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State: to express in words (A general verb to begin things and much better than “says”)

·        Hawthorne states in the “Customs House” section of the book that the imagination______

Express: directly, firmly and explicitly stated. (For when someone is making a strong point)

·        Miller expresses his sentiments about censorship in his letters.

Indicate: to state or express briefly. (Use it when someone is being very direct and to the point.)

·        Cardozo indicates his argument in a few short words: “_____________”

Declare: To make known formally and explicitly (This is for legal, religious, and governmental decrees.)

·        The colonists declared in this document that no man should_____

Refer: to make mention or reference (When the writer is bringing in some outside source or event)

·        King refers to many social problems in the essay.

Articulate: to express clearly  (Use this when something is said clearly or as a transition.)

·        The meaning here is inferred rather than articulated.

·        She articulates her argument in the first paragraph. She states, “_______.”



Create:  to produce through imaginative skill (“Imaginative” implies poetry, fiction, plays)

·        In this poem Dickinson creates a vision of a world in which_________

·        These words create in the reader a sense of_________

Conceive: to form or develop in the mind

·        How Newton was able to conceive calculus simply boggles the mind.

Assemble: to fit together the parts of  (To show you know how things are put together)

·        Woolf has assembled her images beautifully in these prologues. She begins with _______

·        At the end, O’Brien leaves the reader to assemble the meaning of these fragments.

Construct: to set in a logical order (like an essay); to make or form by combining parts

·        Darwin constructs his argument carefully. He first introduces ______ and then he ______

·        Conrad constructs the story in an unusual way. Instead of a chronological narrative, he ______

Presents: to bring or introduce into the presence of someone. (Use it for an argument or theory.)

·        Freud presents his argument in a straightforward fashion.

Introduce: to present or announce formally and officially (New ideas for instance)

·        Einstein introduced his theory of special relativity in 1906.

Establish: to make firm or stable (For a political tract, but also to qualify your own understanding)

·        Machiavelli establishes his thesis quickly. In the very first line of The Prince he states, _________

·        It’s difficult to establish Donne’s intentions in this second stanza. He might be ____

Affirm: to validate or confirm. (You use this to prove something.)

·        This scene affirms that Lear is not yet mad. Otherwise, why would he____

·        Keats' poem affirms the belief that man can__________



Reveal: to open up to view (A good verb for when you’ve discovered something in the text)

·        This scene reveals several conflicts: the struggle of ______, the disagreement between ______ and_______, and the____

Disclose: to expose to view (Use when you want to imply something is difficult to figure out.)

·        Plath is not about to disclose her intents here easily or quickly.

Convey: to impart or communicate by statement, suggestion, gesture or appearance. (Used when a writer is employing many different tricks to get his/her point across)

·        Emerson conveys his point though statements, images and rhetorical questions.

Contrast: to compare or appraise in respect to differences (Use it to show you’ve figured out a contrast.)

·        Fitzgerald contrasts Daisy with Jordan. Daisy is  _______, whereas Jordan _________.

·        The tone of this final stanza is in marked contrast to the opening lines.

Apply: to put into operation or effect. (Use this to show you can see some idea being applied.)

·        When Godel applied his theory to quantum mechanics he ____________________

Classify: to arrange in classes (More for hard science, but could be use in social science or literature)

·        Erickson classifies eight stages of identity development.

·        We cannot classify this as a traditional elegy since the grief is private.

Clarify: to free of confusion. (Good when a plot problem clears up or when someone gets into a debate.)

·        Tom and Huck clarify the confusion in chapter 31.

Relate: to show or establish logical casual connection between. (Very good when discussing cause and effect)

·        This obviously relates to what happened earlier in the book when Pecola ________



Generate: to bring into being, give rise to. (Use it to show the power of a passage on a reader.)

·        This passage generates lots of emotion in the reader. One feels both ____ and _____

·        Emma’s decision generates a series of events which culminate in _________

Awaken: to cause to wake up (Use this for reaction after a moment of discovery.)

·        The abrupt silence at the end of this scene awakens the reader to the fact that_______

Recall: to remember, recollect, bring to mind (When you identify a connection with some other text)

·        This line recalls Romeo famous remark: ___________

Energize: to make energetic or vigorous. (Use this for writing that really gets you going.)

·        The enjambment really energies the poem. The reader’s eyes rush from_______ to_______ to______.

Involve: to wrap, envelope (Use this when you’ve totally entered into the world of the writing.)

·        Marquez’s remarkable story totally involves us in Florentino’s quest.

Provoke:  to incite to anger (Show you know when the intent is there to anger or challenge.)

·        Was Ginsburg trying to provoke people when he wrote “Howl?” I believe so.

Stir: to disturb the quiet of; to bring into notice or debate (A subtle word for feelings or ideas aroused)

·        This final image stirs in us a sense of _________

Evoke: to call to mind by naming, citing or suggesting  (Use it when you want to be poetic)

·        These lines clearly evoke a sense of _______

·        The scenes with Scout and her brother evoke a more innocent time, a time when_____



Infer: to derive as a conclusion from facts or premises  (If you can show you’ve inferred something, do it)

·        One can infer from these lines that Tennyson________

·        It’s difficult to infer here, but I would guess Dillard believes that _________

Imply:  to express or indicate indirectly  (Also for showing you can read between the lines)

·        This remark by Hamlet implies that Ophelia _____________

Signify: mean, denote; imply (Use it for symbols and for actions.)

·        The Roman cross signifies many of things. First, ________

·        What does Allie’s baseball mitt signify? It could mean a number of things.

Allude to: to make an indirect reference (Any allusions you find, use this)

·        Auden alludes to Greek mythology quite often in this poem. In line 9 he______

·        Darrow alludes to the situation only indirectly in his closing.

Suggest: to bring or call to mind by logic or association; to make evident indirectly. (Inference is implied here)

·        In these lines Tolstoy seems to suggest that _______

·        These are images that suggest both hope and desire.



Realize: to make real or fulfill. (Summing up whether or not the writer succeeded)

Produce: to give being, form or shape to. (Think of this as creating, but in a concluding sense)

Accomplish: to succeed in doing, to bring to pass (Use it to recognize achievement.)

Achieve: to carry out successfully

Demonstrate: to prove or make clear by reasoning or evidence (Use it when an argument has been proven.)

Support: to uphold or defend as valid or right (Use this when statistics or evidence is present.)

Resolve: to reduce by analysis; find an answer to. (Use this in discussing science, philosophy and literature)



Confer: to give, grant or bestow,

 Enact: to act out

Refine: to make more subtle or precise

Replicate: the repeat of duplicate

Display: to unfold to the eye, put or spread out so as to be seen

Mimic: to imitate in speech or action, to copy closely

Consist: to be formed or composed

Revert: go back in action thought or speech



In order to write an essay in which you analyze a poem you must do more than just identify the poetic devices. You must understand HOW these devices operate to convey the effect and meaning of the poem, and you must explain this operation in as clear and as logical a manner as the poem will allow. In short, you should ALWAYS be reading for a theme and ALL the aspects of the poem that you intend to write about should contribute to the explication of this theme. The meanings of poems, however, just don't jump out at you. It takes years of practice to read a poem and "get it" quickly. What to do then, when you have an AP poem in front of you and you have to start writing but aren't sure what the poet is saying about life? My first suggestion is to re-read the poem two or three more times, so that you do have SOME idea of a theme and can state it up front. But if you've re-read it a dozen times and it's still vague, you must begin writing. What follows are suggestions for possible paragraphs that will help you get a handle on things. This plan should in no way be considered a standard AP formula for writing on poetry because THERE IS NO STANDARD AP FORMAT FOR WRITING ON POETRY. Each well-written AP essay develops organically; that is, the writing emerges in response to the energies (form, style, content) in the poem itself. What all good essays have in common, though, is the ability to marshal proof for their thesis. As you become more comfortable with the suggestions below and begin to develop your own style and voice, you will use the elements you need, disregard some, and adapt others. Over time, of course, you will get the meaning of poems more quickly and will be able to dive immediately into the discussion of the theme. Remember: there is no quick solution to writing well on poetry. You have to reads LOTS of poems.


THE TITLE: As I said, it would be best if you could explain the theme of the poem in the first sentence or two. That way you would have a thesis to work with throughout your essay. That's important because you don't want to try to wander around in the forest of your words looking for a way out. Sometimes, though, students struggle with the theme, and they have trouble articulating it as they start writing. Clearly, you can't spend the first half-hour just trying to think about a theme. Discussing the title offers a window into the possible meaning of the poem. Titles are as important to a poem as any part of the text. Ask yourself, “Why this title? What does it make me think about?” What does it suggest? Can you make out any connection or contrast with the text of the poem. Does the title sum up the text? Is it a small but important moment in the text? Opening sentences might look like this: “This poem is called _________ and the title clearly prepares the reader for what is to come.” or “(quote the title) suggests ___________, yet the text seems to offer an ironic contrast." Briefly explore these expectations in your paragraph. It can work as a clean introduction to the essay and as a great mind clearing exercise as well. And it may lead you down the road to the theme. This is not to imply you should fill up the first paragraph with every possible interpretation of the title. Find a reasonable one and offer that. Like I said, it's a good throat clearing device, and especially if you're not sure about the theme. But again, it's better to have some big idea about the poem BEFORE YOU BEGIN TO WRITE. And, of course, nowhere is it written in stone that you must begin with the title or even mention the thematic implications of the title in your essay.

PARAPHRASE: In one of the early paragraphs you might try to state what the poem is about in simple and clear language. Break down the poem into manageable units, perhaps by stanzas or through dramatic shifts in thought, then create a clear sentence for each unit. If the poem has punctuation, break it into sentences to work your way through that way. Try reading the poem as prose. Try reading it as an argument. Remember that when you paraphrase you’re also giving a brief general picture. If certain parts of the poem can’t be clearly paraphrased, perhaps there is ambiguity in meaning. If so, mention it. But don't dwell on it. The AP reader wants to see what you can figure out, not what you can't. Perhaps during the paraphrasing you will come to an understanding of the theme of the poem. If you think you have discovered it, go right ahead and mention it. Now you have a theme and you can  marshal all your evidence to prove it. The AP reader won't mind if it took you two paragraphs to get to the theme. At least you're there. It's not required that you paraphrase a poem, and, frankly, poetry doesn't lend itself to easy paraphrasing. Possible sentences might be: "In brief, this poem explores (recounts, presents) ___________." or "The plot of the poem is fairly clear: ____________________"

ANTECEDENT SCENARIO: Sometimes it's good to suggest or infer what happened to to poet BEFORE they wrote the poem. Think about what is was that caused the poet to write this. In many cases it will seem obvious: the death of friend, an important historical event, the pleasure of spring, growing old, new love. Many times, though, the motives will be as complicated as the poem. You might write: "The occasion for this poem appears to be _________." or "The poet probably wrote this poem in response to__________. This is evident in stanza three where he _____________."  Why did the author write it? Might something have happened? Is it obvious what happened? If you can't figure out why the poet wrote the poem, don't sweat it. But if you can, that discovery may lead you to the theme as well.

VOICE: There is always someone talking in a poem and it's foolish to assume that it's the always the poet. Sure, the poet wrote the poem, but that doesn't mean that he or she is speaking there. They could have created a persona. It's always safer to refer to the main voice as the "speaker in the poem." Of course, there can be several voices in a poem. A first way to think about this is to ask if the voice is in the first person ("I") or the third ("they"). Or a combination. Can the voice be distinguished according to the language being used? The poem might have a formal quality, like an elegy. So is this someone giving a eulogy? Or maybe the speaker will sound casual and conversational? Ask yourself why this is? Do you sense a person in real life here as opposed to some “far away poetic voice?” If so, what kind of person might it be? Is it the same person at different times in her life? Is a religion, nationality or profession evident here--Jew, Mexican, communist, uncle, teacher, nurse? Is their identity crucial to understanding this poem? Is this some sort of outside observer? Is he close to the situation but not that close? Do you believe this to be the voice poet or are you hearing or a persona? Who is there? Why? Try: “One can imagine the speaker of this poem to be ________"

CONNOTATION: Connotation means the emotional overtone of a word. But it also means the poetic devices that contribute to the meaning and effect of the poem. In short, the nuts and bolts of the poem--how it's put together. Pick out the most dramatic examples and explain what specific role they play in articulating the theme. (It is hoped by now you've got an idea what the poet is saying about life.) There is no need to try to discuss every example. Focus on the three or four most salient features. It might be the rhyme and the metaphors. Or alliteration and personification. In another case symbolism or allusion might be the key. Maybe you can explain how sound contributes to meaning.. Or maybe there are words that suggest a certain emotional feeling (the "connotation" mentioned above). What about line breaks? Enjambment and caesura are in almost every poem. Enjambment generates excitement in a reader, urging her forward. Caesura, on the other hand, cuts line in half with a pause, stopping the reader for a moment. Show you can identify some literary devices and explain what they do and how they support or convey the theme. NOTE: When you write about connotation try to avoid simplistic transitions so that it doesn't look like a 5-paragraph essay. And avoid doing one literary device at a time, it's boring to read. Moving in chronological order works well, gathering the evidence as you go along: (Ex: "In the opening paragraph the choice of words creates... Later, the emphasis is on the line breaks, which suggests...") (As opposed to the laundry list: "She uses diction in stanza 2, 5 and 6.") You might say something like: “It's obvious that two most salient poetic features here are the use of internal rhyme and enjambment. The internal rhyme allows the reader to recall the words '__________'  when they echo in '___________" and the enjambment energizes the reader by __________. The elements contribute to the theme because the poet wants the reader to feel a sense of__________ and these poetic features do it."  This part of the essay is EXTREMELY important. It is the PROOF for your argument. It shows you understand how the poet achieved the articulation of his theme.

TONE: This is the author’s attitude toward the subject. There are five-sub-categories to tone:

1) Diction: Ask yourself what word choices are being made and why. Why “cackle” instead of “chuckle?” Why “domicile” instead of “home?” Think like a thesaurus. What does the word choice reveal about the author’s attitude toward the subject.

2) Images: Look for any vivid descriptions or figures of speech. Or the lack of. They will reveal--very subtly--the tone. Work from a tone list back into the poem, if necessary. Consider if any of the images feel proud, shocking, poignant, angry, nostalgic, apologetic.

3) Details: Consider what is shown or said and what is not shown or said. Also, who is saying it. Again, try to get a feel for the identity of the speaker. Consider exigency here—what has motivated writer to write this poem? That may give you a door into the tone.

4) Language: This is the force or quality of the diction, images and details. Again, you might work backwards from the language list. Know those words. Use them. Is the language obtuse? Exact? Slangy? Vulgar? Detached? What does that say about the author’s attitude toward the subject?

5) Sentence Structure: The fancy name for this is “syntax.” Are the sentences long or short? Why? Are there are lot of questions? Does each sentence begin with the same pattern? Are the ideas arranged in a special way? Are strange words always juxtaposed together? How does this affect the tone?

You'll notice that TONE has five sub-categories. It is perhaps the most important and most difficult element to understand. If you fail to interpret the tone correctly you often miss the meaning of the poem. Collect a short list of tone words and work with them. Learn as many as you can and continually use them. If you understand the subtle nuances in tone, you will be able to generate a sharp reading of a poem. 2) Learn the definition of common poetic terms. It’s not that you need to whip them out to impress the AP reader, but if you can’t identify a metaphor or personification correctly, you will look foolish. 3) Study the list of language words below. You will need to know them so you can explain the force or quality of the images, the details and the diction.

SHIFT: (Progression) Almost every poem has at least one shift--a switch in the gears or the focus, if you will. Read the poem and find those shifts. You don’t need to “understand” the poem to see shifts, but recognizing them may help you figure out what’s going on. And that will lead to the theme. Ask yourself: what kind of shift is it and why? And remember, there are dozens of ways a poet can shift the emphasis in a poem. A good first way to think about shift is to read the poem AS PROSE. This can be done if there is punctuation. Is there an argument here? What is it? Where does it shift? Here are possible signposts for shifts: by stanza (but don’t expect each stanza break to be a shift); in person (I, she);  in diction (words used. Ex: more flowery, more direct); in verb tense (any shift is important, ask why the poet is doing it); in logic (the repetition or variation of images; the presentation of parts in relation to a whole); in the switching of subjects (why?); in the order of speech acts (if it’s a question followed by an answer, why? If there’s narration followed by dialogue, why?); in the form (long lines, iambic pentameter, short jagged lines, occasional rhyme, some sections longer); in punctuation; in rhyme switch; in sound; in details; in images; in tone.   FIND THE SHIFTS! Think about them. Do any indicated a shift in some big thematic picture? “There are several shifts in this poem. The first is in the form--___________. The second occurs with the choice of diction. At the beginning the poet uses ________, but in the third stanza switches to ___________.”  Again, being able to recognize shifts. Breaking the poem into parts will really give you a window into the theme.

CONCLUSION: There is no one right way to conclude an analysis of a poem. Clearly restating (or stating, if it's the first time) the theme would obviously be wise. It shows you've been on task and you know what you're talking about. But there are other and/or additional approaches. One is to revisit the title to see if it, in fact, illuminates the poem in any new way. (EX: "As you can see, this title does suggest..." or "The title clearly summarizes the the tensions in the poem." Another is to offer some interesting observations such as commenting on that type of poem, perhaps bringing other poets and poems into play as way of reference:
An example would be: "Like _________ and _________ before home, ___________ understands the nature of love." Or discuss some historical context: "The period of ____________ was a difficult time for ____________ and this poem truly conveys that____________"  It shows you understand the poem in a larger context. Maybe mention the effect of the poem's personal touch (if there is one). Or it's formal feel. Or how it's rich detail creates some effect. Perhaps there is a moment where you were really captured by the poet’s imagination, their use of images or diction, a final powerful three word conclusion, their dreamy atmosphere. Whatever moment knocked you out, let the AP reader know it. Translate your passion to them. Don't overdo it. One or two sentences are quite enough. They won't be bothered by any of this and, if fact, will appreciate your voice and style, AS LONG AS YOU HAVE ANALYZED THE POEM.

FINAL REMARKS ON THEME: It's probably better, as I said, to understand what the poem is about BEFORE you write and have the theme explicated up front. This is why you read and re-read and mark up the text. But if your understanding of the theme is coming into focus during the writing or near the end, then that's when it's coming in. You may have to go back and re-write a few early sentences or cross out some comments based on this new understanding. If so, do it. But AT SOME MOMENT IN YOUR ANALYSIS YOU NEED TO EXPLICATE THE THEME. It's the big enchilada! What is the poet saying about life, experience, the human condition or the price of tomatoes in the winter? A good way to attack this is to list the subjects of the poem from the most literal to the most abstract and then try to sum up what the poet is saying about each in a simple sentence. Great poems just don't have one theme. But your job on the AP is to find one arguable theme and argue it. Themes are slippery. Very few elements in poems are as simple as they seems.



jargon                 pedantic         poetic            vulgar

euphemistic         moralistic       scholarly        pretentious

slang                   insipid            sensuous        idiomatic

informal              ordinary          formal            precise

exact                  cultured           esoteric          learned

picturesque        connotative      symbolic         homespun

plain                   simple              provincial        literal

figurative            trite                  colloquial        bombastic

obscure             artificial             obtuse            precise

detached           grotesque          exact              emotional

biblical              concrete            journalistic     instructional



1. Meaning: Can you paraphrase in prose the general outline of the poem?

2. Antecedent scenario: What has been happening before the poem begins? What has provoked the speaker into utterance? How has the previous equilibrium been unsettled? What is the speaker upset about?

3. Division into parts: How many? Where do the breaks come?

4. The climax. How do the other parts fall into place around it?

5. The other parts: What makes you divide the poem into these parts? Are there changes in person? In agency? In tense? In parts of speech?

6. Find the skeleton: What is the emotional curve on which the whole poem is strung? (It even helps to draw a shape--a crescendo, perhaps, or an hourglass-shape, or a sharp ascent followed by a steep decline--so you know how the poem looks to you as a whole.)

7. Games with the skeleton: How is this emotional curve made new?

8. Language: What are the contexts of diction; chains of significant relation; parts of speech emphasized; tenses; and so on?

9. Tone: Can you name the pieces of the emotional curve--the changes in tone you can hear in the speaker's voice as the poem goes along?

10. Agency and speech acts: Who is the main agent in the poem, and does the main agent change as the poem progresses?

(NOTE: agency refers to the subject/verb. The subject is the agent of the verb. In some poems, the subject may change. It is important to know who owns, by agency, each part of every poem. A poem may begin with "he," then move to "she," then move to "they," then move to the omniscient narrator.) See what the main speech act of the agent is and whether that changes. Notice oddities about agency and speech acts.

11. Roads not taken: Can you imagine the poem written in a different person, or a different tense, or with the parts rearranged, or with an additional stanza, or with one stanza left out, conjecturing by such means why the poet might have wanted these pieces in this order?

12. The imagination: What has it invented that is new, striking, memorable--in content, in genre, in analogies, in rhythm, in a speaker?


© Helen  Vendler 2002



Recognizing narrative, expository, argumentative and speculative essays AND satire

1.       Narrative essays tell stories and usually stimulate the reader with diction (choice of words), syntax (grammatical structure), imagery (figurative  language), and tone (author’s attitude toward the subject). In a narrative essay like “Benny Paret” these tricks involve you in the story—commas to simulate the jabs, sentence length to create the ebb and flow of the fight, images of Paret going down like a large ship. When you recognize a narrative essay look for these tricks and examine their effect on the reader.

2.       Expository essays explain and clarify ideas. Keep the words “explain” and “clarify” in mind as you read and try to find examples. Mention this explanation and clarification in your analysis. Think of these essays in terms of an outline--major points, supporting evidence--and mention this outline structure in your writing. EX: “He explores three distinct aspects of the problem.” Remember that there isn’t a lot of argumentation in expository essays, but there are other rhetorical strategies: process analysis, cause and effect, division and classification, extended definition. You’ve written these essays over your high school career. Look for them and recognize them on the AP.

3.       Argumentative essays are almost always the same--they argue a point and provide evidence. This evidence can be factual, empirical, or anecdotal. Usually the factual evidence cites some authority. For instance, Goldsmith in his essay on Sentimental Comedy refers to Aristotle. Empirical evidence, on the other hand, may be something the writer witnessed. There is the infamous story of Kitty Genovese, who lay stabbed and dying in a street in New York, while fifty or so people walked by. These fifty would be empirical evidence that people don’t care. If it’s anecdotal evidence, the writer might cite something her Grand Ma often said. These strategies are all used for one thing--to prove a point. Recognize them when you see them. The author may also use humor, irony, or rhetorical questions. They may also use one the three major rhetorical tricks: logos (the proof in the argument of the issue itself), ethos (the proof in the good character of the writer--meaning she’s fair and well informed), and pathos (the proof in the arousing of emotions in the reader--patriotism, faith). Recognize these.

