Salvatore Pane

Month: September, 2012

BUY MY CHAPBOOK (PLEASE)

You can now buy my chapbook, #KanyeWestSavedFromDrowning, for only $7. It’s seven stories and twenty-five pages. NAP did a wonderful job designing the book.

The first person who orders the chapbook will also get a free gift from me. I’ll include a copy of Raiders of the Lost Ark for Atari 2600 SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR. Yeah, you know you want that shit.

BUY HERE

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#GOODLitSwerveAutumn

I’m editing an online anthology called #GOODLitSwerveAutumn: An Anthology of Independent Literature About Kanye West. This is the cover designed by the awesome Michael Rosenthal. I’m releasing it on my website next month unless anyone else is interested in publishing it.

Basically, it’s going to kill you.

These are just some of the contributors:

Brian Oliu
Barry Grass
Theresa Beckhusen
Cassandra Gillig
Bob Helfst
Colin Rafferty
Michael Rosenthal
Lily Hoang
Sam Martone
Gregory Sherl
Evan Chen
Joshua Patton
Ian Riggins

Indianapolis Lit Events or It is a weeping, and a moaning, and a gnashing of teeth/It is a weeping, and a moaning, and a gnashing of teeth/When it comes to my sound which is the champion sound/Believe!/Believe!

A Reading with Greg Schwipps and Kevin McKelvey
Greg Schwipps, winner of the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award in the Emerging Writer category, will read from his novel, What This River Keeps, and talk about how the White River influences his writing and life. Kevin McKelvey will read recent poems about the White River, both as a natural ecosystem and an industrial, agricultural, and municipal waterway. After reading, the writers will host a Q & A about the river and its literary interpretations.

This Friday. 7pm. Indy Reads. In the words of John Matrix in the film Commando, “Let’s party.”

Last Call Interview with Joellyn Powers and Used Furniture Review

GUYS! Check out this interview I did about my novel, Last Call in the City of Bridges, with my former student Joellyn Powers over at Used Furniture Review.

Retro Video Game Finds VI

“If I want to average 32 points a game, I can do that easily. It’s just eight, eight, eight, eight. No problem. I can do that anytime. That’s not being cocky. That’s confidence.”

-Patrick Ewing

Pittsburgh Lit Events or SALVATORE PANE RETURNS TO PENNSYLVANIA AND HE WILL HAVE HIS REVENGE

BEHOLD! On Saturday, October 6th, 2012 AD, I will return to the state of my birth in anticipation of Braddock Avenue Book’s debut, my novel Last Call in the City of Bridges. Festivities begin at 7pm in the Unsmoke Art Gallery in Braddock, PA just a few minutes outside of Pittsburgh. There will be pizza. There will be doom. I will be joined by the terrifying writers Sean Thomas Dougherty and Sarah Leavens. My girlfriend will be there. My parents will be there. My publishers will be there. My friends will be there. Did I mention the pizza? THE END IS NIGH!

Literary readings (Sean Thomas Dougherty, Sarah Leavens, Sal Pane), art, homemade pizza. $7 at the door.

Please join us for our fourth annual Wood-Fired Words event in Braddock, PA. We will introduce our 2012-13 writers-in-residence and also celebrate Braddock Avenue Books, a new press based in Braddock.

The event will feature East End Book Exchange’s pop-up bookstore, art by Anna E. Mikolay, homemade pizza from the community pizza oven (with special chef appearance by Kevin Sousa), and more.

Retro Video Game Finds V

Guys. Guys, guys, guys! I’d like to tell you a story. In 1989, my parents took me to Sugarman’s department store in Enyon, Pennsylvania. This wasn’t an uncommon occurrence. My mother was addicted to shopping, and Sugarman’s–which would later house a flea market where I would find so many of my retro game finds–was conveniently located just down the block from one of her other favorite haunts, the Burlington Coat Factory. The day in question, however, was unlike the rest. While my mom looked at jewelry, I wandered around the watch section and saw under glass something that blew me away: miniature Nintendo games.

You have to remember. This was pre-Game Boy. The sheer notion of playing a video game on the go was inconceivable to me. But there in the Sugarman’s were a handful of official Nintendo Game and Watches. They weren’t really watches. They more closely resembled the Nintendo DS or Game Boy Advance, a tiny LCD screen with a d pad and buttons on either side. These, however, only had one game built in. You couldn’t swap them out. They also had little stands in the back. They all had digital clock features, so you actually stand them up and use them as tiny clocks.

I still so vividly remember the three they had on display: Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros., and Legend of Zelda. I knew their full fledged counterparts on the Nintendo Entertainment System well, and even though these Game and Watch versions were pale, watered down imitations, I was still utterly stunned that such magical devices existed. Of course, I wanted one. But the time and price point were off. A single Game and Watch cost almost as much as a new NES game, and although I didn’t know it then, Sugarman’s and Nintendo were about to put all of their Game and Watches on clearance. Then they were gone for good. The Game Boy was released later that year, and the moment I got a hold of that, I forgot all about the comparatively primitive Game and Watch.

Flash forward to 2004, when I began collecting Nintendo games. I had no idea that Game and Watches had become rare, incredibly sought over collectibles in the Nintendo community. I didn’t even see another one until this past year. I saw two at Exchange retail stores for $75 and $50. One was Donkey Kong Jr, the other Submarine, neither of which I particularly wanted. I also found it difficult to justify that much money when I often balk at paying more than $10 on a single NES cartridge. But then, yesterday, while I was sick in bed watching the Dolphins get mutilated by the Texans, I cruised over to Craig’s List and found an ad for a Super Mario Bros. Game and Watch for only $25, a very reasonable asking price considering it was missing the batteries. Reader, I contacted the seller and met him two hours later at a Wendy’s. He threw in a Nintendo 64 lunch pail–now I have something to bring to work–and I went to radio shack and picked up the batteries. Playing this thing… it’s the best feeling you can get from retro gaming. It immediately, if only momentarily, brings me right back to that little kid in Sugarman’s utterly mystified and entertained, no cynicism, no worries. It’s just pure, simple pleasure. What could be better than that?

Composition Exercises

A few of you have asked me to post the in-class writing exercises I mention in both my English Composition and Advanced Composition courses. I’ve copied them all here. Some of them don’t match up to the right letter, but you can pretty easily figure out which corresponds to which by looking at the reading assigned for any given day. Let me know what you guys think.

Exercise A

The future can be a strange and frightening place. In “Is Facebook a Fad?” Farhad Manjoo envisions a world where Facebook will actually take over the internet, where “Facebook.com will be just one small part of the Facebook empire. You may be using Facebook wherever you are online—and no other network will matter.”

How have you been affected by the internet linguistically? Is the majority of the reading you do on the internet? Do you prefer to read on the internet over reading a physical book or magazine? How do you feel about this? Is this a good thing? Secondly, how has your writing/speaking been altered? Have you ever found yourself inserting text speak into a paper? Have you ever said “brb” or “lol” out loud? Does this worry you? Or, is this totally awesome and only paranoid people are nervous about this, i.e. the same people who said TV would rot kids’ brains back in the 1950’s?

