Wednesday, August 16, 2017

For Tuesday: Schulz, “The Really Big One” (p.183)

PART I: Definitions (define the following terms as they are used in the essay):

seismology (183); logarithimic (185); epoch (186); eradication (190); seaflooreeze (192); unwittingly (193); nonchalance (194); inundation (196)

PART II: Questions (answer 2 of the 4 questions below in a short paragraph—3-4 sentences, at least, and with sufficient detail to show you’ve read the essay and understand why this question is significant)

1. What does Schulz mean when she writes, “On the face of it, earthquakes seem to present us with problems of space...But, covertly, they also present us with problems of time” (199)? Why might time be the most important factor of understanding and preparing for the “next big one”?

2. Schulz calls the Cascadia subjunction “one of the greatest scientific detective stories of our time” (189). Why is this? What was the mystery that it helped solved—and why was it so tricky to solve?

3. If the resulting devastation from the “next big one” is so catastrophic, why is there no plan to deal with it—or even to prepare for it—in the Pacific Northwest? What’s preventing cities and agencies from learning from Japan’s example?

4. Writing about science is difficult, since for non-scientists it can quickly become dry and confusing. How does Schulz try to liven up her subject and also make us connect with the material? Focus on a specific passage that does this for you.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Welcome to the Course!

Welcome to Dr. Grasso's blog for Comp I, sections 11 and 14: I will post daily assignments, paper assignments, and other links and announcements here, so check often (and bookmark the site). Remember, we're using this instead of Blackboard, so no need to consult Blackboard for these assignments. Remember also to buy the two books for class as soon as you can: Best American Magazine Writing 2016 and The Men Who Stare at Goats. We'll start reading and writing soon!

A little bit about the course: This is a first-semester writing course that strives to accomplish two goals: (a) show the connection between reading and writing, and (b) make writing part of a local or global conversation with other writers. Once you become knowledgeable about a given topic, you can then add to the conversation with your own writing, which extends this discussion into new avenues of thought (or connects to old ones). Writing should never be something done to fill up space or to sound ‘smart’; the goal of writing is to communicate to an audience that shares your concerns, but may have never considered the topic from your point of view. Writing—and publishing your writing—has never been easier or more accessible than it is now. With a potential audience of millions on the internet and elsewhere, the burden is on you to actually have something to say!

E-mail me with any questions at 

[Note: the posts below this one are from a previous semester--they are not future work for the course! ] 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Paper #4 Assignment

Paper #4: Reviewing Your Life!

For this assignment, you’re still going to respond to a conversation in society, but in a very different fashion. The only research you need to do is find a review of a movie or TV show you like: it can be a bad review or a good review. Read it carefully and note what aspects of the show (the acting, the story, the plot, the dialogue, etc.) the reviewer applauds or criticizes. What makes the film/show successful or a flop according to the reviewer?

THEN, I want you to review something in the real world according to the exact same guidelines. In other words, I want you to be this reviewer, and to review something that is not a movie or show as if it is. This could be anything in the course of your day-to-day existence. You will become a reviewer of your own life!

Some things you could review are:
* A college class
* A job
* A restaurant (but don’t just review the food—review the entire experience)
* A date
* A game (ECU or otherwise)
* A TV or web commercial

The trick here is to write satire: that is, to be ironic (and treating a job like a movie is ironic), and use humor and over-the-top language to help us see what is satirical about this place or event. For example, you might have a class that is really, really boring; maybe the professor only reads off Powerpoint slides all day, every day. So how would the writer of your film review rate your own class? Based on what he/she said about the film, how many stars would he/she give your class? What would he/she like? Dislike? How could he/she discuss your class in terms of the movie? Use the review to satirize what works and doesn’t work about your class, to help us ‘see’ how you feel about it. Irony often helps us see what we would otherwise miss, just as film reviews help us understand why a movie works or doesn’t work.

  • Write this as an actual review of a movie. Use the same author as your film review and try to talk about your event in the same way. Mirror the actual language of the review if possible.
  • Turn in the review with your paper: I want to see how closely you modeled your satire on the real review.
  • Have fun, be silly, but also make a point: show why the date didn’t work out; show why we lost the game; show why a college class is surprisingly interesting despite the dull subject matter, etc.
  • Due the last day of class, Thursday, December 1st by 5pm

Satire Handout (Tuesday)

Satire Workshop, Part I: The Irony of Satire

Humor Vs. Satire:  Which one is humorous and which one is satirical?  What crucial element distinguishes one from the other?
  • Professor Dillinger is so hard that it took me the half the semester to figure out I wasn’t even in his class!
  • Professor Dillinger gives out so many F’s that even the janitors fail his afternoon trash collection. 
  • Professor Dillinger goes out of his way to help and encourage student success.  In fact, just last week, he didn’t just give me a 36 on my exam, but gave me a 36 on the next one so I wouldn’t have to go through all that trouble studying.  What a guy!

“Bush Earmarks 1.5 Billion Gold Stars for Education”
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Vowing to give the nation’s public schools “a much-needed boost,” President Bush announced Monday that his 2003 budget proposal would allocate 1.5 billion gold-star stickers for education.  “As class sizes continue to grow and test scores continue to decline, our public schools are in a state of crisis...There is no more time for deliberation.  It is time to act.  Our children need these adhesive gold stars.”
Bush went on to describe the “alarming state” of many of the nation’s public schools, citing underpaid teachers, buildings badly in need of repair, and woefully outdated textbooks.  “If a child is going to learn under these conditions, he or she is going to need lots of encouragement...These gold stars will serve as reinforcement for our best students while motivating underachievers to do better.  I know it made a big difference to me as a child.  Bush said the stars, which are expected to cost the government an estimated $2.3 thousand, are well worth the expense.  “Can we really put a price tag on the future of our nation?” Bush asked.  “Can we ever put a dollar amount on success?” 