4.      Speculative essays. These are essays where the author is meditating on something or exploring an idea. There will be lots of associative thinking in these essays and the thesis might not always be clear.  Speculative essays are very hard essays to pin down and very hard essays to write on. You may read an essay and say, “Well, what’s the point?” This could be a key that it’s a speculative essay. AT LEAST try to find examples of this speculation, this uncertainty, these interrupted flow of thoughts and label them as such, demonstrating to the AP reader that you recognize that this is a speculative essay. Many (but not all) speculative essays have a comparison/contrast elements in them. Look for that. There may also be interruption in the flow of the essay, what we call “intercalary paragraphs.” If you see this—another narrative being inserted—then you might be reading a speculative essay. But this is not necessarily true. “Monarch Butterflies” has some speculative moments in it -- “I wondered how many more hills and houses it would have to climb before it could rest.” --but it is not generally a speculative essay. It’s more a narrative/expository essay. She describes what happens and also explains a little bit about what monarch butterflies look like and do.

5.       Satire is a whole other species. Usually it is written to expose, ridicule, deride or denounce such things as vice, folly, evil or stupidity that are found in people, groups, ideas, institutions, customs, or beliefs. There are two types of satire--harsh (Juvenalian) and gentle (Horatian). Twain mocks religion in Huckleberry Finn. It’s mostly Horatian satire, but there are some Juvenalian moments. When you read satire you must think about who the audience is. Swift wanted the British Government to listen to the plight of the poor in Ireland so he proposed that the babies of the poor be eaten to eliminate the starvation. Also note what the author’s methods are. Think about the tricks the writer is using: irony, parody, reversal or inversion, hyperbole, understatement, sarcasm, wit, invective. Look especially for irony. Any opposites are to be noted. Show your AP reader that you see this is a satire. Be careful though because some very naturalistic writing may seem so sincere as to be satiric. The Grapes of Wrath is an example. (Perhaps it’s our wise-guy Onion Magazine ironic age) You have to always ask yourself: is this for real or is the author making fun of something or someone? If so, is it satire or just humor inside another rhetorical form?



  1. UNDERLINE THE KEY STEM WORDS IN THE PROMPT. This will constantly remind you what you have to do. Refer back to them (or synonyms for them) during every paragraph you write.
  2. SKIM FIRST, THEN READ. Skim the passage for a minute to locate the mode, the point of view and the time period. The mode (essay, speech, passage from a novel) is sometimes stated in the prompt. Watch for it. This will freshen your mind for when you begin to seriously read because you’ll be anticipating strategies particular to the mode, the point of view and the time period. As you read, macro-manage AND micro-manage. This means discover the BIG PICTURE and THE SMALL PICTURE at the same time.
  3. THE BIG PICTURE. This has three elements you must figure out:
    1. What simple point is the author making? Most texts have one or two simple points they wish to make. Reduce the passage to its essentials. Don’t make it more complicated than it has to be.
    2. What feeling does the author want the reader to get from the passage? The author usually has an attitude (cynical, somber, dreamy, mocking, proud, humorous, apologetic, contemptuous, irreverent) and she wants the reader to understand that attitude and even feel that attitude (tone).
    3. How does the author get across her point and her attitude? This question is the key to your analysis and leads into THE SMALL PICTURE.
  4. THE SMALL PICTURE. This consists of all the strategies the author is using to get across her point and her attitude. As you’re reading for the first time, mark anything that strikes you. You may find dramatic images, figurative language, symbols, phrases that get repeated, unusual word choice (diction), sentence length or distinct punctuation (syntax), allusions, elements that are in opposition (two characters, two sections of the text), rhetorical questions, dramatic shifts in the narrative, revelation of characters, unusual use of setting, half-hidden conflicts, or even some interesting overall structure. Note these as you read. It’s not that hard. Many will jump out at you. At the end of your first reading you should have made at least twenty marks in the text. Hopefully, as you micro-manage these strategic details you are also macro-managing the big picture. In other words, you should have an idea of what the point is and should be ready to write your opening sentence.
  5. THE OPENING SENTENCE. This is the most important sentence of your essay. It announces your theme, and it is the first thing the AP reader sees. If you’re unsure as to the point of the passage, read it again. Understand what’s going on before you write, even if it takes 15 minutes. Discovering WHILE your writing is a recipe for disaster. Write a clear, elegant, straightforward sentence that explains the point or points the author is trying to make AND THAT ANSWERS THE PROMPT, but do not rephrase the prompt. That shows a lack of imagination. Instead, figure out the point(s) and create your thesis sentence as if the prompt never existed. Remember, in almost all cases the question concerns the meaning of the text and how that meaning is created.
  6. THE SECOND SENTENCE. This is the second most important sentence you’ll write and you have two choices on how to do it.  If you intend to address one major strategy in each of the body paragraphs (EX: diction, imagery, tone), your second sentence might inform the reader you're going to do this.  It's not the most dynamic way to begin, but it's solid enough. These two sentences then become your opening paragraph. If, on the other hand, you intended to analyze the passage paragraph by paragraph, your second sentence might go at the beginning of your first body paragraph, immediately addressing and analyzing the information in the first paragraph of the given text. Remember, you can state the theme in one clear opening sentence that constitutes the first paragraph. There is nothing wrong with this. You have forty minutes to analyze the text and the sooner you get to it the better. The AP reader wants to see you analyze text not write some vague flowery introductory paragraph that yammers on and on
  7. THE BODY PARAGRAPHS. This is where you make or break your case. You have two ways to go here. If there are a two or three strategies that really stick out, analyze the most prominent strategy in the first body paragraph and so on. If it's the imagery you could begin with “The most salient feature of this passage is its imagery.” As you’re writing about it, think about how the author uses it to convey her attitude and make her point. Refer back to the underlined words in the prompt and use them--or synonyms for them--as you write each body paragraph. This demonstrates you’re on task.  On the other hand, if there are all sorts of interesting strategies present and you don't know where to start, it's probably better to go paragraph by paragraph and try to trace the development of the theme, citing different strategies as you go along. This is usually a stronger and more organic strategy to use, provided you don't lapse into paraphrasing the text.
  8. SHOW YOU CAN ANALYZE. Use examples from the selection to support your ideas. In other words, don't drift from the text. When you quote do it briefly or use ellipses for longer quotes to show you’re not padding the essay. Insert active verbs at strategic moments to show that each strategy the author uses does something slightly different (illuminates, expresses, establishes, suggests, generates, provokes, challenges, alludes to, assembles, contrasts). This shows an understanding of nuances and a command of language. As you write you may discover some insights. If these insights are short and relevant, put them in. Don't get carried away. Make your insight and go on. You may include some reactions and emotions to the text, assuming the role of the typical reader. But don't say "I sense..." or "I feel..." Use "The reader senses..." or "One feels..." If you can find a sharp point of comparison to other literary texts or the outside world, do it. If you can use a foreign phrase (a la mode, Zeitgeist, quid pro quo, madelaine, ) that doesn't sound forced, do it. Also, make sure the opening sentence of each paragraph has a little energy and sophistication to it. Don’t make transitions with words like “next” or “second.” Finally, STOP and look back during the writing of each body paragraph to both the prompt and your opening paragraph. Ask yourself, "Am I doing what I said I would do and what they asked me to do?" AND FINALLY,  DO NOT SUMMARIZE OR PARAPHRASE THE PASSAGE! Whenever you feel you’re drifting that way, STOP. This is about the HOW AND WHY of texts. It has almost nothing to do with the WHO, WHAT, WHERE and WHEN. AND NEVER EVER EVER EVER cite some technique unless you know what it does. To write, "There's lots of water imagery in this piece" and leave it at that sounds idiotic. Why? What does this imagery DO?  You might as well say, "There is an indentation at the beginning of each paragraph."
  9. CONCLUDE CLEARLY AND, IF POSSIBLE, WITH A BANG! Try to avoid restating the thesis and summarizing how your essay supports it. This smacks of the five-paragraph essay. If it's all you can do, then fine--do it. Other wise, try to find a moment at the end of the passage that you can use as a final statement. Or perhaps you can introduce a thoughtful sentence--one that looks forward to the future or reaches out into real world experience or even makes some grand statement about the nature of things and how this text was a perfect example of it. Write that sentence. The AP examiner will tolerate your sweeping vision, provided you've done some serious analysis. A sharp insightful ending to a well-written analysis leaves a very strong impression in the eyes of an AP reader.
  10. DEVOTE THE LAST FIVE MINUTES TO PROOFREADING. You'd be amazed to find how many mistakes students make under time pressure. Besides, the AP examiners like to see cross-outs and corrections. It shows them you were on top of things.





  1. Read the prompt carefully and make sure you know what the question is asking you to do. Pay attention to the stem words. These are the key words in the prompt. For instance: “…how her words convey a deeper understanding of the whole experience” means you should FIRST figure out what the experience was and then try to find the means by which she conveys it; “…analyze the rhetorical strategies he employs to achieve his purpose,” means you should FIRST figure out what his purpose was and then examine the strategies he employs to achieve it; “…how the poetic devices suggest the speakers attitude” means you should FIRST find out the attitude of the speaker and then look for the poetic devices that suggest it; “…how he coveys the complexity of his response” means you should FIRST figure out what is so complex about his response and then examine what he used to convey this complexity. Write these stem words at the top of each essay page. Refer back to them in each paragraph to show you are maintaining FOCUS. Your answer to the question posed by the stem words should be the opening paragraph of the essay.
  2. Open with a single clear sentence that states the theme of the piece. “In this passage Dillard is overwhelmed by the energy, beauty and sheer instinctual determination of the Monarch butterfly;” “Lincoln’s purpose in this second inaugural address was to begin to heal the wounds of the Civil War;” “In this poem Heaney laments the fact that nothing says fresh and rich forever, and in some cases death comes all too soon;” “In this passage Conrad wants to show that Stein is deeply ambivalent about Jim--seeing him as both a hero and a romantic fool.” A sentence like these should be your entire opening paragraph. You don’t need anything else. Don’t be fancy. Don’t try to frame the theme in terms of the world or your own personal experience. There is no need for beginnings like “Sometimes in life there comes a moment where…” or “Have you ever notice that when it rains…” or “William Shakespeare once said, ‘All the world is a stage.’” While these openings are often effective in an assigned essay, the generally cause the AP reader's eyes to glaze over and skip right down to the first body paragraph.  Of course, if you’re a spectacular writer who can spin out five pages of crystalline prose in 40 minutes or less, do what you want. It comes down to this: You have 40 minutes to analyze a text, not to wax eloquent on the universe. Use your time well. Better to spend five minutes calmly thinking and trying to figure out what the passage is about, than to spend five minutes yammering because you're nervous about filling up space. And don't copy down or rephrase the prompt as your opening paragraph. I can't emphasize this last remark enough so I'll repeat it. DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, REPEAT THE WORDS OF THE PROMPT AS YOUR INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPH!
  3. When you write your essay stay away from the five-paragraph formula that says, “I’m going to discuss syntax, diction and imagery.” It’s bad for a couple reasons: First, the writing is flat; there's no voice, no energy; Second, it's forcing you to analyze the essay by imposing an external and inorganic criteria. Syntax, tone and imagery may well be present, but by breaking them up into discrete units you're disrupting the flow of the text.  A better way would be to simply analyze in chronological order, paragraph by paragraph (with poetry you could break it up by identifying the shifts). Then you could say there is word choice and sentence structure in the first paragraph, tone and allusion in the second, more word choice and some imagery in the third.  Notice I did not say diction or syntax. I said word choice and sentence structure. This is to remind you not to overuse those words. Don’t depend on the jargon to carry you. It won’t. AND, ABOVE ALL, DON’T BRING UP STRATEGIES THAT FAIL TO CONVEY THE AUTHOR’S PURPOSE OR THAT CONVEY NO PURPOSE AT ALL! To write “The author uses lots of commas in the paragraph.” and leave it at that is utter idiocy. So what? You’ve proved nothing. You might as well say, “The author capitalizes the opening word of each sentence.”
  4. As you are analyzing paragraph by paragraph try to avoid using canned words like “show,” “illustrate,” and “demonstrate.” You have an active verbs list. Activate it! Write using strong aggressive verbs. NOTE: If you have no idea why the author used a certain strategy, then ignore it. You're not required to write about every little thing. Write about what you can figure out. Pick the strategies you can write about with clarity and coherence. Despite the words of any particular prompt, the general attack plan for most passages is pretty much the same:

1)      What is happening?

2)      How is it happening?

3)      What devices are being used to make it happen?

4)      What is the effect of these devices on the reader?


       6.   Sleep tight. You got a 6.  (Maybe even a 7) (And on a sunny day, an 8)



 Answer in complete paragraphs. Number your answers.

              1.Make sure you have the title and author spelled correctly.

              2.Identify, explain, and support the major themes (3 or more) with illustrating incidents.

              3.Discuss major and minor characters; identify traits and incidents which illustrate their personalities (at least 5).

              4.Discuss the significance and influence of the setting or fictional society.

              5.Discuss the relation of the narrator to the subject and the author.

              6.Define and explain the moral or ethical problems explored.

              7.Select 5 quotations (with page numbers) which illustrate the effectiveness of the writer's craft. Identify each:

                  mood/tone, imagery, symbolism, characterization, and whatever else seems appropriate.

              8.Discuss the historical background or perspective.

              9.Discuss the relevance of the work to the present time.

             10.Discuss the role of fate in the work.



































































An explication de texte (cf. Latin explicare, to unfold, to fold out, or to make clear the meaning of) is a finely detailed, very specific examination of a short poem or short selected passage from a longer work, in order to find the focus or design of the work, either in its entirety in the case of the shorter poem or, in the case of the selected passage, the meaning of the microcosm, containing or signaling the meaning of the macrocosm (the longer work of which it is a part). To this end "close" reading calls attention to all dynamic tensions, polarities, or problems in the imagery, style, literal content, diction, etc. By examining and thinking about opening up the way the poem or work is perceived, writers establish a central pattern, a design that orders the narrative and that will, in turn, order the organization of any essay about the work. Coleridge knew about this method when he referred to the "germ" of a work of literature (see Biographia Literaria). Very often, the language creates a visual dynamic as well as verbal coherence.

Close Reading or Explication de texte operates on the premise that literature, as artifice, will be more fully understood and appreciated to the extent that the nature and interrelations of its parts are perceived, and that that understanding will take the form of insight into the theme of the work in question. This kind of work must be done before you can begin to appropriate any theoretical or specific literary approach. Follow these instructions so you don't follow what Mrs. Arable says about the magical web of Charlotte's in Charlotte's Web, "I don't understand it, and I don't like what I don't understand."

Follow these steps before you begin writing. These are pre-writing steps, procedures to follow, questions to consider before you commence actual writing. Remember that the knowledge you gain from completing each of the steps is cumulative. There may be some information that overlaps, but do not take shortcuts. In selecting one passage from a short story, poem, or novel, limit your selection to a short paragraph (4-5 sentences), but certainly no more than one paragraph. When one passage, scene, or chapter of a larger work is the subject for explication, that explication will show how its focused-upon subject serves as a macrocosm of the entire work—a means of finding in a small sample patterns which fit the whole work.

If you follow these 12 steps to literary awareness, you will find a new and exciting world. Do not be concerned if you do not have all the answers to the questions in this section. Keep asking questions; keep your intellectual eyes open to new possibilities.

  1. Figurative Language. Examine the passage carefully for similes, images, metaphors, and symbols. Identify any and all. List implications and suggested meanings as well as denotations. What visual insights does each word give? Look for mutiple meanings and overlapping of meaning. Look for repetitions, for oppositions. See also the etymology of each word because you may find that the word you think you are familiar with is actually dependent upon a metaphoric concept. Consider how each word or group of words suggests a pattern and/or points to an abstraction (e.g., time, space, love, soul, death). Can you visualize the metaphoric world? Are there spatial dimensions to the language?
  2. Diction. This section is closely connected with the section above. Diction, with its emphasis on words, provides the crux of the explication. Mark all verbs in the passage, mark or list all nouns, all adjectives, all adverbs etc. At this point it is advisable that you type out the passage on a separate sheet to differentiate each grammatical type. Examine each grouping. Look up as many words as you can in a good dictionary, even if you think that you know the meaning of the word. The dictionary will illuminate new connotations and new denotations of a word. Look at all the meanings of the key words. Look up the etymology of the words. How have they changed? The words will begin to take on multistable meanings. Be careful to always check back to the text, keeping meaning contextually sound. Do not assume you know the depth or complexity of meaning at first glance. Rely on the dictionary, particularly the Oxford English Dictionary. Can you establish a word web of contrastive and parallel words? Do dictionary meanings establish any new dynamic associations with other words? What is the etymology of these words? Develop and question the metaphoric, spatial sense of the words. Can you see what the metaphoric words are suggesting?
  3. Literal content: this should be done as succinctly as possible. Briefly describe the sketetal contents of the passage in one or two sentences. Answer the journalist's questions (Who? What? When? Where? Why?) in order to establish character/s, plot, and setting as it relates to this passage. What is the context for this passage?
  4. Structure. Divide the passage into the more obvious sections (stages of argument, discussion, or action). What is the interrelation of these units? How do they develop? Again, what can you postulate regarding a controlling design for the work at this point? If the work is a poem, identify the poetic structure and note the variations within that structure. In order to fully understand "Scorn Not the Sonnet," you must be knowledgeable about the sonnet as a form. What is free verse? Is this free verse or blank verse? What is the significance of such a form? Does the form contribute to the meaning? How does the theatrical structure of Childress's young adult novel, A Hero Ain't Nothin' But a Sandwich, enhance the narrative?
  5. Style. Look for any significant aspects of style—parallel constructions, antithesis, etc. Look for patterns, polarities, and problems. Periodic sentences, clause structures? Polysyndeton etc.? And reexamine all postulates, adding any new ones that occur to you. Look for alliteration, internal rhymes and other such poetic devices which are often used in prose as well as in poetry. A caesura? Enjambment? Anaphora? Polysyndeton? You need to look closely here for meanings that are connected to these rhyme schemes.
  6. Characterization. What insight does this passage now give into specific characters as they develop through the work? Is there a persona in this passage? Any allusions to other literary characters? To other literary works that might suggest a perspective. Look for a pattern of metaphoric language to give added insight into their motives and feelings which are not verbalized. You should now be firming up the few most important encompassing postulates for the governing design of the work, for some overriding themes or conflicts.
  7. Tone. What is the tone of the passage? How does it elucidate the entire passage? Is the tone one of irony? Sentimental? Serious? Humorous? Ironic?
  8. Assessment. This step is not to suggest a reduction; rather, an "close reading" or explication should enable you to problematize and expand your understanding of the text. Ask what insight the passage gives into the work as a whole. How does it relate to themes, ideas, larger actions in other parts of the work? Make sure that your hypothesis regarding the theme(s) of the work is contextually sound. What does it suggest as the polarity of the whole piece?
  9. Context: If your text is part of a larger whole, make brief reference to its position in the whole; if it is a short work, say, a poem, refer it to other works in its author's canon, perhaps chronologically, but also thematically. Do this expeditiously.
  10. Texture: This term refers to all those features of a work of literature which contribute to its meaning or signification, as distinguished from that signification itself: its structure, including features of grammar, syntax, diction, rhythm, and (for poems, and to some extent) prosody; its imagery, that is, all language which appeals to the senses; and its figuration, better known as similes, metaphors, and other verbal motifs.
  11. Theme: A theme is not to be confused with thesis; the theme or more properly themes of a work of literature is its broadest, most pervasive concern, and it is contained in a complex combination of elements. In contrast to a thesis, which is usually expressed in a single, arugumentative, declarative sentence and is characteristic of expository prose rather than creative literature, a theme is not a statement; rather, it often is expressed in a single word or a phrase, such as "love," "illusion versus reality," or "the tyranny of circumstance." Generally, the theme of a work is never "right" or "wrong." There can be virtually as many themes as there are readers, for essentially the concept of theme refers to the emotion and insight which results from the experience of reading a work of literature. As with many things, however, such an experience can be profound or trivial, coherent or giddy; and discussions of a work and its theme can be correspondingly worthwhile and convincing, or not. Everything depends on how well you present and support your ideas. Everything you say about the theme must be supported by the brief quotations from the text. Your argument and proof must be convincing. And that, finally, is what explication is about: marshaling the elements of a work of literature in such a way as to be convincing. Your approach must adhere to the elements of ideas, concepts, and language inherent in the work itself. Remember to avoid phrases and thinking which are expressed in the statement, "what I got out of it was. . . ."
  12. Thesis: An explication should most definitely have a thesis statement. Do not try to write your thesis until you have finished all 12 steps. The thesis should take the form, of course, of an assertion about the meaning and function of the text which is your subject. It must be something which you can argue for and prove in your essay.

Conclusion. Now, and only now are you ready to begin your actual writing. If you find that what you had thought might be the theme of the work, and it doesn't "fit," you must then go back to step one and start over. This is a trial and error exercise. You learn by doing. Finally, the explication de texte should be a means to see the complexities and ambiguities in a given work of literature, not for finding solutions and/or didactic truisms.

 ©   http://theliterarylink.com/closereading.html



PURPOSE: To allow you to demonstrate your ability to do a close, critical reading of a section of a novel. To identify and examine a part of a novel to the whole of a novel.

ASSIGNMENT: Pick and important novel and examine one moment in, provide a close reading of that moment, and explain how it resonates with meaning that would not have been apparent to a casual reader.

CONSIDERATIONS: There are several important points you need to consider as you think about the assignment and prepare your proposal.

  1. FORMULATE AN ARGUMENT: Your thesis, as always, must be arguable. Make certain that you are specific in your language and that you have answered the always important SO WHAT?/WHY DOES THIS MATTER? That solidifies and idea. A casual reading of this novel would not automatically demonstrate the importance of your thesis.
  2. LIMIT THE MOMENT: You must limit your moment to a very short piece of the text—just four to five lines should be more than enough. In some cases one paragraph is too much for an analysis of this length.
  3. BE SELECTIVE: Be as selective as you can in framing your moment. Stay away from the end of the novel or from any part that has a big plot point.
  4. BE ORIGINAL: You should choose an usual moment from the text, one which stood out as you read or one that caught your eye from class discussion, but not one that we discussed thoroughly in class.  Look for small, seemingly irrelevant scenes. Read them closely—noting anything that helps you connect one scene to the larger ideas of the novel. I expect each of you to find an original moment of your own in these works. This is your chance to show off your reading ability.

PROPOSAL: In your proposal, you must include the following:

  1. You complete moment typed out. No ellipses, please.
  2. Explanation of how this moment looks to the casual reader.
  3. Your exact thesis statement in it’s most refined form.
  4. Any questions you have for me about the clarity of your thinking, the originality or arguability of your idea, etc.

SPECIFICS: You final paper will be no more than three pages double spaces in length.

Be prepared to rewrite both your proposal and your draft.

© Cathy D’Agostino



ALLEGORY story or poem in which characters, settings, and events stand for other

people or events or for abstract ideas or qualities.

EXAMPLE: Animal Farm; Dante’s Inferno; Lord of the Flies

ALLITERATION repetition of the same or similar consonant sounds in words that are

close together.

EXAMPLE: “When the two youths turned with the flag they saw that much of the

regiment had crumbled away, and the dejected remnant was coming slowly

back.” –Stephen Crane (Note how regiment and remnant are being used; the

regiment is gone, a remnant remains…)

ALLUSION reference to someone or something that is known from history, literature,

religion, politics, sports, science, or another branch of culture. An indirect reference to

something (usually from literature, etc.).

