Posted in Reading, Teaching, Writing

ENG 111: Looking Forward, Looking Back

In our final weeks of English 111, we will continue our study of Maus and reflect on the assignments you have written as well as the habits that I have encouraged you to cultivate, including drafting longhand and limiting your screen time. This blog post addresses the reasons that I’ve asked you to engage in those practices.

Writing Longhand

One practical reason for writing longhand: What we mark through remains on the page. Sometimes what we cross out can be useful later on, elsewhere in our writing. More importantly, research in cognitive neuroscience indicates that writing longhand has these benefits:

Simply put, writing longhand sharpens our minds in ways that typing doesn’t.

Limiting Screen Time

When we use our phones and laptops, it’s difficult for us to give our undivided attention to one endeavor, but often that singular focus is critical.

When we type on our phones, we often aim to convey as much as we can with as few characters as possible. Texting and emailing–both of which now feature predictive text–do not foster the vital skills of developing our writing and producing original thought.

Limiting our screen time not only helps us improve our writing skills, it can also benefit our overall well-being.

The research cited in the links that I’ve included isn’t definitive, but it makes a strong case for the value of limiting our screen time and putting pen to paper. I encourage you to continue these practices after the semester ends.

Model Textual Analysis

Along with reflecting on the assignments you’ve written and the habits I’ve encouraged you to cultivate, this week we will examine the textual analysis of Maus that I wrote as an additional model for you.

As we read the “The Strange Fruit of Sosnowiec,” consider these questions: 

  • What is the essay’s thesis?
  • What textual evidence (images and words in the panels) supports the essay’s claims?
  • Where do I quote or paraphrase the primary source (Maus)?
  • Where do I quote or paraphrase an authoritative secondary source?

After we’ve read the “The Strange Fruit of Sosnowiec,” look back at the final paragraph, and consider which strategies I use to develop the conclusion.

  • Do I include a quotation from a primary or secondary source, one that emphasizes the essay’s main point or puts it in a different perspective?
  • Do I place the analysis in a different, perhaps larger, context? (Do I link the analysis to the pandemic or the current social or political climate?)
  • Do I address the implications of the analysis? (Do I explore what the analysis implies, or involves, or suggests about parent-child relationships, about storytelling, about memory, or about totalitarian regimes?)

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