To help your respondent

As panelists (that’s all of you), you need to give your respondent the opportunity to write a thoughtful response. You should also take advantage of your respondent’s perspective as a peer reviewer.

As soon as possible: send your respondent your proposal, along with any notes about changes in your plans.

I recommend you keep swapping ideas over the weekend. By Sunday: Send your work in progress.

24 hours before your panel: Send your respondent as much as you have prepared.

If your partner is presenting on Monday, April 20, your response is due on Wednesday the 22nd.

Finally, there is an optional sentence-level revision exercise on Blackboard. It’s due at midnight on Monday, April 20.

Good scholarly talks on video

We’ve been talking about how a conference paper or public lecture is different from a paper intended for print, but what does that mean in practice? YouTube to the rescue.

Rosemarie Garland-Thomson (Professor of English at Emory), “Staring and Its Implications in Society”: Garland-Thomson is actually summarizing the argument of her book. Note how elegantly she combines neurological, historical, and aesthetic points, describing a universal phenomenon without resorting to generalities. (Except for “in society.” Don’t use that.)

Tricia Rose (Brown): “Hip Hop Wars”: A funny, passionate argument for taking pop culture seriously. There’s a 14-minute and a 40-minute version of her talk.

Arnold Weinstein (Brown), “Why Literature and Medicine?” One answer to the question of what we can learn about real bodies and brains by examining fictional situations.

In the series “Emory looks at Hollywood,” various faculty members deliver a short talk connecting a current hit movie to their own areas of expertise: The Hunger Games and Roman gladiator culture; Captain America and the ethics of war technology, Girls and our expectations about women on TV…. As you listen, pay attention to what points they make, and what they leave out. You shouldn’t hear any sentences like, “This movie is about…,” or “It was directed by _____ and released in 2014,” nor should you hear description for its own sake. Obviously, you can’t splice film footage into your own talk, so you will have to supply that information with your words!

Looking ahead to the conferences

As a reminder, your proposal is now due on Sunday, April 12 by midnight. Prepare to interview and be interviewed about your project on Friday. There are no required readings for Monday.

Next week, we’ll set the agenda for the conference. Which papers would go well together? (See the schedule of the Interdisciplinary 19th-Century Studies Conference, at Georgia Tech, for an example.) The schedules-in-progress are linked below. As well as your own presentation date, make sure you know when your partner is delivering his/her paper: your response is due that day.

One last question: Do you like to listen to music when you write and revise? Let’s make a playlist.

Optional blog #8: Vonnegut

The last blog post is optional. Doing it will have either a positive or a neutral effect on the “Blog Posts” category of your grade (worth 25%).

Pick one of the following prompts and answer in a short essay of 500-1000 words.

1. Explain at least one idea about time offered by Slaughterhouse-Five. Compare that to the way time works in another piece of fiction (book, movie, etc.) or within a particular philosophical, scientific, or religious system. What do you learn from the comparison?

2. Is Slaughterhouse-Five an example of “uncreative writing”? Explain, and make it clear to your readers why we should care.

3. Read “The Scourge of ‘Relatability,'” by Rebecca Mead. Do you agree, disagree, or a little bit of both? Explain with reference to any one of our assigned readings. You’re free to discuss your own experiences; however, the main source for your argument should be the words of the literary text.

Due on Wednesday, April 15 by midnight.

Twiny Jam (Bonus)

Porpentine, one of the most prolific Twine creators out there, is hosting a Twiny Jam: a call for Twine games made with 300 or fewer words. Her deadline is April 9.

As you may recall, I’d hoped to do some more in-class work with Twine as a medium, but then we had our “snow” day. So I’m giving you the option of creating a Twine of your own for some extra credit. Following Porpentine’s rules, your Twine should have 300 or fewer words, plus as many legally sourced images and sounds as you want.

What to make your Twine about?

  1. Present a story or idea related to your keyword/research topic. It should pack some rhetorical punch, be that comic or sentimental or anything else.
  2. Teach a lesson from Rhetorical Grammar in a memorable, fun way. Use your own examples.

To submit this optional assignment, upload the game file (______.html) to your domain. You can also submit it to the “Jam,” if you feel so inclined.

Some of my ENG 101 students last semester made Twines, which you can check out.

Guidelines for April 1 revision

Please submit the following on Blackboard by Wednesday, April 1:

1. Your original article about This American Life, Radiolab, or Twine, annotated by you.

2. A substantially revised and improved version of the article, aimed at a real (earthling) publication.

In your mind, fill out the template, “Sit down, _____________: we need to talk about the way __________________ was presented in this podcast/game, right now, because ______________________.” The “because”–the central question–could be aesthetic (what makes a segment good or bad?), ethical (e.g., do interviewers have special obligations toward their subjects?), historical (the effects of Vietnam War-era chemical weapons; the early days of the internet), or anthropological (understanding value systems or social rituals). Don’t tell us something you already knew, or that no one would argue with (friendships are important; being locked up sucks). And the podcast/game itself might stay at the center of your piece, or it might become more peripheral.

3/22 Edited to correct due date.

Blog 3/18: That’s quite a variety!

When we return, we’ll jump into the podcast project. Please come prepared to discuss the Radiolab and This American Life episodes on the syllabus. Also, if you know whom you’d like to work with, join one of the “Podcast” groups on Blackboard before Wednesday, March 18. Otherwise, I’ll assign students to groups based on research areas.

For your Wednesday night post, choose one of the following topics and write an article of 500-1000 words:

  1. If you were a space alien whose only knowledge of American life came from a single episode of This American Life“20 Acts in 60 Minutes”–what conclusions would you form? Why? Consider culture, values, economy, life forms, aesthetics, and so on (and, no, you don’t need to use the “space alien” thing).
  2. After listening to the Radiolab segment about “yellow rain” and reading Kalia Yang’s response, what do you think about the way the podcasters handled the interview? About their apology? About, dare we say, the facts of the matter? What do you think led you to your position?
  3. Discuss one of the Twine games on the syllabus. What was it like to play? What does the medium allow the creator to do that another genre (say, an essay or short story) might not? What are the drawbacks of Twine as a medium for presenting this particular story?


Hope you all have a relaxing break.

Revision for March 4

Comments on your partner’s post will be due Sunday night as usual.

For next Wednesday, please submit the following on Blackboard:

1. Your original post about “The Yellow Wall-paper” (or sentimentalism or A Room of One’s Own), annotated by you. There are several ways to annotate a digital text: using Genius (which we sampled with “The Tell-tale Heart”), Diigo, or another annotation app; by dropping the text into a Word, Google, or Open Office document and using the Comment feature there; or you can print your blog and mark it up by hand.

2. A substantially revised and improved version of the paper.

This revision will be worth 6 points, that is, 1.5 times the weight of a regular blog post. We’ll talk about revision strategies in class.


Snow day? Rain day?

A rare snowy day in Piedmont Park. Source: Wikipedia.

Emory will be closed on Wednesday, Feb. 25. If you have any questions about tomorrow night’s short essay or the annotated bibliography, I will still be on email and Skype. (There’s no grammar exercise this week.)

I’ve just spent the last few hours playing some really intense Twine games. We’ll discuss the games, along with the selection from Anna Anthropy’s book, on Friday. I would also suggest you play around with the Twine software at

Finally, have you voted for the classic “tight space” movie you want to watch next week? The poll is on Blackboard, under Course Documents. Please make your selection before Sunday.