AMBIGUITY deliberately suggesting two or more different, and sometimes conflicting,

meanings in a work. An event or situation that may be interpreted in more than one way-

- this is done on purpose by the author, when it is not done on purpose, it is vagueness,

and detracts from the work.

ANALOGY Comparison made between two things to show how they are alike

ANAPHORA Repetition of a word, phrase, or clause at the beginning of two or more

sentences in a row. This is a deliberate form of repetition and helps make the writer’s

point more coherent.

ANASTROPHE Inversion of the usual, normal, or logical order of the parts of a

sentence. Purpose is rhythm or emphasis or euphony. It is a fancy word for inversion.

ANECDOTE Brief story, told to illustrate a point or serve as an example of something,

often shows character of an individual

ANTAGONIST Opponent who struggles against or blocks the hero, or protagonist, in a


ANTIMETABOLE Repetition of words in successive clauses in reverse grammatical


Moliere: “One should eat to live, not live to eat.” In poetry, this is called chiasmus.

ANTITHESIS Balancing words, phrases, or ideas that are strongly contrasted, often by

means of grammatical structure.

Literary Terms page 2

ANTIHERO Central character who lacks all the qualities traditionally associated with

heroes. may lack courage, grace, intelligence, or moral scruples.

ANTHROPOMORPHISM attributing human characteristics to an animal or inanimate

object (Personification)

APHORISM brief, cleverly worded statement that makes a wise observation about life,

or of a principle or accepted general truth. Also called maxim, epigram.

APOSTROPHE calling out to an imaginary, dead, or absent person, or to a place or

thing, or a personified abstract idea. If the character is asking a god or goddess for

inspiration it is called an invocation.

Josiah Holland ---“Loacöon! Thou great embodiment/ Of human life and human history!”

APPOSITION Placing in immediately succeeding order of two or more coordinate

elements, the latter of which is an explanation, qualification, or modification of the first

(often set off by a colon). Paine: “These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer

soldier and the sunshine patriot will in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country;

but he that stands it Now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

ASSONANCE the repetition of similar vowel sounds followed by different consonant

sounds especially in words that are together.

ASYNDETON Commas used without conjunction to separate a series of words, thus

emphasizing the parts equally: instead of X, Y, and Z... the writer uses X,Y,Z.... see


BALANCE Constructing a sentence so that both halves are about the same length and

importance. Sentences can be unbalanced to serve a special effect as well.

CHARACTERIZATION the process by which the writer reveals the personality of a


INDIRECT CHARACTERIZATION the author reveals to the reader what the

character is like by describing how the character looks and dresses, by letting the

reader hear what the character says, by revealing the character’s private thoughts

and feelings, by revealing the characters effect on other people (showing how

other characters feel or behave toward the character), or by showing the character

in action. Common in modern literature

DIRECT CHARACTERIZATION the author tells us directly what the

character is like: sneaky, generous, mean to pets and so on. Romantic style

literature relied more heavily on this form.

STATIC CHARACTER is one who does not change much in the course of a


Literary Terms page 3

DYNAMIC CHARACTER is one who changes in some important way as a

result of the story’s action.

FLAT CHARACTER has only one or two personality traits. They are one

dimensional, like a piece of cardboard. They can be summed up in one phrase.

ROUND CHARACTER has more dimensions to their personalities---they are

complex, just a real people are.

CHIASMUS In poetry, a type of rhetorical balance in which the second part is

syntactically balanced against the first, but with the parts reversed. Coleridge: “Flowers

are lovely, love is flowerlike.” In prose this is called antimetabole.

CLICHE is a word or phrase, often a figure of speech, that has become lifeless because

of overuse. Avoid clichés like the plague. (That cliché is intended.)

COLLOQUIALISM a word or phrase in everyday use in conversation and informal

writing but is inappropriate for formal situations.

Example: “He’s out of his head if he thinks I’m gonna go for such a stupid idea.

COMEDY in general, a story that ends with a happy resolution of the conflicts faced by

the main character or characters.

CONCEIT an elaborate metaphor that compares two things that are startlingly different.

Often an extended metaphor.

CONFESSIONAL POETRY a twentieth century term used to describe poetry that uses

intimate material from the poet’s life.

CONFLICT the struggle between opposing forces or characters in a story.

EXTERNAL CONFLICT conflicts can exist between two people, between a

person and nature or a machine or between a person a whole society.

INTERNAL CONFLICT a conflict can be internal, involving opposing

forces within a person’s mind.

CONNOTATION the associations and emotional overtones that have become attached

to a word or phrase, in addition to its strict dictionary definition.

COUPLET two consecutive rhyming lines of poetry.

DIALECT a way of speaking that is characteristic of a certain social group or of the

inhabitants of a certain geographical area.

Literary Terms page 4

DICTION a speaker or writer’s choice of words.

DIDACTIC form of fiction or nonfiction that teaches a specific lesson or moral or

provides a model of correct behavior or thinking.

ELEGY a poem of mourning, usually about someone who has died. A Eulogy is great

praise or commendation, a laudatory speech, often about someone who has died.

EPANALEPSIS device of repetition in which the same expression (single word or

phrase) is repeated both at the beginning and at the end of the line, clause, or sentence.

Voltaire: “Common sense is not so common.”

EPIC a long narrative poem, written in heightened language , which recounts the deeds

of a heroic character who embodies the values of a particular society.

EPIGRAPH a quotation or aphorism at the beginning of a literary work suggestive of

the theme.

EPISTROPHE Device of repetition in which the same expression (single word or

phrase) is repeated at the end of two or more lines, clauses, or sentences (it is the opposite

of anaphora).

EPITHET an adjective or adjective phrase applied to a person or thing that is frequently

used to emphasize a characteristic quality. “Father of our country” and “the great

Emancipator” are examples. A Homeric epithet is a compound adjective used with a

person or thing: “swift-footed Achilles”; “rosy-fingered dawn.”

ESSAY a short piece of nonfiction prose in which the writer discusses some aspect of a



ARGUMENTATION one of the four forms of discourse which uses logic,

ethics, and emotional appeals (logos, ethos, pathos) to develop an effective means

to convince the reader to think or act in a certain way.

PERSUASION relies more on emotional appeals than on facts

ARGUMENT form of persuasion that appeals to reason instead of

emotion to convince an audience to think or act in a certain way.

CAUSAL RELATIONSHIP Form of argumentation in which the writer

claims that one thing results from another, often used as part of a logical


Literary Terms page 5

DESCRIPTION a form of discourse that uses language to create a mood or


EXPOSITION one of the four major forms of discourse, in which something

is explained or “set forth.”

NARRATIVE the form of discourse that tells about a series of events.

EXPLICATION act of interpreting or discovering the meaning of a text, usually

involves close reading and special attention to figurative language.

FABLE a very short story told in prose or poetry that teaches a practical lesson about

how to succeed in life.

FARCE a type of comedy in which ridiculous and often stereotyped characters are

involved in silly, far-fetched situations.

FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE Words which are inaccurate if interpreted literally, but

are used to describe. Similes and metaphors are common forms.

FLASHBACK a scene that interrupts the normal chronological sequence of events in a

story to depict something that happened at an earlier time.

FOIL A character who acts as contrast to another character. Often a funny side kick to

the dashing hero, or a villain contrasting the hero.

FORESHADOWING the use of hints and clues to suggest what will happen later in a


FREE VERSE poetry that does not conform to a regular meter or rhyme scheme.

HYPERBOLE a figure of speech that uses an incredible exaggeration or overstatement,

for effect. “If I told you once, I’ve told you a million times….”

HYPOTACTIC sentence marked by the use of connecting words between clauses or

sentences, explicitly showing the logical or other relationships between them. (Use of

such syntactic subordination of just one clause to another is known as hypotaxis).

I am tired because it is hot.

IMAGERY the use of language to evoke a picture or a concrete sensation of a person ,

a thing, a place, or an experience.

INVERSION the reversal of the normal word order in a sentence or phrase.

IRONY a discrepancy between appearances and reality.

Literary Terms page 6

VERBAL IRONY occurs when someone says one thing but really means

something else.

SITUATIONAL IRONY takes place when there is a discrepancy between

what is expected to happen, or what would be appropriate to happen, and what

really does happen.

DRAMATIC IRONY is so called because it is often used on stage. A

character in the play or story thinks one thing is true, but the audience or reader

knows better.

JUXTAPOSITION poetic and rhetorical device in which normally unassociated ideas,

words, or phrases are placed next to one another, creating an effect of surprise and wit.

Ezra Pound: “The apparition of these faces in the crowd;/ Petals on a wet, black bough.”

Juxtaposition is also a form of contrast by which writers call attention to

dissimilar ideas or images or metaphors.

Martin Luther King: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

LITOTES is a form of understatement in which the positive form is emphasized through

the negation of a negative form: Hawthorne--- “…the wearers of petticoat and

farthingale…stepping forth into the public ways, and wedging their not unsubstantial

persons, if occasion were, into the throng…”

LOCAL COLOR a term applied to fiction or poetry which tends to place special

emphasis on a particular setting, including its customs, clothing, dialect and landscape.

LOOSE SENTENCE one in which the main clause comes first, followed by further

dependent grammatical units. See periodic sentence.

Hawthorne: “Hester gazed after him a little while, looking with a half-fantastic curiosity

to see whether the tender grass of early spring would not be blighted beneath him, and

show the wavering track of this footsteps, sere and brown, across its cheerful verdure.”

LYRIC POEM a poem that does not tell a story but expresses the personal feelings or

thoughts of the speaker. A ballad tells a story.

METAPHOR a figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unlike things

without the use of such specific words of comparison as like, as, than, or resembles.

IMPLIED METAPHOR does not state explicitly the two terms of the

comparison: “I like to see it lap the miles” is an implied metaphor in which the

verb lap implies a comparison between “it” and some animal that “laps” up


EXTENDED METAPHOR is a metaphor that is extended or developed as far

as the writer wants to take it. (conceit if it is quite elaborate).

Literary Terms page 7

DEAD METAPHOR is a metaphor that has been used so often that the

comparison is no longer vivid: “The head of the house”, “the seat of the

government”, “a knotty problem” are all dead metaphors.

MIXED METAPHOR is a metaphor that has gotten out of control and mixes

its terms so that they are visually or imaginatively incompatible. “The President

is a lame duck who is running out of gas.”

METONYMY a figure of speech in which a person, place, or thing, is referred to by

something closely associated with it. “We requested from the crown support for our

petition.” The crown is used to represent the monarch.

MOOD An atmosphere created by a writer’s diction and the details selected.

MOTIF a recurring image, word, phrase, action, idea, object, or situation used

throughout a work (or in several works by one author), unifying the work by tying the

current situation to previous ones, or new ideas to the theme. Kurt Vonnegut uses “So it

goes” throughout Slaughterhouse-Five to remind the reader of the senselessness of death.

MOTIVATION the reasons for a character’s behavior.

ONOMATOPOEIA the use of words whose sounds echo their sense. “Pop.” “Zap.”

OXYMORON a figure of speech that combines opposite or contradictory terms in a

brief phrase. “Jumbo shrimp.” “Pretty ugly.” “Bitter-sweet”

PARABLE a relatively short story that teaches a moral, or lesson about how to lead a

good life.

PARADOX a statement that appears self-contradictory, but that reveals a kind of truth.

KOAN is a paradox used in Zen Buddhism to gain intuitive knowledge: “What is

the sound of one hand clapping?”

PARALLEL STRUCTURE (parallelism) the repetition of words or phrases that have

similar grammatical structures.

PARATACTIC SENTENCE simply juxtaposes clauses or sentences. I am tired: it is


PARODY a work that makes fun of another work by imitating some aspect of the

writer’s style.

PERIODIC sentence that places the main idea or central complete thought at the end of

the sentence, after all introductory elements.

Literary Terms page 8

PERSONIFICATION a figure of speech in which an object or animal is given human

feelings, thoughts, or attitudes.

PLOT the series of related events in a story or play, sometimes called the storyline.

Characteristics of PLOT:

EXPOSITION introduces characters, situation, and setting

RISING ACTION complications in conflict and situations (may introduce new

ones as well)

CLIMAX that point in a plot that creates the greatest intensity, suspense, or

interest. Also called “turning point”

RESOLUTION the conclusion of a story, when all or most of the conflicts have

been settled; often called the denouement.

POINT OF VIEW the vantage point from which the writer tells the story.

FIRST PERSON POINT OF VIEW one of the characters tells the story.

THIRD PERSON POINT OF VIEW an unknown narrator, tells the story, but

this narrator zooms in to focus on the thoughts and feelings of only one


OMNISCIENT POINT OF VIEW an omniscient or all knowing narrator tells

the story, also using the third person pronouns. This narrator, instead of

focusing on one character only, often tells us everything about many characters.

OBJECTIVE POINT OF VIEW a narrator who is totally impersonal and

objective tells the story, with no comment on any characters or events.

POLYSYNDETON sentence which uses a conjunction with NO commas to separate the

items in a series. Instead of X, Y, and Z... Polysyndeton results in X and Y and Z... Kurt

Vonnegut uses this device.

PROTAGONIST the central character in a story, the one who initiates or drives the

action. Usually the hero or anti-hero; in a tragic hero, like John Proctor of The

Crucible, there is always a hamartia, or tragic flaw in his character which will lead to

his downfall.

PUN a “play on words” based on the multiple meanings of a single word or on words

that sound alike but mean different things.

Literary Terms page 9

QUATRAIN a poem consisting of four lines, or four lines of a poem that can be

considered as a unit.

REFRAIN a word, phrase, line, or group of lines that is repeated, for effect, several

times in a poem.

RHYTHM a rise and fall of the voice produced by the alternation of stressed and

unstressed syllables in language.

RHETORIC Art of effective communication, especially persuasive discourse.

RHETORICAL QUESTION a question asked for an effect, and not actually requiring

an answer.

ROMANCE in general, a story in which an idealized hero or heroine undertakes a quest

and is successful.

SATIRE a type of writing that ridicules the shortcomings of people or institutions in an

attempt to bring about a change.

SIMILE a figure of speech that makes an explicitly comparison between two unlike

things, using words such as like, as , than, or resembles.

SOLILOQUY a long speech made by a character in a play while no other characters are

on stage.

STEREOTYPE a fixed idea or conception of a character or an idea which does not

allow for any individuality, often based on religious, social, or racial prejudices.

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS a style of writing that portrays the inner (often

chaotic) workings of a character’s mind.

STYLE the distinctive way in which a writer uses language: a writer’s distinctive use of

diction, tone, and syntax.

SUSPENSE a feeling of uncertainty and curiosity about what will happen next in a


SYMBOL a person, place, thing, or event that has meaning in itself and that also stands

for something more than itself.

SYNECDOCHE a figure of speech in which a part represents the whole. “If you don’t

drive properly, you will lose your wheels.” The wheels represent the entire car.

SYNTACTIC FLUENCY Ability to create a variety of sentence structures,

appropriately complex and/or simple and varied in length.

Literary Terms page 10

SYNTACTIC PERMUTATION Sentence structures that are extraordinarily complex

and involved. Often difficult for a reader to follow.

TALL TALE an outrageously exaggerated, humorous story that is obviously


TELEGRAPHIC SENTENCE A sentence shorter than five words in length.

THEME the insight about human life that is revealed in a literary work.

TONE the attitude a writer takes toward the subject of a work, the characters in it, or

the audience, revealed through diction, figurative language, and organization.

TRAGEDY in general, a story in which a heroic character either dies or comes to some

other unhappy end.

TRICOLON Sentence of three parts of equal importance and length, usually three

independent clauses.

UNDERSTATEMENT a statement that says less than what is meant.

Example: During the second war with Iraq, American troops complained of a

fierce sand storm that made even the night-vision equipment useless. A British

commando commented about the storm: “It’s a bit breezy.”

UNITY Unified parts of the writing are related to one central idea or organizing

principle. Unity is dependent upon coherence.

VERNACULAR the language spoken by the people who live in a particular locality.




Open-ended Questions for Advanced Placement English Literature: 1970-2004


1970 A. Choose a character from a novel or play of recognized literary merit and write an essay in which you (a) briefly describe the standards of the fictional society in which the character exists and (b) show how the character is affected by and responds to those standards. In your essay do not merely summarize the plot.

1970 B. Choose a work of recognized literary merit in which a specific inanimate object (e.g., a seashell, a handkerchief, a painting) is important, and write an essay in which you show how two or three of the purposes the object serves are related to one another.

1971. The significance of a title such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is so easy to discover. However, in other works (for example, Measure for Measure) the full significance of the title becomes apparent to the reader only gradually. Choose two works and show how the significance of their respective titles is developed through the authors' use of devices such as contrast, repetition, allusion, and point of view.

1972. In retrospect, the reader often discovers that the first chapter of a novel or the opening scene of a drama introduces some of the major themes of the work. Write an essay about the opening scene of a drama or the first chapter of a novel in which you explain how it functions in this way.

1973. An effective literary work does not merely stop or cease; it concludes. In the view of some critics, a work that does not provide the pleasure of significant closure has terminated with an artistic fault. A satisfactory ending is not, however, always conclusive in every sense; significant closure may require the reader to abide with or adjust to ambiguity and uncertainty. In an essay, discuss the ending of a novel or play of acknowledged literary merit. Explain precisely how and why the ending appropriately or inappropriately concludes the work. Do not merely summarize the plot.

1974. Choose a work of literature written before 1900. Write an essay in which you present arguments for and against the work's relevance for a person in 1974. Your own position should emerge in the course of your essay. You may refer to works of literature written after 1900 for the purpose of contrast or comparison.

1975 A. Although literary critics have tended to praise the unique in literary characterizations, many authors have employed the stereotyped character successfully. Select one work of acknowledged literary merit and in a well-written essay, show how the conventional or stereotyped character or characters function to achieve the author's purpose.

1975 B. Unlike the novelist, the writer of a play does not use his own voice and only rarely uses a narrator's voice to guide the audience's responses to character and action. Select a play you have read and write an essay in which you explain the techniques the playwright uses to guide his audience's responses to the central characters and the action. You might consider the effect on the audience of things like setting, the use of comparable and contrasting characters, and the characters' responses to each other. Support your argument with specific references to the play. Do not give a plot summary.

1976. The conflict created when the will of an individual opposes the will of the majority is the recurring theme of many novels, plays, and essays. Select the work of an essayist who is in opposition to his or her society; or from a work of recognized literary merit, select a fictional character who is in opposition to his or her society. In a critical essay, analyze the conflict and discuss the moral and ethical implications for both the individual and the society. Do not summarize the plot or action of the work you choose.

1977. In some novels and plays certain parallel or recurring events prove to be significant. In an essay, describe the major similarities and differences in a sequence of parallel or recurring events in a novel or play and discuss the significance of such events. Do not merely summarize the plot.

1978. Choose an implausible or strikingly unrealistic incident or character in a work of fiction or drama of recognized literary merit. Write an essay that explains how the incident or character is related to the more realistic of plausible elements in the rest of the work. Avoid plot summary.

1979. Choose a complex and important character in a novel or a play of recognized literary merit who might on the basis of the character's actions alone be considered evil or immoral. In a well-organized essay, explain both how and why the full presentation of the character in the work makes us react more sympathetically than we otherwise might. Avoid plot summary.

1980. A recurring theme in literature is the classic war between a passion and responsibility. For instance, a personal cause, a love, a desire for revenge, a determination to redress a wrong, or some other emotion or drive may conflict with moral duty. Choose a literary work in which a character confronts the demands of a private passion that conflicts with his or her responsibilities. In a well-written essay show clearly the nature of the conflict, its effects upon the character, and its significance to the work.

1981. The meaning of some literary works is often enhanced by sustained allusion to myths, the Bible, or other works of literature. Select a literary work that makes use of such a sustained reference. Then write a well-organized essay in which you explain the allusion that predominates in the work and analyze how it enhances the work's meaning.

1982. In great literature, no scene of violence exists for its own sake. Choose a work of literary merit that confronts the reader or audience with a scene or scenes of violence. In a well-organized essay, explain how the scene or scenes contribute to the meaning of the complete work. Avoid plot summary.

1983. From a novel or play of literary merit, select an important character who is a villain. Then, in a well-organized essay, analyze the nature of the character's villainy and show how it enhances meaning in the work. Do not merely summarize the plot.

1984. Select a line or so of poetry, or a moment or scene in a novel, epic poem, or play that you find especially memorable. Write an essay in which you identify the line or the passage, explain its relationship to the work in which it is found, and analyze the reasons for its effectiveness.

1985. A critic has said that one important measure of a superior work of literature is its ability to produce in the reader a healthy confusion of pleasure and disquietude. Select a literary work that produces this "healthy confusion." Write an essay in which you explain the sources of the "pleasure and disquietude" experienced by the readers of the work.

1986. Some works of literature use the element of time in a distinct way. The chronological sequence of events may be altered, or time may be suspended or accelerated. Choose a novel, an epic, or a play of recognized literary merit and show how the author's manipulation of time contributes to the effectiveness of the work as a whole. Do not merely summarize the plot.

1987. Some novels and plays seem to advocate changes in social or political attitudes or in traditions. Choose such a novel or play and note briefly the particular attitudes or traditions that the author apparently wishes to modify. Then analyze the techniques the author uses to influence the reader's or audience's views. Avoid plot summary.

1988. Choose a distinguished novel or play in which some of the most significant events are mental or psychological; for example, awakenings, discoveries, changes in consciousness. In a well-organized essay, describe how the author manages to give these internal events the sense of excitement, suspense, and climax usually associated with external action. Do not merely summarize the plot.

1989. In questioning the value of literary realism, Flannery O'Connor has written, "I am interested in making a good case for distortion because I am coming to believe that it is the only way to make people see." Write an essay in which you "make a good case for distortion," as distinct from literary realism. Analyze how important elements of the work you choose are "distorted" and explain how these distortions contribute to the effectiveness of the work. Avoid plot summary.

1990. Choose a novel or play that depicts a conflict between a parent (or a parental figure) and a son or daughter. Write an essay in which you analyze the sources of the conflict and explain how the conflict contributes to the meaning of the work. Avoid plot summary.

1991. Many plays and novels use contrasting places (for example, two countries, two cities or towns, two houses, or the land and the sea) to represent opposed forces or ideas that are central to the meaning of the work. Choose a novel or play that contrasts two such places. Write an essay explaining how the places differ, what each place represents, and how their contrast contributes to the meaning of the work.

1992. In a novel or play, a confidant (male) or a confidante (female) is a character, often a friend or relative of the hero or heroine, whose role is to be present when the hero or heroine needs a sympathetic listener to confide in. Frequently the result is, as Henry James remarked, that the confidant or confidante can be as much "the reader's friend as the protagonist's." However, the author sometimes uses this character for other purposes as well. Choose a confidant or confidante from a novel or play of recognized literary merit and write an essay in which you discuss the various ways this character functions in the work. You may write your essay on one of the following novels or plays or on another of comparable quality. Do not write on a poem or short story.

1993. "The true test of comedy is that it shall awaken thoughtful laughter." Choose a novel, play, or long poem in which a scene or character awakens "thoughtful laughter" in the reader. Write an essay in which you show why this laughter is "thoughtful" and how it contributes to the meaning of the work.

1994. In some works of literature, a character who appears briefly, or does not appear at all, is a significant presence. Choose a novel or play of literary merit and write an essay in which you show how such a character functions in the work. You may wish to discuss how the character affects action, theme, or the development of other characters. Avoid plot summary.

1995. Writers often highlight the values of a culture or a society by using characters who are alienated from that culture or society because of gender, race, class, or creed. Choose a novel or a play in which such a character plays a significant role and show how that character's alienation reveals the surrounding society's assumptions or moral values.

1996. The British novelist Fay Weldon offers this observation about happy endings. "The writers, I do believe, who get the best and most lasting response from their readers are the writers who offer a happy ending through moral development. By a happy ending, I do not mean mere fortunate events -- a marriage or a last minute rescue from death -- but some kind of spiritual reassessment or moral reconciliation, even with the self, even at death." Choose a novel or play that has the kind of ending Weldon describes. In a well-written essay, identify the "spiritual reassessment or moral reconciliation" evident in the ending and explain its significance in the work as a whole.

1997. Novels and plays often include scenes of weddings, funerals, parties, and other social occasions. Such scenes may reveal the values of the characters and the society in which they live. Select a novel or play that includes such a scene and, in a focused essay, discuss the contribution the scene makes to the meaning of the work as a whole. You may choose a work from the list below or another novel or play of literary merit.

1998. In his essay "Walking," Henry David Thoreau offers the following assessment of literature:

In literature it is only the wild that attracts us. Dullness is but another name for tameness. It is the uncivilized free and wild thinking in Hamlet and The Iliad, in all scriptures and mythologies, not learned in schools, that delights us.

From the works that you have studied in school, choose a novel, play, or epic poem that you may initially have thought was conventional and tame but that you now value for its "uncivilized free and wild thinking." Write an essay in which you explain what constitutes its "uncivilized free and wild thinking" and how that thinking is central to the value of the work as a whole. Support your ideas with specific references to the work you choose.

1999. The eighteenth-century British novelist Laurence Sterne wrote, "No body, but he who has felt it, can conceive what a plaguing thing it is to have a man's mind torn asunder by two projects of equal strength, both obstinately pulling in a contrary direction at the same time."

From a novel or play choose a character (not necessarily the protagonist) whose mind is pulled in conflicting directions by two compelling desires, ambitions, obligations, or influences. Then, in a well-organized essay, identify each of the two conflicting forces and explain how this conflict with one character illuminates the meaning of the work as a whole. You may use one of the novels or plays listed below or another novel or work of similar literary quality.

2000. Many works of literature not readily identified with the mystery or detective story genre nonetheless involve the investigation of a mystery. In these works, the solution to the mystery may be less important than the knowledge gained in the process of its investigation. Choose a novel or play in which one or more of the characters confront a mystery. Then write an essay in which you identify the mystery and explain how the investigation illuminates the meaning of the work as a whole. Do not merely summarize the plot.

2001. One definition of madness is "mental delusion or the eccentric behavior arising from it." But Emily Dickinson wrote

Much madness is divinest Sense-
To a discerning Eye-

Novelists and playwrights have often seen madness with a "discerning Eye." Select a novel or play in which a character's apparent madness or irrational behavior plays an important role. Then write a well-organized essay in which you explain what this delusion or eccentric behavior consists of and how it might be judged reasonable. Explain the significance of the "madness" to the work as a whole. Do not merely summarize the plot.

2002 A. Morally ambiguous characters -- characters whose behavior discourages readers from identifying them as purely evil or purely good -- are at the heart of many works of literature. Choose a novel or play in which a morally ambiguous character plays a pivotal role. Then write an essay in which you explain how the character can be viewed as morally ambiguous and why his or her moral ambiguity is significant to the work as a whole. Avoid mere plot summary.

2002 B. Often in literature, a character's success in achieving goals depends on keeping a secret and divulging it only at the right moment, if at all. Choose a novel or play of literary merit that requires a character to keep a secret. In a well-organized essay, briefly explain the necessity for secrecy and how the character's choice to reveal or keep the secret affects the plot and contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole. You may select a work from the list below, or you may choose another work of recognized literary merit suitable to the topic. Do NOT write about a short story, poem, or film.

2003 A. According to critic Northrop Frye, "Tragic heroes are so much the highest points in their human landscape that they seem the inevitable conductors of the power about them, great trees more likely to be struck by lightning than a clump of grass. Conductors may of course be instruments as well as victims of the divisive lightning." Select a novel or play in which a tragic figure functions as an instrument of the suffering of others. Then write an essay in which you explain how the suffering brought upon others by that figure contributes to the tragic vision of the work as a whole.

2003 B. Novels and plays often depict characters caught between colliding cultures -- national, regional, ethnic, religious, institutional. Such collisions can call a character's sense of identity into question. Select a novel or play in which a character responds to such a cultural collison. Then write a well-organized essay in which you describe the character's response and explain its relevance to the work as a whole.

2004 A. Critic Roland Barthes has said, "Literature is the question minus the answer." Choose a novel, or play, and, considering Barthes' observation, write an essay in which you analyze a central question the work raises and the extent to which it offers answers. Explain how the author's treatment of this question affects your understanding of the work as a whole. Avoid mere plot summary.

2004 B. The most important themes in literature are sometimes developed in scenes in which a death or deaths take place. Choose a novel or play and write a well-organized essay in which you show how a specific death scene helps to illuminate the meaning of the work as a whole. Avoid mere plot summary.

For all questions from 1970 to this year click here: http://sb169.k12.sd.us/Prompt%20list%20for%20IR%20with%20AP.htm





Modernism/Modernity Postmodern/Postmodernity 
Master Narratives and Metanarratives of history, culture and national identity; myths of cultural and ethnic orgin. Suspicion and rejection of Master Narratives; local narratives, ironic deconstruction of master narratives: counter-myths of origin.
Faith in "Grand Theory" (totalizing explantions in history, science and culture) to represent all knowledge and explain everything. Rejection of totalizing theories; pursuit of localizing and contingent theories.
Faith in, and myths of, social and cultural unity, hierarchies of social-class and ethnic/national values, seemingly clear bases for unity. Social and cultural pluralism, disunity, unclear bases for social/national/ethnic unity.
Master narrative of progress through science and technology. Skepticism of progress, anti-technology reactions, neo-Luddism; new age religions.
Sense of unified, centered self; 
"individualism," unified identity.
Sense of fragmentation and decentered self; 
multiple, conflicting identities.
Idea of "the family" as central unit of social order: model of the middle-class, nuclear family. Alternative family units, alternatives to middle-class marriage model, multiple identities for couplings and childraising.
Hierarchy, order, centralized control. Subverted order, loss of centralized control, fragmentation.
Faith and personal investment in big politics (Nation-State, party). Trust and investment in micropolitics, identity politics, local politics, institutional power struggles.
Root/Depth tropes. 
Faith in "Depth" (meaning, value, content, the signified) over "Surface" (appearances, the superficial, the signifier).
Rhizome/surface tropes. 
Attention to play of surfaces, images, signifiers without concern for "Depth".
Faith in the "real" beyond media and representations; authenticity of "originals" Hyper-reality, image saturation, simulacra seem more powerful than the "real"; images and texts with no prior "original". 
"As seen on TV" and "as seen on MTV" are more powerful than unmediated experience.
Dichotomy of high and low culture (official vs. popular culture); 
imposed consensus that high or official culture is normative and authoritative
Disruption of the dominance of high culture by popular culture; 
mixing of popular and high cultures, new valuation of pop culture, hybrid cultural forms cancel "high"/"low" categories.
Mass culture, mass consumption, mass marketing. Demassified culture; niche products and marketing, smaller group identities.
Art as unique object and finished work authenticated by artist and validated by agreed upon standards. Art as process, performance, production, intertextuality. 
Art as recycling of culture authenticated by audience and validated in subcultures sharing identity with the artist. 
Knowledge mastery, attempts to embrace a totality. 
The encyclopedia.
Navigation, information management, just-in-time knowledge. 
The Web.
Broadcast media, centralized one- 
to-many communications.
Interactive, client-server, distributed, many- 
to-many media (the Net and Web).
centralized knowledge.
Dispersal, dissemination, 
networked, distributed knowledge
Determinancy Indeterminancy, contingency.
Seriousness of intention and purpose, middle-class earnestness. Play, irony, challenge to official seriousness, subversion of earnestness.
Sense of clear generic boundaries and wholeness (art, music, and literature). Hybridity, promiscuous genres, recombinant culture, intertextuality, pastiche.
Design and architecture of New York and Boston. Design and architecture of LA and Las Vegas
Clear dichotomy between organic and inorganic, human and machine cyborgian mixing of organic and inorganic, human and machine and electronic
Phallic ordering of sexual difference, unified sexualities, exclusion/bracketing of pornography androgyny, queer sexual identities, polymorphous sexuality, mass marketing of pornography
the book as sufficient bearer of the word; 
the library as system for printed knowledge
hypermedia as transcendence of physical limits of print media; 
the Web or Net as information system
Chart Created by Martin Irvine, 







Plot is defined as “The spectacle of the will striving towards a goal.”

There are eleven basic aspects to plot, the first eight concern how the story moves forward, the last three concern the concentration of time, place and action.

1.                  EXPOSITION: The immediate laying out of the story in order to situate the audience. This can occur through stage setting, a major character speaking about or explaining the plot, minor characters talking about an event that clues in the audience, a narrator, a prologue, a soliloquy, slides, charts, maps, music, lighting. In short, anything that cues the audience into at least the beginnings of the plot (read: “conflict”) within the first few minutes.

2.                  DISCOVERY AND REVERSAL: Discovery is the first piece of information that reveals something unknown about a character or a situation or something that a character finds out. Reversal is the first piece of information that sends the story in a direction that was not expected. These two aspects usually happen within the first 10 or 15 minutes and are designed to “thicken of the plot.” Discovery and reversal can happen to many characters all along the play, but then they are labeled under the aspect of “Complication.”

3.                  POINT OF ATTACK: The moment when equilibrium is disturbed and turbulence results. This may follow directly upon the discovery and before the reversal or it may occur after the reversal. It can be a comment or a gesture that a character makes or the sudden appearance of something or someone. Or it might be some unexpected news. It this moment the gears of the play really begin turning. Or, to use the thickening metaphor, this is where the plot begins to bubble.

4.                  FORESHADOWING: The carefully inserted clues about what might be coming-- done to build suspense, create tension and make further events believable. NOTE: Most of the foreshadowing is done in the first half of the play.

5.                  COMPLICATION: The “further” events in the play that cause the straining forward of interest and that keep the point of attack moving. They can be new discoveries and reversals, new appearances, or new foreshadowings. They are used  to intensify emotions, arouse suspense and generally provide the building blocks of the play’s structure. These complications cause continual readjustment of forces among the characters.

6.         CLIMAX: The culmination of a course of action, the maximum disturbance of the equilibrium, the moment of the most intense strain. Note: there can be a series of  minor climaxes leading up to the major one.

7.         CRISIS: The time of decision, the turning point or crossroads. The crisis usually-- but not always--sets the stage for the climax. Think of the crisis as a longer period of time and the climax as a moment inside it. Note: there may be many small crises as the play develops.

8.                  DENOUEMENT: The ending of the play, the final resolution. It’s like the unraveling of a knot that the complications have formed, the committing of the protagonist to his or her fate. It begins with the final crisis and ends with the final curtain. The denouement restores order or provides and ending that seems probable based on what came before.


UNITY OF TIME: A story that takes place as close to real time as possible or at least attempts to create a sense of contracted time. Many playwrights ignore this unity, being more interested in characterization, staging, or the stretching of time.

UNITY OF PLACE: A story with the least amount of places possible or a sense of only a few crucial places. Many playwrights ignore this as well, feeling the need to create as many locations as the story needs.

UNITY OF ACTION: A story where the plot can be simply held in the mind of the spectator, with no wasted scenes and each element so important that if it were taken out the play would seem disjointed. Also a play that is centered in tragedy or comedy but not both. Playwright swill often focus on one character to achieve a unity of action, or only a few germane incidents, or simply an atmosphere.


1. The hero is introduced in the midst of turmoil, at a point well into the story; antecedent action will be recounted in flashbacks.

2. The hero is not only a warrior and a leader, but also a polished speaker who can address councils of chieftains or elders with eloquence and confidence.

3. The hero, often a demi-god, possesses distinctive weapons of great size and power, often heirlooms or presents from the gods.

4. The hero must undertake a long, perilous journey, often involving a descent into the Underworld (Greek, "Neukeia"), which tests his endurance, courage, and cunning.

5. Although his fellows may be great warriors (like Achilles and Beowulf, he may have a commitatus, or group of noble followers with whom he grew up), he undertakes a task that no one else dare attempt.

6. Whatever virtues his race most prizes, these the epic hero as a cultural exemplar possesses in abundance. His key quality is often emphasized by his stock epithet: "Resourceful Odysseus," "swift-footed Achilles," "pious AEneas."

7. The concept of arete (Greek for "bringing virtue to perfection") is crucial to understanding the epic protagonist.

8. The hero establishes his aristeia (nobility) through single combat in superari a superiore, honour coming from being vanquished by a superior foe. That is, a hero gains little honour by slaying a lesser mortal, but only by challenging heroes like himself or adversaries of superhuman power.

9. The two great epic adversaries, the hero and his antagonist, meet at the climax, which must be delayed as long as possible to sustain maximum interest. One such device for delaying this confrontation is the nephelistic rescue (utilized by Homer to rescue Paris from almost certain death and defeat at the hands of Menelaus in the Iliad).

10. The hero's epic adversary is often a "god-despiser," one who has more respect for his own mental and physical abilities than for the power of the gods. The adversary might also be a good man sponsored by lesser deities, or one whom the gods desert at a crucial moment.

11. The hero may encounter a numinous phenomenon (a place or person having a divine or supernatural force) such as a haunted wood or enchanting sorceress that he most use strength, cunning, and divine assistance to overcome.

© http://www.victorianweb.org/genre/epic2.html




1875 First swim across the English channel; London medical school created for women

1876 Bell invents the telephone

1877 Edison invents the phonograph

1878 Electric street lighting in London

1879 Australian frozen meat on sale in London; Ibsen’s A Doll’s House

1880 Canned fruits and meats first appear in stores

1881 City populations explode: London 3.3, Paris 2.2, New York 1.2

1882 Breuer uses hypnosis to treat hysteria--beginning of psychoanalysis

1883 Brooklyn Bridge open to traffic; Orient Express makes first run--Istanbul-Paris

1884 First subway in London; Oxford English Dictionary Begins Publication

1885 Proof of individuality through fingerprints; Benz builds single-cylinder engine for motor car

1886 Canadian Pacific Railway completed

1887  Germany and England fight for control of East Africa; Horsley becomes first to remove spinal tumor

1888     George Eastman perfects “Kodak” box camera

1889     Van Gogh’s “Starry Night;” punch card system developed,

1890     First entirely steel frame building erected in Chicago;  first moving pictures in New York

1891     Monet exhibits fifteen haystack paintings; beginnings of wireless telegraphy

1892     First automatic telephone switchboard; Diesel patents his internal-combustion engine

1893     Henry Ford build his first car

1894     Edison opens his Kinetoscope Parlor in New York

1895     Rontgen discovers x-rays; Marconi invents radio telegraphy, Lumiere invents motion picture camera

1896     Becquerel discovers radioactivity; Chekov’s The Sea Gull; Nobel Prizes established

1897     Thompson discovers electron; Ross discovers malaria bacillus

1898     Pierre and Marie Curie discover radium; photographs first taken with artificial light

1899     Conrad writes Lord Jim, Dewey’s The School and Society—learning begins with experience

1900     First flight of Zeppelin; Planck formulates quantum theory

1901     Ragtime develops in US; Landsteiner demonstrates the existence of three blood groups—A, B, O

1902     First examples of modern terrorism during the Boar War in South Africa

1903     Wright Brothers successfully fly a powered airplane

1904     Work begins on the Panama Canal

1905     Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity; Freud’s theories on sex/subconscious; Wilde’s De Profundis

1906     Sinclair’s The Jungle—US Food and drug Act passed; Immigration to US—NY at 4 million

1907     Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon--Cubism begins

1908     Minkowski formulates four-dimensional geometry

1909     Diaghilev’s Ballet Russe; Peary reaches North Pole; Kandinsky’s first abstract paintings

1910     Murry and Hjort do first deep sea research expedition

1911     Rutherford’s nuclear theory of atoms; Amundsen reaches South Pole

1912     Jung’s“Theory of Psychoanalysis;” Titanic sinks

1913     Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring; “Armory Show” N.Y; Bodenstein’s concept of chemical chain reaction

1914     World War I starts; Chaplin introduces The Tramp; Carell performs successful heart surgery on a dog

1915     Jazz in New Orleans; wireless service between US and Japan; Kafka’s  “The Metamorphosis”

1916     Dadist cult in Zurich—Surrealism; blood for transfusions first refrigerated

1917     First jazz recordings; 100 inch reflecting telescope at Mt. Wilson, Ca.

1918     World War I ends-10 million dead; US burns copies of Ulysses; dimensions of Milky Way found

1919     Observation of solar eclipse proves Einstein correct, Varese conducts first concert of modern music

1920     Cushing develops new techniques for brain surgery, 9 million cars in the US, 19th amendment passed

1921     Morgan postulates chromosome theory of heredity; first radio broadcast of a baseball game

1922     T. S. Eliot “The Wasteland;” Louis Armstrong with King Oliver; insulin first given to diabetics

1923     Lee De Forest demonstrates process sound for motion pictures, Schonberg’s “Piano Suite”--atonal

1924     Eddington discovers luminosity of is star related to its mass; first insecticides used

1925     Baird transmits human features by television; Eisenstein’s Battleship Poetemkin; Scopes Trial



This is the rubric used by graders of the AP Literature exam essays in June. Read it carefully and review it frequently so that you become familiar with the criteria for each score. Review this rubric every time you are revising a timed writing essay or considering the score you earned on a timed writing. This rubric is more instructive and relevant to your growth as an AP Lit student than the points into which your timed writing score is converted. Pay more attention to this rubric than to the number that goes into my grade book!


These well-focused and persuasive essays address the prompt directly and in a convincing manner. An essay scored a 9 demonstrates exceptional insight and language facility. An essay scored an 8 or a 9 combines adherence to the topic with excellent organization, content, insight, facile use of language, mastery of mechanics, and an understanding of the essential components of an effective essay. Literary devices and/or techniques are not merely listed, but the effect of those devices and/or techniques is addressed in context of the passage, poem, or novel as a whole. Although not without flaws, these essays are richly detailed and stylistically resourceful, and they connect the observations to the passage, poem, or novel as a whole. Descriptors that come to mind while reading this essay include: mastery, sophisticated, complex, specific, consistent, and well-supported.

If you work at this level, you have achieved critical thinking at the synthesis and evaluation levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. This means you put together the literary elements you have broken the piece into (through analysis), and present to your reader a sophisticated, critical understanding of the literature that indicates you have a clearly developed aesthetic or rhetorical sense regarding thepiece. Your inferences are well-reasoned and thoroughly developed, demonstrating that you have been “moved” in some way by the piece and have a powerful response to it.


These highly competent essays comprehend the task set forth by the prompt and respond to it directly, although some of the analysis may be implicit rather than explicit. The 7 essay is in many ways a thinner version of the 9-8 paper in terms of discussion and supporting details, but it is still impressive, cogent, and generally convincing. It may also be less well-handled in terms of organization, insight, or vocabulary. Descriptors that come to mind while reading these essays include: demonstrates a clear understanding but is less precise and less well supported than a 9-8 paper. These essays demonstrate an adherence to the task, but deviate from course on occasion. The mechanics are sound, but may contain a few errors which may distract but do not obscure meaning. Although there may be a few minor misreadings, the inferences are for the most part accurate with no significant sustained misreadings. An essay that scores a 6 is an upper-half paper, but it may be deficient in one of the essentials mentioned above. It may be less mature in thought or less well-handled in terms of organization, syntax or mechanics. The analysis is somewhat more simplistic than found in a 7 essay, and lacks sustained, mature analysis.

If you work at this level, you have achieved critical thinking at the analysis level of Bloom’s taxonomy. This means you have broken the material down into its constituent literary parts and detected relationships of the parts and of the way they are organized. However, your inferences are not as insightful and well-developed as an 8 – 9 essay.


These essays may be overly simplistic in analysis, or rely almost exclusively on paraphrase rather than specific, textual examples. These essays may provide a plausible reading, but the analysis is implicit rather than explicit. These essays might provide a list of literary devices present in the literature, but make no effort to discuss the effect that these devices have on the poem, passage, or novel as a whole. Descriptors that come to mind when reading include: superficial, vague, and mechanical. The language is simplistic and the insight is limited or lacking in development.

If you work at this level, you have achieved comprehension of the material and some analysis, but your analysis is not sufficiently developed.


These lower-half essays compound the problems found in the 5 essay. They often demonstrate significant sustained misreadings, and provide little or no analysis. They maintain the general idea of the writing assignment, show some sense of organization, but are weak in content, maturity of thought, language facility, and/or mechanics. They may distort the topic or fail to deal adequately with one or more important aspects of the topic. Essays that are particularly poorly written may be scored a 3. Descriptors that come to mind while reading include: incomplete, oversimplified, meager, irrelevant, and insufficient.

If you work at this level, you have achieved comprehension of the material but you have not moved into higher level thinking skills. You are not making insightful, developed inferences through careful analysis of the text.


These essays make an attempt to deal with the topic but demonstrate serious weakness in content and coherence and/or syntax and mechanics. Often, they are unacceptably short. They are poorly written on several counts, including numerous distracting errors in mechanics, and/or little clarity, coherence, or supporting evidence. Wholly vacuous, inept, and mechanically unsound essays should be scored a 1.

 If you work at this level, you do not adequately comprehend the piece assigned and have not yet begun to work cognitively with this piece of literature.


A zero is given to a response with no more than a passing reference to the task.


The dash indicates a blank response or one with no reference to the task.




P1: It very difficult to face your first death, especially if it happens when you’re a child. Bishop and Ransom explore the____________, _____________ and _____________ through the use of various literary strategies.

P2: The most salient feature is the use of ___________________ and it happens early in both poems. In “First death” Bishop creates a feeling of ___________  by ______________________.  Ransom, similarly, uses _________________ to  (active verb) ____________________a sense of __________________. (quote support)

P3: Another integral element is the ___________. In “Janet,”you see Ransom creating this _________ by using ________________. A good example is (quote the proof). Bishop however, takes a slightly/decidedly____________ approach.  In the second stanzas she writes _________________. This suggests/implies that ____________.

P4: _________________ is also in evidence here. Ransom (active verb) _____________ in stanza four when ____________________. while Bishop, in the other hand (active verb) …in order to (active verb) ____________.

P 5: Finally, ____________________. Both poets have a similar take on _____________________. Both poets see it as_________________ and you can sense this at the end.

P6: Death is hard. ____________________________




















IMPRESSIONISM a nineteenth-century movement in literature and art which

advocated a recording of the artist’s personal impressions of the world, rather than a

strict representation of reality.

MODERNISM a term for the bold new experimental styles and forms that swept the

arts during the first third of the twentieth century.

NATURALISM a nineteenth century literary movement that was an extension of

realism and that claimed to portray life exactly as it was.

