Posted in Reading, Teaching, Writing

ENG 111: Writing and Renewal

Spiegelman, Art. Maus I. Pantheon, 1986. p. 83.

In the first days of January, as I prepared to teach Maus again, protestors stormed the Capitol and called for the hanging of the Vice President. As the semester progressed, the sound of the protestors’ chants and the image of a neo-Nazi T-shirt in the crowd lingered in my mind, leading me back repeatedly to Art Spiegelman’s depiction of the hanged merchants in Modrzejowska Street. Turning again and again to the same page of Maus solidified my decision to devote my analysis—the one I would write as a model for my students—to the panels that depicted the hangings, but I did not know how I would write about them. The prospect daunted me not only because of the painful nature of the images but also because I had written a sample analysis of Maus only a few months earlier as a model for my fall semester students. Perhaps I’ve already written all I can write about Maus, I told myself. But returning to the pages of Spiegelman’s memoir revealed that I did, after all, have more to write. Studying Spiegelman’s depiction of the hangings in Modrzejowska Street and finding the words to express my interpretation of those panels deepened my understanding of both Maus and the writing process.

The central image of the four hanged merchants, the one that evoked images of January 6, remained the panel that drew me back to the page. But as I continued to study it, I found myself drawn less to that panel in isolation than to its relationship to the ones that framed it. My observation that the bordering panels both linked the hanged men to their mourners and disconnected them from their persecutors, the Nazis, led me to my thesis: “His [Spiegelman’s] rendering of the panels of the living in conjunction with the fragmented panels of the hanged merchants simultaneously conveys connection and separation: both the grieving survivors’ ties to the dead and the hanged men’s objectification at the hands of the Nazis.”

That statement served not only as my thesis but also as an example to my students of how to develop an idea with a common form of appositive, a noun phrase that offers additional information. As we examined my analysis in class, I pointed to the abstract concept of “connection and separation” and showed how the appositive, the noun phrase that followed the colon, shows readers the specific “connection and separation,” namely “both the grieving survivors’ ties to the dead and the hanged men’s objectification at the hands of the Nazis.”

That learning opportunity grew from an essay that I had doubted would ever find its way to the page. The fact that it did take form illustrates the surprising rewards that the writing process yields.

This school year, perhaps more than any other, has demonstrated the value of writing as a mechanism for making sense of the world. Studying a Holocaust narrative is never easy. But writing to make meaning of Maus now—as we continue to don our own masks—honors the path that Spiegelman himself followed in his struggle to make meaning of his father’s life, a story that we sense, in the words of journalist Adam Gopnik, “is too horrible to be presented unmasked” (qtd. in Wilner 109).

Though I doubted that I could write a second analysis of Maus, facing the challenge expanded my understanding of Spiegelman’s achievement and strengthened my writing and teaching, providing me with another model essay for my students. As we continue to reckon with racial injustice and cultural and political division in our own country, Vladek Spiegelman’s story serves as a sobering reminder that the atrocities his son depicts in Maus are not relics of another place and time—or, as I wrote in the conclusion of my analysis, that “[t]he strange fruit of our past, both distant and recent, should seem far stranger.” As I began to put these words on paper, Derek Chauvin was convicted for the murder of George Floyd; but as I progressed from draft to revision, Andrew Brown, Jr., was shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies in Elizabeth City. As we continue to pick up the pieces of our broken world, I return to the page with the hope that putting pen to paper will also help my students—not only develop their writing but also make sense of it all—as we move toward renewal.

Works Cited

Lucas, Jane. “ENG 111: The Strange Fruit of Sosnowiec.” Jane Lucas, 2 Apr. 2021, https://janelucas.com/2021/04/02/the-strange-fruit-of-sosnowiec/.

Spiegelman, Art. Maus I. Pantheon, 1986.

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.

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 Reflective Essay

“Finding a Way Forward,” the reflective essay that I wrote as a model for my students last semester, is posted below and in Moodle.

