Posted in Teaching, Writing

ENG 111: First Week Follow-Up

Required Materials: A Writer’s Reference, a WordPress Blog Account, journal notebook. Maus, pocket portfolio, and loose-leaf notebook paper

As a follow-up to our first week of class, I offer these notes on the assignments, course requirements, and resources that we covered on January 11 and 13:

  • Last week, you should have read pages GT3-24 of A Writer’s Reference, reviewed the syllabus and calendar, and made note in your journal of any questions you have about the course.
  • The two short quizzes in Moodle (verify attendance and academic integrity) should be completed no later than 11:50 PM on Sunday, January 24. Almost all of you have completed those quizzes already. Thank you!
  • The Pre-Assessment, on the ENG 111 Pre-Assessment site, must be completed by 11:55 PM on Sunday, January 24. Most of you have not yet completed it. Please do so ASAP.
  • Create a blog in WordPress. After you have done so, send me the address by email to jmlucas3@gtcc.edu, or reply to this blog post. I will then link your blog to our class page, https://janelucas.com/english-at-gtcc/. Over the course of the semester, you will be required to post four assignments to your blog: your introductory blog post and the revisions of your three essays.
  • If you have issues creating your blog or publishing your first post, visit the support page, https://wordpress.com/support/. If you cannot find a solution there, email help@wordpress.com.
  • Look to the Titan Hub as a resource. Located on the third floor of the Learning Resource Center on campus, the Titan Hub is open 9-4 Monday-Friday. The Hub can help you with all technical matters related to your course work at GTCC. If you need to download and install Microsoft Word (you will need to type many of your GTCC writing assignments in Word), if you need help with MS Teams, or have trouble with your password, Titan Hub, https://www.gtcc.edu/student-life/tutoring-center-for-academic-engagement/titan-hub.php, can help. In addition to visiting Titan Hub on the third floor of the LRC, you can contact the hub by phone or email: 336-334-4822, ext. 50318, cae@gtcc.edu.
  • If you have any questions about navigating your first days of the semester, I encourage you to reach out to our class tutor, Catherine Titus, crtitus@gtcc.edu. Catherine has been at GTCC longer than I have, and she is an excellent resource. You have seen Catherine in our Teams meetings, and she will join us for our in-person meetings beginning the week of February 15.  
Posted in Reading, Teaching, Writing

ENG 111: Letter on the Letter from Birmingham

Martin Luther King, Jr. in jail in Birmingham

Dear Students,

This morning as I reflected on the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., I sent you an email message, encouraging you to read the letter that he wrote from jail in 1963 after his arrest for leading nonviolent protests in Alabama.

Although you could have listened to a recording of King reading his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” I recommended that you read it instead, or read along as you listened. As I noted in my email, King’s gift for oratory is well known, but for students of writing, closely examining his words on the page is a more pertinent exercise than listening to his voice.

What makes it an effective piece of writing? With that question in mind, consider these words in the eleventh paragraph: “Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, ‘Wait.’” Here King is addressing his initial audience, the eight white Birmingham-area clergymen who criticized his protest as “unwise and untimely.” He suggests to those men that waiting to act isn’t difficult when you yourself aren’t the victim of injustice, when you haven’t, in King’s words, “felt the stinging darts of segregation.” The sentence is notable not only for the contrast it illustrates between King’s reality and the lives of his readers but also for the words that King uses to show that contrast.

Consider King’s sentence and the paraphrase that follows:

  • Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.”
  • Maybe it is simple for people who have not experienced segregation to say, “Wait.”

King’s sentence is stronger than the paraphrase that follows it because of the “stinging darts.” Writing that someone has not “experienced segregation” is abstract. Readers do not feel the general experience in the second sentence, but they feel King’s “stinging darts.” Sensory details strengthen sentences by appealing to readers’ senses, and figurative language invigorates writing by making the unfamiliar familiar. King’s white readers have not been the victims of segregation, but his choice of words makes them feel the sting.

While King’s “stinging darts” sentence—a relatively short one—is laudable, the long, winding sentence that follows is nothing short of staggering.