PLAIN STYLE Writing style that stresses simplicity and clarity of expression (but will

still utilize allusions and metaphors), and was the main form of the Puritan writers.

Literary Terms page 11

PURITANISM Writing style of America’s early English-speaking colonists.

emphasizes obedience to God and consists mainly of journals, sermons, and poems.

RATIONALISM a movement that began in Europe in the seventeenth century, which

held that we can arrive at truth by using our reason rather than relying on the authority of

the past, on the authority of the Church, or an institution. ALSO CALLED


REALISM a style of writing, developed in the nineteenth century, that attempts to

depict life accurately without idealizing or romanticizing it.

REGIONALISM literature that emphasizes a specific geographic setting and that

reproduces the speech, behavior, and attitudes of the people who live in that region.

ROMANTICISM a revolt against Rationalism that affected literature and the other arts,

beginning in the late eighteenth century and remaining strong throughout most of the

nineteenth century.

SURREALISM in movement in art and literature that started in Europe during the

1920s. Surrealists wanted to replace conventional realism with the full expression of the

unconscious mind, which they considered to be more real than the “real” world of


SYMBOLISM a literary movement that originated in late nineteenth century France, in

which writers rearranged the world of appearances in order to reveal a more truthful

version of reality.

TRANSCENDENTALISM a nineteenth century movement in the Romantic tradition ,

which held that every individual can reach ultimate truths through spiritual intuition,

which transcends reasons and sensory experience.



Puritanism 1620 - 1770s

Neoclassic 1770s - early 1800s

Romanticism early 1800s - 1870s

Realism 1850s -early 1900s

Regionalism 1884 - early 1900s

Naturalism - late 1800s - mid 1900s

Modernism - 1920s - [1945]

[Post-Modernism - 1945 - ]





by Alice Walker


I will wait for her in the yard that Maggie and I made so clean and wavy yesterday afternoon. A yard like this is more comfortable than most people know. It is not just a yard. It is like an extended living room. When the hard clay is swept clean as a floor and the fine sand around the edges lined with tiny, irregular grooves, anyone can come and sit and look up into the elm tree and wait for the breezes that never come inside the house.

Maggie will be nervous until after her sister goes: she will stand hopelessly in corners, homely and ashamed of the burn scars down her arms and legs, eying her sister with a mixture of envy and awe. She thinks her sister has held life always in the palm of one hand, that "no" is a word the world never learned to say to her.

You've no doubt seen those TV shows where the child who has "made it" is confronted, as a surprise, by her own mother and father, tottering in weakly from backstage. (A pleasant surprise, of course: What would they do if parent and child came on the show only to curse out and insult each other?) On TV mother and child embrace and smile into each other's faces. Sometimes the mother and father weep, the child wraps them in her arms and leans across the table to tell how she would not have made it without their help. I have seen these programs.

Sometimes I dream a dream in which Dee and I are suddenly brought together on a TV program of this sort. Out of a dark and soft-seated limousine I am ushered into a bright room filled with many people. There I meet a smiling, gray, sporty man like Johnny Carson who shakes my hand and tells me what a fine girl I have. Then we are on the stage and Dee is embracing me with tears in her eyes. She pins on my dress a large orchid, even though she has told me once that she thinks orchids are tacky flowers.

In real life I am a large, big-boned woman with rough, man.working hands. In the winter I wear flannel nightgowns to bed and overalls dur.ng the day. I can kill and clean a hog as mercilessly as a man. My fat keeps me hot in zero weather. I can work outside all day, breaking ice to get water for washing; I can eat pork liver cooked over the open fire minutes after it comes steaming from the hog. One winter I knocked a bull calf straight in the brain between the eyes with a sledge hammer and had the meat hung up to chill before nightfall. But of course all this does not show on television. I am the way my daughter would want me to be: a hundred pounds lighter, my skin like an uncooked barley pancake. My hair glistens in the hot bright lights. Johnny Carson has much to do to keep up with my quick and witty tongue.

But that is a mistake. I know even before I wake up. Who ever knew a Johnson with a quick tongue? Who can even imagine me looking a strange white man in the eye? It seems to me I have talked to them always with one foot raised in flight, with my head fumed in whichever way is farthest from them. Dee, though. She would always look anyone in the eye. Hesitation was no part of her nature.

"How do I look, Mama?" Maggie says, showing just enough of her thin body enveloped in pink skirt and red blouse for me to know she's there, almost hidden by the door.

"Come out into the yard," I say.

Have you ever seen a lame animal, perhaps a dog run over by some careless person rich enough to own a car, sidle up to someone who is ignorant enough to be kind to him? That is the way my Maggie walks. She has been like this, chin on chest, eyes on ground, feet in shuffle, ever since the fire that burned the other house to the ground.

Dee is lighter than Maggie, with nicer hair and a fuller figure. She's a woman now, though sometimes I forget. How long ago was it that the other house burned? Ten, twelve years? Sometimes I can still hear the flames and feel Maggie's arms sticking to me, her hair smoking and her dress falling off her in little black papery flakes. Her eyes seemed stretched open, blazed open by the flames reflected in them. And Dee. I see her standing off under the sweet gum tree she used to dig gum out of; a look of concentration on her face as she watched the last dingy gray board of the house fall in toward the red.hot brick chimney. Why don't you do a dance around the ashes? I'd wanted to ask her. She had hated the house that much.

I used to think she hated Maggie, too. But that was before we raised money, the church and me, to send her to Augusta to school. She used to read to us without pity; forcing words, lies, other folks' habits, whole lives upon us two, sitting trapped and ignorant underneath her voice. She washed us in a river of make.believe, burned us with a lot of knowl edge we didn't necessarily need to know. Pressed us to her with the serf' ous way she read, to shove us away at just the moment, like dimwits, we seemed about to understand.

Dee wanted nice things. A yellow organdy dress to wear to her grad.uation from high school; black pumps to match a green suit she'd made from an old suit somebody gave me. She was determined to stare down any disaster in her efforts. Her eyelids would not flicker for minutes at a time. Often I fought off the temptation to shake her. At sixteen she had a style of her own: and knew what style was.

I never had an education myself. After second grade the school was closed down. Don't ask my why: in 1927 colored asked fewer questions than they do now. Sometimes Maggie reads to me. She stumbles along good.naturedly but can't see well. She knows she is not bright. Like good looks and money, quickness passes her by. She will marry John Thomas (who has mossy teeth in an earnest face) and then I'll be free to sit here and I guess just sing church songs to myself. Although I never was a good singer. Never could carry a tune. I was always better at a man's job. I used to love to milk till I was hooked in the side in '49. Cows are soothing and slow and don't bother you, unless you try to milk them the wrong way.

I have deliberately turned my back on the house. It is three rooms, just like the one that burned, except the roof is tin; they don't make shingle roofs any more. There are no real windows, just some holes cut in the sides, like the portholes in a ship, but not round and not square, with rawhide holding the shutters up on the outside. This house is in a pasture, too, like the other one. No doubt when Dee sees it she will want to tear it down. She wrote me once that no matter where we "choose" to live, she will manage to come see us. But she will never bring her friends. Maggie and I thought about this and Maggie asked me, "Mama, when did Dee ever have any friends?"

She had a few. Furtive boys in pink shirts hanging about on washday after school. Nervous girls who never laughed. Impressed with her they worshiped the well.turned phrase, the cute shape, the scalding humor that erupted like bubbles in Iye. She read to them.

When she was courting Jimmy T she didn't have much time to pay to us, but turned all her faultfinding power on him. He flew to marry a cheap city girl from a family of ignorant flashy people. She hardly had time to recompose herself.

When she comes I will meet—but there they are!

Maggie attempts to make a dash for the house, in her shuffling way, but I stay her with my hand. "Come back here, " I say. And she stops and tries to dig a well in the sand with her toe.

It is hard to see them clearly through the strong sun. But even the first glimpse of leg out of the car tells me it is Dee. Her feet were always neat.looking, as if God himself had shaped them with a certain style. From the other side of the car comes a short, stocky man. Hair is all over his head a foot long and hanging from his chin like a kinky mule tail. I hear Maggie suck in her breath. "Uhnnnh, " is what it sounds like. Like when you see the wriggling end of a snake just in front of your foot on the road. "Uhnnnh."

Dee next. A dress down to the ground, in this hot weather. A dress so loud it hurts my eyes. There are yellows and oranges enough to throw back the light of the sun. I feel my whole face warming from the heat waves it throws out. Earrings gold, too, and hanging down to her shoul.ders. Bracelets dangling and making noises when she moves her arm up to shake the folds of the dress out of her armpits. The dress is loose and flows, and as she walks closer, I like it. I hear Maggie go "Uhnnnh" again. It is her sister's hair. It stands straight up like the wool on a sheep. It is black as night and around the edges are two long pigtails that rope about like small lizards disappearing behind her ears.

"Wa.su.zo.Tean.o!" she says, coming on in that gliding way the dress makes her move. The short stocky fellow with the hair to his navel is all grinning and he follows up with "Asalamalakim, my mother and sister!" He moves to hug Maggie but she falls back, right up against the back of my chair. I feel her trembling there and when I look up I see the perspiration falling off her chin.

"Don't get up," says Dee. Since I am stout it takes something of a push. You can see me trying to move a second or two before I make it. She turns, showing white heels through her sandals, and goes back to the car. Out she peeks next with a Polaroid. She stoops down quickly and lines up picture after picture of me sitting there in front of the house with Maggie cowering behind me. She never takes a shot without mak' ing sure the house is included. When a cow comes nibbling around the edge of the yard she snaps it and me and Maggie and the house. Then she puts the Polaroid in the back seat of the car, and comes up and kisses me on the forehead.

Meanwhile Asalamalakim is going through motions with Maggie's hand. Maggie's hand is as limp as a fish, and probably as cold, despite the sweat, and she keeps trying to pull it back. It looks like Asalamalakim wants to shake hands but wants to do it fancy. Or maybe he don't know how people shake hands. Anyhow, he soon gives up on Maggie.

"Well," I say. "Dee."

"No, Mama," she says. "Not 'Dee,' Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo!"

"What happened to 'Dee'?" I wanted to know.

"She's dead," Wangero said. "I couldn't bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppress me."

"You know as well as me you was named after your aunt Dicie," I said. Dicie is my sister. She named Dee. We called her "Big Dee" after Dee was born.

"But who was she named after?" asked Wangero.

"I guess after Grandma Dee," I said.

"And who was she named after?" asked Wangero.

"Her mother," I said, and saw Wangero was getting tired. "That's about as far back as I can trace it," I said. Though, in fact, I probably could have carried it back beyond the Civil War through the branches.

"Well," said Asalamalakim, "there you are."

"Uhnnnh," I heard Maggie say.

"There I was not," I said, "before 'Dicie' cropped up in our family, so why should I try to trace it that far back?"

He just stood there grinning, looking down on me like somebody inspecting a Model A car. Every once in a while he and Wangero sent eye signals over my head.

"How do you pronounce this name?" I asked.

"You don't have to call me by it if you don't want to," said Wangero.

"Why shouldn't 1?" I asked. "If that's what you want us to call you, we'll call you."

"I know it might sound awkward at first," said Wangero.

"I'll get used to it," I said. "Ream it out again."

Well, soon we got the name out of the way. Asalamalakim had a name twice as long and three times as hard. After I tripped over it two or three times he told me to just call him Hakim.a.barber. I wanted to ask him was he a barber, but I didn't really think he was, so I didn't ask.

"You must belong to those beef.cattle peoples down the road," I said. They said "Asalamalakim" when they met you, too, but they didn't shake hands. Always too busy: feeding the cattle, fixing the fences, putting up salt.lick shelters, throwing down hay. When the white folks poisoned some of the herd the men stayed up all night with rifles in their hands. I walked a mile and a half just to see the sight.

Hakim.a.barber said, "I accept some of their doctrines, but farming and raising cattle is not my style." (They didn't tell me, and I didn't ask, whether Wangero (Dee) had really gone and married him.)

We sat down to eat and right away he said he didn't eat collards and pork was unclean. Wangero, though, went on through the chitlins and com bread, the greens and everything else. She talked a blue streak over the sweet potatoes. Everything delighted her. Even the fact that we still used the benches her daddy made for the table when we couldn't effort to buy chairs.

"Oh, Mama!" she cried. Then turned to Hakim.a.barber. "I never knew how lovely these benches are. You can feel the rump prints," she said, running her hands underneath her and along the bench. Then she gave a sigh and her hand closed over Grandma Dee's butter dish. "That's it!" she said. "I knew there was something I wanted to ask you if I could have." She jumped up from the table and went over in the corner where the churn stood, the milk in it crabber by now. She looked at the churn and looked at it.

"This churn top is what I need," she said. "Didn't Uncle Buddy whittle it out of a tree you all used to have?"

"Yes," I said.

"Un huh," she said happily. "And I want the dasher, too."

"Uncle Buddy whittle that, too?" asked the barber.

Dee (Wangero) looked up at me.

"Aunt Dee's first husband whittled the dash," said Maggie so low you almost couldn't hear her. "His name was Henry, but they called him Stash."

"Maggie's brain is like an elephant's," Wangero said, laughing. "I can use the chute top as a centerpiece for the alcove table," she said, sliding a plate over the chute, "and I'll think of something artistic to do with the dasher."

When she finished wrapping the dasher the handle stuck out. I took it for a moment in my hands. You didn't even have to look close to see where hands pushing the dasher up and down to make butter had left a kind of sink in the wood. In fact, there were a lot of small sinks; you could see where thumbs and fingers had sunk into the wood. It was beautiful light yellow wood, from a tree that grew in the yard where Big Dee and Stash had lived.

After dinner Dee (Wangero) went to the trunk at the foot of my bed and started rifling through it. Maggie hung back in the kitchen over the dishpan. Out came Wangero with two quilts. They had been pieced by Grandma Dee and then Big Dee and me had hung them on the quilt ftames on the ftont porch and quilted them. One was in the Lone Stat pattetn. The other was Walk Around the Mountain. In both of them were scraps of dresses Grandma Dee had wotn fifty and more years ago. Bits and pieces of Grandpa Jattell's Paisley shirts. And one teeny faded blue piece, about the size of a penny matchbox, that was from Great Grandpa Ezra's unifotm that he wore in the Civil War.

"Mama," Wangro said sweet as a bird. "Can I have these old quilts?"

I heard something fall in the kitchen, and a minute later the kitchen door slammed.

"Why don't you take one or two of the others?" I asked. "These old things was just done by me and Big Dee from some tops your grandma pieced before she died."

"No," said Wangero. "I don't want those. They are stitched around the borders by machine."

"That'll make them last better," I said.

"That's not the point," said Wangero. "These are all pieces of dresses Grandma used to wear. She did all this stitching by hand. Imag' ine!" She held the quilts securely in her atms, stroking them.

"Some of the pieces, like those lavender ones, come ftom old clothes her mother handed down to her," I said, moving up to touch the quilts. Dee (Wangero) moved back just enough so that I couldn't reach the quilts. They already belonged to her.

"Imagine!" she breathed again, clutching them closely to her bosom.

"The truth is," I said, "I promised to give them quilts to Maggie, for when she matties John Thomas."

She gasped like a bee had stung her.

"Maggie can't appreciate these quilts!" she said. "She'd probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use."

"I reckon she would," I said. "God knows I been saving 'em for long enough with nobody using 'em. I hope she will!" I didn't want to bring up how I had offered Dee (Wangero) a quilt when she went away to college. Then she had told they were old~fashioned, out of style.

"But they're priceless!" she was saying now, furiously; for she has a temper. "Maggie would put them on the bed and in five years they'd be in rags. Less than that!"

"She can always make some more," I said. "Maggie knows how to quilt."

Dee (Wangero) looked at me with hatred. "You just will not under.stand. The point is these quilts, these quilts!"

"Well," I said, stumped. "What would you do with them7"

"Hang them," she said. As if that was the only thing you could do with quilts.

Maggie by now was standing in the door. I could almost hear the sound her feet made as they scraped over each other.

"She can have them, Mama," she said, like somebody used to never winning anything, or having anything reserved for her. "I can 'member Grandma Dee without the quilts."

I looked at her hard. She had filled her bottom lip with checkerberry snuff and gave her face a kind of dopey, hangdog look. It was Grandma Dee and Big Dee who taught her how to quilt herself. She stood there with her scarred hands hidden in the folds of her skirt. She looked at her sister with something like fear but she wasn't mad at her. This was Maggie's portion. This was the way she knew God to work.

When I looked at her like that something hit me in the top of my head and ran down to the soles of my feet. Just like when I'm in church and the spirit of God touches me and I get happy and shout. I did some.thing I never done before: hugged Maggie to me, then dragged her on into the room, snatched the quilts out of Miss Wangero's hands and dumped them into Maggie's lap. Maggie just sat there on my bed with her mouth open.

"Take one or two of the others," I said to Dee.

But she turned without a word and went out to Hakim~a~barber.

"You just don't understand," she said, as Maggie and I came out to the car.

"What don't I understand?" I wanted to know.

"Your heritage," she said, And then she turned to Maggie, kissed her, and said, "You ought to try to make something of yourself, too, Maggie. It's really a new day for us. But from the way you and Mama still live you'd never know it."

She put on some sunglasses that hid everything above the tip of her nose and chin.

Maggie smiled; maybe at the sunglasses. But a real smile, not scared. After we watched the car dust settle I asked Maggie to bring me a dip of snuff. And then the two of us sat there just enjoying, until it was time to go in the house and go to bed.






Eavan Boland

Our way of life
has hardly changed
since a wheel first
whetted a knife.

Maybe flame
burns more greedily
and wheels are steadier,
but we're the same:

we milestone
our lives
with oversights,
living by the lights
of the loaf left

by the cash register,
the washing powder
paid for and wrapped,
the wash left wet:

like most historic peoples
we are defined
by what we forget

and what we never will be:
It's our alibi
for all time:

as far as history goes
we were never
on the scene of the crime.

When the king's head
gored its basket,
grim harvest,
we were gristing bread

or getting the recipe
for a good soup.
It's still the same:

our windows
moth our children
to the flame
of hearth not history.

And still no page
scores the low music
of our outrage.

Appearances reassure:
that woman there,
craned to 
the starry mystery,

is merely getting a breath
of evening air.
While this one here,
her mouth a burning plume - 

she's no fire-eater,
just my frosty neighbour
coming home.




Advanced Placement English

Literary Analysis Scoring Guide

9-8 With apt and specific references to the story, these well-organized and well-written essays clearly analyze how _____ uses literary techniques to _____. The best of these essays will acknowledge the complexity of this _____. While not without flaws, these papers will demonstrate an understanding of the text as well as consistent control over the elements of effective composition. These writers read with perception and express their ideas with clarity and skill.

7-6 These papers also analyze how ___ uses literary techniques to ___, but they are less incisive, developed, or aptly supported than papers in the highest ranges. They deal accurately with technique as the means by which a writer _____, but they are less effective or less thorough in their analysis than are the 9-8 essays. These essays demonstrate the writer's ability to express ideas clearly, but they do so with less maturity and precision than the best papers. Generally, 7 papers present a more developed analysis and a more consistent command of the elements of effective composition than do essays scored 6.

5    These essays are superficial. They respond to the assignment without important errors in composition, but they may miss the complexity of _____'s use of literary techniques and offer a perfunctory analysis of how those techniques are used to _____. Often, the analysis is vague, mechanical, or overly generalized. While the writing is adequate to convey the writer's thoughts, these essays are typically pedestrian, not as well conceived, organized, or developed as upper-half papers. Usually, they reveal simplistic thinking and/or immature writing.

4-3  These lower-half papers reflect an incomplete understanding of the _____ (story, passage, essay, poem, etc.) and fail to respond adequately to the question. The discussion of how _____ uses literary techniques to _____ may be inaccurate or unclear, misguided or undeveloped; these papers may paraphrase rather than analyze. The analysis of technique will likely be meager and unconvincing. Generally, the writing demonstrates weak control of such elements as diction, organization, syntax, or grammar. These essays typically contain recurrent stylistic flaws and/or misreadings and lack of persuasive evidence from the text.

2-1 These essays compound the weaknesses of the papers in the 4-3 range. They seriously misunderstand the _____ or fail to respond to the question. Frequently, they are unacceptably brief. Often poorly written on several counts, they may contain many distracting errors in grammar and mechanics. Although some attempt may have been made to answer the question, the writer's views typically are presented with little clarity, organization, coherence, or supporting evidence. Essays that are especially inexact, vacuous, and/or mechanically unsound should be scored 1.

0 This is a response with no more than a reference to the task or no response at all.

Advanced Placement English

Poetry Scoring Guide

9-8 These well-organized and well-written essays clearly demonstrate an understanding of how the speaker / author in _____ uses _____ to convey _____. In their references, they are apt and specific. Though not without flaws, these papers will offer a convincing interpretation of the poem, as well as consistent control over the virtues of effective composition, including the language unique to the criticism of poetry. They demonstrate the writer's ability to read perceptively and to write with clarity and sophistication.

7-6 These essays also demonstrate an understanding of _____'s poem; but, compared to the best essays, they are less thorough or less precise in their analysis of how the speaker / author uses _____ to convey _____. In addition to minor flaws in interpretation, their analysis is likely to be less well-supported and less incisive. While these essays demonstrate the writer's ability to express ideas clearly, they do so with less mastery and control over the hallmarks of mature composition than do papers in the 9-8 range.

5   While these essays deal with the assigned task without important errors, they have little to say beyond what is easiest to grasp. Their analysis of how _____ conveys _____ may be vague. As a critical explanation, they deal with the poem in a cursory way. Though the writing is sufficient to convey the writer's thoughts, these essays are typically pedestrian, not as well conceived, organized, or developed as upper-half papers. They may reveal simplistic thinking or immature writing.

4-3 These lower-half essays often reflect an incomplete or over-simplified understanding of the poem. Typically, they fail to respond adequately to part of the question. Their analysis may be weak, meager or irrelevant, inaccurate or unclear. The writing demonstrates uncertain control over the elements of effective composition. These essays usually contain recurrent stylistic flaws and/or misreadings, and they often lack persuasive evidence from the text. Essays scored 3 exhibit more than one of the above infelicities; they are marred by a significant misinterpretation, insufficient development, or serious omissions.

2-1 These essays compound the weaknesses of the papers in the 4-3 range. Writers may seriously misread the poem. Frequently, these essays are unacceptably brief. They are poorly written on several counts and may contain many distracting errors in grammar and mechanics. While some attempt may have been made to answer the question, the writer's observations are presented with little clarity, organization, or supporting evidence. Essays that are especially inexact, vacuous, and/or mechanically unsound should be scored 1.

0  This is a response with no more than a reference to the task or no response at all.

Advanced Placement English

Persuasive Scoring Guide

9-8 Papers meriting these scores persuasively defend, challenge, or qualify the _____ through a well-reasoned presentation of evidence from observation, experience, or reading. Evidence from reading does not, of course, automatically put papers in this scoring range. Papers in this category aptly support what they have to say and demonstrate stylistic maturity by an effective command of sentence structure, diction, and organization. The writing reveals an ability to choose from and control a wide range of the elements of effective writing, but it need not be without flaws.