Exercise B

In “Keep Doing What You Are Doing, James Franco”, the writer Ben Percy does something strange: he writes a fictionalized short story about a real life celebrity, James Franco. Then he does something even stranger. Percy writes about multiple copies of Franco running around completing any number of tasks that would be impossible for any human to actually complete.

For this exercise, write your own fictionalized account of a real life celebrity. It doesn’t have to have a beginning, middle, and end. Experiment. Write the end. Write the beginning. Who are you interested in? Andrew Luck? Lady Gaga? Tom Hanks? Pick someone and give us a fictionalized version of their life. It doesn’t need to be based in reality.

Exercise C

Did you or didn’t you call the phone number in “The Peter Singer Solution to World Poverty”? Why or why not? What was the phone call for?

Exercise D

In the opening to “The Singer Solution to World Poverty,” Peter Singer plays with his readers’ expectations, introducing us to Dora from the film Central Station, a sympathetic young woman who ends up with more than she bargained for. Notice the verbs Singer uses, how Dora delivers, settles, resolves.  In one respect, Singer upends the conventional wisdom that an introduction should prepare its readers for what is to come.  After all, we soon discover that the essay is about a global solution to poverty, not a critique of a Brazilian film. Yet we get a sense of Singer’s logic, of his style as a writer and the way he presents his argument using ever escalating examples.

For this notebook assignment, choose one introduction from Best American that you find interesting and look at it more closely.  What do these opening paragraphs tell you? What do you expect the essay will be about, and how would you describe the style of the writing?  The tone or atmosphere?  Focus in on the details.  What do you notice about sentence structure or word choice?  Any interesting uses of punctuation?

Joan Didion, who has published numerous novels and plays, as well as books of essays, famously said that she taught herself to write by typing out Hemingway’s sentences.  Because she admired his prose, she wanted to learn it from the inside out, not simply to read, but to write its syntax and diction, its rhythms and shape.  This week, we would like you to try something similar.  Begin by writing out the essay introduction you examined closely—one or two paragraphs is fine.  As you write, pay attention to the sentences; feel them in your hands.  Then, begin writing an opening for Essay #1 imitating as closely as you can this other writer’s approach.  When you have finished, tinker with it until you get the reverberation just right. You will probably not use this introduction for your own paper, but it may be a useful way to begin thinking about the essay.

Exercise E

The argument. It’s the most common essay there is and a valuable writing style to master. For this exercise, write an argument about the NFL’s head injury rule and concussions in sports in general. Do you feel that increasing violations and creating specific rules to end violent hits are necessary in light of recent scientific breakthroughs concerning ex-players’ brains? Or, do you believe that violent collisions are part of football and that no one is forcing people to play? Secondly, what about sports on all levels, everything from the NBA to high school hockey? What needs to be done to insure players don’t suffer concussions? Or should nothing be done? Is this simply the risk of playing sports?

Exercise F

So far, most of what you have read for this course has been assigned to you.  Now it is time for you to do some more extensive reading on your own, to explore the essays in Best American Essays according to your own tastes and interests, and to think about your criteria for judging writing.  What, for you, makes an essay interesting, or meaningful, or pleasurable to read?  To write?

You might begin by returning to some of the essays whose introductions you read last week, continuing on to see where they lead.  Perhaps there are other titles that grab your attention now, essays you had not considered before.  Begin by reading a few paragraphs or a page.  Does this essay interest me enough to keep going?  Perhaps you will follow it through to the end, perhaps not.  Follow your interests and pleasure, but think of this as a chance to discover new approaches to writing as well—new voices, ideas, or perspectives.  Challenge yourself to move beyond the familiar, to widen your own sense of what an essay can, or should do.

Then, focusing on an essay you admire, respond to the following questions:

  1. How would you name or describe the style of writing?  How does this essay exemplify qualities that you admire or might like to produce in your own work?
  1. How would you compare the writing in this essay to the kind of writing you are being asked to do in this class?  What do you think of those similarities or differences?

Exercise G

xTx’s “We Have to Go Back” is one bizarre, little story. It imagines the main character into a remade version of her favorite TV show, ABC’s LOST. However, things are changed. The smoke monster is replaced with the cloud monster, and when cast members die this time, they die in real life. Over the course of the story, we begin to realize that the main character is not really on a new version of LOST, but that this is merely a strange version of her life.

For this exercise, try and imitate xTx’s story only pick a TV show or movie that matters to you. Try and write a story that imagines yourself in a remake of your favorite show or movie. What’s different? What’s the same? What would it feel like to be there on set. Imagine yourself in the familiar coffee shop of Friends. Imagine yourself chatting it up with Charles Barkley during the NBA halftime show. What’s this experience like? Give us concrete details like xTx does.

Exercise H

In “The ‘Poor Jen’ Problem” sportswriter Molly Lambert argues that Jennifer Aniston is eternally considered a loser because her ex-husband Brad Pitt left her for Angelina Jolie. Secondly, she suggests that there’s a double standard in Hollywood and media in general. If the roles were reversed and Jennifer Aniston left Brad Pitt for another leading man, it’s very unlikely that the average American would pity Pitt for being single. Look at George Clooney. He’s fifty and single, and very few people feel bad for him.

Do you agree with Lambert’s argument? Is there a double standard in Hollywood and media and in life in general? Are we predisposed to feel bad for women who are single after a certain age? If so, why don’t we feel the same way when a man is single at the same age?

Exercise I

The revisions you’re being asked to do in this course are extensive, and in many ways, more difficult and work intensive than the first drafts you’ve already handed in. After reading the revision handout, consider this: are these the types of revisions you’re used to writing? Think back to your high school classes or other courses you’ve taken here at UIndy. Did they often ask you to make the sweeping changes being asked of you now? Or were they simple fix the grammar type revisions? What is your relationship with revision? Is it something you hate doing? Why?

Exercise J

In “A Profound Sense of Absence” writer/professor Roxane Gay laments the lack of diversity in the publishing world. She asks, “Can you name five contemporary black writers? Or Latino/a writers? Or Asian writers?” knowing that most of us can’t.

Is there anything that can be done to better diversify the publishing world? If so, what? If not, why not? Why do you think a best of collection can be published intoday’s day and age and the material inside is 95% about rich, white men? Secondly, is this even a problem that matters? Would Gay be better served focusing her attentions on something else? If no, why? If yes, then what?

Exercise M

What points about censorship do you think “Itchy and Scratchy and Marge” is trying to make? What is it criticizing in our culture? Do you think the writers did an effective job of satirizing the way we feel about censorship?

Where do you stand on censorship in culture? Do certain things need to be censored for the good of our citizens? Or, do you take the viewpoint adopted by Marge at the end of the episode: that nothing should be censored, otherwise our very democracy is threatened?