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: A Clara-fying Lesson.” Jane Lucas, 23 Feb. 2021, https://janelucas.com/2021/02/23/a-clara-fying-lesson/.

—. “ENG 111: The Strange Fruit of Sosnowiec.” Jane Lucas, 2 Apr. 2021, https://janelucas.com/2021/04/02/the-strange-fruit-of-sosnowiec/.

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/.

Richtel, Matt. “Blogs vs. Term Papers,” The New York Times, 20 Jan. 2012, https://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/education/edlife/muscling-in-on-the-term-paper-tradition.html.

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.

*In the Microsoft Word file or PDF that you post to Moodle, the second line and any subsequent lines of your work cited entries should be indented five spaces or one-half inch.

Posted in Teaching, Writing

ENG 111: Looking Forward, Looking Back, Part II

Lucas, Jane. “The Strange Fruit of Sosnowiec.” Facebook, 2 Apr. 2021, 10:36 a.m., https://www.facebook.com/jane.m.lucas.75/.

In Monday’s class notes, I addressed the reasons I have asked you to limit your screen time, a practice that can benefit not only our writing but also our overall well-being. That said, although I limit my daily screen time, I post my writing on social media, as you can see from the images included here with today’s notes. 

On Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, my writing reaches readers who might not otherwise read my blog.

I encourage you to explore the opportunities that social media platforms provide for your own writing to reach a broader audience.

Lucas, Jane Meekins and Arlene Spencer Neal. Comments on “The Strange Fruit of Sosnowiec” by Jane Meekins Lucas. Facebook, 2 Apr. 2021, 10:36 a.m., https://www.facebook.com/jane.m.lucas.75/.

In Monday’s notes, I also addressed the reasons that I have asked you to draft longhand, and I presented a list of questions for you to consider as we examined “The Strange Fruit of Sosnowiec,” the textual analysis of Maus that I wrote as a model for you.

Maus Analysis Blog Comment Assignment

Later this week or early next week, all of you will receive feedback from me on your textual analysis of Maus. As an opportunity for additional feedback on your blog and an exercise in critical reading, I have developed the assignment that follows.

Directions

  1. Go to the class blog page, https://janelucas.com/english-at-gtcc/.
  2. Click on the name of the student whose name precedes yours in the class list. If that student’s name is not a live link or the student’s analysis is not posted, choose another classmate. If your name is first in the list, click on the name of the student whose name appears last.
  3. Read the student’s analysis, and compose a short response (50 words, minimum).
  4. In your response, demonstrate your close examination of one or more components of the analysis: the title, the thesis, textual evidence, quotations or paraphrases from primary or secondary sources, the conclusion. 
  5. Post your comment as a reply no later than noon on Friday, April 9. If you do not see the leave comment/reply option at the bottom of the student’s analysis, scroll to the top of the page, click on the post’s title, and scroll down. You should then see the leave comment/reply option. 

Lucas, Jane. “The Strange Fruit of Sosnowiec.” LinkedIn, 2 Apr. 2021, 10:29 a.m., https://www.linkedin.com/in/jane-lucas-7073b564/detail/recent-activity/.
Lucas, Jane. “The Strange Fruit of Sosnowiec.” Twitter, 2 Apr. 2021, 10:29 a.m., https://twitter.com/jmlucas/status/1377991574777442308.
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?)
Posted in Reading, Teaching, Writing

ENG 111: The Strange Fruit of Sosnowiec

Spiegelman, Art. Maus I. Pantheon, 1986, p. 83.

In Chapter 4 of Art Spiegelman’s graphic memoir Maus, he depicts his father Vladek’s account of the hangings of four Jewish merchants in Sosnowiec, Poland. Vladek and his wife, Anja, learn from Anja’s father, Mr. Zylberberg, that the Nazis have arrested his friend Nahum Cohn and his son. With his head bowed in sorrow, Mr. Zylberberg says to Anja and Vladek, “The Germans intend to make an example of them!” (83). That image of Mr. Zylberberg speaking with Vladek and Anja overlays the larger panel that dominates the page, one that depicts the horror that Mr. Zylberberg anticipates: the murder of his friend Nahum Cohn, Cohn’s son, and two other Jewish merchants. That haunting panel and the smaller ones that frame it illustrate the complexity of Spiegelman’s seemingly simple composition. His rendering of the panels of the living in conjunction with the fragmented panels of the hanged merchants simultaneously conveys connection and separation: both the grieving survivors’ ties to the dead and the hanged men’s objectification at the hands of the Nazis.