7-6 Essays earning these scores defend, challenge, or qualify the _____ through a coherent presentation of evidence from observation, experience, or reading, but lack the more carefully nuanced thought or the more detailed development of examples of 9-8 papers. Some lapses in diction or syntax may be present, but the writing demonstrates sufficient control of the elements of composition to present the writer's ideas clearly. The arguments in these essays are sound, but may be presented with less coherence or persuasive force than essays in the 9-8 range.

5    These essays present a position that attempts to defend, challenge, or qualify the _____ but do not sustain a coherent presentation. They are adequately written, but may demonstrate inconsistent control over the elements of composition. Organization is evident but may not be fully realized or particularly effective.

4-3 Essays earning these scores do not respond adequately to the question's tasks. They may not define a clear position or may attempt to develop a position with evidence that is not well chosen or well integrated for the purpose. The writing is sufficient to convey the writer's ideas, but may suggest weak control over diction, syntax, or organization. These essays may contain consistent spelling errors or some flaws in grammar.

2-1 These essays fail to respond adequately to the question's tasks. Although the writer attempts to respond to the _____, the response exhibits little clarity about the writer's attitude or only slight or misguided evidence in its support. These essays may be poorly written on several counts, be unpersuasively brief, or present only assertions without substantive evidence. They may reveal consistent weaknesses in grammar or other basic elements of composition. Essays that are especially inexact, vacuous, and/or mechanically unsound should be scored 1.

0 This is a response with no more than a reference to the task or no response at all.  




1.     Impressive control of language

·        interesting and precise diction, especially the use active verbs

·        use of subordinate clauses or a series of clauses to demonstrate that you

          can sustain a complicated thought

·        varying sentence length

·        doesn’t over use the rhetorical vocabulary which can smack of the five-

          paragraph essay

·        outside references cited that can demonstrate some world knowledge

·        variation in the use of  SVO

·        employs quotes and ellipses for economy

·        creates sophisticated transitions (EX: “The most salient feature is the

          use of blank.” “Another integral element in the piece is blank.” “Blank

          is also in evidence here. One can recognize it in the…” “Finally, Blank,

          which really (verb)…”

·        has a distinct voice

·        smoothly leads the reader from point to point

·        seems to have had fun writing the essay--a mix of sophisticated and

          causal language


2.     Sophisticated and coherent argument

·        demonstration of dialectical and nuanced thinking

·        use of contrasting transitions--however, conversely, on the other

          hand, even so

·        skillful in synthesizing sources.

·        organic structure. The piece has an individuality to it. It doesn’t feel

          like there is a template superimposed over the analysis

·        sustained interaction with the text. The essay is not drifting.

·        uses parallelism

·        recognizes irony


3.     Position developed with evidence

·        not simply quoting a passage but explaining how the passage works

          with proof that is appropriate and convincing.

·        analyzes the evidence in chronological order rather than jumping

          around to find examples of specific rhetorical strategies


4.     Thesis examined implicitly as well as explicitly

·        you don’t have to spell it out step-by-step in some five paragraph














The following questions can be applied to such non-fiction prose as essays, speeches, histories, scientific articles, social science reports, legal decisions, research papers and chapters in textbooks. These are invaluable questions to ask in order to have a deeper understanding of the structures and themes of such texts. These are also excellent questions for working in study-groups.

General / Functional Questions

  1. What genre is the text?
  2. What is the central contention?
  3. What do you expect to read when you pick up a text like this?
  4. What are some of the major ideas and how are they related?
  5. What claims does the author make?
  6. Is there evidence to support the claims?
  7. Do openings of paragraphs support the shape of the discourse?
  8. What are some of the discourse markers that tell you where the text is headed?
  9. How would you cluster the paragraphs into sections?
  10. How would you explain, define, or delineate the divisions of the text?
  11. What inferences cam you make based on what is said?
  12. What ideas does the author omit?
  13. Why might what is not said be important?
  14. Which passages perplexed and can you understand why?
  15. What is the purpose of a particular example?
  16. What is the rhetorical / argumentative function of each paragraph?
  17. What rhetorical strategies doe the author use?
  18. How would you characterize the different rhetorical / argumentative strategies of two different writers?

Top-Down Rhetorical Analysis Questions

(Exigence, Audience, Purpose, Ethos, Pathos, Logos)

  1. How do you understand the author, based on the text?
  2. What gets under the writers skin?
  3. What does the writer want the audience(s) to do?
  4. Who (is) are the audience(s)?
  5. Is the writer credible? How do you know this?
  6. What reason does the writer give you to believe an argument?
  7. How does the writer appeal to the emotions and self-interest of the audience?
  8. What are the major arguments?
  9. What is the criteria for proof, belief or assent in the text?
  10. What rhetorical strategies can you identify that contribute to any of the above?

Bottom-Up Rhetorical Analysis Questions

(Schemes, Tropes, Diction, Syntax, Imagery, Tone, Rhetorical Questions)

  1. What words are used in unusual contexts?
  2. What word choices strike you as particularly important?
  3. What strikes you about the basic syntax of the text?
  4. What schemes (sophisticated syntactic manipulations) are used?
  5. What tropes (figures of speech) are used?
  6. What figurative language is used?
  7. What sort of rhetorical questions are used?
  8. What appears to be the author’s attitude towards the subject?
  9. How might any of the above strategies be instrumental in carrying out the author’s purpose?
  10. How might any of the above strategies be directed in some way to the author’s audience.
  11. How might any of the above strategies help develop a sense of logos, ethos or pathos?

Intertextuality and Context Questions

  1. Is this the first time you have read something like this?
  2. How do you begin to talk about it if it is the first time?
  3. Have you read any text(s) comparable to this?
  4. What similarities and differences did you notice in the two texts?
  5. What do you expect to read when you pick up a text like this?
  6. What happens to you when you read the text?
  7. What experiences outside of the text are comparable to what you are reading?
  8. What is the context of this text? (What time period was it written in? What literary, artistic or political movement does it belong to?)
  9. How does context knowledge help you better understand the text?

c. most of the above information was adapted from the Supplemental Materials Book from Summer Institute for Advanced Placement English Language and Composition at DePaul University.



OP-ED means opposite editorial. These are opinions in the newspaper about current events or social or cultural conditions. In these opinions the writer is making an explicit argument. There is usually an exigency, audience and purpose for all OP-ED pieces.

1. Underline the thesis. If it is an implicit thesis, write in your own words what that thesis is.

2. What method of introduction does the writer use? (EX: Fact, Image, Question, Quote, Story)

3. Identify the tone using three specific words and mark the spot in the text where there are any shifts in the tone.

4. What method of development does the author use? (states, appeals, inductive, deductive, comparison/contrast, description, narration, process analysis, division and classification, example, cause/effect)

5. What transitional devices does the author use?

6. What method of conclusion? How does the author conclude the piece while leaving an idea in the reader's mind?

7. Does the author repeat the thesis in the conclusion?




As a figure of speech, irony refers to a difference between the way something appears and what is actually true. Part of what makes poetry interesting is its indirectness, its refusal to state something simply as "the way it is." Irony allows us to say something but to mean something else, whether we are being sarcastic, exaggerating, or understating. A woman might say to her husband ironically, "I never know what you're going to say," when in fact she always knows what he will say. This is sarcasm, which is one way to achieve irony. Irony is generally more restrained than sarcasm, even though the effect might be the same. The woman of our example above might simply say, "Interesting," when her husband says something that really isn't interesting. She might not be using sarcasm in this case, and she might not even be aware that she is being ironic. A listener who finds the husband dull would probably understand the irony, though. The key to irony is often the tone, which is sometimes harder to detect in poetry than in speech. If you can ascertain the tone of any written text, you can discover where the writer is coming from. Tone is an essential element of reading and writing.


Attitude of the author                  Specific words you might use to show this attitude            

This is no joke.

serious, somber

I’m superior, of course.

condescending, patronizing, haughty

So-o-o-o bland.

insipid, vapid, diffident

I feel playful about this.


I’m positive.

cheerful, vibrant, hopeful,



I’m angry about this.

indignant, irate, agitated

I want to create trouble.

inflammatory, contentious

I feel kindly towards this.

benevolent, warm,

Evil is coming this way.

sinister, ominous

It is just not worthy enough for me.

petty, taunting, scornful, contemptuous, disdainful, insolent, flippant

Mr. Wry and Dry.

mock-serious, mock-scornful, sardonic, burlesque

This makes me sad.

melancholy, mournful/lugubrious, elegiac, sentimental

I know the right way to do it.


Pompous and preachy.

turgid, pedantic, pretentious, learned

Down-home, that’s me.

colloquial, informal

Just the facts.

informative, candid, factual, clinical, detached, objective, impartial, restrained

We gotta do it now!

urgent, insistent, imperative, emphatic

This is just the way it is: bad.

pessimistic, resigned, cynical, fatalistic

It was a golden time.

nostalgic, poignant, eulogistic, affectionate



Bloom's Taxonomy *

Benjamin Bloom created this taxonomy for categorizing level of abstraction of questions that commonly occur in educational settings. The taxonomy provides a useful structure in which to categorize test questions, since professors will characteristically ask questions within particular levels, and if you can determine the levels of questions that will appear on your exams, you will be able to study using appropriate strategies.


     Skills Demonstrated

  • observation and recall of information
  • knowledge of dates, events, places
  • knowledge of major ideas
  • mastery of subject matter
  • Question Cues:
    list, define, tell, describe, identify, show, label, collect, examine, tabulate, quote, name, who, when, where, etc.
  • understanding information
  • grasp meaning
  • translate knowledge into new context
  • interpret facts, compare, contrast
  • order, group, infer causes
  • predict consequences
  • Question Cues:
    summarize, describe, interpret, contrast, predict, associate, distinguish, estimate, differentiate, discuss, extend
  • use information
  • use methods, concepts, theories in new situations
  • solve problems using required skills or knowledge
  • Questions Cues:
    apply, demonstrate, calculate, complete, illustrate, show, solve, examine, modify, relate, change, classify, experiment, discover
  • seeing patterns
  • organization of parts
  • recognition of hidden meanings
  • identification of components
  • Question Cues:
    analyze, separate, order, explain, connect, classify, arrange, divide, compare, select, explain, infer
  • use old ideas to create new ones
  • generalize from given facts
  • relate knowledge from several areas
  • predict, draw conclusions
  • Question Cues:
    combine, integrate, modify, rearrange, substitute, plan, create, design, invent, what if?, compose, formulate, prepare, generalize, rewrite
  • compare and discriminate between ideas
  • assess value of theories, presentations
  • make choices based on reasoned argument
  • verify value of evidence
  • recognize subjectivity
  • Question Cues
    assess, decide, rank, grade, test, measure, recommend, convince, select, judge, explain, discriminate, support, conclude, compare, summarize

* From Benjamin S. Bloom Taxonomy of educational objectives.
Published by Allyn and Bacon, Boston, MA. Copyright (c) 1984 by Pearson Education.
Adapted by permission of the publisher


Bloom’s Taxonomy/Revised Bloom’s

Knowledge (Original) / Remember (Revised) – Level 1

Recall or recognize information, ideas, and principles in the approximate form in which they are learned

Power Words

define       find             identify                        label                 list           locate                        memorize         name                tell

point to                 recall           recite                recognize         state        record           remember        select               show                           

Questioning Prompts:

Define ___.                                         Describe what happens when ___.                  Find the meaning of ___.

How are ___?                                      How did ___?                                                  How is ___?

How would you define ___?               How would you describe ___?                                    How would you identify ___?

How would you outline ___?              How would you recognize ___?                                  Identify the facts ___.

Label the ___.                                      List the ___.                                                     List the ___ in order.  

Name the ___.                                     Point out the ___.                                            What are the ___?

What do you remember about ___?     What is ___?                                                    What would you choose ___?

When did ___?                                                Where did ___?                                                           Where is ___?

Which one ___?                                  Who was ___?             Who were ___?                       Why did ___?


Comprehension (Original) / Understand (Revised) - Level 2

Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words.

Power Words

demonstrate     describe           discuss             distinguish                   estimate                       explain

extend              generalize        illustrate           interpret                       paraphrase                   reorder

rephrase           restate              retell                review                          summarize                   translate

Questioning Prompts:

Elaborate on___.                                 Give an example of what you mean ___.                    How can you demonstrate ___?

How can you describe ___?                How would you clarify the meaning of ___?  How can you explain ___?     

How would you compare ___?                        How would you contrast ___?                         How would you distinguish __

How would you express ___?             How would you rephrase the meaning ___?    How would you summarize ___?

Retell ___ using your own words.       What can you say about ___?                          What did you observe ___?

What is the difference between ___?   What is the main idea of ___?                         Which facts or ideas show ___?

Will you restate ___?


Application (Original) / Apply (Revised) – Level 3

Apply an abstract idea in a concrete situation to solve a problem or relate it to prior experience.

Power Words

act out          apply       calculate        change        choose        construct        determine           develop                        manipulate         modify                   predict    produce                    select        show           sketch          solve            support                        transfer

Questioning Prompts:

Do you know of another situation where ___?                                    From the information given, can you develop ___?

Give an example of ___.                                                         How could you dramatize ___ after reading ___?

How could you illustrate ___ after writing ___?                                  How could you show your understanding of ___?

How would you alter ___ to ___?                                           How would you change ___?

How would you demonstrate ___?                                          How would you develop ___ to present ___?

How would you organize ___ to show ___?                            How would you present ___?

How would you solve ___?                                                     How would you use the facts to investigate ___?

How would ___ change if ___?                                                           Use what you read to ___.

Using what you have learned, how would you use ___?                     What actions would you take to perform ___?

What examples can you find that ___?                                                What other actions would you use to ___?

What other way would you choose to ___?                             What would be the result if ___?


Analysis (Original) / Analyze (Revised ) – Level 4

Break down a concept or idea into parts and show relationships among the parts.

Power Words

analyze     break down        categorize        classify      compare        conclude        contrast        deduce        diagram      dissect

survey      discriminate      distinguish       examine     infer              inspect     investigate   outline      order         separate           

Questioning Prompts:

Discuss the pros and cons of ___.            How can you categorize ___?         How can you classify ___?

How is this similar to ___?                       How is ___ connected to ___?       How would you compare and contrast ___?

What conclusions can you draw ___?      What could have caused ___?       What explanation do you have for ___

What ideas Justify ___?                            What inference can you make ___?           What is the relationship between ___?

What is the theme ___?                                        What was the problem with___?     What was the purpose of ___?           

Why do you think ___?


Evaluation (Original) Level 6 / Evaluate (Revised) Level 5

Make informed judgments about the value of ideas or materials.  Use standards and criteria to support opinions and views.

The Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy has moved Evaluate to the fifth level in the place of Synthesis.

Power Words

agree          appraise       assess         choose        critique          debate        defend        evaluate        grade        judge       

justify        measure       prioritize     prove      recommend    support    value         verify           rank        rate

Questioning Prompts:

Determine the value of ___.                                        Do you agree with ___?  Why?

Do you agree with the outcomes ___?  Why?              How could you rate ___?

How would you prioritize ___?                                               How would you prove ___?

Is there a better solution to ___?                                              Rank the importance of ___.

What can you say to defend the actions ___?              What choices would you have made ___?

What information can you use to support ___?                       What is your opinion of ___?

What would you recommend ___?                              Why was it better that ___?


Synthesis (Original) Level 5 / Create (Revised) – Level 6

Bring together parts (elements, compounds) of knowledge to form a whole and build relationships for new situations. 

The Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy has moved Create to the sixth level in place of Evolution.

Power Words

arrange             combine           compose          create               design              develop                        formulate

generate           hypothesize     integrate           invent              make                organize           plan                            

portray             pretend                        produce                       propose                        reorganize        revise

Questioning Prompts:

Change the plot ___.                                                    Design a ___ to ___.

Develop an original way to ___.                                              Develop a rule ___.

How would you compile the facts for ___?                 How would you elaborate on the reason ___?

How would you generate a plan to ___?                                  How would you improve ___?

How would you portray___?                                       What would happen if ___?

Predict the outcome if ___.                                          What alternative would you suggest for ___?

What are the different ways you can ___?                  Suppose you could ___.  What would you ___?

What can you combine to improve/change ___?                     What changes can to make to solve ___?

What could you invent ___?                                        What way would you design___?



NAME OF PRESENTER :_ ___________________________   SCORE ___________  
Superior 4
Adequate 3
Minimal 2
Inadequate 1
Content The speaker provides a variety of types of content appropriate for the task, such as generalizations, details, examples and various forms of evidence. The speaker adapts the content in a specific way to the listener and situation. The speaker focuses primarily on relevant content. The speaker sticks to the topic. The speaker adapts the content in a general way to the listener and the situation. The speaker includes some irrelevant content. The speaker wanders off the topic. The speaker uses words and concepts which are inappropriate for the knowledge and experiences of the listener (e.g., slang, jargon, technical language). The speaker says practically nothing. The speaker focuses primarily on irrelevant content. The speaker appears to ignore the listener and the situation.
Delivery The speaker delivers the message in a confident, poised, enthusiastic fashion. The volume and rate varies to add emphasis and interest. Pronunciation and enunciation are very clear. The speaker exhibits very few disfluencies, such as "ahs," "uhms," or "you knows." The volume is not too low or too loud and the rate is not too fast or too slow. The pronunciation and enunciation are clear. The speaker exhibits few disfluencies, such as "ahs," "uhms," or "you knows. The volume is too low or too loud and the rate is too fast or too slow. The pronunciation and enunciation are unclear. The speaker exhibits many disfluencies, such as "ahs," "uhms," or "you knows." The listener is distracted by problems in the delivery of the message and has difficulty understanding the words in the message. The volume is so low and the rate is so fast that you cannot understand most of the message. The pronunciation and enunciation are very unclear. The speaker appears uninterested.
Organization The message is overtly organized. The speaker helps the listener understand the sequence and relationships of ideas by using organizational aids such as announcing the topic, previewing the organization, using transitions, and summarizing. The message is organized. The listener has no difficulty understanding the sequence and relationships among the ideas in the message. The ideas in the message can outlined easily. The organization of the message is mixed up and random. The listener must make some assumptions about the sequence and relationship of ideas. The message is so disorganized you cannot understand most of the message.
Creativity Very original presentation of material; captures the audience’s attention. Some originality apparent; good variety and blending of materials / media. Little or no variation; material presented with little originality or interpretation. Repetitive with little or no variety; insufficient use of materials / media.
Length of Presentation Within two minutes of allotted time . Within four minutes of allotted time. Within six minutes of allotted time . Too long or too short; ten or more minutes above or below the allotted time.



Here’s a sheet you can use to think through your Division/Classification paper.

SUBJECT: Alternative bands: Linkin Park, Nirvana, Greenday, Radio Head, Blink 182, Cold Play, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Creed, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins



1.    Observation: collect facts, without bias.

2.    Analysis: classify the facts, identifying patterns of regularity.

3.    Inference: From the patterns, infer generalizations about the relations between the facts.

4.    Confirmation: Testing the inference through further observation.


D/C according to:

  1. popularity = CD’s sold, popularity = music given away on the Net, popularity = concert sales, popularity = critical acclaim, popularity = music appeared in a commercial
  2. critical acclaim = “Sound Opinions” on NPR, critical acclaim = popular blogs, critical acclaim = number of Grammys, critical acclaim =  reviews in the New York Times, critical acclaim = President Obama says they’re good.
  3. popular blogs = hits at that site, popular blogs = mentioned in the New York Times, popular blogs = the blogger actually goes to see the concerts, popular blogs  =  they’re mentioned by the various groups in their press release, popular blogs = the blogger gets on American Idol as a guest judge.

Then you might look for deeper patterns. You D/C even more nuanced differences:

Which bands write their own music? Which bands have a single lead singer? Which bands play many different styles? Which bands are influenced by a musical movement (reggie, heavy metal, country)? Which bands have a female lead singer? Which bands use interesting instruments? Which bands have memorable lyrics? Do any of the above examples contribute to popularity?

Once you can make a generalization you should watch to see if the new “theory” of yours can be plugged to the new facts. Example: Bands that have female lead singers and use interesting arrangements with unusual instruments are more likely to get reviewed in the New York Times than bands with three lead singers and daring lyrics. Hmmm. Why?

A conclusion might look like this. Bands A, B and C are popular because__________, while D and E are popular because __________. However, while A, B and E can attribute their fame to _________, C and D can trace much of its fame to _________.

And on and on and on: dividing, classifying…and thinking, thinking, thinking



















Read your piece. If you can answer these questions, you're serious about what you have say.


  1. What is the one thing I wanted to say, the single, most important message I intended to deliver?

  2. What single message does the draft deliver?

  3. To whom is the message being sent?

  4. What form or genre will deliver the information the reader needs most effectively?
  5. Does everything in the draft support the of advance that message?
  6. Where are the strongest pieces or what are the most effective elements in the draft?
  7. Where are the greatest failures in the draft?
  8. Are the reader’s questions answered when they will be asked?
  9. Is the draft written with information, not just language?
  10. Is each point supported by documented evidence?
  11. Is the voice of the draft appropriate to the subject and the reader?
  12. Does the draft exist within the shared world of the writer and reader?
  13. Is there anything that can be cut?
  14. Does the typography and visual layout of the draft support and make the message clear?
  15. Are the portions of information adequate?
  16. Will the reader keep reading?
  17. Is there anything—spelling, grammar, mechanics—that gets between the reader and the message?
  18. What does the test reader say?
  19. What do you expect the reader to do after finishing the draft?
  20. If you were the reader what would you do?

© Donald M. Murray. The Craft of Revision.

George Orwell's famous list from “Politics and the English Language.”

1)      Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure a speech which you are used to seeing in print.

2)      Never use a long word where a short one will do.

3)      If it is possible to cut a word out, cut it out.

4)      Never use the passive when you can use the active.

5)      Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

6)      Break any of these rules sooner than say anything barbaric.








Here are some ideas to take you outside yourself.


1.      Listen to the draft.

2.      Welcome the unexpected.

3.      Expand what works.

4.      Turn the music of the draft.

5.      Start closer to the end.

6.      Cut the end.

7.      Cut or extend the length.

8.      Play with a new focus.

9.      Reconsider the audience.

10.  Put the draft in a new context.

11.  Make new connections.

12.  Reorder the draft.

13.  Change the pace.

14.  Unbalance the proportions.

15.  Try a new genre.

16.  Add new evidence.

17.  Look for instructive failure.

18.  Role-play the reader.

19.  Use a test reader. Observe the draft.


Here’s a chart that may help you write with a little more verve. Check for these four items in each sentence. If you see a pattern of repetition, you’ve got a problem. And you’re probably boring your reader to death. Mix it up. Variety is the spice of life.


Opening words


words per sentence

Transition words


















A few more questions you might ask:


1. Does the first sentence make me want to read the second?

2. Is there some fact, image, question, quote, story or surprise that gets me going? FIQQSS.

3. Do you have a ton of boring words in your essay like: different, really, a lot, great, good, important, bad, very, many, first, second, third? ….ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

4. Do a lot of your sentences start with “there are” or “there is?”  ZZZZzzzzzzzzzz!

5. Does the ending kick me in the teeth? Or did I just finish a mushy apple?









·        Writing is coherent and easy to follow.

§         Writing is organized with good use of transitions.