Exercise N

Break up into groups of four. Debate “Clean Out Your Desk” and decide whether or not firing this many teachers is a good idea. Tell us why. Then, come up with three problems with the educational system as is and give us three solutions. Write these down. Be ready to present to the class your take on the article and your three problems and three solutions.

Exercise O

Who exactly was Mike Rose’s mentor in school? You don’t need to know their name, just tell us a little bit about this person and why they stuck out in Mike Rose’s mind years after he graduated from high school after experiencing dozens upon dozens of teachers. Explain this relationship.

Secondly, out of all the teachers you’ve ever had, who is the one you most look up to? Has a teacher ever taken you under their wing? Has there ever been a teacher who you thought taught you so much more than all the others combined? What was valuable about this experience? Would you say that you’ve been affected by good teaching in your own life?

Exercise X

First off, what is your opinion on street art? Think locally. Think globally. Are you for it? Against it? Something in between? Why? Secondly, what do you think of the work Banksy is doing? Bring up specific examples. Is he an art star prodigy, a fraud, or at worst, a criminal on the run?

Secondly, what did you think of Mr. Brainwash? Were you surprised that he stepped out from behind the camera to produce his own artwork? Were you surprised by his sudden success and fame? What do you think he was trying to gain from this entire project?

Exercise H

Soon, you’re going to be writing detailed descriptions and analyses of your educational history. Before we get into that, however, I want you to think back to any moment in your educational history where you felt uncomfortable. Think of a classroom situation where you felt ill at ease be it in college, high school, elementary school, whatever. Then, describe that scene for us. Let us see it. Let us experience it. Try to make us understand why you felt the way you did. Do not rush into this assignment. Take your time to think and remember.

Fiction Writing Workshop or Don’t do it/Please don’t do it/Because if one us writes teen zombie erotica then we all go through it

The final syllabus I’m posting is for my Fiction Writing Workshop. It’s strange, but in two and a half years, I’ve taught variations of this course seven times. This is similar to the workshops I ran last spring with a few small changes. I added in a few more novel excerpts, namely Sara Levine’s Treasure Island!!!. I’ve also added in required lit journal presentations. In addition to the lit journal overview I do, I’m having students present for 5-10 minutes on any lit journal of their choosing. The hope is that by the end of the presentations, each student will know seven more quality journals to read and possibly submit to. Irina Reyn did this in a graduate workshop once, and I found it extremely helpful. The biggest change is the focus on outside guests. In the past, I was barely able to scrounge up one guest a semester, as I had a lot of difficulty securing any funds at all (and by “difficulty,” I mean I got nothing). This time around, I was able to secure visits with Matt Bell, Chris Newgent, Chad Redden, Amber Sparks, and a skype conversation with Marty Pasko, a comics industry legend (he also won an Emmy for his work on Batman: The Animated Series which I LOVE). It’s always nice to get some other voices in the classroom. Matt, Amber, and Marty will hopefully bring a more national perspective, and Chris and Chad can explain to students how to get involved right here in Indianapolis.

Basically, I’ve never been more excited for anything ever.

FICTION WRITING WORKSHOP
MWF 1:00-1:50
University of Indianapolis
Assistant Professor Salvatore Pane
Office Hours: 10-11 MWF, 2-3 MW
Credits: 3.0

Required Materials

3X33: Short Fiction by 33 Writers, edited by Mark Winegardner

Welcome to Fiction Writing Workshop

In this course, you’re going to write and read a lot. You’ll produce short stories and flash fiction and possibly novel chapters, and along the way we’ll discuss the publishing industry, the internet blogging scene, and even have a few guest speakers. I’m not going to lie to you and say that writing is easy. It’s not. It’s one of the hardest things you can ever do. But, and I guarantee you this, if you’re serious about the craft of fiction, if you’re willing to put in the work, you’ll absolutely be a better writer at the end of the course than you are today.

Each student will put up 8-15 pages of literary fiction for workshop twice a semester. You can write a traditional short story or multiple flash fiction pieces but remember, you have to demonstrate the fundamental principles of literary fiction in all of your workshop pieces. I want to see structure, character, development. I want nuance and complexity. I don’t want filler pieces meant to get you closer to the page requirement.

Substantial revisions will be required. Substantial revision does not mean fixing grammar. Substantial revision usually means a complete rewrite and perhaps multiple rewrites. Students must also post 300   -500 word critiques for every student story we workshop. Similarly, you will read a large amount of stories from 3X33 and a few handouts. Students will post 300-500 word craft analyses for every assigned story we read.

Reading so much literary fiction will allow you to build a library of published stories in your head. Students are expected to use their knowledge of writers like Barry Hannah, Lorrie Moore or A.M. Homes to comment about peer work up for discussion. Students will make parallels and use the published work to inform their critiques of peer work. The majority of the course will be spent workshopping. The goal of the course is for you to not only become a better writer, but to become an active literary citizen who can participate in the ongoing dialogue concerning fiction.

By the end of the course successful students will:

Use basic elements of craft (image, voice, character, setting, etc.) to create 16-30 pages of thoughtful literary fiction.

Employ critical-reading skills while analyzing, for specific issues of craft, a wide range of published and peer fiction.

Substantially revise their work by utilizing critical feedback generated by class discussion and written critiques.

Contribute thoughtful and complex commentary to discussions of published and peer fiction.

Workshop

You will be prepared for every workshop class by doing the following:

1.)   Write comments in the margins of stories up for discussion. You MUST use the comments feature in Microsoft Word. All comments will be transparent to the entire class. I want you to upload your marked up versions of workshopped stories to Ace. Failure to do so will negatively impact your grade. Also, DO NOT FORGET TO BRING A PRINT OUT OF THE STORY IN QUESTION TO CLASS. This is mandatory. If you don’t do this, I’ll shave points off your participation grade. If it becomes a consistent problem, I will mark you absent.

2.)   Write a 300-500 word critique for each peer written story we read this semester. You must critique the story based on its own intentions. For example, if the writer is attempting to write in the realist mode of Ray Carver, do not suggest adding a woman who has to eat a plate of hair ala Amelia Gray just because you don’t like realism. On the flip side, don’t knock an experimental story because you prefer realism. Judge the story the writer wrote, not the one you want to write. Try and help them see how they could better serve their material and unique world vision. In your responses, first describe what you think the writer is attempting to do and what the story is about. Then discuss the piece’s strengths. Finish with prescription, a section where you point out very specific things that still need work within the story. Go beyond grammar. Character, plot, prose, all the building blocks of fiction are on the table. You must use the description, strength, prescription model.

3.)   Post your critique and margin comments to Ace by 8PM the night before workshop. All critiques will be visible to all members of the class, and I encourage you to read what your peers are saying about every story. Name your thread on Ace after your favorite line of the story in question. If you don’t turn in these materials BY 8PM, you will lose points.  

Example of a good critique:

*NOTE: I removed this because it’s an actual critique of a student story

Notes About Workshop

When you are being workshopped, it is very important that you are quiet, take notes, and do not respond to anything verbally. To reiterate, you are not allowed to talk when being workshopped unless I specifically ask you something, and that will be very rare. You are not there to defend your story. Your story must stand on its own.

