1. Read “Death of the private self: how fifteen years of Facebook changed the human condition” And write two responses, one critical and one personal (400 words minimum, to be written in class on 1/30):

How does this article argue that Facebook has diminished the barrier between our public and private lives? Explain the argument in a paragraph or two, using quotes to support your description.

How do you feel your life has been affected by social media? How old were you when you first signed up for a social media account, and how do you use it? How does your depiction of your life online and those of your friends match up to your sense of your and your friends’ actual lives? 

2. Read “What is Rhetoric?” and then find an advertisement on youtube and discuss the appeals to either reason, values, or credibility as you understood them from the article. Post a link to the ad in your blog post. (400 word minimum, due by 10 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 3rd)

3. Read “Audience” page by Gideon O. Burton, from AND Digital Writing Wiki on Public Vs. Private Readings: and respond to the following prompt: What are all the locations/platforms you can think of where you sometimes write? This can be a note on a piece of paper or a post on Instagram—or myriad other locations. Then discuss how public or private you assume each of them to be, and why. What are the implications of the possible moves from a private to a public location?(400 word minimum, due by 10 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 5th)

4. As you read “Experiments in Life Writing,” (link in weekly schedule) consider the relationship between fiction and nonfiction, as discussed in the text. We can consider fiction as novels and short stories, and the types of nonfiction discussed as autobiographies, personal essays, biographies, and memoirs. How does fiction inform life writing, according to Novak? What is the distinction between the two and how do they each bleed into the other? (400 word minimum, due by 10 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12th)

5. How does Lady Mary Wortely Montagu use rhetoric conventions (go back to the Miller piece if you need a refresher) to justify her position on how her granddaughter should be educated to her daughter? Do you find her argument surprising at all? Do you think it is effective? Why or why not? Consider the questions we discussed in class on Thursday: how can you tell what kind of relationship these two have by the specific words and phrases used? How formal or informal is the tone? How private or public do you imagine the author intended for the letter to be? (400 word minimum, due by 10 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26th) To the Countess of Bute--By Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

6. Two parts, total of 400 words, due Wednesday March 11th by 10 p.m.

Part one: What are the efforts Douglass describes on the part of the slave masters to dehumanize the enslaved people who worked for them? What affect did these efforts have on Douglass as he was growing up?

Part two: Today in class we spoke about efforts to dehumanize people by treating them as “other” and acting as though all members of a designated group are alike and less worthy of dignity and respect than those of another group. What instances of dehumanizing practices do you see going on today? If you have experienced “othering,” you may describe that if you wish—you may also write about cases you have observed outside your own experience, either in the U.S. or abroad. Some have mentioned xenophobic comments directed towards students of East Asian descent during the ongoing Corona Virus scare—how does this fit into the historical framework of dehumanizing people?

7. Due Tuesday, March 24th by 10 p.m. 400 words minimum. Please respond to the following questions about the documentary The Great Hack. Use specific examples to support your claims:

How does big data work, as you understand it from this film? What interested Prof. David Carroll in the Cambridge Analytica case? What was his goal? What connections can you draw between the article we read at the beginning of the semester on Facebook (“Death of the Private Self”) and this documentary?

8. Due Tuesday, March 31st by 10 p.m. 400 words minimum. Please read “Notes on my Mother” by Hilton Als and respond to the following prompt: Choose two of the following quotations from the essay and analyze them. What does Als mean when he says these things? What is their significance to the overall story? Once you have written about two of these quotes, find and paste one more segment of the text that stood out to you on our class instagram page and explain what interested you about it. 

“I was so lonely knowing her; she was so busy dying.”

“My brother and I didn’t like Barbados. In the summers, we were sent there, with packages of clothes and food as gifts, but we preferred to imagine the island through my mother’s memories of it.”

“All the women in my family wanted me to become a black male for the same reason: they wanted to define themselves against me.”

“I avoided explaining that when I sat in parked cars with one man and then another, I felt closer to her experience of the world than I ever did in her actual presence.”

9. Due Thursday, April 16th. 400 words minimum. Read A House of My Own: Stories from My Life by Sandra Cisneros a house of my own intro + chapter 1, write blog post, and comment on two other posts. 

Prompt: What is Cisneros attempting in putting together this collection of essays? What is this going to be the story of, do you think? In chapter one, what is the significance of Hydra House for Cisneros? Can you imagine a Hydra House of your own? What would it look like? What would it allow you to do?

10. Due April 30th. 400 words minimum. Read A House of My Own: Stories from My Life by Sandra Cisneros—No Place Like Home  and Only Daughter, write blog post, and comment on two other posts. 

How does Cisneros characterize “home” in these essays? What are the barriers to belonging that she experiences, in the world outside and also within her family?

How do you think of home, and has it changed at all in the past few months? What are your barriers to belonging, outside and within your home?

11. Due May 8th. 400 words minimum. Read “Introduction” and Chapter 1, “Origins” of Barack Obama – Dreams from My Father_ A Story of Race and Inheritance-Three Rivers Press (2004). Write blog post and comment on two other posts.

This book is in part about the conflict between the world Obama’s family dreamed of living in and the reality they encountered. Explain what those two visions looked like, and what role Obama himself played in the coming together and dividing of those two worlds. Then choose a passage that stands out to you, paste it into the blog post, and explain why it struck you.

12. Due May 14th. 400 words minimum.  Read “Another Cog in the Machinery of Divahood” by Alessandra Stanley. Watch Life is But a Dream by Beyoncé. Final blog post due.

What do you think Beyoncé is trying to express through this documentary, and how does she go about doing that? How does the Stanley article help you interpret the film—what is Stanley’s main argument, and do you find it to be valid? Explain.