It starts with these words: “But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim.” King presents those atrocities in an introductory dependent clause, one whose full meaning depends on an independent clause that follows. But rather than immediately turning to an independent clause to complete the thought, King expands the sentence with this series of dependent clauses:

  • when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters;
  • when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society;
  • when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people;
  • when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”;
  • when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you;
  • when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”;
  • when your first name becomes “n—,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”;
  • when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments;
  • when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–

The independent clause that readers have been waiting for, the statement that completes the thought is this: “then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.” Those words could have immediately followed the first dependent clause, but instead King offers nine more dependent clauses, ten darts that sting his readers.

Ten dependent clauses connected by semicolons followed by a dash and an independent clause, a total of 316 words: That is not a structure I recommend for the sentences you write in English 111, but it’s a valuable model, nevertheless.

Now in the wake of the violent insurrection at our nation’s Capitol, King’s message of civil disobedience may be more critical than ever. As a citizen, I hope you will read every word of his letter. As your writing teacher, I hope that you will return to the sentence that I have examined in detail here. Along with showing his readers why his nonviolent protests could not wait, that sentence of King’s demonstrates how to develop a piece of writing through the accumulation of detail—not just the when, but the when and when and when . . . .


King, Martin Luther, Jr. “Letter from Birminham Jail.” The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Instititute, Stanford University, https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/sites/mlk/files/letterfrombirmingham_wwcw_0.pdf.

Posted in Reading, Teaching, Writing

Finding a Way Forward

Spiegelman, Art. Maus I. Pantheon, 1986. p. 45.

Each day as I greet my students from behind my mask, I am reminded of how much my teaching has relied on practices the pandemic prohibits. Dwelling on those losses provides no way forward, so instead I strive to focus on the endeavors I can continue, including modeling the writing process. Although I have composed assignments with my students for years—more than a decade, perhaps—the process remains instructive for me. This semester, writing a literacy narrative and a textual analysis with my students has deepened my understanding of the process and reminded me of the vital role of writing as a mechanism for making sense of the world.

Preparing to write the first essay of the semester with my students meant facing the challenge of finding yet another literacy narrative to tell. I have written so many essays about my learning experiences, I wasn’t sure what was left untold. Yet somehow after several pages of scribbles and strike-throughs, an early memory crept into my consciousness. I saw myself as I was nearly fifty years ago, a preschooler lying on the floor “reading” the wordless comic strip Henry. That memory from when I was too young to read and too small to hold a newspaper led me to form the thought that would become the essay’s opening line: “To a small child, the pages of a newspaper are enormous.” The recollection that prompted that sentence also reminded me of a later memory of lying on the floor reading. The former memory not only gave me a starting point for my narrative, it also gave me a transition to a second scene:

Reading the wordless comic strip Henry for the first time was the beginning of a years-long habit of stretching out on the floor with newspapers and large books—not thick ones but ones that were tall and wide, among them one of my childhood favorites: The Golden Book of Fun and Nonsense.

As I continued to draft, I wondered what had prompted those recollections of my early childhood and realized my unanswered question could serve as the beginning of my conclusion:

Why these particular early memories visit me now, I do not know. Perhaps rereading Art Spiegelman’s graphic memoir, Maus, with my students has roused the wordless Henry and the word-filled Golden Book of Fun and Nonsense from the corner of my brain where they’ve slumbered.

Days later, after I posted the literacy narrative to my blog and shifted my attention to Maus, a panel in Chapter 3 presented a concrete answer to my question. There, Art Spiegelman depicts himself lying on the floor of his father’s house sketching the war stories of the older Spiegelman. Art’s legs extend beyond the panel linking the scene in his father’s living room to the adjacent panel depicting Vladek Spiegelman as a young soldier. Studying that image of Spiegelman lying on the floor, I became aware of the subconscious inspiration for my story; Spiegelman’s depiction of himself had led me—though I didn’t know it at the time—to my own narrative.