Please proofread your work. If a story is excessively sloppy, I will not workshop it. Do not depend on your classmates to fix your grammar.

Distribution of Manuscripts

Stories will be due from you exactly one full week before you’re scheduled to workshop. For example, if you’re scheduled to workshop on Monday, September 24th at 1pm, that means your story is due at 1pm Monday, September 17th. If your story is late, your grade for that story will drop by an entire letter. If you are more than a day late, you will get an F, no exceptions. Once you upload your manuscript, you CANNOT EDIT IT FOR ANY REASON. If you do, we will skip your workshop and you will take an F. You are responsible for printing out your peers’ stories for discussion on workshop days. Please include page numbers.

I have randomized the workshop schedule in order of fairness, but know that it will be reversed for the second round of workshops. So if you have to put up a story early in the semester for the first go around, you will have the most time to write for the second round of workshops.

Ace Reading Posts

On most weeks, you will be required to read at least one outside short story. On these weeks, you must post a 300-500 word craft analysis of said story on Blackboard under the appropriately titled forum. Posts must be uploaded by 8PM the day before we discuss the story. If your post is late, you will lose points. During weeks in which we will be discussing two professional short stories a classroom session, you are required to write two 200-300 word craft analyses each class session, one for each story we read. For flash fiction, you only need to write 100-200 words. Post your responses on the appropriate forum. There’s a forum designated by name for every professional story.

Let me be very clear on this. This is not a forum for you to explain whether or not you like the piece in question. I don’t care. What I’m looking for is a craft analysis. These stories are published. They’re not up for workshop. What can you learn from them? There is a huge difference between reading fiction as a general reader and reading fiction as a writer. It’s not about pleasure, it’s about bettering your craft. You need to look at outside stories and figure out what techniques you can use for your own writerly toolboxes. Perhaps you will learn how to implement time jumps in a narrative from “The Year of Getting to Know Us.” Perhaps you will learn about wacky settings from “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline.” I want you writing about something that struck you in the professional stories and how you can apply those lessons to your own writing. If you simply talk about why you love or hate a specific story, you will take an F on the craft analysis in question. Below is an example of a good craft analysis:

UGH, this story is so good. It makes me mad that people write this well. It is hilarious but also menacingly sad. And the language and the pacing are so pitch perfect—I don’t think a single line falls flat.

When I first read this a while ago I laughed and thought it was just an interesting, painfully insightful look at being a writer. And although this is basically true, I don’t think the cleverness is the meat of the story, rather, a really superb misdirect.

Francie repeats herself, a lot. And I think when she does, it matters. There are a few recurring things. One is that her stories are mostly plotless, graphic violence, between old couples. The other issue that recurs with the most emotional weight is her brother going to Vietnam and coming back crippled.

In my mind, it’s also important to understand this story is being written as a reflection by Francie. And although the second-person perspective universalizes it, the story feels intensely personal (how wonderfully Moore treads that line!). Given that Francie is writing/telling this story, you can assume, like she says, it suffers in plot. Or more importantly, she doesn’t quite know what the plot is. Francie says “Later on in life you will realize that writers are merely open, helpless texts with no real understanding of what they have written”.

Writing is seen as personal and reflective, but the problem is that reflecting on her life, she isn’t sure what is the actual story.

And I think that’s what I love most about this story. Moore writes a story about someone writing a story about what wasn’t actually the real story. The real story being, in my opinion, her parent’s divorce, her brother going to Vietnam, her decreasing spiral of demeaning relationships, as reflected in her writing.

The sentence, near the end being particularly indicative of the last point: “You now go out with men who, instead of whispering ‘I love you,” shout: ‘Do it to me, baby.’ This is good for your writing.”

And, had these ideas been explored independently, the story of a broken home, a Vietnam veteran, and a bad dating history, it would not feel terribly original. But to hide this sad, lonely story—to embed and obscure it through this wonderful analogy of struggled, filtered, reflection called writing—is really genius, I think.

Like she says about her brother, “you write nothing. There are no words for this. Your typewriter hums. You can find no words.” She can’t even begin to write about what is really the issue, only glance at it with something tangential like writing.

The method actually allows for some notes that play like Carver. Consider the above brief quotation about her brother. She writes nothing. It’s a short, not particularly engaging, sentence out of context. But considering how abrupt it is, considering how open and honest and rambling she was before, that line of silence is deafening. The context allows her to do so much with so little. I felt sadder for her brother in Vietnam than I did during all of “Platoon”. And Moore only mentioned him three times.

Fiction Buddies

After everyone has workshopped, I will break you up into groups of two—Fiction Buddies! You will meet during class time and read each other’s revisions and then run mini-workshops. I will explain more about Fiction Buddies when we reach that point in the semester.

Novels

Novels are wonderful. We love novels. Novels are why so many of us want to be writers.  But in a workshop setting, students often use first chapters as an excuse to not end their stories. They can avoid criticism by saying, “That happens in chapter two.” I’ve seen many, many talented writers produce thirty opening chapters in their undergraduate career, graduate, and have no idea how to sustain a middle or land an ending. I don’t want that to happen to you.

For the first workshop, I don’t want you to write a novel chapter. You can write a few pieces of flash fiction or a short story, but no chapters. For the second workshop, if you’re really serious about writing a novel, I want you to first provide me with a four page outline of the entire book. If given permission, you will put that AND an 8-10 page chapter up for workshop. I want to know you have a plan and that writing a chapter isn’t just a way out from writing an ending.

Genre Fiction

All of our discussions in this class will center on literary fiction. What is literary fiction? We will explore that as the semester goes on. The point is that if you’re here to work on your vampire zombie spaceship novel, this class is not a good outlet for that kind of work. I’m expecting you to produce character driven literary fiction that drives toward emotional complexities. I don’t want to see battle scenes between elves and warlocks. Your stories can be wacky, your stories can be strange (wait till you see the craziness of George Saunders!), but this class will never focus on straight genre fiction.

Classroom Etiquette

Turn off all cell phones before class begins. Do not text people during class. It’s really obvious when you’re doing this. If this becomes a problem I will shave points off your participation grade. If this becomes a consistent problem, I’ll mark you as absent.

Attendance

I want to be as clear as I can on this. If you miss class five times, you will fail. There will be no make up assignments. Don’t come back to class. The ONLY excuses I will accept are a doctor’s excuse or some kind of family emergency. I am not going to make any exceptions on this front.

You should always be on time for class. If you are late, you will not get credit for attending an entire class.

If you are unprepared for discussion or workshop, I cannot give you credit for attendance that day.

Grading

This is what you have to do if you want an A in this course. You have to put up two thoughtful workshop pieces. Then you have to take the time to substantially revise them. You have to be engaged in classroom discussions and add something relevant every class. You must do all the Ace posts and turn them in on time. You do all these things, you get an A. You slack off, turn work in late or short, doze off in class, and you’re not getting anything that even remotely resembles an A.

