West Chester University

Spring 2006 and Fall 2005

West Chester University

Fall 2004and
Spring 2005

Spring 2003

Fall 2002

Spring 2002

Fall 2001






Course Syllabi and Announcements
  LIT 165 Syllabus
  LIT 165 Announcements and Assignments
  WRT 120 Syllabus
  WRT 120 Announcements and Assignments

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Spring 2008)
  A Reading of THE TEMPEST

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Rites of Passage (Spring 2006)
  Goals of the Course
  Fundamental Questions about Literature
  Valuing Literature
  Critical Thinking and Reading Literature
  Critical Approaches to Literature
  Literature as ART
  Approaching the Art of Fiction
  Defining the Short Story
  Evaluating Short Fiction
  Craft of Fiction: PLOT
  Craft of Fiction: CHARACTER
  Small Group Exercise
  ARABY by James Joyce
  A note about GIRL
  POE and the art of STORY OF A HOUR
  Notes on Innovative Fiction
  Assignment Sheet for Paper #1
  Fiction and Ambiguity - Your Questions
  Writing Workshop - Short Fiction
  Poetry Journal Project Assignment Sheet
  Defining Poetry
  Reading Poetry
  The Craft of Poetry
  Drama and Tragedy
  Study Questions: DEATH OF A SALESMAN

Notebook for Effective Writing I (Spring 2006)
  Paper #4 Assignment Sheet
  Critical Thinking and Commentary
  Casebook: Evaluating Sources Worksheet
  Selecting Information
  Evaluating Arguments
  CASEBOOK PROJECT Assignment Sheet
  Approaching Persuasive Writing
  Topic Development - Profile Essay
  Generating Ideas for the Profile Essay
  Paper #2 Assignment Sheet
  Profile Exercise
  Objective Writing: Selected Readings
  Writing Workshop: Paper #1
  Expressive Writing in the NYTimes
  Writing Effective Introductions and Conclusions
  Paper #1: IDENTITY
  Expressive Writing
  Open Letter Exercise and Examples
  EMERSON on Individuality vs. Conformity
  Literature related to IDENTITY
  Understanding the 'Rhetorical Situation'

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

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Fall 2005)
  One Last Look at Imaginary Worlds
  Franz Kafka's BEFORE THE LAW
  Paper #3: Assignment Sheet
  Paper #4: Independent Project
  The Problem of Stability in BRAVE NEW WORLD
  Analyzing Huxley's BRAVE NEW WORLD
  Defining Utopia
  Embarking on Huxley's BRAVE NEW WORLD
  A Reading of Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST
  From today's news (11/3/05)
  Assignment Sheet for Paper #2
  Goodbye to Dante's Imaginary World
  Stepping Through Dante's Inferno: Cantos 10-34
  Stepping Through Dante's Inferno: Cantos 1-10
  INFERNO: Questions/Analysis: Cantos 32-34
  INFERNO: Questions/Analysis: Cantos 18-31
  INFERNO: Questions for Analysis: Cantos 12-17
  INFERNO: Structure
  INFERNO: Questions for Analysis: Cantos 1-5
  INFERNO: Analyzing Canto 1
  Relating to Dante's Inferno
  Approaching Dante's DIVINE COMEDY
  A Little Help with Dante's INFERNO
  Assignment Sheet for Paper #1
  Responses to LEAF BY NIGGLE
  ON FAIRY STORIES: An Essay by Tolkien
  Notes on Axolotl
  Reading Ovid's Tales
  From Myth to Literature: Approaching Ovid's Tales
  Functions of the Genesis Tales
  Analyzing Mythic Tales
  Defining Mythology
  Filtering the Introduction to FANTASTIC WORLDS
  Commentary on LA BELLE DAME SANS MERCI by Keats
  Commentary on DARKNESS by Byron
  Handout: Imagination Poems Set
  What is Imagination?
  Our Course Theme: Imaginary Worlds
  LIT 165 Assignments: Fall 2005
  LIT 165 Announcements: Fall 2005
  Imaginary Worlds: Course Syllabus

Notebook for Effective Writing I (Fall 2005)
  Paper #4: Independent Thinking/Reading/Writing
  Casebook Preparation Checklist
  Casebook Assignment Schedule
  Evaluating Sources for the Casebook
  Casebook Project Assignment Sheet
  Notes on Rational Argument
  Assignment Sheet: Objective Writing
  Reviewing Elements of the Profile Essay
  Writing the Profile Essay
  Readings: Objective Writing
  Assignment Sheet: Expressive Writing
  Rubric for Evaluation of Writing
  Emerson on Individuality vs. Conformity
  Mind-map: Identity
  Understanding the 'Rhetorical Situation'
  Assignments Page
  Announcements Page
  WRT 120 Course Syllabus for Fall 2005

ENG Q20: Basic Writing

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


~~ Assignment: Essay #2: The Language of Advertising ~~

Objectives: (1) to practice objective writing, in particular analytical writing; (2) to examine the practical usefulness of several key developmental strategies when writing with an objective/analytical purpose-these strategies include description, illustration, comparison/contrast, cause/effect analysis, classification, process/analysis, and definition; (3) to incorporate concepts from assigned readings and from videos screened in class (4) to practice an objective style appropriate to an objective purpose (i.e., writing in the 3rd person point of view so that the reader's attention stays focused on the subject matter and not the writer, when appropriate; and (5) to continue to practice a process approach to writing, which includes allowing a paper to develop by stages and improve through constructive feedback, careful revision and collaborative editing.

Preamble…There's a difference between looking at something and really seeing it, between looking on at life passively, from a distance, and seeing it up close in all it's fascinating complexity. "Analysis" is the intellectual process by which we closely examine the world around us. We'd hardly survive in our complex environment without the power to analyze situations, problems, theories, arguments, political candidates, and so on. The ability to analyze something is an intellectual skill that can be applied in any field of study, be it mechanical engineering, literary criticism, or environmental activism. We're practicing it in our writing course precisely because it is so ubiquitous.