The same uncertainty that accompanied my initial work on the literacy narrative resurfaced when I began the analysis of Maus. Spiegelman’s shifts back and forth from the present to the past were my primary interest, but I could not decide which scene in Maus would serve as my focus. While I remained indecisive on that point, I did make one decision early in my planning: Rather than examining a series of panels, I would focus on one to demonstrate to my students that one panel alone could serve as the subject of a thorough textual analysis. After I resolved to analyze a single panel, I returned to the selection process. I found myself gravitating repeatedly toward the image of the Spiegelmans and the Zylberbergs at their dining room table in Sosnowiec.

Without knowing what drew me to that window into their home, I took the first step; I drafted a description of the panel, lines that would show Spiegelman’s images with my words and lead to the thesis and analysis still to come. That process of recreating the panel in the form of a paragraph required the close attention to detail that developed my understanding of Spiegelman’s aim. What I had initially perceived as shifts back and forth from the past to the present could be described more accurately as simultaneous depictions of the present and the past. Juxtaposed with the retrospective Vladek, the seemingly ordinary scene of domestic life grows ominous. As I wrote in my analysis, “With Vladek’s final words [in the panel], the dark heavy window grilles become the bars of a cage. Readers see the family as the storyteller-survivor does, both as the happy family they were and the prey they would become.”

Witnessing the growth of that idea and the others that form the essays I have written this semester has deepened my understanding of the necessity of approaching writing as a process. Had I not stepped into the unknown, I never would have found the words to express what lies within the pages of those essays, nor would I have the opportunity to reflect on them with the words you are reading now. As I prepare to don my mask again for my last face-to-face classes of the semester, I realize that putting pen to paper with my students has not only taught me more about writing but also shown me a way through a semester of uncertainty. Now as COVID-19 cases surge, and as Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines pend FDA approval for emergency use, we move forward into the unknown. Pen in hand, I aim toward hope.

Works Cited

Lucas, Jane. “A Bridge to Words.” Jane Lucas, 18 Sept. 2020, https://janelucas.com/2020/09/18/a-bridge-to-words/.

—. “Of Mice and Menace.” Jane Lucas, 29 Oct. 2020, https://janelucas.com/2020/10/29/of-mice-and-menace/.

Spiegelman, Art. Maus I. Pantheon, 1986. pp. 45, 74.

Posted in Teaching, Writing

Blogging Beyond English 111

This semester, I required you to create and maintain a blog for a variety of reasons, including these:

  • To create a sense of community outside of the classroom
  • To provide a platform for presenting your work to a broader online audience
  • To foster a practice that can continue long after the semester ends. Your blog can evolve to suit your personal or professional needs.

Blog Response Assignment

The assignment that follows serves several purposes. It introduces you to some of the ways that students at other colleges have used blogs, it offers an exercise in integrating a source into your writing, and it provides an opportunity to consider ways you may expand your blog after the end of the semester.

Directions

  1. Read and take notes on The New York Times article “Blogs vs. Term Papers.”
  2. Compose a comment that integrates a quotation or a paraphrase from the article. Introduce the quotation or paraphrase with a signal phrase. Include a parenthetical citation if you do not name the author, Matt Richtel, in the signal phrase. See the examples below the directions.
  3. Follow the quotation with your own observations about blogging, including how your blog might evolve after the semester’s end. Adding or revising an “About” page, posting your résumé, and turning your blog into one that focuses on an interest of yours are just a few of the possibilities.
  4. Before noon on Monday, November 30, post your comment as a reply to this post. To do that, scroll down to the bottom of the post, and look for the image of the air mail envelope. If you do not see it, click on the post’s title, “Blogging Beyond English 111,” and scroll down again. 

To minimize the risk of duplication, I will not make your comments visible until after the noon deadline.

Examples of Integrated Sources

  • Matt Richtel reports that Duke University Professor* Cathy Davidson “makes heavy use of the blog and the ethos it represents of public, interactive discourse.”
  • Professor Andrea Lundsford notes that students at Stanford University “still seem to benefit from learning how to present their research findings in both traditional print and new media” (qtd. in Richtel).

The second example includes a parenthetical citation because the quoted words are Lundsford’s, but the author of the article is Matt Richtel.