Here’s the grading breakdown. 70% of your final grade will come down to your final portfolio, i.e. all of your revised work at the end of the semester. The other 30% comes from participation and Ace posts. Please note: participation is mandatory. If you are not contributing to every single workshop, you are not going to get a good grade. This is a workshop course. The same goes for Ace. If you consistently fail to turn in work on time, you’re not going to get a good grade.

Final Portfolios

On the last day of class, you will be expected to turn in two revisions of your workshop pieces. Late portfolios WILL NOT be accepted. We’ll talk more about this as the semester goes on.

Conferences

After your first workshop, I will schedule a conference with you during my office hours. After your second workshop, please contact me and we can either set up an appointment to discuss your work or I can just send you your critique. I encourage you to meet with me in person, but this second conference is optional. Please remember: my door is always open.

Visitors

I have scheduled a number of visitors throughout the semester. Some run reading series or lit journals here in Indianapolis, others are national writers dropping by on tour, some will chat with us via Skype. I want you to be engaged in these discussions. Participate. These are very rare opportunities. Don’t squander them.

Outside Events

Students are required to attend one reading outside of class. The details will be announced, but you will have multiple opportunities to attend one, although I encourage you to go to them all. I sure will. These are opportunities, not burdens, and I hope you treat them that way.

You will be required to attend and write a short, 500 word craft analysis of one of these readings.

Literary Journal Presentations

Near the end of the course, you will be expected to give a very informal 5-10 minute presentation on a literary journal. Be prepared to discuss its aesthetics, who publishes in it, what the statistics are, and what its web presence is like among other things. We’ll discuss this in much greater detail as we get closer to the end of the course.

Note

The syllabus is subject to change. I will only push assignments and readings back however. No assignment will ever be due earlier than it’s listed here.

Course Sequence

Week One

Monday August 27
Syllabus
Justin Taylor “Tetris” HANDOUT

Wednesday August 29
John Updike “A&P” 3X33
Lorrie Moore “How to Become a Writer” 3X33

Friday August 31
Raymond Carver “Cathedral” 3X33
Alissa Nutting “Porn Star” COURSE DOCUMENTS

Week Two

Wednesday September 5
Donald Barthelme “The School” 3X33
Etgar Keret “Fatso” COURSE DOCUMENTS
Roxane Gay “The Harder They Come” COURSE DOCUMENTS
Amelia Gray “Hair” COURSE DOCUMENTS

Friday September 7
Breece D’J Pancake “Trilobytes” COURSE DOCUMENTS
Tobias Wolff “Bullet in the Brain” 3X33

Week Three

Monday September 10
Emma Straub “Pearls” COURSE DOCUMENTS
George Saunders “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline” 3X33

Wednesday September 12
Scott Snyder “Blue Yodel” COURSE DOCUMENTS
Joyce Carol Oates “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” 3X33

Friday September 14
Barry Hannah “Testimony of Pilot” 3X33

Week Four

Monday September 17
WORKSHOP 1
WORKSHOP 2

Wednesday September 19
WORKSHOP 3
WORKSHOP 4

Friday September 21
Ethan Canin “The Year of Getting to Know Us” COURSE DOCUMENTS

Week Five

Monday September 24
WORKSHOP 5
WORKSHOP 6

Wednesday September 26
WORKSHOP 7
WORKSHOP 8

Friday September 28
Amber Sparks Visit

Week Six

Monday October 1
WORKSHOP 9
WORKSHOP 10

Wednesday October 3
Revision Lecture + “How to Be a Contemporary Writer” by Roxane Gay

Friday October 5
Publishing and Blogs Lecture

Week Seven

Monday October 8
Teddy Wayne Novel Excerpt of Kapitoil COURSE DOCUMENTS
Sara Levine Novel Excerpt of Treasure Island!!! COURSE DOCUMENTS

Wednesday October 10
Brian Oliu “Gradius” COURSE DOCUMENTS
Brian Oliu “Punch-Out!!” COURSE DOCUMENTS
Brian Oliu “Wizards and Warriors” COURSE DOCUMENTS
xTx “Water is Thrown on the Witch” COURSE DOCUMENTS
xTx “Marci is Going to Shoot Up Meth With Her Friend” COURSE DOCUMENTS

Friday October 12
A.M. Homes “The Former First Lady and the Football Hero” COURSE DOCUMENTS
James Alan McPherson “Why I Like Country Music” COURSE DOCUMENTS

Week Eight

Wednesday October 17
Fiction Buddies

Friday October 19
Chris Newgent Visit

Week Nine

Monday October 22
WORKSHOP 1
WORKSHOP 2

Wednesday October 24
WORKSHOP 3
WORKSHOP 4

Friday October 26
Class Cancelled

Week Ten

Monday October 29
WORKSHOP 5
WORKSHOP 6

Wednesday October 31
WORKSHOP 7
WORKSHOP 8

Friday November 2
Patrick Somerville “The Universe in Miniature in Miniature” COURSE DOCUMENTS

Week Eleven

Monday November 5
WORKSHOP 9
WORKSHOP 10

Wednesday November 7
MFA Program and Book Review Lecture

Friday November 9
Jonathan Lethem “Super Goat Man” COURSE DOCUMENTS

Week Twelve

Monday November 12
Don Lee “The Price of Eggs in China” COURSE DOCUMENTS
Seth Fried “Loeka Discovered” COURSE DOCUMENTS

Wednesday November 14
Junot Diaz “Fiesta, 1980” 3X33
Matt Bell “His Last Great Gift” COURSE DOCUMENTS

Friday November 16
Matt Bell Visit

Week Thirteen

Monday November 19
Fiction Buddies

Week Fourteen

Monday November 26
Lit Journal Presentations

Wednesday November 28
TBA

Friday November 30
Chadwick Redden Visit

Week Fifteen

Monday December 3
TBA

Wednesday December 5
TBA

Friday December 7
Final Portfolios Due

Advanced Composition Syllabus or Damn, Freire and Rose/where the hell you been?/Students talking real reckless/stuntin’

Below, you’ll find my Advanced Composition syllabus. This is my first time teaching it, and 75% of the course is brand new. The general rules and regulations are mostly the same, and I do begin with a modified version of the final project from English Composition, but everything else I developed this summer. The major units are Education, Technology, Censorship, and Equality. We’re doing a lot of interesting activities here, and the thing I’m most excited for is having the students read “On Pregnancy and Privacy and Fear” by Aubrey Hirsch and then skype with her the following class. Again, feel free to use any of this for your own pedagogical purposes. Feel free to comment below. Feel free to share what you’re up to.


