Paper Assignments and Guidelines

Paper #2

“Resume” by Luc Sante

“Learning to See” by Rebecca Brown

Now You See It by Cathy N. Davidson

TRON (1982)

For your last paper, you were asked to write a “manifesto” in response to Nicholas Carr’s many claims circling through his book The Shallows: What the Internet is doing to our Brains. Many of you opted to explore how our attention spans have essentially been ruined by the prevalence of the Internet—particularly the attention necessary to read a tangible book. In Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform The Way We Life, Work, and Learn, Cathy Davidson takes an entirely different stance on the way that our attention spans work.

Davidson, a long-time professor at Duke University, focuses her attention on a location familiar to all of us—the classroom. In “Chapter Three: Project Classroom Makeover,” Davidson details how her ideas of “attention blindness” played out in a real-time classroom—“a lesson in institutional unlearning, in breaking our own patterns and trying to understand more of the intellectual habits of a new generation of students and providing a unique space where those talents might flourish” (63).

For this paper, you will need to begin by thinking about what Cathy Davidson is really saying about “attention blindness,” “collaborative learning,” “multitasking,” and how these things should play out in the 21st Century Classroom. What does the classroom that Davidson is proposing look like? Can a classroom like this exist at a public urban institution like CUNY? Why or why not?

After thinking about these questions, write a paper that presents your argument for what a 21st Century classroom should look like. Is this a classroom we visit in person? What happens inside the classroom? Which ideas of Davidson’s do you want to put into practice? Why? Which ideas are you skeptical about? Why?

A successful paper will present a clear model of what this classroom looks like and why you think it is successful and necessary given the 21st Century concerns Davidson lays out. Make sure to use quotes from the texts we’ve read in order to prove your points. Also, be sure to use plenty of details and analysis—your reader should be able to see your classroom and understand why it works.

ROUGH DRAFT DUE: Thursday, March 15, 2012 (3-5 pages typed, bring 3 COPIES to class)

REVISION PLAN/MAP: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 (1-2 pages outlining how you plan to approach your revision of this paper)

RADICAL REVISION: Radical Revision of Rough Draft Paper #2 Due (3-5 pages typed, bring 2 COPIES to class)

FINAL DRAFT DUE:  Thursday, April 5, 2012 (3-5 pages typed)

Paper #2 Draft Cover Letter

Each time you hand in a draft or revision of an essay, you’ll attach a cover letter to the front.  For your Paper #2 Draft, please write a letter, addressed to your readers, in which you answer the following questions and address any other concerns that you have.  Think of your draft letter as an opportunity to request exactly the kind of feedback you need.  All cover letters should be typed and about one page long.

  • What is your thesis?  What are you hoping to achieve in this paper?
  • What are the biggest problems you are having at this point in the writing process?
  • What idea or point do you feel you’ve made the most successfully?  Least successfully?
  • What’s the number one question about your essay—its thesis, structure, use of evidence, persuasiveness, style, etc.—that you’d like your readers to answer for you?
  • If you were going to start revising today, what three things would you focus on?  How would you begin?

Paper #2 FINAL Draft Cover Letter

Each time you hand in a draft or revision of an essay, you’ll attach a cover letter to the front.  For your Paper #2 Final Draft, please write a letter, addressed to your readers, in which you answer the following questions and address any other concerns that you have.  Think of your draft letter as an opportunity to share how you feel you have improved your paper.  All cover letters should be typed and about one page long.

  • What is your thesis?  What are you hoping to achieve in this paper?
  • What are some problems you faced when writing and how did you try to or succeed in resolving them?
  • What idea or point do you feel you’ve made the most successfully?  Least successfully?
  • Do you consider this draft to really be your “Final Draft?”  Why? Did you do anything while revising that could be described as a “re-seeing” of the paper?
  • What grade do you think you deserve on this paper and why?

Paper #1

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr

Poem Packet #1

GENRE:

A manifesto is “a public declaration of principles and intentions, often political in nature.” In other words, a manifesto is a statement (oftentimes meant to be read out loud) that outlines one’s opinions about an issue the author feels strongly about. Think back to the excerpts from Cicero’s Rhetorica Ad Herennium that we discussed in class—what does he think is important to a “theory of public speaking”? What parts of “discourse” does he privilege? How might Cicero’s definition of rhetoric and how speech becomes persuasive help you to compose a manifesto? Keep in mind that this will be a text that exists on paper, but will also be “performed” or read out loud to the class.