If you address your blog in your reflective essay, you may use Richtel’s article as one of your sources.


*When “Blogs vs. Terms” was published in The New York Times, Cathy Davidson was a professor of English at Duke University. She is now Distinguished Professor of English and Founding Director at the Futures Initiative at the Graduate Center, City University of New York.

Posted in Teaching, Writing

ENG 111: Revising Your Reflection with A Writer’s Reference

As part of your revision process, you will integrate two relevant sources into your reflection. Here are some examples of how you might introduce quotations or paraphrases of the texts you choose to cite:

  • The authors of A Writer’s Reference note that an effective analysis demonstrates “careful critical reading” (Hacker and Somers 69). Of all the key features of an analysis, that attention to detail is what I render most effectively in my study of Maus.
  • One of the elements of the panel that drew my interest was the contrast between the lines of narration that conclude it, where Vladek Spiegelman says, “It was still very luxurious. The Germans couldn’t destroy everything at once” (74).
  • In my analysis, I observe that “[t]he shift in Vladek’s final lines—from ‘luxury’ to destruction’—shifts readers’ perspective on the scene as well.”
  • Dr. Karin James’ research in cognitive neuroscience reveals that writing longhand activates areas of the brain that remain dormant when we type.

The third sample does not include a parenthetical citation because I am quoting the blog post of my analysis, which is a text without page numbers.

The fourth sample does not include quotation marks or a parenthetical citation because I am paraphrasing research on a university web page, another source without page numbers. The information in the works cited entry directs readers to the specific web page.

Sample Works Cited Entries

Hacker, Diana and Nancy Somers. “How to Write an Analytical Essay.” A Writer’s Reference, GTCC 9th ed., Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2018. pp. 69-70.

James, Karin. “What are the Effects of Handwriting on Cognitive Development?” The Cognition and Action Neuroimaging Library, University of Indiana, 2016, https://canlab.sitehost.iu.edu/handwriting.html.

Lucas, Jane. “Of Mice and Menace.” Jane Lucas, 30 Oct. 2020, https://janelucas.com/2020/10/29/of-mice-and-menace/.

Spiegelman, Art. Maus I. Pantheon, 1986.

For more sample works cited entries, see the November 11 blog post, “ENG 111: Beginning Your Reflection.”

Model Reflective Essays

The essays listed below are models for your reflection, but each differs from yours in terms of requirements. The first two, written by students of mine at Catawba Valley Community College, were written for a reflective assignment that did not require the students to cite two sources. The third, written by me as a model for my students at Lenoir Rhyne University, includes both a works cited list and an annotated bibliography.

Posted in Reading, Teaching, Writing

ENG 111: Beginning Your Reflection

For your final essay assignment in English 111, you will compose a reflection that documents your work over the course of the semester focusing on what you consider your most significant work and the feature or features of the course that have contributed most to your development as a writer, a reader, and/or a critical thinker. Features to consider include the following:

  • Reading Maus
  • Keeping a journal
  • Writing for an online audience beyond the classroom/creating and maintaining a WordPress blog
  • Planning, drafting, and revising your literacy narrative
  • Planning, drafting, and revising your analysis of Maus
  • Consulting A Writer’s Reference/Revising with A Writer’s Reference
  • Writing longhand
  • Limiting screen time

You are welcome to focus on more than one feature but no more than three.

Include in your reflective essay the following elements:

  • An opening paragraph that introduces your focus and presents your thesis
  • Body paragraphs that offer concrete details from your work to support your thesis
  • Quotations or paraphrases from two relevant and credible sources, introduced with signal phrases and followed by parenthetical citations where needed. One of the two sources may be one of your pieces of writing. Recommended sources include Maus, A Writer’s Reference, and the articles linked to your class notes.
  • A conclusion that reiterates the thesis without restating it verbatim

If you quote or paraphrase your literacy narrative or your analysis of Maus, cite it as you would any other blog post. See the entries for my blog posts in the sample works cited list below.

Sample Works Cited

Hacker, Diana, and Nancy Somers. “How to Write a Literacy Narrative.” A Writer’s Reference, GTCC 9th ed., Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2018. pp. 34-35.

