Schedule: Writing II

We will try to stick to this plan as closely as possible, but we may get ahead or fall behind. If either situation arises, expect in-class and online announcements of schedule revisions. Develop habits, therefore, of bringing your copy of the syllabus to each class meeting and of checking this page.

Jan. 8 Thu.

Strunk and White, chapter 5: “An Approach to Style” (66-85). Sign up for class “lead.”


  • What is your writing process?
  • Does Strunk and White’s approach suit you, or do you prefer another method?
  • What do you do to generate and develop ideas?
Jan. 13 Tue.

David Bartholomae, “Inventing the University” (handout).


Leads: Abi W., Jay K.

Remember, the job of a “lead” is to raise a question regarding the reading, one which may help direct our discussion.

Discussion questions on Bartholomae (though you should also make sure to identify any unfamiliar vocabulary!):

  • What claims about university writing does Bartholomae make? Do you agree or disagree with his assessment?
  • Based on your own experience, what kinds of writing are considered “good” at this level?
  • You may have heard the terms high-school writing and college writing: do you think these things are fundamentally different? How?
  • Bartholomae addresses more than writing at the university. Extrapolate, if you can, what his essay says about community. (This may prove difficult, but it should be fruitful.)

Remember that if you choose to respond to Bartholomae, your response (1 single-spaced page) is due today. You have two options, either to respond directly to the essay, or to consider what your expections for “good” writing are.

Note: If you feel at all comfortable with your English skills, consider volunteering at the Loyola Community Literacy Center. Orientation begins 1/12 or 1/13 at 7 PM.

Jan. 15 Thu.

Jane Addams, “The Devil Baby at Hull-House” (Oates 75-89). Response 1 due.


Leads: Kara R., Jin Chen H.

As we begin the (more explicitly) community-oriented portion of our class, there are a few questions to keep in mind:

  • What makes up a community?
  • How do people interact within a community?
  • What are the expectations that a community places on those who try to enter it? (We’ll use Bartholomae for some specifics.)

We will focus our discussion on Addams’s essay. Addams is a prominent figure in Chicago history, and she was influential especialy in working with the poor and minority groups. Here are a few links that you might find helpful in learning about her background:

Questions on “The Devil Baby at Hull-House”:

  • What role does rumor play?
  • What role does the “Devil Baby” play?
  • Consider this passage: “The vivid interest of so many old women in the story of the Devil Baby may have been an unconscious, although powerful testimony that tragic experiences gradually become dressed in such trappings in order that their spent agony may prove of some use to a world which learns at the hardest” (80). What role does storytelling play in everyday life?
  • What social relations do you see in this essay?
  • Think about Addams’s style. What do you find appealing about it? What do you find difficult?
Jan. 20 Tue.

James Baldwin, “Notes of a Native Son” (Oates 220-38).


Leads: Abi W., Liz B., Matthew B.

It might be worth your time, despite the essay’s autobiographical nature, to read a brief biography. Here are some discussion questions:

  • Rights has become a commonplace term. What do you think are appropriate and inappropriate uses of the word?
  • What do you think of Baldwin’s “intolerable bitterness of spirit”?
  • What is the connection between his relationship with his father and the civil rights movements of the time (1940s and 1950s)?
  • What is Baldwin’s attitude toward violence?
  • What do you think of his father’s “legacy: nothing is ever escaped” (238)? Do you agree?
Jan. 22 Thu.

Zora Neale Hurston, “How It Feels to Be Colored Me” (Oates 114-19). Response 2 due.


Leads: Raven G., David S. (Leads have been excellent so far. Keep up the good work!)

Hurston is an interesting figure from the Harlem Renaissance. You can read Alice Walker’s “Looking for Zora” (Oates 395-411) to learn more about her life. Questions:

  • What power does Hurston find in identity?
  • The tone is radically different in Hurston’s and Baldwin’s essays. Why do you suppose this is so?

On Tuesday I mentioned two things by Langson Hughes. One is his review of Baldwin’s “Notes of a Native Son.” The other is “Harlem” (1951):

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

Jan. 27 Tue.

Richard Rodriguez, “Aria: A Memoir of a Bilingual Childhood” (Oates 447-66).