Advanced Composition: Expository Writing
MWF 11:00-11:50am
University of Indianapolis
Assistant Professor Salvatore Pane
Office Hours: 10-11 MWF, 2-3 MW
Credits: 3.0

Navigating the Future: Writing into Action

 

Required Texts

 

The Best American Essays, Sixth College Edition, edited by Robert Atwan

Elements of Style, by William Strunk and E.B. White

 Lives on the Boundary, by Mike Rose

 Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez, by Richard Rodriguez

 

 Recommended Text

 

Writer’s Reference, Seventh Edition, by Diane Hacker

Welcome to Advanced Composition

You’ve taken other English courses before. You know a little something about how to write an essay, and you’re pleased with some of the work you’ve produced in the past. However, there’s a nagging sensation when you hand in assignments. You can complete the work in a satisfactory way, but you’re left wondering if there’s any way you can complicate your thinking, made your ideas more complex, more concrete.

In Advanced Composition, that’s exactly what we’ll be doing. We’ll use discussion and essays not only to prove standard points but to grapple with really difficult problems tackling society and ourselves. What can an essay do to fix the educational system, to end world poverty? It’s time to write the future.

 Course Description

This is a class in which we will write A LOT. We will write about the reading we do and write about the thinking we do and then write about the writing we do and just plain write. This description may sound exhausting or exciting, but either way, you can be sure that the course will be both challenging and rewarding. The essay assignments and short exercises in this course are designed to help you approach writing from a variety of contexts, using a variety of techniques. We are trying to look beyond pat formulas (such as the five-paragraph essay) while still understanding the writely conventions specific to each piece and how they can be useful. At times, the prompts might ask you to employ a particular strategy or style of a published essayist, but always with the aim of exploring your own range of writing and voices.

Workshopping and revision will be key components of our work in this class. We will put essays from inside and outside of class onto the table to find out what is working or not working for us as readers and writers. The object is to take what we learn from workshop and apply it to our own writing in future drafts and revisions. I encourage you to look at every assignment that you complete as a draft that can be improved rather than a finished product.

Critical engagement and close reading will also be integral to this course. In fact, I hope that they will both become daily practices. A big part of this class is learning to complicate your thinking, to notice the details of language and composition on a micro and macro level. Throughout the term, we will do close reading exercises focusing on various literary and rhetorical devices with the aim of nuancing our own analyses and writing. Producing work that is fresh and insightful depends upon being able to draw out insightful readings of other texts, of ourselves, and of the world. Advanced Composition will push you to ask not only the “how” of writing but also the “why” and the “so what.”

Things to Remember

Push yourself to be innovative and creative. Push yourself to take that extra step towards flushing out the complexity of an issue. This class is a safe place to take risks that may not always improve your writing in the short term but will help you better understand writing and the successful choices you can make as a writer over time. You will be given plenty of time to write during class. Use this to your advantage.

One of our goals is to forge a community of writers who participate in an ongoing and constructive conversation about the craft. Advanced Composition illustrates quite literally how your writing is always part of a public conversation!

Turning in Your Writing

It’s important that you turn in your writing on time, as late work cannot become part of class discussion. Likewise, because the Essays and Exercises build upon one another, turning in late work means you miss out on comments that would help you with the upcoming assignment. Since you will regularly revise your work, make sure to keep electronic and paper copies. All papers must be written in Times New Roman 12 with one inch fonts. Failure to comply will result in a lowered grade. Also, please title your work. Do not generically title your papers, “Essay 2” or “Essay on Education.”

 Readings

All of the assigned readings are either in Best American Essays or on Ace. It is your responsibility to print out the readings we will focus on in any given class session. Everything you will need is explained in the Course Sequence. You only have to read essays marked “Homework.” If you do not bring print outs of the readings, I will take off participation points. If this becomes a consistent problem, I will start marking you absent.

Grading

You will receive provisional grades on each of the essays you turn in, but you will have a chance to revise those essays throughout the semester. At your mid-term conference you will receive a provisional grade, which is in no way final and is not factored into your final grade. Rather, this mid-term assessment is intended to give you a sense of how your writing is being evaluated and of your progress in the course. You are always welcome to stop by during office hours to talk about your writing or your grade. Keep in mind that your final portfolio will be comprised of three polished essays. Thus, you are encouraged to keep on reworking essays that you like throughout the semester.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Classroom participation will affect your grade. Lack of engagement or preparation will lower your grade. Regular comments and involvement with moving the ongoing conversation of the class forward will increase your grade.

EXTREMELY IMPORTANT NOTE: If you turn in a paper late, you will lose an entire letter grade. If you turn in a paper more than 24 hours late, it is an automatic failure. Automatic failures WILL impact your final grade in the class. No excuses.

Essays & evaluations                                                                               70%

Exercises and class participation                                                           30%

 Course Objectives

 1)     A successful student will add thoughtful and complex commentary to every class discussion.

2)     A successful student will hand in thoughtful and complex essays on time for each corresponding assignment.

3)     A successful student will complete all of the exercises with great attention to detail.

4)     A successful student will substantially revise and extend two of their essays.

5)     A successful student will be able to analyze difficult texts and think about their place in the world in new and constructive ways.

6)     A successful student will be able to make connections between seemingly disparate threads.

Conferences

You will have at least one conference with me over the course of the semester at mid-term. This meeting takes place in my office. It will be brief and is designed to better gauge individual needs and interests as well as get feedback.

Attendance

I want to be as clear as I can on this. If you miss class five times, you will fail. There will be no make up assignments. Don’t come back to class. The ONLY excuses I will accept are a doctor’s excuse or some kind of family emergency. I am not going to make any exceptions on this front.

You should always be on time for class. If you are late, you will not get credit for attending an entire class.

If you are unprepared for discussion or workshop, I cannot give you credit for attendance that day.

Note

The syllabus is subject to change. I will only push assignments and readings back however. No assignment will ever be due earlier than it’s listed here.

Week One

Monday August 27
Syllabus & Introductions
Azar Nafisi “Words of War”
In Class Writing

Wednesday August 29
Nate Jackson “The NFL’s Head Cases”
60 Minutes
Exercise A

Friday August 31
Ray Fisman “Clean Out Your Desks”
Exercise B
Homework: Read Chapters 1 and 2 of Lives on the Boundary

Week Two

Wednesday September 5
Exercise C
Discuss Mike Rose “I Just Wanna Be Average”
Homework: Come to Next Class Prepared to Discuss One Problem You’ve Had With the Educational System

Friday September 7
Discuss Educational Problems
Homework: Read “Aria” in Hunger of Memory

Week Three

Monday September 10
Discuss “Aria” in Hunger of Memory
Exercise D
Homework: Read “The Achievement of Desire” in Hunger of Memory

Wednesday September 12
Discuss “The Achievement of Desire” in Hunger of Memory
Exercise E (Group Activity)

Friday September 14
Molly Lambert “The ‘Poor Jen’ Problem”
Exercise F
Homework: Read Hephzibah Roskelly “Redneck Daughter in the Academy”

Week Four

Monday September 17
Discuss Hephzibah Roskelly “Redneck Daughter in the Academy”
Discuss Essay #1

Wednesday September 19
Examples of Essay #1

Friday September 21
Farhad Manjoo “Is Facebook a Fad?”
Zoe Kleinman “How the Internet is Changing Language”
Exercise G