The placement of the overlaying panel not only hides part of the horror behind it, but it also connects Vladek’s father-in-law to one of the victims. Mr. Zylberberg’s head and torso appear directly above the suspended legs and feet of one of the hanged men, creating an image that merges the two.

Spiegelman further emphasizes the mourners’ identification with the hanged men by extending two of the nooses’ ropes upward to the smaller panel above them, linking the living to the dead. Additionally, Spiegelman underscores the link with Vladek’s line of narration at the bottom of the smaller panel: “I did much business with Cohn!” (83). The word “with” appears directly above the rope, punctuating the connection between both Nahum Cohn and his friend Mr. Zylberberg and Zylberberg’s son-in-law, Vladek.

While the panels of the hangings yoke the living to the dead, Spiegelman’s presentation of the hanged men in fragments also objectifies them. The final panels on the page depict only their shoes and part of their pant legs suspended above the onlookers, images that may evoke in some readers thoughts of the last remnants of the Jews who stepped barefoot into the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

Whether the hanged men’s shoes call to mind those mountains of leather left behind by the Jews, the separation of their lower legs and feet from the rest of their bodies turns them into something less than human—not people, but mere parts. Thus, Spiegelman creates a picture of the hangings that illustrates both the mourners’ identification with the victims and the Nazis’ perception of the Jews as less than human: the malignant ideology that the artist has pinpointed “at the very heart of the killing project.”

Spiegelman, Art. Maus I. Pantheon, 1986, p. 83.

Spiegelman’s transformation of the Nazi propaganda portrayals of Jews as rats remains an astounding achievement thirty-five years after the publication of the first volume of Maus. But seeing the hanged merchants in Modrzejowska Street in the midst of the George Floyd murder trial in Minneapolis and less than three months after the January 6 Capitol riot reminds readers that the panels of Spiegelman’s memoir have grown more prescient. The nooses evoke images of Officer Derek Chauvin’s knee on George Floyd’s neck, the January 6 chants to hang the Vice President, and a T-shirt glimpsed in the Capitol crowd, one with a Nazi eagle below the acronym “6MWE” (Six Million Wasn’t Enough), a reference to the numbers of Jews slaughtered in the Holocaust. Our heads are bowed in sorrow with Mr. Zylberberg’s. The strange fruit of our past, both distant and recent, should seem far stranger.

Works Cited

Spiegelman, Art. Maus I. Pantheon, 1986.

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


Posted in Reading, Teaching, Writing

ENG 111: Revising (or Reenvisioning) Your Textual Analysis

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?
  • Do the paragraphs include at least one relevant quotation or paraphrase from an authoritative secondary source and one paraphrase or quotation from Maus? Note: You may quote or paraphrase your secondary source in the conclusion rather than in the body paragraph.

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 or PDF 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). 

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 secondary sources. 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.

Brock, Michael and Zachary Goldstein. “The Lasting Effects of World War II and the Holocaust.” Guilford Technical Community College Globalization, Education, and Literacy Committee Presentation, Microsoft Teams Live Stream, 16 Mar., 2021. Lecture.

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: Maus under the Microscope, Part II.” Jane Lucas, 3 Mar. 2021. https://janelucas.com/2021/03/03/eng-111-maus-under-the-microscope-part-ii/.

Works Cited Entry for an Online Lecture

Lucas, Jane. “Maus under the Microscope.” English 111, Guilford Technical Community College, Microsoft Teams Live Stream, 1 Mar., 2021. Lecture.