Leads: Gabriella F., Tiffany P.


  • What is the thrust of Rodriguez’s argument?
  • Does the personal nature of his essay make his argument more or less persuasive?
  • Do you agree or disagree with his argument?

A brief biography can be found at PBS’s News Hour “Behind the Scenes” page. You might also be interested in the definition of Aria, since it has more importance to the essay than being its title.

I have placed 2 copies of “Death and Texas” (Thursday’s assigned reading); I hope you will have access to it if you want to read it before Tuesday!

The requirements for essay 1 are available.

Jan. 29 Thu.

Virginia Stem Owens, “Death and Texas” (handout). Response 3 due.


Leads: Sara S., David S., Liz B.

I have placed two copies of Owens’s essay on reserve, in case you misplace the handout. We’ll focus our discussion on what the leads have to say, but if you feel intellectually stuck, consider why Owens is concerned about the dynamic in the “community conversation” portion of the installment. Today we’ll also look at peer editing for part of class time.

The research proposal (due Tuesday) is simply a brief statement about what you want to research for your final paper.

Feb. 3 Tue.

Jonathan Franzen, “Lost in the Mail,” How to Be Alone 98-138 (on reserve). Research proposal due.


We’re reading two essays by Jonathan Franzen, which I have placed on course reserve. But you will still need to come to class prepared! There are a few ways to avoid this apparent catch-22. You could buy the book, photocopy the essay, or take detailed notes. Of these options, taking detailed notes is the cheapest option (I assume you own paper and a writing tool). Here are few suggestions for doing this option successfully:

  • Identify the subject sentence in each paragraph. (What is the paragraph about?)
  • Note any explicit claims that the author makes.
  • Transcribe any statements (i.e., “quotes”) that you think are especially important to the essay.
  • After you have finished reading the essay, ask yourself these questions: What is the essay about? What is the author’s main argument? Do you agree or disagree with the author’s position?—Why?

Note that this process is beneficial even if you have a copy of whatever you read! But it is especially important when you don’t have access to the printed text.

Why is it so important? You will be able to identify the major elements of the essay. But the process can be beneficial for your own writing, as well: you’ll be able to identify effective rhetorical structures and to see how a persuasive essay can be constructed. This can be beneficial even if you disagree with the author’s position.

Leads: Raven G., Kelly W., Stacy M.

Here are a few questions:

  • Does Franzen explicitly identify why he is writing about the postal crisis? (This is the same “so what?” question you need to ask in your own writing.)
  • What conclusions does Franzen draw from his account of the postal crisis?
  • Franzen frequently refers to “the postal family.” What does this term do to his essay?
  • Identify any unfamiliar vocabulary or any unusual word usage that you find in this essay.

You should also come up with two questions for our “peer review” dry-run. If you were the writer, what would you want to know from your reader? As the reader, what would you want from the author? Please include these questions on the same page as your research proposal.

Feb. 5 Thu.

Stephen Jay Gould, “The Creation Myths of Cooperstown” (Oates 520-31). Response 4 due.


Leads: Matthew B., Andrew Z., Jay K.

Discussion questions:

  • What role does myth play in the development of community?
  • Do you think that Gould is only arguing for a deeper understanding of baseball’s origin? Why or why not?
  • Try to identify at least one stylistic device that Gould employs to good effect. Also remember to define any vocabulary that is unfamiliar to you.
Feb. 10 Tue.

Library orientation: introduction to research methods. We will meet at the reference desk in Cudahy and go from there.

Remember to bring your ID with you—otherwise you won’t be allowed in the library!


I have added more details regarding the annotated bibliography

Feb. 12 Thu.

We’re still in the library.


Lenora Berendt has some useful reminders for us as we research our topics. When you evaluate a source, remember to consider its

  •  authority,
  •  objectivity,
  •  accuracy,
  • coverage (completeness), and
  • currency (i.e., how current the source is).

When you start research, Pegasus is a good resource. But when you want to check out journals and other articles—an always good step!—you should check the library’s “resources by subject” page. When in doubt, select the “General” resources; especially useful is Academic Search Elite.