Week Five

Monday September 24
Essay #1 Due
Peer Reviewing

Wednesday September 26
Roger Ebert’s Twitter Feed
Kellee Santiago “Are Video Games Art?”
Homework: Read Nicholas Carr “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”

Friday September 28
Discuss Nicholas Carr “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”
Exercise H

Week Six

Monday October 1
Discuss Jane Wakefield “3D Proves a Hit in the Classroom”
Exercise I

Wednesday October 3
Discuss Essay 2
Ben Percy “Keep Doing What You Are Doing, James Franco”
Exercise J

Friday October 5
Revision Pamphlet
Discuss Revision 1
Exercise K

Week Seven

Monday October 8
Student Workshops

Wednesday October 10
Student Workshops

Friday October 12
Essay #2 Due
Peer Review

Week Eight

Wednesday October 17
Student Conferences

Friday October 19
Student Conferences

Week Nine

Monday October 22
Student Conferences

Wednesday October 24
Revision 1 Due
The Simpsons “Itchy and Scratchy and Marge”
Exercise M

Friday October 26
Class Cancelled

Week Ten

Monday October 29
Discuss Elliot Feldman “Frank Zappa Vs. Tipper Gore”
Homework: Read Jason Wire “Urinals, Amputations, Starvation, and Silence: Controversial Art or Just Crap?”

Wednesday October 31
Discuss Jason Wire “Urinals, Amputations, Starvation, and Silence: Controversial Art or Just Crap?”
Homework: Read Alan M. Dershowitz “Shouting ‘Fire!’”
Exercise N

Friday November 2
Discuss Alan M. Dershowitz “Shouting ‘Fire!’”
Exercise O

Week Eleven

Monday November 5
Exit Through the Gift Shop

Wednesday November 7
Exit Through the Gift Shop

Friday November 9
Discuss Essay #3
Student Workshops
Homework: Read Peter Singer “The Peter Singer Solution to World Poverty”

Week Twelve

Monday November 12
Discuss Peter Singer “The Peter Singer Solution to World Poverty”
Exercise P
Read Aubrey Hirsch “On Pregnancy and Privacy and Fear”

Wednesday November 14
Discuss Aubrey Hirsch “On Pregnancy and Privacy and Fear”
Skype with Aubrey Hirsch
Exercise Q

Friday November 16
Watch Adelph Molinari “Let’s Bridge the Digital Divide!”
Exercise R

Week Thirteen

Monday November 19
Essay #3 Due
Discuss Essay #4

Week Fourteen

Monday November 26
Student Workshops

Wednesday November 28
Student Workshops

Friday November 30
TBA

Week Fifteen

Monday December 3
Student Conferences

Wednesday December 5
Student Conferences

Friday December 7
Final Portfolios Due

In-Class Writing

For this first writing assignment, we would like you to discuss authority in Azar Nafisi’s “Words of War.”

At some point in your response, we would like you to focus in on specifics.  Which details capture your attention and why?  As you describe what you read—bombs over Iran, some strange book called Pride and Prejudice, allusions to the US War in Iraq—consider what gives Nafisi “authority.” Authority, on the page, is when readers believe what a writer writes. What makes you believe that Nafisi knows what she’s talking about? Is it because she is from Iran? Is it because she is a university professor? Is it because she uses big words? Or do you not believe her, and if so, why not?

While you may come to some interesting conclusions by the end of your response, you should not feel obligated to wrap things up neatly or to offer a definitive set of statements.  In fact, rather than driving toward a pre-determined conclusion, we want to encourage you to surprise yourself, to discover new interpretive territory.  Try writing without knowing quite where you will land.  You may even find that as your understanding deepens, a whole new set of questions arises.

You will have the rest of class to complete your response.

Essay #1 (4 pages)

DUE MONDAY SEPTEMBER 24th IN MY E-MAIL INBOX BY 11AM

 “Students will float to the mark you set. I and the others in the vocational classes were bobbing in pretty shallow water. Vocational education has aimed at increasing the economic opportunities of students who do not do well in our schools. Some serious programs succeed in doing that, and through exceptional teachers… students learn to develop hypotheses and troubleshoot, reason through a problem, and communicate effectively—the true job skills. The vocational track, however, is most often a place for those who are just not making it, a dumping ground for the disaffected. There were a few teachers who worked hard at education; young Brother Slattery, for example, combined a stern voice with weekly quizzes to try to pass along to us a skeletal outline of world history. But mostly the teachers had no idea of how to engage the imaginations of us kids who were scuttling along at the bottom of the pond.”

—Mike Rose in “I Just Wanna Be Average”

For Essay #1, you will combine personal inquiry and argument, an essay that not only reveals the writer’s life, but one that also strives to make a point. The educational system is something every one of you has experienced on some level. Each person in this course has gone through high school, and now you’ve chosen to extend your education here at UIndy. Yet many of you feel there are a great many problems within the educational system. Richard Rodriguez tells a personal story about being forced to speak English instead of Spanish and how badly that damaged his relationship with his family. He then parlays that into an argument against widespread bilingual education. Mike Rose tells a personal story about being shuttled into the vocational track instead of the honors courses where he rightfully belonged. He then parlays that into an argument about students rising to what’s expected of them so that honors students act like honors students and vocational students act like vocational students. Hephzibah Roskelly tells stories about stories, referring to her days growing up on the farm and listening to her family’s tales. She parlays this into an argument about narrative as educational tool and the unjust stereotype most people think of when they hear the term “redneck.”

For this essay, you must write a personal story about education and parlay that into an argument about education. Pick something you care about. Be interested in your work. If you are bored with your topic, so will your readers. What links Rodriguez, Rose and Roskelly is that they have all chosen to write about deeply personal matters and use those feelings to write a coherent argument about education. You must critique the educational system. Nearly anything is fair game, everything from kindergarten to high school to college athletics to unfair distribution of scholarships. Secondly, like Roskelly, you must use sources. For this essay, we are requiring that you use two of the three education readings (Roskelly, Rodriguez or Rose) in addition to two outside sources on your own. Your sources must be integrated organically into the paper like in Roskelly’s, and you must provide a works cited. Search out people who agree with your argument. Search out people who disagree with your. Like anything, the debate concerning education is an ongoing conversation. Your paper is not an island, but a mere dialogue in an endless series of conversations.

Essay #2 (4 pages)

DUE FRIDAY OCTOBER 12th IN MY E-MAIL INBOX BY 11AM

“And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski. I’m not the only one.”

–Nicholas Carr

It’s difficult to argue that the proliferation of the internet and broadband technology haven’t affected our lives in a number of ways. Farhad Manjoo discusses the power social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter hold over our lives, while Zoe Kleinman shows us how the internet is rapidly reconfiguring the way we communicate offline and online. While Kelle Santiago and Roger Ebert spur endlessly about whether or not video games are art, Jane Wakefield visits schools around the UK who have already adopted 3D technology in middle school classrooms. And then, of course, there’s Nicholas Carr who has written an entire book aiming to prove that the internet has reshaped the way humans process information.