To analyze something, to "really see it," we have to break it down and then intensely examine all of its component parts. Only then can we really begin to see and understand how it works, what it means, whether it floats, what's wrong with it, how it can be fixed. When we analyze something, we observe it, study it, walk around it and see it from different angles to discover what new conclusions can be drawn about it. The videos we screened in class (The Merchants of Cool and Killing Us Softly3) as well as the articles by William Lutz, Charles O'Neill, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Sandra Silberstein, and Jack Solomon (handout) have hopefully provided you with and understanding of the ways the language of advertising can be (and perhaps should be) analyzed.

It's true that an advertisement isn't meant to be analyzed. (Some would argue the same is true of poems, though we meaningfully analyze them as well.) That seductive arrangement of arresting words and images is meant to involve you, but never intellectually. Usually, but not always, to analyze an advertisement is to debunk its message, to deflate its enormous power to persuade us. Becoming literate readers of advertising allows us to gain control over its potent influence upon us.
Directions: Considering the articles you've read and the videos you've watched, write an essay that analyzes one or more advertisements, focusing on at least one of the following points. Analyze whether or not and in what ways an ad(s)—

  • Uses "weasel words" as defined by William Lutz in "With These Words I Can Sell You Anything"
  • Uses language in an "edited and purposeful way" as explained by Charles O'Neill in "The Language of Advertising"—language that is rich and arresting, employing sex, humor, fantasy, surrealism, or fear to encourage feelings and associations that cannot be raised by the product alone
  • Effectively uses the language of advertising to communicate a public service message that you find particularly socially beneficial, and which can be interpreted in more than one way, as explained by Sandra Silberstein in "Selling America"
  • Manufactures "cool" to attract teenagers, as explored by Douglass Rushkoff in Frontline's The Merchants of Cool
  • Denigrates women in one or more of the ways discussed by Jean Kilbourne in Killing Us Softly 3. (BTW, earlier this year Jean Kilbourne published a new book, Deadly Persuasion: Advertising and Addiction, which links the influence of advertising to a rise in addictions and eating disorders.)
  • Makes unhealthy habits (such as extreme dieting, overeating, or drunkenness) seem fun and desirable (as suggested by O'Neill)
  • Feeds on weaknesses and vulnerabilities; elevates materialism to the status of a primary value; encourages "impure" emotions and values (as suggested by O'Neill)
  • Warps our vision or understanding of reality, implanting in us groundless expectations, fears, or insecurities (as suggested by O'Neill)
  • Debases English and/or downgrades the intelligence of the public (as suggested by O'Neill)
  • Perpetuates racial, ethnic, class, or gender stereotypes (as suggested by O'Neill)
  • Defines beauty (either masculine or feminine), and whether that definition stands up to close scrutiny
  • Makes a targeted appeal in some arresting way to manipulate and trigger a response in a particular age group (children, teens, young adults, parents, the elderly, etc.)

For your consideration:
You can write an effective analysis of a single advertisement if you've picked one that is graphically and textually complex enough to merit close attention. Many television ads are rich enough to support analysis; full-page or multi-page magazine spreads are also worth a look. Carefully analyze each component of the ad-its text, its images, its use of color and/or background shapes. When you piece all of these components together, what is the message of the ad that goes beyond "information about the product"? In what ways does this message seem completely disconnected from the actual product? What unconscious conclusions does the ad seem to encourage?

If you are using several ads, find the meaningful thread that will weave them together smoothly in an essay. Are they all humorous? All seductive? Do they each appeal to your generation? Are they selling "cool"? Are they all attempting to define beauty in some way? Do they each use misleading or debased language? Is there a connection between the way the images in each ad function? Do they all perpetuate a stereotype? Find the common ground among the group you've chosen. You'll need to articulate what ties your ads together in a precisely worded sentence.

The purpose of your analysis is to "really see" the ad in a way you might not have if you hadn't been looking extremely closely, breaking it down to its component parts-the way it uses language, the kinds of images it employs, the way in which the language and the images interact with one another, and the way in which the general layout of the ad reinforces its message. You are using what you've learned from your reading, from the videos, and from class discussion to try to unmask the sometimes obvious, sometimes subtle ways in which advertisements attempt to persuade (or many would say "manipulate") viewers.

You may wish to quote or paraphrase the readings in Exploring Language, the handout, or the videos we screened in class. These source references are welcome, but don't allow them to overwhelm your paper. Use your sources as tools for your own original analysis, not as a substitute for it. Also, if you do use quotations, remember to use quotation marks, to introduce the quote by naming the author, and to explain how the quote relates to your discussion. Please note that you can view The Merchants of Cool online. There is an extensive website devoted to it, hosted by PBS. Here's the link, in case you want to access it and review some of the content while writing your paper: The Merchants of Cool.

If you do refer to sources in your essay, document them correctly using MLA parenthetical documentation, using in-text citations and a list of "Works Cited" at the end of the paper (see Quick Access, pp. 180-181). Since you may not know how to search for the complete bibliographic information for three of your potential sources, I'm including those citations here, so that you can represent them correctly in your paper.

Frontline: The Merchants of Cool. PBS. Feb. 2001.

Killing Us Softly 3: Advertising's Image of Women. With Jean Kilbourne. Media Education Foundation, 1999.

Solomon, Jack. "Masters of Desire: The Culture of American Advertising." Ed. Gary Columbo, et al. 2nd ed. Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking and Writing. Boston: Bedford, 1992. 490-501.

Reminders and Notes on Evaluation are the same for this assignment as for Assignment #1.






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