Sunday, September 2, 2012

Phase 1 Writing Prompts for Sept. 10

Comparing and contrasting Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" with Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games is just one of the writing prompts that Phase 1 students can select from in this first round of reading responses.
I've been enjoying everyone's biographies. Thank you so much for sharing these details of your lives with us—we have a remarkable mixture of talents, hobbies, and experiences in these two sections of  2307!

As we begin the "official" purpose of these blogs in responding critically and analytically to the readings, please study the assessment rubrics carefully and understand what I expect out of these discussions. Although your reading responses do not need to be as carefully crafted and polished as a major essay for this class, they should still be organized into paragraphs and should be proofread. You may not be an expert at grammar and punctuation, but give it your best shot. Always consider your fellow student readers and take time to make your thoughts and ideas accessible to them through clean, clear writing. Be sure to start writing early; these writing prompts are purposefully thought-provoking. Make sure you are reflecting and pondering on these prompts while you drive/walk/bike to school, while you shower, while you are lying in bed, etc. Don't wait to start thinking about your answer for that moment when you sit down at the computer to type!

I'm so excited to read what our Phase 1 students come up with!

Here are the writing prompts for Sept. 10. Please feel free to leave a comment or a question here on the blog—I will be checking frequently for commenters and leaving my responses to these questions and comments here. You can, of course, also contact me via email, but keep in mind that many students likely have your same question. This way, everyone will be able to have access to my responses.

So without further ado, here are the prompts (you only need to choose one):

1. Alice Walker's "Everyday Use" and Jamaica Kincaid's "Girl" are two very different short stories that both identify with themes like heritage, family (especially the mother-daughter relationship), and work. Compare and contrast these two stories by taking a close look at a specific aspect of each story such as narrator voice, writing style, setting, character, etc, and discuss how these aspects contribute to each story's overall theme (and be sure to identify what you consider that theme to be). (Remember not to try to cover everything—it is best to compare and contrast how just one or two aspects are treated in each story in your 500–750 words.)

Consider, if desired, researching biographical information on Walker and Kincaid and on the different time periods, cultures, and settings in which they wrote their stories.

2. Consider Shirley Jackson's comment on her purpose in writing the short story "The Lottery": "I hoped, by setting a particularly brutal ancient rite in the present and in my own village, to shock the story's readers with a graphic demonstration of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in their own lives." With this observation in mind, identify, illustrate, and discuss one or two key elements in the story that contribute to the final effect of shock and horror. Be sure to make clear how these various elements contribute to an understanding of the story's overall theme (and be sure to identify what you consider that theme to be).

Consider, if desired, researching biographical information on Jackson and on the time period in which this story was first published.

3. Or, a twist on prompt #2, consider Shirley Jackson's comment and compare this with Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games series. Many critics have already pointed out the influence that Jackson's short story had on Collins and her young adult book series. If Jackson was attempting to "shock the story's readers with a graphic demonstration of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in their own lives," how was Collins doing something similar? Compare and contrast "The Lottery" with The Hunger Games series and point out specific scenes/moments that seem to be working in the similar ways. How are Jackson and Collins doing something both similar and different? (*Note: Do not attempt this prompt unless you have read at least the first Hunger Games novel and you currently have access to this book for gathering direct quotations and page citations.)

Consider, if desired, researching the historical time period in which Jackson's story was first published and how this compares to the more recent time period in which Collins has published her work.

Already have an idea of what you want to write about? Great! Go for it. I do require that you email me in advance your thesis statement or the question of your own that you want to answer. This way, I can give you helpful feedback concerning scope and depth, and you can rest assured that you are on the right track for this assignment.

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