Posted in Reading, Teaching, Writing

ENG 111: Citing Secondary Sources

In the revision of 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. Next week in class, I will distribute a handout that includes passages from some studies of Maus that you may cite in your essay. Excerpts from those sources 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 GTCC Professors Michael Brock and Zachary Goldstein’s lecture “The Lasting Effects of World War II and the Holocaust,”you are welcome to use that presentation as a secondary source for your analysis of Maus. Here’s how you would integrate one of their points into your analysis:

Zachary Goldstein, Associate Professor of English at Guilford Technical Community College, observes that one of the misconceptions of the Holocaust is the notion that all of the deaths occurred in the gas chambers. Art Spiegelman’s depiction of the public hangings of Jewish merchants in Modrzejowska Street illustrates Goldstein’s point.

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

Works Cited

Brock, Michael and Zachary Goldstein. “The Lasting Effects of World War II and the Holocaust.” Guilford Technical Community College Globalization, Education, and Literacy Committee Presentation, Microsoft Teams Live Stream, 16 Mar., 2021. Lecture.

For more on introducing sources with signal phrases and citing online lectures, see A Writer’s Reference, pages 376-79 and 419.

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 noted that the animal heads given to the humans in Maus reflect “our sense that this story is too horrible to be presented unmasked” (qtd. in Wilner 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 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.

Posted in Reading, Teaching, Writing

ENG 111: Welcome Back! Part II

Students drafting longhand on Monday, March 22

Those of you who meet with me on Wednesdays will begin planning and drafting your textual analysis of Maus today. You will receive a paper copy of the complete assignment in class. The assignment is also posted in Moodle, and I have included an additional copy below.

Anatomy of an Analysis

Here are the elements that you are required to include in your revised analysis of Maus:

  • an introduction that includes a description of the panel, tier, or page
  • a thesis statement that presents your particular reading or interpretation
  • textual evidence, both words and images, that support your interpretation
  • a relevant quotation or paraphrase from an authoritative secondary source
  • parenthetical citations for both Maus and your secondary source
  • a conclusion that revisits the thesis without restating it verbatim
  • a title that offers a window into your analysis
  • a works cited list with entries for Maus and your secondary source

Note that the requirements above are for your revision. You do not need to integrate an authoritative secondary source into your draft. Later this week, on Thursday or Friday, I will post information on secondary sources, including article excerpts that you may quote or paraphrase in your analysis.

And Keep in Mind as You Plan and Draft . . .

  • You are welcome to focus on a single panel or a series of panels in Maus I, but you should not focus on more than one page.
  • If your initial plan doesn’t seem to be taking shape, turn away from your draft for a while. Try brainstorming or freewriting in your journal. Don’t concern yourself with spelling and structure; attend to those matters later. The aim of brainstorming and freewriting is to get your ideas on paper as quickly as you can. For more on brainstorming and freewriting, see A Writer’s Reference (6).
  • If you write on one panel or series of panels and that doesn’t seem to lead anywhere, turn back to the pages of Maus and try writing on another panel or series of panels.
  • I am drafting an analysis along with you and will post my revision for you next week.
  • The textual analysis of Maus that I wrote for my students last fall and four students models are available to you now on my blog. My analysis is included in the March 17 blog post; the four student analyses are included in the March 15 post.
Posted in Reading, Teaching, Writing

ENG 111: Welcome Back!

What you will need in class this week: (1) your journal, (2) Maus, (3) loose-leaf notebook paper, (4) a pen with dark ink, preferably black, and (5) a mask.

Welcome back to in-person classes at Guildford Technical Community College! I can’t tell you how happy I am that we are finally meeting face to face. Remember that the 9 a.m. class is divided for social distancing purposes. Half of you in the 9 a.m. class will meet with me today and every Monday; the other half will meet with me on Wednesdays. Schedules for the 9 a.m. class–as well as ones for the 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. classes–are posted below, in the March 17 blog post, and on Moodle.

For those of you who are new to the campus–and as a reminder to those who are returning–I am including some details here about pandemic protocol for the classroom.