Laid-Back Company Allows Employees To Work From Home After 6 pm
GRESHAM, OR—Underscoring the benefits of working for a laid-back company like SocialFire Marketing, founder and CEO Matt Avalon told reporters Tuesday he had instituted an office-wide policy permitting employees to work from home anytime after 6 p.m. “If it helps them be efficient and get more done, I have no problem with people working remotely once they’ve left the office for the day,” said Avalon, who noted that as long as they’re doing their jobs, the location where his staff members choose to work between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m. is “completely up to them.” “That’s the kind of relaxed culture we strive to create here—one where you can even be working from your living room couch at two in the morning if you’d like.” Avalon added that since they don’t have to be in the office for any meetings, employees are free to work from home on weekends and holidays as well.

SATIRICAL HEADLINES: How many of the following headlines can you explain to the satirically-challenged? In other words, what is each one making fun of through irony?
·         Voting Machines Elect One Of Their Own As President
·         CIA says that Syria Harboring More Than 15 Million Known Arabs
·         Nation’s Shirtless, Shoeless March on Washington for Equal-Service Rights
·         Thin, Attractive Woman Accepted For Who She Is

Thursday, November 3, 2016

No Class on Thursday (due to OLAF)--see below

Remember that class is cancelled on Thursday due to the Oklahoma Literary Arts Festival which will take over Horace Mann. Come back on Tuesday and we'll wrap up our discussion of Escape from Camp 14. That means the paper is due next Thursday instead of Tuesday. 

See you then! 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

For Tuesday: Harden, Escape From Camp 14, Chs.21-Epilogue

Be sure to finish the book for Tuesday's class (or get close) so we can discuss the closing chapters. Remember to start thinking about Paper #3 (assigned posted in the post below this one).

Answer ONE of the following:

Q1: According to Harvard psychiatrist Judith Lewis Hermann, many concentration camp survivors have what she calls "a contaminated identity." What does this term mean, and how does it play out in Shin's post-camp life, particularly in America?

Q2: Though many North Koreans try to flee the country and make it to South Korea (where they share a language and a culture), they often have a very difficult time assimilating. Besides the freedom, what other cultural factors does a North Korean have to overcome to make it in South Korea? How does this suggest that (like Q1) escape is as much mental as it is physical?

Q3: The South Korean government will pay employers "up to eighteen hundred dollars if they risk hiring a defector" (167). Additionally, the US is very generous in granting residency and green cards to defectors, in the hopes they can put down roots and start again. Should other countries be so willing to take in defectors and encourage what could quickly become a mass exodus of North Koreans, particularly if their government collapsed? Should their problem become our problem?

Q4: Why does Shin ultimately give up on the US and return to South Korea? Does Harden look at his story as a "failure," either to assimilate or to escape his past? Does the book suggest he is on the way to becoming a true "human being" again, or is he still haunted by the camps? 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

For Thursday: Escape From Camp 14, Chapters 16-20; also, Paper #3 assignment

For Thursday, read Chapters 16-20 of Escape from Camp 14. There are no questions this time, though we'll do an in-class writing response based on a specific passage in the work. We'll also discuss more writing techniques to help you with Paper #3, which I handed out in class (see below): 

Paper #3: The Conversation of Camp 14

Choose ONE of the following: 

Option 1: “Tibetans have the Dalai Lama and Richard Gere, Burmese have Aung San Suu Kyi, Darfurians have Mia Farrow and George Clooney...North Koreans have no one like that” (13).

Write a letter to a prominent celebrity (your choice) to interest him or her in taking up the cause of the North Korean camps and refugees like Shin. Why are the camps the “modern day Holocaust,” and why is this an issue that every American should be aware of? Assume that the celebrity knows little to nothing about the camps or North Korean life—it is your job to educate them, explaining the realities of the country, the camps, and Shin’s story. To help verify your story, find at least 2-3 additional sources that can either corroborate, flesh out, or add information to your argument. You should also consider what objections the celebrity would have to making North Korea his or her soapbox issue. What do you think keeps people from talking about it now? How can you address these fears or biases with simple facts and information about the human rights abuses going on in the camps?

Option 2: “Congress passed a law that accepted North Korean refugees for resettlement in the United States, which the North derided as an attempt to topple its government under the pretense of promoting democracy” (144).

Should the US actively encourage North Koreans to flee the country and find asylum in the States? Though immigration has become a dirty word in the current election cycle, is it America’s duty to save these people from human rights abuses? Do people like Shin deserve a chance at a better life where they can become productive (and appreciative) US citizens? Also consider that the more we encourage North Koreans to flee their government, the more the country becomes destabilized, which has long-range benefits to the US. However, many bordering countries, such as China, have begun to discourage refugees and are forcibly returning them to North Korea: what are there “naysayer” reasons for doing so? Are they the same reasons we should discourage bringing them here to the US? Or do the benefits outweigh the potential risks? Use Escape from Camp 14 to make your argument, along with 2-3 additional sources to corroborate, expand upon, or simply flesh out your argument.

  • 4-5 pages double spaced
  • You must respond to Harden’s book, Escape from Camp 14, using several passages for support
  • Additionally, use 2-3 secondary sources to corroborate or expand upon the conversation of this book
  • Use of the Naysayer, as well as consideration of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos