so all of the comments are gone, but her essay is there.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Plato's Allegory of the Cave

Tonight Read Plato's Allegory of the Cave.
Blog your answers to rhetoric question number 2 on page 500 and to the following questions

  • In the first paragraph, what does the speaker identify as his purpose?
  • Characterize the tone of Socrates (the main speaker). of Glaucon and Glaucon's attitude?
  • Read paragraph 29 carefully. Explain the implication the speaker makes about the way humans live. Does such a characterization apply today?
  • Inferring from Plato's argument in this allegory, where can we assume morality and ethics come from?

Friday, January 7, 2011

How do we develop our personal ethical systems?

In the packet, read the article I Listen to My Parents and I Wonder What They Believe starting on page 491. Do the Comprehension questions (1-3), and then do the rhetoric questions 1-3, 5 all on page 495 on your blog. Lastly, take a minute and on your blog reflect on how you attained your ethical mores. What role did your parents play? Do you see any parallels between your development and that of the children discussed and interviewed in the article? Discuss.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Philosophy, Ethics, Religion, and Death (oh my!)

In your packets tonight (the ones you received in class today), read the introduction to the section starting on page 483 and continue reading the first two articles through page 489. The first is H.L. Mencken's The Penalty of Death and Coretta Scott King's The Death Penalty is a Step Back.

  • Consider the comprehension and rhetoric questions for each of the essays as a barometer of your understanding of the essays (King's questions are on page 490). 
  • Using Toulmin again (here's another take on Toulmin), look at the claim(s), data, warrant(s), backing, qualification(s), and refutation(s) for each argument. Which argument is the most compelling? Why do you think so?
Please blog your responses. We'll discuss this briefly after going over the timed writes on Friday.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Examining Arguments

Take a closer look at both The Singer Solution to World Poverty and Lifeboat Ethics: The Case Against Helping the Poor.

Take an emotional step back from each article/position. Remember Toulmin? Use Toulmin's method to get to the heart of each argument.

  • How are their warrants and backings different? 
  • How are their claims different? Be certain to answer this thoroughly.
  • Lastly, what is your position? Why do you take that position? What moral/ethical/philosophical/religious system(s) inform your position?
Please blog your responses.

Joe and Pax, If you're looking for your books so you can do your homework, they were left in my room. You'll have to go over to someone else's house tonight for a study session.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Lifeboat Ethics

Today in class we read The Singer Solution to World Poverty that advocated personal moral responsibility for people all over the world. Now it is time for the counterargument.

Tonight, read Lifeboat Ethics: The Case Against Helping the Poor on pages 324-333 of the TLC book.

Come prepared to discuss both essays in class tomorrow.