West Chester University

Fall 2004and
Spring 2005

West Chester University

Spring 2003

Fall 2002

Spring 2002

Fall 2001






Course Information
  LIT 165 Syllabus
  LIT 165 Announcements
  LIT 165 Assignments
  WRT 120 Syllabus
  WRT 120 Announcements
  WRT 120 Assigmments

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Spring 2005)
  Adieu to Imaginary Worlds
  One Last Look at Imaginary Worlds
  Notes on 'Before the Law'
  Samuel Beckett Links
  Notes on 'Waiting for Godot'
  Approaching 'Waiting for Godot'
  Notes on 'Axolotl' by Julio Cortazar
  Notes on 'EPICAC' by Kurt Vonnegut
  DIRECTIONS: Independent Project
  Suggested Readings: Independent Project
  Utopia/Dystopia Links
  Character Analysis: Brave New World
  Analyzing the Brave New World
  Defining Utopia
  Embarking on the Brave New World
  A Critique of BRAVE NEW WORLD
  Dante Links
  Inferno: Final Destinations, Cantos XXXII-XXXIV
  Inferno: Malebolge, Cantos XVIII-XXXI
  Inferno: Questions/Analysis, Cantos XII - XVII
  Structure in the Inferno: Analysis, Cantos V - XI
  Inferno: Questions for Analysis, Cantos I - V
  Introducing Canto I
  Approaching the Divine Comedy
  Relating to Dante's Inferno
  Our Goals for Studying the Inferno
  Assignment Sheet: PAPER #1
  The Birthmark
  Leaf By Niggle
  Responses to Leaf By Niggle
  'On Fairy Stories' by J.R.R. Tolkien
  Notes on Ovid and 'Metamorphoses'
  Analyzing the Mythic Tales
  The Four Functions of Myth
  Myth and Metaphor
  Myth - Links
  Filtering the Introduction to 'Fantastic Worlds'
  'La Belle Dame Sans Merci' and 'The Zebra Storyteller
  Introducing the 'Imaginary Worlds' Theme
  Alice In Wonderland
  The Metamorphosis

Notebook for Effective Writing I (Spring 2004)
  Conference Schedule: 4/21 and 4/26
  Commentary: Following Up Your Response
  Critical Thinking and Commentary
  Casebook: Evaluating Sources
  What is Argument?
  Parts of an Argument
  Casebook Assignment Sheet
  Rubric for Evaluation of Writing
  Assignment Sheet: Essay#1
  Expressive Writing
  Short Stories About Identity
  Thoughts on Stories About Identity
  Poems About Identity
  Understanding the 'Rhetorical Situation'
  Mind-map: Identity

ENG Q20: Basic Writing (Fall 2004)
  ENG Q20 Syllabus
  Frederick Douglass Excerpt
  Propaganda Analysis
  How to Detect Propaganda
  George Orwell's Politics and the English Language
  Propaganda Analysis Exercise

Go Exploring
  Weblog for WRT 120
  Writing Assistance on the Web
  Blackboard at WCU
  WCU Homepage
  WCU's Francis Harvey Green Library


~~ Following Up Your Response ~~
Analyze, Interpret, Synthesize, and Evaluate


Are other people's opinions always useful to us? (No, they're not. Sometimes we can completely ignore other peoples' opinions and be none the worse for it.) When do other peoples' opinions seem unhelpful?

When a commentary is purely subjective, purely opinionated with no supporting analysis, interpretation, synthesis, or evaluation is can seem pretty useless. For example, consider the commentator whose disembodied, enlarged head appears on the screen following a presidential debate to say things like, "Well, it was obvious to everyone who watched the debate that the President looked very Presidential this evening" and from that you're supposed to be persuaded that he performed successfully in the debate. There's no supporting analysis of what Presidential "qualities" he's referring to, no specific interpretation of his language other than his body language (as if to be "Presidential" you merely have to stand in a certain posture and use a particular tone of voice). There's nothing to help you understand anything but that one person seems convinced that the President appeared presidential.

If people's opinions can be useless, in what sense can they also be useful?

Consider the example of a movie review. How can one person's opinion about a movie become useful to you? Suppose there's a movie reviewer who gives the latest flick a thumbs down. She says, don't bother seeing this movie because the plot was predictable, the acting was forced, and the camera shots were really dull. The action sequences were full of stunts that have been done a thousand times before. You have a pretty clear idea why this reviewer didn't like this film, and even if you don't agree with her conclusion, you know why you probably would or wouldn't like the film yourself. Even reviews we disagree with can be useful to us if the reviewer has included that kind of evaluative commentary. Maybe you don't care about the plot as long as your favorite star is on the screen for 120 minutes; maybe the acting is less important to you than the posing; and maybe originality is not something you expect when you go to the movies. You're a gun fight fan regardless of how many you've seen. You decide that even if this reviewer hated this film, you may like it a lot-the review was useful to you.

Your personal response becomes useful and interesting and provocative to other people when you include some kind of objective analysis, interpretation, synthesis, or evaluation. If you do this, your readers can determine whether they agree or disagree with you and why. They gain a better understanding of your subject by understanding your perspective on it and how their own perspective may be the same or different.

Let's use an example to demonstrate how you can follow up your response. Suppose your topic is to observe the "cell phone trend."

Analyze: break into parts, examine each part closely, and make inferences

  • Who, what, where, and when are people using cell phones?
  • Do teenagers use them differently than adults?
  • What kinds of cell phones are available today? Who's attracted to which kind?
  • What kinds of services are available through cell phones that people never used to associate with phones?

Interpret: explore the possible meanings of what you've observed, or settle on one meaning you think is correct

  • Why do people use cell phones?
  • What's the purpose of a cell phone?
  • Are cell phones fads or permanent fixtures? If they're permanent, do they change our culture in any way?

Synthesize: juxtapose your subject with something outside your subject to give your readers another way of looking at it. Compare/contrast is one common way to synthesize.

  • Is this new technology comparable to other leaps in technology? The portable transistor radio of the 70s? The internet of the 90s? Is there something to learn about comparing or contrasting cell phone technology with any past trends, fads, or leaps?

Evaluate: establish the worth or value of your subject by identifying and applying a set of justifiable criteria

  • Is the cell phone trend a good or a bad thing for our society, as you observe it?
  • Was life better before or after everyone had cell phones?
  • How could we make cell phones better?






Questions? Contact me.

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