Remember also to take advantage of the library’s inter-campus and inter-library loan services: both can save you time, but the latter is especially useful in obtaining materials that Loyola itself doesn’t have. You can access this information through the library’s online forms page.

Feb. 17 Tue.

Peer-editing workshop.

Essay 1 due.


A few words about this essay: Remember that you need to stake a claim in your paper: you must advance some sort of argument, most likely through a thesis statement (i.e., a statement which has an opposing argument). Note that a thesis statement does not have to be earth-shattering. “Thomas Jefferson was a raving fascist” sounds pretty powerful, but it’s a tough position to advance and may make your readers hostile to your position. Instead, you might want to assert that “Thomas Jefferson’s slave ownership invalidates his arguments in favor of human liberty”—you are arguing something without making your position seem untenable. (Please remember that this is only an example—in either case, I don’t know if the argument will hold!)

Feb. 19 Thu.

Introduction to reading comics.

Art Spiegelman, Maus. Be prepared to discuss Part I, pages 5-93.


Leads: Margaret M., Lindsey C.

  • How does this biography engage you differently than the other assigned readings for this class?
  • What do you do with the spaces between frames?
  • What does the merging of text and image do to the story?
  • Assess the main characters (Vladek, Anja, Mala, and Art). What do you think of them? Whom do you find especally compelling?
Feb. 24 Tue.

Maus. Be prepared to discuss Part I, pages 95-159, and Part II, pages 1-37.


Leads: Matthew N., Lindsay F.

Feb. 26 Thu.

Maus. Be prepared to discuss Part II, pages 39-136.


Leads: Ellen N., Kelly W.

Response 5 due

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: find a symbol (image, text, or both) that reflects something from the previous two-thirds. (Try to pick something that we haven’t yet discussed.) What does the repetition of this symbol do to this and all previous incarnations of it?

March 2 Tue.

No class: Spring break.


I hope you’re having a good break. Here are a few things to be aware of for when you return:

  • I hope you’re ahead of the game on The Corrections: Once we start, we will move quickly, and you’ll be in trouble if you fall behind.
  • Remember my brief speech at the beginning of last class. We’ve expanded the way we discuss readings from thinking only about community to thinking also about interpretation and representation. Let’s try to be aware of these issues as we go forward in our reading and writing.
  • Mid-term grades will be available soon. Please e-mail me if you want to find out your grade before you return from break.
March 4 Thu.

No class: Spring break.

March 9 Tue.

Donald Hall, “A Hundred Thousand Straightened Nails” (Oates 252-62).


Leads: Catlyn O., Tiffany P., Stacy M.

And a poem to consider:

Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota,” by James Wright (1961):

Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
Asleep on the black trunk,
Blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
The cowbells follow one another
Into the distances of the afternoon.
To my right,
In a field of sunlight between two pines,
The droppings of last year’s horses
Blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.

March 11 Thu.

Joyce Carol Oates, “They All Just Went Away” (Oates 553-63). Response 6 due.


I have added information about the second essay

Leads: Matthew N., Jin Chen H.

  • What is the relationship between the early image-collages and the later narrative surrounding the Weidels?
  • Do you think that Oates uses sentence fragments and other “errors” effectively? Why or why not?
  • How does Oates’s role as a writer play into this essay?
March 16 Tue.

Franzen, “Meet Me in St. Louis,” How to Be Alone 286-302 (on reserve).

Annotated Bibliography due.


Leads: Kaitlin S., Melissa L.

  • What do you think of Franzen’s attitude during this stuff?
  • If you watch television “homecoming” documentaries or news “magazines,” what does artificiality do to your perception of them? To Oprah, et al.?
  • Do you believe Franzen’s assessment of the situation?
  • Do you buy his take on the Oprah’s book club fiasco? (E.g., compare it with this account.)
  • What role do marketing and community play in this essay? (Is one better than the other? Why or why not? And can we separate them?)
March 18 Thu.

Franzen, The Corrections. Be prepared to discuss “St. Jude” (3-12).


Leads: Andrew Z., Margaret M..

Here is a (brief) discussion guide:

Jonathan Franzen’s web site has some great resources on the novel. (Feel free to ignore the laudatory adjectives about the novel—the site is designed by his publisher: why wouldn’t they praise something they want to sell?)

