(In-Class-Writings) Timed Writings
Instructor: Balzhiser Morton
Directions: Choose one of the following paragraphs and questions and answer it to the best of your ability. Make sure to remember the elements of good writing, especially specific examples and explanations, a clear thesis, and a conclusion. Finish your essay. You may write in pen or pencil, provided I can read it.
We are told that the trouble with Modern Man is that he has been trying to detach himself from nature. He sits in the topmost tiers of polymer, glass, and steel, dangling his pulsing legs, surveying at a distance the writhing life of the planet. In this scenario, Man comes on as a stupendous lethal force, and the earth is pictured as something delicate, like rising bubbles at the surface of a country pond, or flights of fragile birds. (3)
Thomas, Lewis. "The Lives of a Cell." The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher. New York: Penguin, 1974.
In 1974 Lewis Thomas questioned Man in the world. He asked if we had taken control of a delicate nature or, as he goes on to question, perhaps nature is not as delicate as we would like to think. A lot has happened since 1974, especially the spread of technology and AIDS; what do you think? Is nature delicate and at our mercy, or has it taken control of us? Be specific and support your answer.
Femininity, in essence, is a romantic sentiment, a nostalgic tradition of imposed limitations. Even as it hurries forward in the 1980's, putting on lipstick and high heels to appear well dressed . . . Invariably and necessarily, femininity is something that women had more of in the past, not only in the historic past of prior generations, but in each woman's personal past as well . . . [to] knowledge . . . (2)
Brownmiller, Susan. Femininity. London: Grafton, 1984.
In 1984 Susan Brownmiller claimed that femininity has been lost to the past and to knowledge. Now, almost ten years later, do you agree with Brownmiller's claims and have they seemed to hold true in the past decade? Be specific and support your answer.
Experience of life. The mind has to do with meaning. What's the meaning of a flower? . . . There's no meaning. What's the meaning of the universe? What's the meaning of a flea? It's just there. That's it. And your own meaning is that you're there. We're so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget that the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it's all about. (5-6)
Campbell, Joseph. The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers. New York: Doubleday, 1987.
Joseph Campbell claims that we are not searching for the meaning of life, but that we search for the experience of life; therefore, he implies, we should look inward for experience instead of outward for purpose. Do you think that we search for experience or purpose and is that found inside or outside of ourselves? Be specific and support your answer.
. . . I think the basics movement is misguided. Just as the conventions of regularized spelling, punctuation, and grammar were late historical developments, so too the perfection of these matters should be late in the teaching of the writing process. Matters of mechanics and grammar should be dealt with as editing processes, and editing is a concern that should be reserved until the students are competent and confident writers in terms of developing ideas in detail, sustaining their thinking coherently, and writing without inhibiting anxieties. In other words, fluency or copia should precede other concerns. Many students entering college were taught conventional grammar, punctuation, and spelling in school, but they didn't fully learn these things, partly because they were often taught as empty exercises unrelated to real writing. (38)
Farrell, Thomas J. "Literacy, the Basics, and All That Jazz." A Sourcebook for Basic Writing Teachers. Theresa Enos, Ed. New York: Random House, 1987. 27-44.
Thomas J. Farrell claims that it is best to overcome anxiety and to gain confidence and clear thinking before one can learn grammar and mechanics. He points out that mechanics came late in written communication so we should teach the "real" basics first. What do you think? Should teachers begin with mechanics as they have every year for the past ten or so years, or would it be more effective to develop ideas and clear thinking first? Be specific and support your answer.
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