—. “How to Write an Analytical Essay.” A Writer’s Reference, GTCC 9th ed., Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2018. pp. 69-70.

Harvard Health Publishing. “Blue Light Has a Dark Side,” May 2012, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side.

James, Karin. “What are the Effects of Handwriting on Cognitive Development.” The Cognition and Action Neuroimaging Library, University of Indiana, 2016, https://canlab.sitehost.iu.edu/handwriting.html.

Klass, Perri. “Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age.” The New York Times, 20 June 2016, https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/06/20/why-handwriting-is-still-essential-in-the-keyboard-age/?smid=pl-share.

Lucas, Jane. “ENG 111: Maus under the Microscope.” Jane Lucas, 7 Oct. 2020, https://janelucas.com/2020/10/07/maus-under-the-microscope/.

—. “ENG 111: Of Mice and Memoirs, Part I.” Jane Lucas, 2 Sept. 2020, https://janelucas.com/2020/09/02/eng-111-of-mice-and-memoirs/.

Myer, Robinson. “To Remember a Lecture Better, Take Notes by Hand.” The Atlantic, 1 May 2014, https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/05/to-remember-a-lecture-better-take-notes-by-hand/361478/.

Spiegelman, Art. Maus I. Pantheon, 1986.

Twenge, Jean M. “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” The Atlantic, Sept. 2017, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/09/has-the-smartphone-destroyed-a-generation/534198/.

Wolf, Maryanne. “Skim Reading is the New Normal.” The Guardian, 25 Aug. 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/aug/25/skim-reading-new-normal-maryanne-wolf.

Posted in Reading, Teaching, Writing

ENG 111: Not Left to Our Own Devices

In English 111, I have required you to draft your essays longhand and to limit 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 defintive, 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 paractices after the semester ends.

Posted in Teaching, Writing

ENG 111: Revising Your Analysis with A Writer’s Reference

The authors of A Writer’s Reference note that “[r]evising is rarely a one-step process” (Hacker and Somers 19). Editing for surface-level correctness is essential, but it isn’t the only step, and it shouldn’t be the first. Begin instead by re-seeing (or re-visioning) your analysis and considering its focus and organization. Ask these questions:

  • Is it a focused analysis rather than an overview of a scene in Maus?
  • Does it present a clear thesis?
  • Would the analysis benefit from a different organization? If the strongest piece of textual evidence appears in the first body paragraph, try moving it to the last one.

After you have addressed those questions, examine each paragraph one by one, from first to last.

Introduction

  • Does the first sentence name the author, Art Spiegelman, and the title, Maus?
  • Does the description that follows create a picture of the panel or panels for the reader? For more on descriptive paragraphs, see pages 45-46.
  • Does the description include pertinent terms, such as dialogue, narration, panel, speech balloon, and tier?
  • Is the description followed by a clear thesis? Can the thesis be a point of disagreement among reasonable people? (If the answer to both questions isn’t yes, revise accordingly.) For more on writing a thesis for an analytical essay, see page 69.

Body Paragraphs

  • Does each body paragraph present textual evidence (words and images from the panel or panels) that supports the thesis? For more on supporting a thesis, see page 69.
  • Do the paragraphs include pertinent terms, such as dialogue, narration, panel, speech balloon, and tier?

Conclusion

  • Is the conclusion a well-developed paragraph? Does it reiterate the thesis without repeating it verbatim? For more on writing conclusions, see page 18.

After you have revised the paragraphs one by one, review the MLA section of A Writer’s Reference to ensure your document complies with style guidelines.

MLA Style

The MS Word file that you will submit to Moodle should comply with the format guidelines for MLA (Modern Language Association) manuscripts, including in-text citations with signal phrases (384), and works cited entries (392-423). You can use the MS Word file of my analysis, posted on my blog and in Moodle, as a template.

Remember that in addition to submitting your revision to Moodle, you will publish it as a post on your WordPress blog. Your blog post will omit the first-page information included in your file submitted to Moodle (your name, my name, course, section, and date). You will include in your blog post an image that documents some part of your writing process away from the screen, such as a photo of your reading notes or a page of your handwritten draft.