SUGGESTED FOCUS:

Nicholas Carr’s book has gotten a lot of positive press. Here are some of the key points that the reviewers seem to point to:

  • “Carr persuasively — and with great subtlety and beauty — makes the case that it is not only the content of our thoughts that are radically altered by phones and computers, but the structure of our brains — our ability to have certain kinds of thoughts and experiences…I actually changed my life in response to it.” (Jonathan Safran Foer, “The Millions”)
  • “We are living through something of a backlash against the frenzy of attention dispersion, a backlash for which Carr’s book will become canonical.” (Todd Gitlin, “The New Republic”)
  • “Carr wants us to think deeply about the effects of this new technology on our cultures, our brains, our social lives and our ways of thinking about knowledge. With masterful ease and winning style, he lays out ideas that will encourage readers to do just that … The Shallows is a book everyone should read.” (Anna Lena Phillips, “American Scientist”)

What do all of these excerpts have in common? What argument do you think they are making about the success of Carr’s text? If we think of Carr’s book as a manifesto, what would its central issue or opinion be? Do you agree or disagree?

The focus of your manifesto should be your response to Carr’s text, your response to these questions.  Remember, you must begin by identifying what you think Carr’s strongest argument is, and then figure out what you want your own thesis to be.

Remember, you need to do more than agree or disagree with Carr.

For example, a weak thesis statement would be:

Despite all of the positive advances that technology has brought to our society, the Internet truly does impact the way we think and has made “deep focus” on one task virtually impossible.

A strong thesis statement might be:

Just as John Coletti writes in “Get Up. You Always Do.,” “the digital world/barfed and won a bit.” By assertively announcing the “Internet’s” victory, Coletti asks his reader to imagine what thoughts look like in this “digital world.” They look like nonsequitors—“candy is delicious”—because the web points our focus in every direction and no direction all at once.  

Some sample manifestos:

(full text– http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/)

(excerpts-http://www.english.upenn.edu/~jenglish/English104/tzara.html)

  • Surrealist Manifesto

(full text– http://www.tcf.ua.edu/Classes/Jbutler/T340/F98/SurrealistManifesto.htm)

A few tips:

  • Be clear and concise in your writing.  Keep in mind that this is a piece of writing intended to be read, so you want your readers to both understand what you are saying, and to sympathize with your position.
  • Read your manifesto out loud ahead of time—do you hear any grammatical mistakes, any places where you seem to stumble over your own words?
  • Remember to be as assertive as possible. You want your readers to agree with you by the end of the paper!

ROUGH DRAFT DUE: Tuesday, February 28, 2012

(3-5 pages typed, bring 3 COPIES to class)

 

FINAL DRAFT DUE:  Tuesday, March 6 (3-5 pages typed)

Paper #1 Draft Cover Letter

Each time you hand in a draft or revision of an essay, you’ll attach a cover letter to the front.  For your Paper #1 Draft, please write a letter, addressed to your readers, in which you answer the following questions and address any other concerns that you have.  Think of your draft letter as an opportunity to request exactly the kind of feedback you need.  All cover letters should be typed and about one page long.

  • What is your thesis?  What are you hoping to achieve in this paper?
  • What are the biggest problems you are having at this point in the writing process?
  • What idea or point do you feel you’ve made the most successfully?  Least successfully?
  • What’s the number one question about your essay—its thesis, structure, use of evidence, persuasiveness, style, etc.—that you’d like your readers to answer for you?
  • If you were going to start revising today, what three things would you focus on?  How would you begin?

Paper #1 FINAL Draft Cover Letter

Each time you hand in a draft or revision of an essay, you’ll attach a cover letter to the front.  For your Paper #1 Final Draft, please write a letter, addressed to your readers, in which you answer the following questions and address any other concerns that you have.  Think of your draft letter as an opportunity to share how you feel you have improved your paper.  All cover letters should be typed and about one page long.

  • What is your thesis?  What are you hoping to achieve in this paper?
  • What are some problems you faced when writing and how did you try to or succeed in resolving them?
  • What idea or point do you feel you’ve made the most successfully?  Least successfully?
  • Do you consider this draft to really be your “Final Draft?”  Why? Did you do anything while revising that could be described as a “re-seeing” of the paper?
  • What grade do you think you deserve on this paper and why?

 

 

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