§         Writing has clear main ideas supported by details and examples.

§         Writing is focused and pertinent to topic.

§         The response is clear and relatively error-free.

§         Use of voice and tone are appropriate to piece.  (Formal vs. informal, use of slang, jargon, dialect, etc.)





§         Writing shows a significant understanding of topic.

§         Writing may have minor errors in grammar, usage and mechanics.  Errors do not impede meaning.

§         Provides nearly complete supporting points.

§         Organization is coherent and easy to follow





 ·        Writing shows some understanding of the topic.

·        Writing provides some supporting calculations, arguments, justifications, and evidence.

·        Sentence structure is correct but basic, awkward, and difficult to follow.

·        Recognizes an appropriate strategy of development, but uses it inappropriately.



§         Writing attempts a strategy with little understandable shape or direction.

§         Shows minimal understanding of content.

§         Shows reasoning but makes serious errors in sentence structure, grammar and mechanics, vocabulary, and calculations.

§         Provides little support for arguments, justifications, and calculations.



o              Blank/ No response.

o              Completely unrelated to topic.

§         Response written in a language other than English.




List of Positives





FIQQSS intro paragraph

(fact, image, question, quote, story, surprise)

List of Negatives






Body P 1 = Example 1



Body P 2 = Example 2


Body 3 = Example 3


Body P 4 = Strongest opposing argument to thesis is presented and refuted.









Responses at this level:


Responses at this level:


Responses at this level:


Responses at this level:


Responses at this level:


Responses at this level:

Meaning: the extent to which the writing exhibits sound understanding, analysis, and explanation, of the writing task and text(s)

· convey an accurate and in-depth understanding of the topic, audience, and purpose for the writing task

· offer insightful and thorough analysis and explanation in support of the topic

· convey an accurate and complete understanding of the topic, audience, and purpose for the writing task

· offer clear and explicit analysis and explanation in support of the topic

· convey an accurate although somewhat basic understanding of the topic, audience, and purpose for the writing task

· offer partial analysis and explanation in support of the topic

· convey a partly accurate understanding of the topic, audience, and purpose of the  writing task

· offer limited analysis or superficial explanation that only partially support the topic

· convey a confused or largely inaccurate understanding of the topic, audience, and purpose for the writing task

· offer unclear analysis or unwarranted explanations  that fail to support the topic

· provide no evidence of understanding the writing task or topic

· make incoherent explanations that do not support the topic

Development:  the extent to which ideas are elaborated using specific and relevant details and/or evidence to support the thesis

· develop ideas clearly and fully, effectively integrating and elaborating on specific textual evidence from a variety of sources

· effectively discriminate between relevant and irrelevant information and between fact and opinion


· develop ideas clearly and consistently, incorporating and explaining specific textual evidence from a variety of sources

· discriminate between relevant and irrelevant information and between fact and opinion

· develop some ideas more fully than others, using relevant textual evidence from a variety of sources

· attempt to discriminate between relevant and irrelevant information and between fact and opinion


· develop ideas briefly or partially, using some textual evidence but without much elaboration or from limited sources

· may contain a mix of relevant and irrelevant information and/or confuse the difference between fact and opinion

· attempt to offer some development of ideas, but textual evidence is vague, repetitive, or unjustified

· contain irrelevant and/or inaccurate information and/or confuse the difference between fact and opinion

· completely lack development and do not include textual evidence

· contain irrelevant and/or inaccurate information and completely fail to distinguish fact from opinion

Organization: the extent to which the writing establishes a clear thesis and maintains direction, focus, and coherence

· skillfully establish and maintain consistent focus on a clear and compelling thesis

· exhibit logical and coherent structure with claims, evidence and interpretations that convincingly support the thesis

· make skillful use of transition words and phrases

· effectively establish and maintain consistent focus on a clear thesis

· exhibit a logical sequence of claims, evidence, and interpretations to support the thesis and effectively used transitions

· make effective use of transition words and phrases

· establish and maintain focus on a clear thesis

· exhibit a logical sequence of claims, evidence, and interpretations but ideas within paragraphs may be inconsistently organized

· make some attempt to use basic transition words and phrases

· establish but fail to consistently maintain focus on a basic thesis

· exhibit a basic structure but lack the coherence of consistent claims, evidence, and interpretations

· make an inconsistent attempt to use some basic transition words or phrases

· establish a confused or irrelevant thesis and fail to maintain  focus

· exhibit an attempt to organize ideas into a beginning, middle, and end, but lack coherence

· make little attempt to use transition words and phrases


· fail to include a thesis or maintain focus

· complete lack of organization and coherence

· make no attempt to use transition words or phrases 

Language:  the extent to which the writing reveals an awareness of audience and purpose through word choice and sentence variety

· are stylistically sophisticated, using language that is precise and engaging, with a notable sense of voice and awareness of audience and purpose

· effectively incorporate a range of varied sentence patterns to reveal syntactic fluency

· use language that is fluent and original, with evident awareness of audience and purpose

· incorporate varied sentence patterns that reveal an awareness of different syntactic structures

· use appropriate language, with some awareness of audience and purpose

· make some attempt to include different sentence patterns but with awkward or uneven success

· rely on basic vocabulary, with little awareness of audience or purpose

· reveal a limited awareness of how to vary sentence patterns and rely on a limited range syntactic structures

· use language that is imprecise or unsuitable for the audience or purpose

· reveal a confused understanding of how to write in complete sentences and little or no ability to vary sentence patterns

· use language that is incoherent or inappropriate

· include a preponderance of sentence fragments and run-ons that significantly hinder comprehension 

Text Box: 2/3/03


  Conventions:  tthe  extent to which tthe writing exhibits  cconventional   sspelling, ppunctuation, pparagraphing,     acapitalization, and ggrammar


· demonstrate control of the conventions with essentially no errors, even with sophisticated language

· demonstrate control of the conventions, exhibiting occasional errors only when using sophisticated language (e.g., punctuation of complex sentences)

· demonstrate partial control, exhibiting occasional errors that do not hinder comprehension (e.g., incorrect use of homonyms)


· demonstrate emerging control, exhibiting frequent errors that somewhat hinder comprehension (e.g., agreement of pronouns and antecedents; spelling of basic words)

· demonstrate lack of control, exhibiting frequent errors that make comprehension difficult (e.g., subject verb agreement; use of slang)

· illegible or unrecognizable as literate English






Responses at this level:


Responses at this level:


Responses at this level:


Responses at this level:


Responses at this level:


Responses at this level:

Meaning: the extent to which the writing exhibits sound understanding, analysis, and explanation, of the writing task and text(s)

· convey an accurate and in-depth understanding of the topic, audience, and purpose for the writing task

· offer insightful and thorough analysis and explanation in support of the argument or position

· convey an accurate and complete understanding of the topic, audience, and purpose for the writing task

· offer clear and explicit analysis and explanation in support of the argument or position

· convey an accurate although somewhat basic understanding of the topic, audience, and purpose for the writing task

· offer partial analysis and explanation in support of the argument or position

· convey a partly accurate understanding of the topic, audience, and purpose of the  writing task

· offer limited analysis or superficial explanation that only partially support the argument or position

· convey a confused or largely inaccurate understanding of the topic, audience, and purpose for the writing task

· offer unclear analysis or unwarranted explanations  that fail to support the argument or position

· provide no evidence of understanding the writing task or topic

· make incoherent explanations that do not support the argument or position

Development:  the extent to which ideas are elaborated using specific and relevant details and/or evidence to support the thesis

· support the position clearly and fully with arguments that effectively integrate and elaborate on specific ideas and textual evidence from a variety of sources

· effectively anticipate and convincingly refute opposing view points

· support the position clearly and consistently with arguments that  incorporate and explain ideas and specific textual evidence from a variety of sources

· anticipate and somewhat convincingly refute opposing viewpoints

· support the position with arguments that use ideas and relevant textual evidence from a variety of sources

· anticipate and attempt to refute opposing viewpoints at a basic level


· support the position partially, using some ideas and textual evidence but without much elaboration or from limited sources

· partially anticipate and with a limited or confused attempt to refute opposing viewpoints but

· attempt to support the position, but textual ideas and evidence is vague, repetitive, or unjustified

· allude to opposing viewpoints but make no attempt to refute them

· completely lack development and do not include textual evidence

· make no attempt to anticipate or refute opposing viewpoints 

Organization: the extent to which the writing establishes a clear thesis and maintains direction, focus, and coherence

· skillfully establish and maintain consistent focus on a clear and compelling thesis

· exhibit logical and coherent structure with claims, evidence and interpretations that convincingly support the thesis

· make skillful use of transition words and phrases

· effectively establish and maintain consistent focus on a clear thesis

· exhibit a logical sequence of claims, evidence, and interpretations to support the thesis

· make effective use of transition words and phrases

· establish and maintain focus on a clear thesis

· exhibit a logical sequence of claims, evidence, and interpretations but ideas within paragraphs may be inconsistently organized

· make some attempt to use basic transition words and phrases

· establish but fail to consistently maintain focus on a basic thesis

· exhibit a basic structure but lack the coherence of consistent claims, evidence, and interpretations

· make an inconsistent attempt to use some basic transition words or phrases

· establish a confused or irrelevant thesis and fail to maintain  focus

· exhibit an attempt to organize ideas into a beginning, middle, and end, but lack coherence

· make little attempt to use transition words and phrases


· fail to include a thesis or maintain focus

· complete lack of organization and coherence

· make no attempt to use transition words or phrases 

Language:  the extent to which the writing reveals an awareness of audience and purpose through word choice and sentence variety

· are stylistically sophisticated, using language that is precise and engaging, with a notable sense of voice and awareness of audience and purpose

· effectively incorporate a range of varied sentence patterns to reveal syntactic fluency

· use language that is fluent and original, with evident awareness of audience and purpose

· incorporate varied sentence patterns that reveal an awareness of different syntactic structures

· use appropriate language, with some awareness of audience and purpose

· make some attempt to include different sentence patterns but with awkward or uneven success

· rely on basic vocabulary, with little awareness of audience or purpose

· reveal a limited awareness of how to vary sentence patterns and rely on a limited range syntactic structures

· use language that is imprecise or unsuitable for the audience or purpose

· reveal a confused understanding of how to write in complete sentences and little or no ability to vary sentence patterns

· use language that is incoherent or inappropriate

· include a preponderance of sentence fragments and run-ons that significantly hinder comprehension 

Text Box: 2/3/03



 Conventions:  the eextent to which the wwriting exhibits cconventional sspelling,  ppunctuation, pparagraphing, ccapitalization, and ggrammar


· demonstrate control of the conventions with essentially no errors, even with sophisticated language

· demonstrate control of the conventions, exhibiting occasional errors only when using sophisticated language (e.g., punctuation of complex sentences)

· demonstrate partial control, exhibiting occasional errors that do not hinder comprehension (e.g., incorrect use of homonyms)


· demonstrate emerging control, exhibiting frequent errors that somewhat hinder comprehension (e.g., agreement of pronouns and antecedents; spelling of basic words)

· demonstrate lack of control, exhibiting frequent errors that make comprehension difficult (e.g., subject verb agreement; use of slang)

· illegible or unrecognizable as literate English











Appropriately focused topic with a clearly communicated understanding of the purpose for the speech

Focused topic with partially demonstrated understanding of the purpose for the speech

Somewhat focused topic or a vague sense of the purpose for the speech, which require the audience to make assumptions

A lack of focus or confused purpose, which result in confusion on the part of the audience





Clear and convincing command of facts and information with insightful explanations that help to illustrate the speaker’s ideas and arguments

Clear use of facts and information with partially developed explanations in support of the speaker’s ideas or arguments

Partially clear use of facts and information with limited or incomplete explanations to support the speaker’s ideas or arguments

Confusing or incomplete facts with little and/or confusing explanations as to how the facts support the speakers ideas or arguments






Clearly and logically organized speech with an engaging introduction, a logically sequenced body with appropriate transitions, and a clear and convincing conclusion

Clear attempt at organization with a beginning, middle, and end and an attempt to use transitions

Some inconsistencies in organization and/or a lack of sustained focus throughout the speech with inconsistently use transitions

A lack of organization makes it difficult to follow the speaker’s ideas; speech may be too conversational and may ramble without a clear beginning, middle, or end






Uses sophisticated and varied language that is suited to the topic and audience; word choice is concise, original, and effectively conveys the appropriate tone given the purpose of the speech

Uses appropriate language and word choice, but with less sophistication, expressiveness and/or originality

Use words that may be unsuited to the topic, audience or purpose of the speech; word choice lacks originality and fails to convey an appropriate tone for the speech

Inappropriate use of language distracts the audience because it is too informal or too imprecise given the topic and purpose of the speech



Stylistic Devices



Skillful use of various stylistic devices (e.g., repetition, parallelism, anecdotes, analogies, figurative language, different types of appeals) greatly enhance the effectiveness of the speech

Effective use of at least one stylistic device (e.g., repetition, parallelism, anecdotes, analogies, figurative language, different types of appeals) enhances the effectiveness of the speech

An attempt to use at least one stylistic device (e.g., repetition, parallelism, anecdotes, analogies, figurative language, different types of appeals) but it does not enhance the effectiveness of the speech

No attempt to use stylistic devices to enhance the meaning of the speech





A combination of appropriate and effective eye contact, clarity and projection of voice, tone and pace, and gestures significantly enhance the speaker’s words

A combination of appropriate eye contact, clarity and projection of voice, tone and pace, and gestures are used but without the smoothness of level four

Inconsistent use of eye contact, clarity and projection of voice, tone and pace, and/or gestures interrupt the flow of the speech

Lack of eye contact, clarity and projection of voice, tone and pace, and/or appropriate gestures make the speech difficult to follow


Overall Effectiveness


Speaker remains enthusiastic, audience attention is maintained, and the purpose of the speech is achieved

Speaker shows some enthusiasm, the audience remains mostly interested, and the purpose of the speech is achieved

Speaker shows limited enthusiasm, audience interest is not sustained, and the purpose of the speech is only partially achieved

Speaker lacks enthusiasm, the audience shows a lack of interest, and the purpose of the speech is not achieved



Pick a subject you want to persuade your reader about and make a list of examples that would help your argument. Your contention: “Football is exciting and worthwhile.” (You don’t necessarily have to use two words--it could be just “exciting”--but I’m offering you a slightly more sophisticated plan.)  Some examples of exciting: kick-off returns, long passes, blitzes, milking the clock on the last drive, overtime, the announcers, the crowd roar in the stadium, the team bands and mascots. Some examples of worthwhile: builds discipline and teamwork, teaches respect, creates camaraderie, develops stamina, unites communities. Put this list to the side.

Decide on your audience. If you’re persuading them, it can’t be someone who already thinks football is exciting or worthwhile. Think about how they would see it. Write down the problems they might have with it. A possible list: too violent, not fair cause only big guys can play, destroys a family’s chance to do other things on a Sunday afternoon, boring cause there are only four or five really exciting plays per game, causes arguments in the house, players act like idiot showoffs during the game. These are your cons. Put this list to the side.

You now have a pro and a con list. You want to pick out the best examples from your pro list and give detailed examples for each one. Example: It’s exciting because of the team bands and mascots. Details: the colors of the band, the instruments moving back and forth while they play, the mascots jumping around, the cheerleaders shoving their faces in the camera. Another example: It’s worthwhile because it teaches discipline and respect. Details: working hard in practice, keeping free of drugs, shaking hands with opponents, accepting the decision of authority figures. Each example--with details--should constitute one paragraph.

Do the same thing with the con list. Find the strongest cons and explain their points in detail as well. Recognize their legitimacy. It’s important that your argument consider the other side. Find the cons you can argue the best against and put them in your paper when you are discussing an example that refutes this point of view. Example: the complex nature of an offensive strategy versus the belief that there are only four or five really exciting plays in a came. If you understood it, you’d find everything interesting.

Use ethos, logos and pathos. These are the classic rhetorical strategies for persuasion. Ethos means you’re appealing to a sense of trust. Logos means you’re appealing to a sense of logic. Pathos means you’re appealing to emotion. Use examples of each in your argument.  Ethos: “I have been playing football for eleven years and I know how exciting the game is.” (We trust you; you’ve been playing for eleven years; you know the sport.) Ethos: “President Kennedy used to play football. He said it taught him a lot about life.” (We trust President Kennedy.) Logos: “73% of football players graduate college according to the NCAA. This is higher than the national average.” (It’s a worthwhile thing to do and the facts prove it out.) Logos: “77% of American’s polled say football as the most exciting sport.” (Facts not easily disputable.) Pathos: “There’s nothing like watching a young man cry tears of joy because his team has won a championship. (It can make every parent feel proud.) Pathos: “Is there anything more American than an football game on Thanksgiving when we all share our blessings?” (It’s worthwhile because it’s woven into the fabric of American life.) Put two examples of each strategy in a list and carefully choose opportune moments to insert them in the text.

You have assembled examples for why football is exciting and worthwhile--with specific details, examples of why it isn’t--with specific details, a selection of classical rhetorical strategies that appeal to trust, logic or emotion--with specific details.

Now you can start to write.

Begin with a sentence that attracts the reader and makes them want to read the second sentence. This is your grabber. If you want to convince the reader that football is exciting, show it. Describe a 108-yard touchdown return with the living room going up for grabs. Try to begin with FIQQSS: fact, image, question, quote, story, surprise. Then introduce your argument and offer to your reader four or five of your most arguable reasons for why football is exciting and worthwhile.

In each body paragraph focus on one example--with details. Also try to insert one classical rhetorical strategy that will help convince the reader of the validity of that example and one contrary example that you can acknowledge and defuse. Repeat this throughout with variations of sentence structure and sentence length, choice of interesting words, and sophisticated transitions.

Conclude with a punch. FIQQSS might work. Or a rhetorical strategy. Make people remember the ending.

Remember: People don't always agree on what is good or bad, exciting or dull, right or wrong. The point of a persuasive paper is to make someone take a closer look at their own and others' ideas more carefully. Writing a persuasive paper helps us to look at evidence, to state ideas more clearly, to consider the claims of the opposition fairly, and to justify our own position.









AM STUDIES 101 / from WALKING by Henry David Thoreau

AM STUDIES: 102 / THE WHISTLE by Benjamin Franklin

AM STUDIES: 103 / SELF-RELIANCE by Ralph Waldo Emerson

AM STUDIES: 104 / THE TYRANNY OF THINGS by Edward Sanford Martin





AM STUDIES: 401 / from SONG OF MYSELF by Walt Whitman

AM STUDIES: 501 / from THE JUNGLE by Upton Sinclair



You need to grab the reader’s attention right away. Remember--the first sentence is the most important sentence you're going to write. And the second sentence is the second most important. Start strong. If you don't, nobody is going to read the third sentence. Do the same thing when you finish. Finish strong. Take your reader in a new direction at the end. Look to the future. Imagine something new that will come of your ideas. Don't just rehash the body paragraphs; that's boring. Leave your reader wanting more. In both opening and closing you must think FIQQSS: Fact, Image, Question, Quote, Story, Surprise.

NOTE: If you feel you must rehash the points you have made in the body paragraphs then go ahead and do it, but DO NOT use the same words. Draw together your main points in words you haven't used before. Or present a new idea from your main points or argument for your reader to think about.



Here are a list of transition words. They are the nuts and bolts that make your essay stand or fall. Use them.

Transition Words That Add One Thought To Another

in addition






and then







Transition Words To Compare Ideas

in the same way




Transition Words To Contrast Ideas Or Admit A Point



on the other hand

in contrast




on the contrary

after all

while this may be true



even though


in spite of



Transition Words To show that One Idea Or Event Results From Another

as a result










Transition Words That Summarize


in conclusion




as a result

in short

as I have (shown, said )

to sum up


in brief

in other words


Transition Words That Emphasize


in fact



without a doubt

to be sure





Rudolph Valentino

Citizen Kane

Scopes Monkey Trial

Homestead Act

Cuban Missile Crisis

Rhapsody in Blue

Woody Guthrie

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Frank Lloyd Wright

Rachel Carson

Wounded Knee

Haymarket Riots

The Holocaust

Theory of Relativity

Brown vs. Board of Ed.

It’s a Wonderful Life

Pop Art

James Meridith

Muhammad Ali

The Manhattan Project

Zoot Suit Riots

Sacco and Venzetti

Leaves of Grass

Louis Armstrong

Irving Berlin



The Great Gatsby


Pullman Strike

City Lights

2001 A Space Odyssey

Transcontinental RR

Harlan County

My Lai

Our Town

Stephen Foster

Caesar Chavez

Pickett’s Charge

The Black Sox Scandal

The McCarthy Hearings

Ellis and Angel Islands

The Trail of Tears

Karl Marx


Birth of a Nation

Humphrey Bogart

Charles Lindbergh

Jesse Owens

The Souls of Black Folk

The Lost Generation

The Little Big Horn

Walden Pond

Abstract Expressionism

Gone with the Wind


Sherman Anti-Trust Act

The Panama Canal

The French Revolution

Tianammen Square






Seek a clear statement of the thesis or question.

What point is the author/political figure/judicial ruling trying to make?

What is the main idea?

Seek reasons.

Why did the author say X?

Why did the character do X?

Try to be well informed.

What do you need to know more about to understand this text?

Where could you get more information about X?

Use and mention credible sources.

Judge the credibility of a source.

Observe and judge observations, reports and criteria.

Where did you get that information?


What makes you think that source is reliable?

Take into account the total situation.

Try to remain relevant to the main points.

Keep in mind the original or basic concern.

Focus on a question.

How does this relate to the part of the text where it says X?

How does what you are saying relate to the question we are discussing?

Be open-minded.

Why might someone reach a different conclusion than yours?

How do you think X felt in that situation?

Take a position ( and change a position) when the evidence and reasons are sufficient to do so.

Why do you believe that?

What made you change your mind about that?

Given your position, how do you explain the point that X brought up?

Seek as much precision as the subject permits.

Can you explain what you just said in another way?

Deal in an orderly manner with the parts of a complex whole.

Please outline the main points of this story/ essay/poem/article/speech/law.

In what order did these events actually occur?

Analyze arguments.

Deduce and judge deductions.

Induce and judge inductions.

What evidence in the passage supports X?

Does X follow from Y? Why or why not?

Does the author give evidence to support the main point?

Make value judgments.

What the character’s/historical figure’s decision a wise one?

Define terms and judge definitions.

What does X mean?

How is your definition of X different from the author’s rulings.

Identify assumptions.

Why does X believe Y?

What parts of the passage indicate that the author believes X.



1)      It has a catchy and thoughtful opening sentence using FIQQSS

2)      The second sentence frames the situation. This means it explains in a very general way the subject being discussed. If it’s a book, you would summarize the plot in 20-30 words.

3)      The third sentence introduces in a very general way three or four main points that you intend to use to prove the argument or examine the exposition. (1, 2 and 3 form your first paragraph.)

4)      The second paragraph begins with a sub-thesis sentence that argues the first point. (Usually you begin with the second most persuasive or interesting point).

5)      You cite AT LEAST two quotes from your text/life/experience that clearly support your argument/exposition/thesis.

6)      There are transitions between each of the two supporting quotes that are more sophisticated than “and” or “also.”