While the site has many good questions, I have a few questions of my own:

  • Some people have complained about the novel’s difficulty. Is this an important/valid concern? Are hard things always more rewarding?
  • What do you think of the characters? Are there any you find compelling? What’s up with Chip?
  • How important do you think location is to the novel?
  • Recall our discussion about symbols. What is symbolic in the novel? (Think especially about saints and children’s stories.)

You might also want to read this useful interview.

We have lots of other things to talk about, too. Come with questions of your own!

March 23 Tue.

Franzen, The Corrections. Be prepared to discuss “The Failure” (15-135). Response 7 due Tuesday.


Leads: Lindsay F., Kara R.

March 25 Thu.

The Corrections. Be prepared to discuss “The More He Thought About It, the Angrier He Got” (139-238).


Leads: Lindsey C., Liz B.

  • Remember to check out Franzen’s web site.
  • Also remember to keep track of peculiar images, objects, and vocabulary (especially the various forms of correct). Things that at first seem unusual are important, because they will frequently reappear in the narrative—and often in a different setting. (Remember how effectively this worked for Maus.)
  • What do you think of Gary and his family?
  • How do they relate to Alfred and Enid? (Do they relate to them?)
  • How do Gary’s life and behavior compare to Chip’s?
  • How do Gary and Charlotte Caroline relate to each other?
  • How does Gary relate to his children?
  • What is the role of sex in this section? of money? of mental health?
March 30 Tue.

The Corrections. Be prepared to discuss “At Sea” (241-338). Response 8 due.


Leads: Gabriella F., Sara S.

  • What roles do memory and desire play in this section?
  • What do you think of Alfred’s hallucinations?
  • What do you think of the other passengers?
  • What role does storytelling play?
  • Pay attention, again, to repeated words, ideas, and images. Recall, especially, previous iterations of lion and to correct.
April 1 Thu.

The Corrections. Be prepared to discuss the next chapter.


Leads: Ellen N., Catlyn O.

  • You’ve only briefly met Denise up to this point. What do you think of her now?
  • Has Chip’s stay in Lithuania changed him?
  • How does Franzen elaborate on relationships in this section?

I’ve mentioned family systems theory in class a few times; it’s a field primarily related to psychology. One of the field’s big names is Harriet Lerner, and some key books by her follow:

  • The Dance of Anger: A Woman’s Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships
  • The Dance of Deception: Pretending and Truth-Telling in Women’s Lives
  • The Dance of Intimacy: A Woman’s Guide to Courageous Acts of Change in Key Relationships

Family systems theory suggests that one of the biggest threats to family/relational stability is the secret. *How do secrets play out in The Corrections?*

(A somewhat unrelated book, but one that may be helpful in figuring out some of the issues in The Corrections is Gregg Easterbrook’s The Progress Paradox, which is on course reserve.)

April 6 Tue.

The Corrections. Be prepared to discuss “One Last Christmas” (461-560) and “The Corrections” (563-68). Response 9 due.


Leads: Melissa L., Kaitlin S.

Please come up with (at least) one question of your own. Here are mine (1 & 2 are the most important):

  1. What happens when secrets are revealed? Are the results what you expect?
  2. Who is redeemed by the end? Who is condemned?
  3. Who is your favorite character? Why?
  4. Who is Franzen’s favorite character? Why?
April 8 Thu.

Peer-editing workshop.

Essay 2 due.


Please bring two copies of your essay: one for me and one for your peer reviewer.

April 13 Tue.

The Corrections, wrap-up. Course evaluations.


Please bring your copy of The Corrections. (Feel free to consult Franzen’s web site for a refresher; especially useful would be the discussion guide.) This is the last day of class, so we’ll be especially philosophical:

  • What is The Corrections about?
  • How is The Corrections different from what we’ve read previously? How is it different?

Think especially how writing functions as a communicative act:

  • To whom does writing communicate?
  • What can writing communicate?
  • How does writing communicate? (Think especially in terms of genre.)
  • How can writing influence/affect community?
  • What is writing?
April 20 Tue.

Final exam, 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., in the classroom.

Questions? Send me e-mail: .