Today we will focus on your Introductory blog post assignment, due at noon on Friday, and we will begin our study of Art Spiegelman’s Maus. An additional copy of the blog assignment is included in this post. (See the link and the small rectangle labeled download below.)
I am in the process of writing a model introductory blog post for you, which I will publish on my blog as soon as I have completed it, no later than Thursday.
In the meantime, I am including here for you a list of links to model introductory blog Posts that I wrote for my students in previous semesters. The first one in the list was written for my students last fall at Guilford Technical Community College. The second, third, and fourth posts in the list were written for my students at Catawba Valley Community College, and the fifth and sixth posts in the list were written for my students at Lenoir-Rhyne University.
- “Burrowed Time“
- “Five, Six, Pick up Sticks“
- “Treasure Aisles“
- “Another Way with Words“
- “‘I Could Tell You Stories . . .'”
To offer you additional models, I am including below a list of links to a few of the introductory blog posts written by my students last fall.
- “Jennie” by Jonah Brown
- “Sometimes I Notice Pretty Things” by Emi Ceca
- “My Education–Pathways” by Rabila Mohamed
- “The Last Frontier” by Jordan Oldenburg
- “Words and Me” by Justina On
- “The Start of My Love for the Game” by Sean Wright
To prepare you to review and revise your own introduction, today we will examine two introductory blog posts from previous semesters. (See the link and the small rectangle labeled download below.) Remember that you can edit blog posts after you publish them. If you have already published your introductory blog post and today’s exercise demonstrates that your post needs additional revisions, you can make those changes before noon on Friday, January 29.
If you would like to receive feedback on your Introductory Blog Post before Friday at noon, the Center for Academic Engagement offers a number of options for you. Those options are outlined on pages four and five of the syllabus.
Beginning Our Study of Maus
What have you learned about Maus already simply by looking at its cover and skimming its pages? The authors of A Writer’s Reference notes that “[p]reviewing–looking quickly through a text before you read–helps you understand its basic features and structures.
A text’s title, for example, may reveal an author’s purpose; a text’s format may reveal what kind of text it is–a book, a report, a memo, and so on. The more you know about a text before you read it, the easier it will be to dig deeper into it. (57)
With that in mind, consider the front cover. Near the top, below the name of the author, Art Spiegelman, the title appears in large red letters that run or drip like blood. For readers who do not know that the title, Maus, is the German word for mouse, the crouching figures in the bottom half of the cover offer a context clue. Above the mice looms a large swastika overlayed with a cat face marked by a Hitleresque mustache. Below the mice, near the bottom of the cover are the words of the subtitles: A Survivor’s Tale and My Father Bleeds History.
From those details, you might infer that the author’s father was a survivor of the Jewish Holocaust (1941-45), the state-sponsored murder of six million Jews and others, including gays, persecuted by the Nazi Regime during World War II (1939-45).
Maus is a memoir, or a narrative of memories. Unlike an autobiography or a biography, which aims to present a comprehensive account of a subject’s life, a memoir usually focuses on one period of a person’s life or one aspect of it. Maus I, focuses on the life of the writer’s father, Vladek Spiegelman, in the years leading up to the war and during the war and the Holocaust.
Knowing that Maus focuses on World War II and the Holocaust, you might ask yourself why the first pages of the memoir are set in New York, thirteen years after the war.
You might also ask why those two pages precede Chapter 1. Why might Art Spiegelman have chosen to begin the memoir with the two-page story “Rego Park, NY c. 1958”? That’s a question that we will return to on Wednesday.
In the meantime, as you continue to read Maus, consider that like Maus, your first essay assignment for English 111 is a memoir, more specifically a literacy narrative (a story about learning). Ask yourself what a close reading, or study, of Maus can teach you about writing a memoir. Though your memoir will be far shorter than Maus and will be told exclusively through words (rather than through words and drawings), Maus remains a valuable model for its presentation of narration and dialogue and for its development of conflict.
Hacker, Diana, and Nancy Sommers. A Writer’s Reference. GTCC Custom 9th ed., Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2018.
Spiegelman, Art. Maus I. Pantheon, 1986.