Works Cited Entries

The following list includes sample works cited entries for the secondary sources that we have examined in class. Note that in your MS Word file, your works cited entries will have a hanging indent; in other words, each line except the first one will be indented five spaces or one-half inch.

Bosmajian, Hamida. “The Orphaned Voice in Art Spiegelman’s Maus.Considering Maus: Approaches to Art Spiegelman’s “Survivor’s Tale” of the Holocaust, edited by Deborah R. Geis, U of Alabama P, 2003, pp. 26-43.

Cavna, Michael. “Why Maus Remains the Greatest Graphic Novel Ever Written, 30 Years Later.” The Washington Post, 11 Aug. 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/comic-riffs/wp/2016/08/11/why-maus-remains-the-greatest-graphic-novel-ever-written-30-years-later/.

Chute, Hillary. “History and Graphic Representation in Maus.A Comics Studies Reader, edited by Jeet Heer and Kent Worcester, UP of Mississippi, 2009, pp. 340-62.

Miller, Nancy K. “Cartoons of the Self: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Murderer—Art Spiegelman’s Maus.” Considering Maus: Approaches to Art Spiegelman’s “Survivor’s Tale” of the Holocaust, edited by Deborah R. Geis, U of Alabama P, 2003, pp. 44-59.

Spiegelman, Art. “Why Mice?” Interview by Hillary Chute. New York Review of Books, 20 Oct. 2011, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2011/10/20/why-mice/.

Wilner, Arlene Fish. “‘Happy, Happy Ever After’: Story and History in Art Spiegelman’s Maus.” Considering Maus: Approaches to Art Spiegelman’s “Survivor’s Tale” of the Holocaust, edited by Deborah R. Geis, U of Alabama P, 2003, pp. 105-21.

Works Cited Entry for a Blog Post

Lucas, Jane. “ENG 111: Of Mice and Memoirs, Part I.” Jane Lucas, 2 Sept. 2020. https://janelucas.com/2020/09/02/eng-111-of-mice-and-memoirs/

Works Cited Entry for a Lecture

Lucas, Jane. “Maus under the Microscope.” English 111, Guilford Technical Community College, Jamestown, NC, 7 Oct. 2020. Lecture.

Posted in Reading, Teaching, Writing

ENG 111: Beginning Your Analysis

As you draft your essay, focus first on creating a clear picture with words. Let the reader see what’s on the page in front of you, then move from your objective description to your thesis: your particular claim, which you will support with textual evidence (words and pictures).

Although you will cite an authoritative secondary source in your revision, you don’t need to integrate that source into your draft. When you begin drafting an analysis, your aim is to examine the primary source (Maus) closely and develop your own interpretation of it. After you’ve done that, you’ll have a better sense of what secondary sources are relevant to your analysis.

For more on secondary sources, see the October 14 blog post, “Citing Secondary Sources.”

Sample Analyses of Visual Texts

  • A Writer’s Reference includes a sample student analysis of a coffee advertisement: “Sometimes a Cup of Coffee is Just a Cup of Coffee” (76-78).
  • Wreaths of Reclamation,” by my former student Jacob Palmer, is shorter than your analysis will be. I offer it here as a well-written example of a comparative study of the forces of nature depicted in J.M.W. Turner’s painting Interior of Tintern Abbey and Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein.
  • Through a Glass Darkly: Girl at the Mirror and Grover’s Corners,” an essay that I wrote as a model for my students at Lenoir-Rhyne University, is a comparative analysis of Norman Rockwell’s painting Girl at the Mirror and Thorton Wilder’s play Our Town.
  • The Well-Heeled Clichés of Madison Avenue,” an essay that I wrote as a model for my students at CVCC, is a meta-analysis: a study of a sample student analysis included in CVCC’s English 111 textbook, The Norton Field Guide to Writing.

