ENG28 Students: Your descriptive paragraph should “present a picture” of your room or a piece of furniture. Be as objective as possible, using specific, detailed, concrete language instead of vague or subjective terms. See the sample below for more guidance.
January 4, 2010
The desk is an old-fashioned Dutch school table. It stands three-and-a-half feet high, it is four feet long, and it is two-and-a-half feet deep. The desk is made of a hard wood, possibly oak or cherry. It is stained a medium reddish brown. The desk has four square cross-section legs that are braced at about four inches high along the back and two sides. There are also two small top drawers on either side of the front. Each drawer has a simple brass clamshell handle. The drawers are about a foot wide and three inches high. The drawers are the same depth as the desk: two-and-a-half feet. There is a semi-circular cutout along the front top panel between the two drawers which permits someone to sit close to the desk. The desk has a very smooth, glossy finish. There are some natural imperfections like knots, but there are also some signs of wear like dents in the desk surface.
ENG28: Welcome to my English Compost website. The tabs above provide online versions of my lecture notes. You’ll especially want to check out History of English and History of Thought.
What follows is a sample of an article summary. The full article can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/18/nyregion/18semicolon.html?scp=1&sq=semicolon%20in%20unlikely%20places&st=cse. Remember, though, that your topic is different: You must summarize a 1-2 page news article on autism.
A Summary of a Semicolon Sighting
Sam Roberts begins the New York Times article “Celebrating the Semicolon in a Most Unlikely Location” with the sighting of a semicolon used on a city transit placard. He then explains that the semicolon is a rarely employed, and when it is, it is often used incorrectly. He buttresses his claim with quotes from author Lynn Truss, linguist Geoffrey Nunberg, and even intellectual Noam Chomsky. Roberts also provides evidence of how semicolon misuse has resulted in loss of money and stature. Finally, Roberts notes how the semicolon might just live on through the use of emoticons. ;-)
Two additional final paper topics have been submitted by your classmates and approved:
Issue 4: On Saturday, October 5, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a set of state bills addressing undocumented immigrants. A piece by NPR provides in-depth coverage, including an explanation of the political environment that spawned the legislation. More coverage is provided here by the Washington Post. Be sure to address the warrants behind both sides of the general immigration debate as well as the logistical, judicial, and political issues surrounding the California legislation, sometimes referred to by its key component, the “Trust Act.”
Issue 5: In 2011, the US Supreme Court ruled that video games are effectively “art” and are deserving of the same protections as other forms of art. The New York Times covers the issue here and the actual court opinion provides even more stimulation for the litigious. Again, be sure to address all relevant warrants including the First Amendment and public safety.
For your final paper (8-10 pages) prepare a treatment of one of the issues below. In your work, be sure to fully research and document the issue, identify key arguments and counterarguments (as well as their warrants and backing), evaluate all evidence, and propose solutions (using the Rogerian method if applicable).
Issue 1: AB1266 (School Success and Opportunity Act) was designed to “ensure that California public schools understand their responsibility for the success and well-being of all students, including transgender students. It will allow transgender students to fully participate in all school activities like sports team and have access to facilities that match their gender identity” (ACLUNC). Opponents of the measure, however, claim that AB1266 is “an invasion of student privacy to open sensitive school facilities such as showers, restrooms and locker rooms to students of the opposite sex” (Privacy for All Students). The opponents of AB1266 have begun a referendum to prevent the California law from being enacted on January 1, 2014.
Issue 2: On November 6, 2013, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments over whether the “mostly Christian prayers” (New York Times) that begin some town meetings are constitutional. The two women challenging the prayers assert the invocations are “often explicitly sectarian […] and town residents were forced to listen to them in order to participate in local government” (New York Times). While the First Amendment states that there is to be no government establishment of a religion, the town (Greece, NY) claims it’s always been done that way. The case, Town of Greece v. Galloway, is also addressed in a NYT editorial.
Issue 3: In November 2010, WikiLeaks, the information dissemination organization fronted by Julian Assange, made secret US State Department cables available. The State Department claimed that US security and personnel were jeopardized by the release of the cables; the US Justice Department has an ongoing investigation of Assange, who may be guilty of espionage (Washington Post). In May 2013, a NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, release classified details about the agency’s mass surveillance program (Washington Post). The US charged Snowden with espionage, but he fled to Russia, where he now lives as a fugitive. Views on the incidents are widely divergent (as shown by this piece) and pit the freedom of information against national security.
Albert Bandura’s article, “Toward a Psychology of Human Agency,” is linked here. As you read it, consider again that human behavior is a function of genetics, environment, and cognition. In this case, Bandura posits that agency (or acting upon intentions) is the essence of cognition.
Having trouble distinguishing a claim from a warrant? Backing from evidence? This comprehensive tutorial might help you better understand the British philosopher’s model. If you’re still confused, this brief tutorial provides a relatively easy method for identifying Toulmin’s components in a simple argument.
Those of you who may be feeling like “flies caught in honey” while reading our auxiliary text, The Wisdom of Insecurity, might appreciate this summary of Watts’ philosophy–brought to you by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park.