Blackboard Discussion Instructions
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Blackboard Discussion Instructions What are Blackboard Discussions? Blackboard discussions are forums designed to allow us to discuss some of the short fiction we read outside of class time. Each week you will write a minimum of two entries (a 150 word minimum primary posting and a shorter secondary posting in response to someone else’s posting). These will always be due by Saturday by 5 PM, but you can complete them any time after Thursday’s class. In primary entries, students should closely analyze the language of the text (this means looking at short quotes and/or individual words and fully analyzing the significance of these quotes and words). They can discuss character, symbolism, imagery, figurative language, and other issues but the strongest entries will explore the connection between the text and the culture it was written from within and about. In this sense, the Greenblatt essay on culture is a crucial tool for successful blackboard postings. Reread it if you need to! Secondary entries: These shorter entries respond to previous entries or inform the group of facts, quotes, or cool web sites that might help us better read the text. How do I post to blackboard? Go the Redlands.blackboard.edu and log in (you will need your user name and password). When you log in, you will see a list of the courses you are in that have blackboard sites. Short fiction should be one of them. Enter the course site. You will see that you have already entered the discussion area. Click to enter the Blackboard Forum for that week. Before you start a new thread (which you should always do for your primary entry) in the forum, read over any and all postings that the rest of the group has made to the list. Remember, if you repeat ideas and analysis that other students have already made you will not receive a passing grade for the assignment. Remember to return to the Blackboard on Sunday or Monday to read any entries made after yours before you come to class. This helps us avoid repetition in class and build on what has been said during the discussion. Academic integrity: Blackboard entries must be your original thoughts. You should not use any outside sources such as web sites, cliff notes, or academic texts for your ideas. I want to read your analysis. If you do, you must site those sources properly and provide a bibliography for those sources. A good rule of thumb is to limit any quotes from other sources, cool web sites, or fun stuff like that to quick secondary entries and use your primary entry to express your own analysis. Failure to properly document the use of outside material is a violation of the University of Redlands academic honesty policy and will result in serious sanctions. What do I do now? Read over the sample entries below and the grading rubric, then head over to Blackboard and type in your first entry. Have some fun with this; it is not as scary as it sounds. Sample Blackboard Discussions From: Angelina Flinktopowan Subject: House Counting Eyes I was intrigued by the narrator’s description of Esmé when he first sees her in the church singing: ―She was about thirteen, with straight, ash-blond hair of ear-lobe length, an exquisite forehead, and blasé eyes that, I thought, might very possibly have counted the house‖ (90). Aside from the similar accent marks over Esmé and blasé, the contradiction between Esmé’s ―blasé‖ eyes and the careful counting she does of the house establishes a contradiction that reappears later when in the tearoom she fluctuates between posing as aristocratically indifferent and revealing her intense interest in the narrator. Throughout their conversation, Esme reveals an interest in detail: she has met ―11‖ Americans, she will spend a ―fraction of a moment‖ with the narrator (this phrase reveals the tension between Esmé efforts to present herself as mature through her vocabulary and the telltale mistakes she often makes when using that vocabulary), and she is very interested in the details of the narrator’s military assignment. On the cusp of adulthood, Esmé cloaks the interest and enthusiasm that she feels it would be childish to expose but nonetheless has a passionate and wide-ranging interest in the details of life. What does this say about culture? Well, the European child faces devastating loss in the face of the War and loses the extended childhood we children of peacetime enjoy. More importantly, the passage explores how language functions as a code a set of unstable signs that can fluctuate between childhood and adulthood. This fits in well with Greenblatt’s notion of culture as codes of containment and mobility. Certainly Esme’s use of language works on both levels. Angelina (270) From: Igor Clackenbush Subject: What is up with that watch?! Ok, so what’s the deal with the watch. The narrator seems fixated on it when he first meets Esme: ―She was wearing a wristwatch, a military looking one…Its face was much too large for her slender wrist‖ (93)….