Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Assignment Over Break: Due April 1 in class

Over break, read The Medium is the Massage by Marshall McLuhan.

And: Write a summary of the book's argument. It must be typed, no more than one paragraph. I will collect it on Tuesday, April 1.

Vacation well, please.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Midterm Paper Assignment & Prompts

DUE: THURSDAY, March 20th, IN LECTURE. NO LATE PAPERS WILL BE ACCEPTED. So, please, just hand in the paper on time.

The assignment: Perform a rhetorical analysis of any text we've read so far in class. You may use one of the prompts below but it is by no means necessary. Feel free—but be faithful to the text.

1. In what ways can we say that Raymond Queneau is not the author of Exercises in Style? You may, and probably should, bring Barthes' essay in to help explain your argument.

2. What, precisely, does Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" perform? How does the punctuation make an argument? What is that argument? Be sure to consider what the text says as well as how it says it.

3. On page 51 of the “Dissoi Logoi,” we find the following passage: “So it is already clear that it is just to tell lies to deceive one’s parents, and for that matter to steal the property of one’s friends and use violence on those whom one holds very dear.” How does this passage perform? Is the text serious? In what sense?

4. How to Do Things with Words begins like this: “What I shall have to say here is neither difficult nor contentious; the only merit I should like to claim for it is that of being true, at least in parts.” What does Austin perform in this one sentence? How does this claim relate to Austin’s argument about the performative? Be sure to consider the phrasing of this one sentence quite carefully.

5. Nicholson Baker claims, "Our opinions, gently nudged by circumstance, revise themselves under cover of inattention." If that is so, how does his essay go about nudging our opinions about opinions? In what ways does "Changes of Mind" argue "under cover of inattention"?

6. At the end of Nietzsche's "On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense," we find the introduction of a new character, "stoical man." Who is this figure? How does it function in terms of Nietzsche's argument throughout the essay?

7. Nietzsche writes, "With creative pleasure, [the free intellect] throws metaphors into confusion and displaces the boundary stones of abstraction...." In what ways does his essay perform this "free intellect"? Be sure to consider in what ways it does not; or, rather, in what ways this free intellect may not be so free.

The stipulations (failure to follow these stipulations will be reflected in your grade):

  • Write five pages and not one word more. You may write less, but be sure you've said all that needs to be said.
  • No cover page. Repeat: no cover page.
  • No folders. Repeat: no folders.
  • On the upper right hand corner of the first page of your paper, write your name, the name of the course, your GSI’s name, and the date.
  • Margins: 1 inch top and bottom; 1.25 on the sides.
  • Use a 12 point font.
  • Use Times or Times New Roman.
  • Include page numbers.
  • Staple your paper.
  • Spell your GSI’s name, and the authors’ names, correctly.
  • Edit your paper carefully; typos will impact your grade.
  • Write about a text, not about life or language in general. Be specific; be textual.