Posted in Reading, Teaching, Writing

ENG 111: Citing Secondary Sources

In your analysis of Maus, you will cite a relevant authoritative secondary source: a critical essay, book review, or interview published in an academic journal or a well-regarded news publication. The handout on secondary sources that I distributed in class includes passages from some studies of Maus. That handout can be downloaded below, and the excerpts also appear in a later section of this post.

Why Cite an Authoritative Secondary Source?

Quoting or paraphrasing an authoritative secondary source gives your writing credibility. It indicates to readers that your ideas are trustworthy and valid because your analysis is informed by the work of an expert.

Citing an authoritative secondary source also links your analysis to a study of Maus that preceded yours. Academic writing is knowledge-building. With your analysis, you are adding to the critical conversation about Spiegelman’s memoir.

Ask yourself, what has a scholar or journalist written about Maus, and how do my own ideas about Spiegelman’s memoir fit into the conversation? Your answers to those questions can serve as a starting point for integrating your own take on Maus with the ideas presented in a secondary source.

Locating Authoritative Secondary Sources

The GTCC Libraries website includes a research guide for Maus, which features links to articles, essays, reviews, lectures, and interviews.

You can also locate scholarly, or peer-reviewed, articles on Maus by following these steps on the libraries’ home page:

  1. Click on advanced search.
  2. In the first search index box, select subject. In the search term box to the right, type Spiegelman, Art.
  3. In the second search index box, select subject. In the search term box to the right, type Maus.
  4. Click search.
  5. On the next screen, you will see a list of more than two-hundred sources. You can refine your search by choosing one of the limiters in the menu bar on the left. Selecting articles will narrow the list of sources to fewer than ninety; selecting peer-reviewed articles will limit the list to fewer than twenty.

Another Authoritative Secondary Source

If you watched the live stream of Professor Ruth von Bernuth’s lecture on September 28, you are welcome to use that presentation as secondary source. Here’s how you would integrate one of her points into your analysis:

Ruth von Bernuth, Assistant Professor of Germanic Language at UNC-Chapel Hill, has observed that Jewish persecution in Europe coincided with the medieval pandemic but occurred before the plague as well.

Notice that the signal phrase includes the writer’s first and last name as well as her credentials. The paraphrase does not include a page number because the source is a presentation. The work cited entry, which would appear at the end of the analysis, lists the details of the event:

von Bernuth, Ruth. “Black Death and Jewish Persecution.” Guilford Technical Community College All-College Read Presentation, Microsoft Teams Live Stream, 29 Sept., 2020. Lecture.

Passages from Authoritative Secondary Sources

From Hamida Bosmajian, Professor of English at Seattle University:

“[t]he Nazi flag. . . is never shown unobstructedly unfurled in Maus” (42).

From Nancy K. Miller, Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the City University of New York:

“The Success of Maus is due to a double audacity. The first is the choice to represent the Holocaust as a cartoon, the second to cast its star witness as a victimizer in his own world, a petty tyrant at home” (48-49).

From Arlene Fish Wilner, Professor of English and American Studies at Rider University:

“Adam Gopnik has astutely observed that the animal heads attributed to humans in this narrative reflect ‘our sense that this story is too horrible to be presented unmasked’” (109).

From Hamida Bosmajian, Professor of English at Seattle University:

The telling of stories is, of course, a primary means of ordering the disorder of experience; it provides a surface sensibleness that may be perceived as meaningful. Artie, however, will never make any sense or meaning of it all, no matter how many times he articulates the horror verbally and graphically; he can only shape an imitation, an illusion of meaning through the telling of the tale. (30-31)

In an MLA-style manuscript, the quotation above is indented one-half inch because it is one of more than four lines. The quotation marks are omitted because the indentation signals to the reader that the lines are taken word-for-word from the source. For more on presenting long quotations in MLA papers, see A Writer’s Reference (376).

From Hillary Chute, Distinguished Professor of English and Art + Design at Northeastern University:

“The most striking instance of representing past and present together in Maus I is the inclusion of the autobiographical comic strip ‘Prisoner on the Hell Planet: A Case History’” (346).