Technology can affect our educations, it can affect our communications and relationships, and it can even affect our minds. For this assignment, we want you to imagine the future. What effect is technology having on us and what are the pros and cons? In this essay, you will try and predict where technology is leading us as a people and what exactly makes you think that. If you believe text messaging will leave future generations unable to spell correctly, that’s fine, but you must show evidence of that in the here and now using sources. The bolded words above are vague enough for you to use your own interests. Do you think experimental German surgeries will allow athletes to play professionally well into their forties, and what are the pros and cons of that (look it up, Kobe Bryant did it, and now a host of other athletes are too)? Do you think the increased dependence on social media over physical relationships will lead to legions of depressed Americans? Will the ever-improving world of technology lead to a glorious new age like Kellee Santiago predicts, or will it leads us into doom like Nicholas Carr imagines? Maybe it’s something in between.

For this paper, you must use four critical sources. Two must come from either the Manjoo, Kleinman, Santiago, Carr, or Wakefield. No Wikipedia.

Revision #1 (6 pages)

DUE WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 24th IN MY E-MAIL INBOX BY 11AM

 “When you write,” Annie Dillard says, “you lay out a line of words . . . Soon you find yourself in new territory.  Is it a dead end or have you located your real subject?”  You write a first draft.  A few weeks pass and the terrain changes. You have some ideas for improvements.  Those comments in the margins are a good place to begin.  A few pointed questions, the occasional word of advice.  You have the voices of your classmates, a few new ideas about writing.  That’s a good start, you say to yourself.

For this assignment, you will substantially revise one of your essays and take it in a new direction.  Begin by reading over your writing, looking again at those lines of words you laid down.  Think about where you want them to go now.  How have your ideas about what you wanted to say, or how you wanted to speak, changed?  Where do you find yourself at a dead-end?  Are there questions in the margins that open up new routes, perhaps calling to mind stories you have yet to tell, ideas you would like to pursue further?

Once you have read through your writing and the comments, decide which essay you will revise.  Be sure to ask if you have questions about anything written on your draft.

Plan on spending at least as much time and effort revising as you did writing the original.  In some instances, you may write new paragraphs, entirely new pages.  In others cases, you will undoubtedly find yourself fine-tuning single sentences.  Highlight the revised and new material by using a different colored font.  Once you have completed your revision, the new essay should look quite different from the original.

If you scored an A on the first draft, cut 10% of your material. If you scored a B on the first draft, cut 25% of your material. If you received a C or lower on the first draft, cut 50% of your material.

Essay #3 (4 pages)

Due Monday November 19th in My E-mail Inbox by 11am

Get dressed, Marge. You’ve got to lead our protest against this abomination!”
“Hmm, but that’s Michelangelo’s David. It’s a masterpiece.”
“It’s filth! It graphically portrays parts of the human body which, practical as they may be, are evil.”
“But I like that statue.”

The Simpsons

Cartoon characters are banned for being too violent. Prince and Purple Rain are blamed for the devolution of a nation. Street artists are chased by police officers across European rooftops. The KKK distributes flyers right in our own backyard here in Beech Grove. Yet a man can allow a dog to starve to death and call it art, and nothing happens to him.

Censorship is a slippery slope, yet it exists all around us. Alan Dershowitz argues you can yell “Fire!” in a movie theatre but after the events of Aurora, Colorado, and before that 9/11, this seems pretty unlikely. Is censorship ever ok? Should more things be censored? The KKK? Artists murdering dogs? People who protest soldiers’ funerals? Or, by allowing these people protection via free speech, are we illuminating the stupidity of their ideas? What are the dangers inherent in censoring? Can we go too far either way?

Over the last few weeks, we’ve discussed censorship and your various stances toward it. For this assignment, pretend that you’ve been assigned by the government to come up with a new policy on censorship in America. Will you take a hard line, censoring violence and nudity on television or other forms of artistic expression? Or will you take an anything goes mentality? What are the pros and cons of your stance? Tease out the ramifications. Come up with a competent argument for why your censorship policy is best for America.

For this assignment, you will use four sources. Two must come from either the Simpsons episode, Exit Through the Gift Shop, the Elliot Feldman, the Jason Wire, or the Alan Dershowitz articles. Two must be your own, and they must be critical sources. No Wikipedia.

Essay #4 (8 pages)

Due Friday December 7th In My E-mail Inbox By 11am

“If this baby is a girl, I am hopeful that things will be different when it’s her turn. That she will read this essay in thirty years and laugh and say, ‘Mom, you were so crazy.’ Because she will feel so in control of her life, her choices, her body, that she won’t be able to imagine a time when any small modicum of control had to be flexed, hoarded, treasured. She will be part of a generation of girls unassaulted by their society. They will walk around generous and uninjured. Or maybe that’s just the dream of this pregnant woman, because we all want better for our kids than we had ourselves.”

–Aubrey Hirsch

The world can sometimes be a pretty unjust place. Over the last few weeks, we’ve read Peter Singer’s account of poverty and starvation in the third world. We’ve seen Adelph Molinari explain the vast digital divide that excludes so many global citizens. And we’ve read and chatted with Aubrey Hirsch who felt changed by her pregnancy from “Aubrey” into a “Mother-to-be.”

And yet, the solutions are hard to see. Peter Singer’s solution to world poverty seems completely implausible and impossible. Aubrey Hirsch hopes for a better tomorrow for her child but isn’t exactly sure how or even if that will happen. Adelph Molinari forms a plan of action but admits he’s extremely far away from his goal of bridging the digital divide. All three writers and thinkers agree that although equality is a goal we should strive for, it’s an incredibly difficult goal to achieve.

For this essay, you will be asked to transform yourself into a positive force for change. Much like in your educational autobiography earlier this semester, we want you to choose a problem you care about that has to do with equality. Like Adelph Molinari, you must select a real, physical problem—in his case, the lack of internet access in the third world—and try and sketch out a solution. This must be a real life problem with a real, tangible solution. However, you don’t have to be ambitious to the point where you set out to end world poverty. Think locally. What is a problem with equality you have witnessed in your own lives? Have would you solve it? First, explain why this is a problem that must be addressed. Remember how Hirsch and Molinari argue why their causes are so important. Then set forth your explanation, arguing why exactly this is a feasible way forward. Your problem and solution may relate back to education, technology, or censorship. In many ways, this is the culmination of everything we’ve discussed this semester. It’s time to take the thinking you’ve done and transform it into something concrete.

You will be required to use four critical sources. For this assignment, you are not required to use the two essays and video we discussed during this unit, but you may use one, and only one, if you wish. Find sources that are related to your problem.

FINAL PORTFOLIO

DUE DECEMBER 7th IN MY E-MAIL INBOX BY 11AM

In addition to Essay #4, you also must turn in Revision #1, and Revision #2. For Revision #2, you will revise any of the first three essays you haven’t revised already. The same rules apply. You must cut out either 50%, 25%, or 10% of your work depending on your grade. Then you must extend the paper to six FULL pages.