Near the door, you’ll see a white bucket of disinfectant cloths. When you enter the classroom, pull a cloth from the bucket and wipe down the table where you will sit. This can be a messy process. Often the cloths are so saturated with rubbing alcohol that they fall apart in your hands.

To maximize your distance from your classmates, do not move the chairs. Keep your chair on the side of the table opposite the round “TABLE UNAVAILABLE” decal.

As I mentioned in our last online meeting in Microsoft Teams, except for days devoted to revision work, class time is time away from our screens. Using your phone or any other digital device without permission will lower your grade. 

This week will be devoted to planning and drafting your textual analysis of Maus, the second of your three essays for English 111. You will receive a paper copy of the assignment in class. Later this week, the assignment file will be posted to Moodle and on my blog. 

Although I have emphasized the importance of revising and editing, I am asking you to resist the urge to revise and edit this week. Your primary goal for now is getting your ideas down on paper. In Bird by Bird, author Ann Lamott’s guide to writing, she offers these reassuring observations about beginning the process:

Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something–anything–down on paper. A friend of mine says the first draft is the down draft–you just get it down (25).

Brainstorm and Freewrite

If your initial plan doesn’t seem to be taking shape, turn away from your draft for a while. Try brainstorming or freewriting in your journal. Don’t concern yourself with spelling and structure; attend to those matters later. The aim of brainstorming and freewriting is to get your ideas on paper as quickly as you can.

For more on brainstorming and freewriting, see A Writer’s Reference (6).

If you write on one panel or series of panels and that doesn’t seem to lead anywhere, turn back to the pages of Maus and try writing on another panel or series of panels.


Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. 1994. Anchor, 1995.

Posted in Reading, Teaching, Writing

ENG 111: More on Maus, Part II

Spiegelman, Art. Maus I. Pantheon, 1986. p. 74.

On Monday we studied several student essays–including three written by students of mine last semester–as models for your own analysis of Maus. Today we will examine an additional analysis of Maus, Of Mice and Menace,” which I wrote as a model for my students last semester.

A Possible Secondary Source

Before we examine my analysis, I will turn back briefly to “The Lasting Effects of World War II and the Holocaust,” yesterday’s live stream of Michael Brock and Zacary Goldstein’s lecture. If you watched it, you are welcome to use that presentation as a secondary source for your analysis of Maus. Here’s how you would integrate one of their points into your analysis:

Zacary Goldstein, Associate Professor of English at Guilford Technical Community College, observes that one of the misconceptions of the Holocaust is the notion that all of the deaths occurred in the gas chambers. Art Spiegelman’s depiction of the public hangings of Jewish merchants in Modrzejowska Street illustrates Goldstein’s point.

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

Work Cited

Brock, Michael and Zacary Goldstein. “The Lasting Effects of World War II and the Holocaust.” Guilford Technical Community College Globalization, Education, and Literacy Committee Presentation, Microsoft Teams Live Stream, 16 Mar., 2021. Lecture.

For more on introducing sources with signal phrases and citing online lectures, see A Writer’s Reference, pages 376-79 and 419.

Sample Analysis: “Of Mice and Menace”

My sample essay features all of the elements that you are required to include in your analysis of Maus: 

  • an introduction that includes a description of the panel, tier, or page
  • a thesis statement that presents your particular reading or interpretation
  • textual evidence, both words and images, that support your interpretation
  • a relevant quotation or paraphrase from an authoritative secondary source
  • parenthetical citations for both Maus and your secondary source
  • a conclusion that revisits the thesis without restating it verbatim
  • a title that offers a window into your analysis
  • a works cited list with entries for Maus and your secondary source

Note that the requirements above are for your revision. You do not need to integrate an authoritative secondary source into your draft.

In-Person Class Schedule

Our schedules for in-person class meetings, which begin next week, are posted below as well as in Moodle. If you are in the 9 AM class, review the schedule carefully. Because of social distancing requirements, you are permitted to attend class only on your designated day.