Works Cited

Bosmajian, Hamida. “The Orphaned Voice in Art Spiegelman’s Maus.Considering Maus: Approaches to Art Spiegelman’s “Survivor’s Tale” of the Holocaust, edited by Deborah R. Geis, U of Alabama P, 2003, pp. 26-43.

Chute, Hillary. “History and Graphic Representation in Maus.A Comics Studies Reader, edited by Jeet Heer and Kent Worcester, UP of Mississippi, 2009, pp. 340-62.

Miller, Nancy K. “Cartoons of the Self: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Murderer—Art Spiegelman’s Maus.” Considering Maus: Approaches to Art Spiegelman’s “Survivor’s Tale” of the Holocaust, edited by Deborah R. Geis, U of Alabama P, 2003, pp. 44-59.

Wilner, Arlene Fish. “‘Happy, Happy Ever After’: Story and History in Art Spiegelman’s Maus.” Considering Maus: Approaches to Art Spiegelman’s “Survivor’s Tale” of the Holocaust, edited by Deborah R. Geis, U of Alabama P, 2003, pp. 105-21.

Blog Response Assignment for Monday Students

Directions

  1. Choose one of the article excerpts on your handout from last week—a phrase, a sentence, or two or more sentences—and compose a short piece of writing that presents the passage as you would if you were integrating it into your analysis of Maus. (See the examples below.) Choose a short passage other than the one cited in the examples below. In other words, do not quote or paraphrase Hamida Bosmajian’s observation about the Nazi flag.
  2. Introduce the source with a signal phrase that includes the author’s first and last name and credentials.
  3. Include the page number in the parenthetical citation, whether you are quoting or paraphrasing.
  4. Type your assignment as a reply to this blog post. To do that, scroll down to the bottom of the post, and look for the image of the air mail envelope. If you don’t see it, click on the post’s title, “Citing Secondary Sources,” and scroll down again. Post your comment no later than noon on Friday, October 16.

Note: To avoid the risk of students duplicating their classmates’ replies, I will not make any of the comments visible until after the deadline.

Examples

Integrated Quotation

Hamida Bosmajian, Professor of English at Seattle University, has observed that “the Nazi flag. . . is never shown unobstructedly unfurled in Maus” (42).

Integrated Paraphrase

Hamida Bosmajian, Professor of English at Seattle University, has observed that the field of the Nazi flag is never seen in its entirety in Maus; it is always obstructed (42).


In class on October 14, the Wednesday students read an excerpt from an interview with Art Spiegelman, conducted by Hillary Chute, Distinguished Professor of English and Art + Design at Northeastern University. Chute, who is one of the scholars included on your handout from last week, is the author of several book-length studies of comics–including Why Comics?: From Underground to Everywhere–and is also associate editor of Art Spiegelman’s MetaMaus.

Postscript

In addition to Hillary Chute’s interview with Art Spiegelman, “Why Maus Remains ‘the Greatest Graphic Novel Ever Written,’ 30 Years Later” is another secondary source that you may cite in your analysis. You may quote or paraphrase the article’s writer, Michael Cavna, or you may quote or paraphrase one of the comic artists he interviewed for the piece. In your signal phrase, include the writer/artist’s first and last name and credentials:

  • Washington Post journalist Michael Cavna
  • Cartoonist Chris Ware, author of Building Stories
  • Comic artist Jeff Smith, creator of the Bone series
  • Graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang, author of American Born Chinese

Sample In-Text Citations

Washington Post journalist Michael Cavna has noted that “amid the massive boom in graphic novels, it can be easy to forget how much of a game-changer Maus was.”

The sample above does not include a parenthetical citation at the end because the source is an unpaginated article on the web.

Graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang, author of American Born Chinese, credits Art Spiegelman with“set[ting] the standard for the rest of us” (qtd. in Cavna).

The sample above includes a parenthetical citation with the abbreviation “qtd.” because Gene Luen Yang is quoted in the article written by Michael Cavna. It includes brackets because I altered the word “set” to “setting” to keep the sentence grammatical in my context.

For more on brackets and MLA in-text citations, see A Writer’s Reference (376, 384-92).