‖I remember wanting to do something about that enormous-faced wristwatch she was wearing—perhaps suggest that she try wearing it around her waist‖(95)…‖I happened to be looking at her enormous-faced, chronographic looking wristwatch again…‖ (100. Then, of course, she sends it to him at the end and then he is magically all better. The watch also functions as a cultural indicator of American and British obsession with time—military and domestic and the narrator’s sense of time as lost childhood, lost innocence, and perhaps, in his inability to stand up to his ―breathtakingly levelheaded wife,‖ lost courage and sense of purpose. The narrator seems in search of a notion of time that transcends the brutal realities of his culture and his confined domestic life, but the glorious moment at the end of the story—when he finds grace in Esme’s gift—loses its splendor when we remember that the beginning of the story is actually the end of the story. When we remember this twist on time it becomes clear that the narrator reaches back in time in an effort to escape the dull, monotony of his domestic life for a time that offered him the emotional high of personal crisis and a redemptive act of love. Igor (244) From: Sarah Fontaglitch Subject: Igor, you make an interesting point. I had not thought of the narrator as a father figure. I was seeing the watch as more of a symbol of what Angelina was talking about—a thirteen year old girl wearing an adult watch that is too big for her. Just like she uses words that are too big for her, so Esmé wears a watch that is too big for her. You may remember that the narrator suspects that Esmé’s father had ―quite an extraordinary vocabulary‖ (98). The watch to me is another sign of Esmé’s struggle to figure out who she is—child or adult. When she gives it away to the narrator, Esmé embraces her affectionate child-like side over her pretentious adult side. Sarah (124) From: Ted Morsecip Subject: Time Stops In my view, the broken watch represents how Esmé’s love for the narrator breaks the cycle of time characteristic of the narrator’s horrible military and domestic life. He can sleep after he receives it because the watch reminds him of hope and love. It rescues him from the despair—the squalor—that has provoked his breakdown. Ted (56) From: Rebecca Ivanhoe Subject: An American in Europe While I think this watch conversation is interesting, I would like to introduce another idea for discussion. I think the story is very much interested in how Europeans perceive America (an interesting idea given what is happening in the world today). As America plays the key role in WWII the question of what is an American and what does America stand for becomes important to everyone. I think the story explores this preoccupation in the exchanges between Esmé and the narrator. Esmé thinks American’s hate tea (92), she wants to be an American jazz singer and live on a ranch in Ohio (93) (when did Ohio become the American West—you would have to go back to colonial times for that—oh yeah Esmé is English—perhaps she thinks Ohio (the colonial frontier) is still the frontier), Esmé counts the number of Americans she meets (93). She thinks most Americans are like ―animals‖ (94), she worries that they would be awed by her ―title‖ (96), and she is annoyed that Charles learned how to Bronx cheer from an American (97). So what do you all make of this? Is Esmé right? Are we the barbarians at the gate? In my view, she is not right and her encounter with the narrator—who is nothing like these representations of America—convinces her of that and contributes to her decision to send the narrator her watch. Yes the story is about two individuals, but on another level it is about two nations, two peoples, reaching out to each other and suspending the hostilities of history and the prejudices of culture to overcome hate and despair. Rebecca (272) From: Marty Martymcmartin Subject: Some key dates D-Day invasion: 6/6/44 VE (victory in Europe) day: 5/8/45 bombing of hiroshima: 8/6/45 Marty (13) From: Isabel Torunakopittlefont Subject: Cool Salinger web site http://www.salinger.org/ : the mother of all Salinger fan sites – some of these folks seem a bit weird! http://www.morrill.org/books/salbio.shtml: a bizarre, harshly opinionated bio of Salinger that details the sordid saga of his love life and provides directions to his home (in the event that you wish to visit a man who notoriously avoids the public. Isabel (55) Blackboard Grading Guidelines A = Exceptional Work = 1 The student insightfully analyzes the link between language and culture by closely examining the language of the text and thoughtfully developing the connections between the text and the culture it simultaneously reflects and shapes. The student writes in clear, comprehensible prose with few or no grammatical or mechanical errors. This is a WOW entry that really takes the conversation to a new level. A student may also receive an ―A‖ for exceptional contributions to the discussion through multiple secondary entries, providing the group with useful background information and resources, etc. B = Very Good Work = .85 The student looks closely at language and explores the connection between the text and it themes but may not as clearly or insightfully explore the text’s connection to culture. The student writes in clear, comprehensible prose with few or no grammatical or mechanical errors. C = Satisfactory = .75 The student meets the minimum requirements but does not closely examine the language of the text. A ―C‖ essay may summarize and describe when it should analyze and interpret; it may use long quotations without fully analyzing them; or it may have several or many grammar or mechanical errors. D = needs development = .6 The student does not meet the minimum length requirement or the student repeats ideas already discussed by others. F = unacceptable = 0 The student does not post an entry or uses outside sources without properly explaining, quoting, and documenting them.