7)      At the beginning of the third paragraph, which is the second body paragraph, there is another transition sentence that explores a second sub-thesis. (Here you might use your weakest argument)

8)      Repeat 5 and 6

9)      Repeat 7 in the fourth paragraph using THE STRONGEST argument.

10)   Repeat 5 and 6

11)   The concluding paragraph should NOT sum up what you just said; it should look forward. You may wish to connect it to your life. You may have another FIQQ to end with. Maybe there is a story you want to tell that connects to the essay. Or you may want to engage in dialectical thinking, explaining why an opposite point of view is not as good as yours. DO NOT END BY SAYING “This is what I just said” or “I have just proved A, B and C.”



 10+ Famous Events in American History, who was involved and what they meant.

1)      The Writing of the Declaration of Independence

2)      The Ideas of the Monroe Doctrine

3)      The Discovery of Gold in California

4)      The Civil War

5)      The Building of the Transcontinental Railroad

6)      The Slaughter of Custer’s Army on the Greasy Grass River

7)      The Opening of Ellis and Angel islands

8)      World War I

9)      Lindbergh’s Flight across the Atlantic

10)    The Great Depression

11)    World War II

12)    The Civil Rights Movement

13)    The Vietnam War

14)    The War on Terrorism


5+ Supreme Court Decisions, who was involved and what they meant

1.      Marbury v. Madison 1803

2.      Dred Scott v. Sandford 1857

3.      Plessy v. Ferguson 1895

4.      Hirabaysha v. United States 1943

5.      Brown v. Board of Education 1954

6.      Miranda v. Arizona 1966

7.      Roe v.Wade 1973


25+ American Writers, when they lived and two important works of each

  1. Poe: The Raven, The Masque of the Red Death

  2. Hawthorne: Young Goodman Brown, The Scarlet Letter

  3. Melville: Benito Cereno, Moby Dick

  4. Emerson: The American Scholar. Self-Reliance

  5. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience, Walden

  6. Longfellow: Hiawatha, The Jewish Cemetery at Newport

  7. Whitman: Leaves of Grass, Specimen Days

  8. Dickinson: There’s a Certain Slant of Light, Much Madness is Divinest Sense

  9. Twain: Huck Finn, The War Prayer

  10. Crane: Red Badge of Courage, Maggie

  11. Chopin: The Awakening, Story of an Hour

  12. Frost: Mending Wall, The Road Not taken

  13. Eliot: The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Wasteland

  14. Stevens: The Snow Man, The Idea of Order at Key West

  15. W. C. William: Dance Russe, The Red Wheelbarrow

  16. Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby, The Crack-Up

  17. Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises, The Old Man and the Sea

  18. Hughes: The Negro Speaks of Rivers. Theme for English B

  19. Faulkner: As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury

  20. Bishop: One Art, The Moose

  21. Lowell: Skunk Hour, For the Union Dead

  22. Ginsberg: America, A Supermarket in California

  23. Plath: Daddy, Black Rook in Rainy Weather

  24. Baldwin: Sonny’s Blues, Notes of a Native Son

  25. Miller: The Crucible, Death of Salesman

  26. T. Williams: The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire

  27. O’Neill: The Iceman Cometh, Long Days Journey into Night

  28. Wilder: Our Town, The Bridge of San Luis Reyes

  29. Morrison: Beloved, Song of Solomon


 10 American Composers, when they lived, what they contributed to American music

  1. George Gershwin

  2. Louis Armstrong

  3. Sidney Bechet

  4. Django Reinhardt

  5. Benny Goodman

  6. Artie Shaw

  7. Duke Ellington

  8. John Coltrance

  9. Thelonius Monk

  10. Miles Davis


Others of note

  1. Charles Ives

  2. Stephen Foster *

  3. Aaron Copeland *

  4. Lerner and Lowe 

  5. Rogers and Hart (Hammerstien)

  6. Glen Miller *

  7. Woody Guthrie *

  8. Bob Dylan *

  9. Bruce Springsteen *

  10. Robert Johnson *

  11. Pete Seeger *

  12. Irving Berlin

  13. Cole Porter  *

  14. Harold Arlen  *

  15. Charlie Parke

  16. John Cage


 American Voices, what they sang about, what they contributed to American music



  1. Ella Fitzgerald “Anything Goes”
  2. Sarah Vaughn “Lullaby of Birdland”
  3. Lena Horne “Stormy Weather”
  4. Billie Holiday “God Bless the Child”
  5. Nina Simon “Strange Fruit”
  6. Patsy Cline “I Fall to Pieces”
  7. Joan Baez “Blowin’ in the Wind”
  8. Judy Collins “Masters of War”
  9. Eva Cassidy “Bridge Over Troubled Water”
  10. Patricia Barber “Bye Bye Blackbird”



  1. Bing Crosby “White Christamas”

  2. Frank Sinatra “I Get a Kick Out of You”
  3. Mel Torme “There’s No Business Like Show Business”
  4. Nat King Cole “Unforgettable”
  5. Tony Bennett “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her face”
  6. Sam Cooke “Chain gang”
  7. Woody Guthrie “Pretty Boy Floyd”
  8. Hank Williams “Why Don’t You Love Me Like YoU Used to Do

  9. Johnny Cash “Streets of Laredo”

  10. Bob Dylan “The Times They Are a Changin’”



20 Rock and Roll Artists, what they sang about, what they contributed to American music


  1. Elvis Presley “Hound Dog”
  2. Buddy Holly “Peggy Sue”
  3. The Beach Boys “Get Around”
  4. The Beatles “I Saw Her Standing There”
  5. The Rolling Stones “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”
  6. The Supremes “Stop! In the Name of Love”
  7. The Temptations “My Girl”
  8. Stevie Wonder “Superstition”
  9. Simon and Garfunkel “The Sounds of Silence”
  10. The Doors “ Light My Fire”
  11. Janis Joplin “Piece of My Heart”
  12. Jimi Hendrix “Wild Thing”
  13. Santana “Black Magic Woman”
  14. Creedence Clearwater Revival “Bad Moon Rising”
  15. Led Zeppelin “Black Dog”
  16. Pink Floyd “Another Brick in the Wall”
  17. Bob Marley “Buffalo Soldiers”
  18. The Grateful Dead “Ripple”
  19. The Talking Heads “The Big Country”
  20. U2 “One


20+ American Painters, when they lived, what they contributed to American art

  1. Edward Hicks (Early American)

  2. Thomas Eakins (Amercan Naturalism)

  3. Frederic Edwin Church (American Landscape)

  4. Frederic Remington (The American West)

  5. John Singer Sargent (Expatriat / Portraits)

  6. Mary Cassett (American Impressionism)

  7. George Bellows (Ashcan School)

  8. Edward Hopper (Ashcan School)

  9. Winslow Homer (American Realist)

  10. Henry O. Tanner (American Realist)

  11. Diego Rivera (American Mural Painters)

  12. Thomas Hart Benton (American Pastoral)

  13. Georgia O’Keefe (American Dadaist)

  14. Frieda Kahlo (American Surrealim)

  15. Mark Rothko (Abstract Expressionism)

  16. Jackson Pollack (Abstract Expressionism(

  17. Arshile Gorky (Abstract Expressionism)

  18. Barnett Newman (Abstract Expressionism)

  19. Andy Warhol (Pop Art)

  20. Robert Rauschenberg (Pop Art)

  21. Roy Lichtenstien (Pop Art)

  22. James Rosenquist (Pop Art)

  23. Jasper Johns (Pop Art)

  24. Jean Marie Basquiat (Post-Modern Graffitti)


Web sites for American Art: http://www.huntfor.com/arthistory/C20th/opart.htm


10+ American Photographers, when they lived and what they contributed

  1. Matthew Brady (Civil War)

  2. Jacob Riis (Immigrants)

  3. Edward Curtis (American Indians)

  4. Ansel Adams (American West)

  5. Walker Evans (Dust Bowl)

  6. Dorthea Lange (Dust Bowl)

  7. Robert Capa (Spanish Civil War, WWII)

  8. Margaret Bourke-White (Depression, Concentration Camps, World)

  9. Gordon Parks (Civil Rights Movement)

  10. Richard Avedon (Portraits)

  11. Diane Arbus (Social Outcasts)

  12. Alfred Stieglist (Urban America c. 1900)


Great photography site to down load pictures:



20+ Famous faces and/or photographic moments you should recognize

  1. John-John saluting at his father’s funeral

  2. The sailor kissing the nurse in Times Square on VJ day.

  3. The Civil Rights protestors getting hosed down and attacked by dogs

  4. Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald

  5. Ellis/Angel island immigration photos

  6. Roaring 20’s photos: Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, Al Capone

  7. WW II Photos

  8. Hiroshima

  9. The Holocaust

  10. Dust Bowl / Depression photos

  11. 1960's/Woodstock Photos

  12. John Carlos and Tommie Smith's "Black Power" salute at Olympic Games in Mexico City

  13. Civil War photos

  14. Man Walking on the Moon photo

  15. The Hindenburg Disaster

  16. Presidents: Wilson, FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon

  17. Movie Stars from the 20’s-60’s: Chaplin, Valentino, Pickford, Fairbanks, Gish, Keaton, Laural & Hardy, Cagney, Bogart, Robinson, Grant, Stewart, Gable, Garbo, K.,Hepburn, Davis, Bergman, Crawford, Robinson, Leigh, Lancaster, Mitchum, Douglas, Wayne. Rooney, Garland, Wells

  18. Musicians: Armstrong, Ellington, Holiday, Sinatra, Goodman, Fitzgerald. Guthie. Dylan.

  19. Sport Stars: Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey, Jessie Owens, Billie Jean King, Hank Aaron, Jim Brown, Mark Spitz, Walter Payton, Edmund Hillary


10+ famous directors with famous scenes from their films,

  1. Charles Chapin

  2. D. W. Griffith

  3. Orson Welles

  4. Alfred Hitchcock

  5. Martin Scorsese

  6. Billy Wilder

  7. Francis Ford Coppola

  8. Franck Capra

  9. Stanley Kubrick (English?)

  10. John Ford

  11. Howard Hawks

  12. William Wyler

  13. Vincent Minnelli






From WALKING by Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)


     When we walk, we naturally go to the fields and woods: what would become of us, if we walked only in a garden or a mall? Even some sects of philosophers have felt the necessity of importing the woods to themselves, since they did not go to the woods. “They planted groves and walks of Platanes,” where they took subdiales ambulationes in porticos open to the air. Of course it is of no use to direct our steps to the woods, if they do not carry us thither. I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit. In my afternoon walk I would fain forget all my morning occupations and my obligations to society. But it sometimes happens that I cannot easily shake off the village. The thought of some work will run in my head, and I am not where my body is,—I am out of my senses. In my walks I would fain return to my senses. What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods? I suspect myself, and cannot help a shudder, when I find myself so implicated even in what are called good works,—for this may sometimes happen.


     My vicinity affords many good walks; and though for so many years I have walked almost every day, and sometimes for several days together, I have not yet exhausted them. An absolutely new prospect is a great happiness, and I can still get this any afternoon. Two or three hours’ walking will carry me to as strange a country as I expect ever to see. A single farmhouse which I had not seen before is sometimes as good as the dominions of the King of Dahomey. There is in fact a sort of harmony discoverable between the capabilities of the landscape within a circle of ten miles’ radius, or the limits of an afternoon walk, and the threescore years and ten of human life. It will never become quite familiar to you.


     Nowadays almost all man’s improvements, so called, as the building of houses, and the cutting down of the forest and of all large trees, simply deform the landscape, and make it more and more tame and cheap. A people who would begin by burning the fences and let the forest stand! I saw the fences half consumed, their ends lost in the middle of the prairie, and some worldly miser with a surveyor looking after his bounds, while heaven had taken place around him, and he did not see the angels going to and fro, but was looking for an old post-hole in the midst of paradise. I looked again, and saw him standing in the middle of a boggy, stygian fen, surrounded by devils, and he had found his bounds without a doubt, three little stones, where a stake had been driven, and looking nearer, I saw that the Prince of Darkness was his surveyor.


     I can easily walk ten, fifteen, twenty, any number of miles, commencing at my own door, without going by any house, without crossing a road except where the fox and the mink do: first along by the river, and then the brook, and then the meadow and the woodside. There are square miles in my vicinity which have no inhabitant. From many a hill I can see civilization and the abodes of man afar. The farmers and their works are scarcely more obvious than woodchucks and their burrows. Man and his affairs, church and state and school, trade and commerce, and manufactures and agriculture, even politics, the most alarming of them all,—I am pleased to see how little space they occupy in the landscape. Politics is but a narrow field, and that still narrower highway yonder leads to it. I sometimes direct the traveler thither. If you would go to the political world, follow the great road,—follow that marketman, keep his dust in your eyes, and it will lead you straight to it; for it, too, has its place merely, and does not occupy all space. I pass from it as from a bean-field into the forest, and it is forgotten. In one half-hour I can walk off to some portion of the earth’s surface where a man does not stand from one year’s end to another, and there, consequently, politics are not, for they are but as the cigar-smoke of a man.


     The village is the place to which the roads tend, a sort of expansion of the highway, as a lake of a river. It is the body of which roads are the arms and legs,—a trivial or quadrivial place, the thoroughfare and ordinary of travelers. The word is from the Latin villa, which, together with via, a way, or more anciently ved and vella, Varro derives from veho, to carry, because the villa is the place to and from which things are carried. They who got their living by teaming were said vellaturam facere. Hence, too, apparently, the Latin word vilis and our vile; also villain. This suggests what kind of degeneracy villagers are liable to. They are wayworn by the travel that goes by and over them, without traveling themselves.


      Some do not walk at all; others walk in the highways; a few walk across lots. Roads are made for horses and men of business. I do not travel in them much, comparatively, because I am not in a hurry to get to any tavern or grocery or livery-stable or depot to which they lead. I am a good horse to travel, but not from choice a roadster. The landscape-painter uses the figures of men to mark a road. He would not make that use of my figure. I walk out into a Nature such as the old prophets and poets, Menu, Moses, Homer, Chaucer, walked in. You may name it America, but it is not America: neither Americus Vespucius, nor Columbus, nor the rest were the discoverers of it. There is a truer account of it in mythology than in any history of America, so called, that I have seen



Matthews, Brander, ed. (1852–1929).  The Oxford Book of American Essays.  1914



AM STUDIES 102 / THE WHISTLE by Benjamin Franklin / RYCHLEWSKI


THE WHISTLE by Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)


To Madame Brillon




I RECEIVED my dear friend’s two letters, one for Wednesday and one for Saturday. This is again Wednesday. I do not deserve one for to-day, because I have not answered the former. But, indolent as I am, and averse to writing, the fear of having no more of your pleasing epistles, if I do not contribute to the correspondence, obliges me to take up my pen; and as Mr. B. has kindly sent me word that he sets out to-morrow to see you, instead of spending this Wednesday evening, as I have done its namesakes, in your delightful company, I sit down to spend it in thinking of you, in writing to you, and in reading over and over again your letters.


  I am charmed with your description of Paradise, and with your plan of living there; and I approve much of your conclusion, that, in the meantime, we should draw all the good we can from this world. In my opinion we might all draw more good from it than we do, and suffer less evil, if we would take care not to give too much for whistles. For to me it seems that most of the unhappy people we meet with are become so by neglect of that caution.


  You ask what I mean? You love stories, and will excuse my telling one of myself.


  When I was a child of seven years old, my friends, on a holiday, filled my pocket with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys for children; and being charmed with the sound of a whistle, that I met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered and gave all my money for one. I then came home, and went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the family. My brothers, and sisters, and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was worth; put me in mind what good things I might have bought with the rest of the money; and laughed at me so much for my folly, that I cried with vexation; and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure.


  This, however, was afterwards of use to me, the impression continuing on my mind; so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, Don’t give too much for the whistle; and I saved my money.


  As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I thought I met with many, very many, who gave too much for the whistle.


  When I saw one too ambitious of court favor, sacrificing his time in attendance on levees, his repose, his liberty, his virtue, and perhaps his friends, to attain it, I have said to myself, This man gives too much for his whistle.


  When I saw another fond of popularity, constantly employing himself in political bustles, neglecting his own affairs, and ruining them by that neglect, He pays, indeed, said I, too much for his whistle.


  If I knew a miser, who gave up every kind of comfortable living, all the pleasure of doing good to others, all the esteem of his fellow-citizens, and the joys of benevolent friendship, for the sake of accumulating wealth, Poor man, said I, you pay too much for your whistle.


  When I met with a man of pleasure, sacrificing every laudable improvement of the mind, or of his fortune, to mere corporeal sensations, and ruining his health in their pursuit, Mistaken man, said I, you are providing pain for yourself, instead of pleasure; you give too much for your whistle.


  If I see one fond of appearance, or fine clothes, fine houses, fine furniture, fine equipages, all above his fortune, for which he contracts debts, and ends his career in a prison, Alas! say I, he has paid dear, very dear, for his whistle.


  When I see a beautiful sweet-tempered girl married to an ill-natured brute of a husband, What a pity, say I, that she should pay so much for a whistle!


  In short, I conceive that great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by the false estimates they have made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their whistles.


  Yet I ought to have charity for these unhappy people, when I consider that, with all this wisdom of which I am boasting, there are certain things in the world so tempting, for example, the apples of King John, which happily are not to be bought; for if they were put to sale by auction, I might very easily be led to ruin myself in the purchase, and find that I had once more given too much for the whistle.


  Adieu, my dear friend, and believe me ever yours very sincerely and with unalterable affection.




Matthews, Brander, ed. (1852–1929).  The Oxford Book of American Essays.  1914.



excerpts from SELF-RELIANCE by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

ESSAY II Self-Reliance

     There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried. Not for nothing one face, one character, one fact, makes much impression on him, and another none. This sculpture in the memory is not without pre-established harmony. The eye was placed where one ray should fall, that it might testify of that particular ray. We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents. It may be safely trusted as proportionate and of good issues, so it be faithfully imparted, but God will not have his work made manifest by cowards. A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise, shall give him no peace. It is a deliverance which does not deliver. In the attempt his genius deserts him; no muse befriends; no invention, no hope.

     Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events. Great men have always done so, and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age, betraying their perception that the absolutely trustworthy was seated at their heart, working through their hands, predominating in all their being. And we are now men, and must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent destiny; and not minors and invalids in a protected corner, not cowards fleeing before a revolution, but guides, redeemers, and benefactors, obeying the Almighty effort, and advancing on Chaos and the Dark...

     Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world. I remember an answer which when quite young I was prompted to make to a valued adviser, who was wont to importune me with the dear old doctrines of the church. On my saying, What have I to do with the sacredness of traditions, if I live wholly from within? my friend suggested, — "But these impulses may be from below, not from above." I replied, "They do not seem to me to be such; but if I am the Devil's child, I will live then from the Devil." No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it.

     What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.

     For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure. And therefore a man must know how to estimate a sour face. The by-standers look askance on him in the public street or in the friend's parlour. If this aversation had its origin in contempt and resistance like his own, he might well go home with a sad countenance; but the sour faces of the multitude, like their sweet faces, have no deep cause, but are put on and off as the wind blows and a newspaper directs...

     The other terror that scares us from self-trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word, because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loath to disappoint them.

     A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — 'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.' — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood...

     Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other. It undergoes continual changes; it is barbarous, it is civilized, it is Christianized, it is rich, it is scientific; but this change is not amelioration. For every thing that is given, something is taken. Society acquires new arts, and loses old instincts. What a contrast between the well-clad, reading, writing, thinking American, with a watch, a pencil, and a bill of exchange in his pocket, and the naked New Zealander, whose property is a club, a spear, a mat, and an undivided twentieth of a shed to sleep under! But compare the health of the two men, and you shall see that the white man has lost his aboriginal strength. If the traveller tell us truly, strike the savage with a broad axe, and in a day or two the flesh shall unite and heal as if you struck the blow into soft pitch, and the same blow shall send the white to his grave...

     The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet. He is supported on crutches, but lacks so much support of muscle. He has a fine Geneva watch, but he fails of the skill to tell the hour by the sun. A Greenwich nautical almanac he has, and so being sure of the information when he wants it, the man in the street does not know a star in the sky. The solstice he does not observe; the equinox he knows as little; and the whole bright calendar of the year is without a dial in his mind. His note-books impair his memory; his libraries overload his wit; the insurance-office increases the number of accidents; and it may be a question whether machinery does not encumber; whether we have not lost by refinement some energy, by a Christianity entrenched in establishments and forms, some vigor of wild virtue. For every Stoic was a Stoic; but in Christendom where is the Christian? ...

     Society is a wave. The wave moves onward, but the water of which it is composed does not. The same particle does not rise from the valley to the ridge. Its unity is only phenomenal. The persons who make up a nation to-day, next year die, and their experience with them...

     So use all that is called Fortune. Most men gamble with her, and gain all, and lose all, as her wheel rolls. But do thou leave as unlawful these winnings, and deal with Cause and Effect, the chancellors of God. In the Will work and acquire, and thou hast chained the wheel of Chance, and shalt sit hereafter out of fear from her rotations. A political victory, a rise of rents, the recovery of your sick, or the return of your absent friend, or some other favorable event, raises your spirits, and you think good days are preparing for you. Do not believe it. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.

 from Essays: First Series (1841)






THE TYRANNY OF THINGS by Edward Sanford Martin (1856-1939)



    A TRAVELER newly returned from the Pacific Ocean tells pleasant stories of the Patagonians. As the steamer he was in was passing through Magellan’s Straits some natives came out to her in boats. They wore no clothes at all, though there was snow in the air. A baby that came along with them made some demonstration that displeased its mother, who took it by the foot, as Thetis took Achilles, and soused it over the side of the boat into the cold seawater. When she pulled it in, it lay a moment whimpering in the bottom of the boat, and then curled up and went to sleep. The missionaries there have tried to teach the natives to wear clothes, and to sleep in huts; but, so far, the traveler says, with very limited success. The most shelter a Patagonian can endure is a little heap of rocks or a log to the windward of him; as for clothes, he despises them, and he is indifferent to ornament.


  To many of us, groaning under the oppression of modern conveniences, ieems lamentably meddlesome to undermine the simplicity of such people, and enervate them with the luxuries of civilization. To be able to sleep out-o-doors, and go naked, and take sea-baths on wintry days with impunity, would seem a most alluring emancipation. No rent to pay, no tailor, no plumber, no newspaper to be read on pain of getting behind the times; no regularity in anything, not even meals; nothing to do except to find food, and no expense for undertakers or physicians, even if we fail; what a fine, untrammeled life it would be! It takes occasional contact with such people as the Patagonians to keep us in mind that civilization is the mere cultivation of our wants, and that the higher it is the more our necessities are multiplied, until, if we are rich enough, we get enervated by luxury, and the young men come in and carry us out.


  We want so many, many things, it seems a pity that those simple Patagonians could not send missionaries to us to show us how to do without. The comforts of life, at the rate they are increasing, bid fair to bury us soon, as Tarpeia was buried under the shields of her friends the Sabines. Mr. Hamerton, in speaking of the increase of comfort in England, groans at the “trying strain of expense to which our extremely high standard of living subjects all except the rich.” It makes each individual of us very costly to keep, and constantly tempts people to concentrate on the maintenance of fewer individuals means that would in simpler times be divided among many. “My grandfather,” said a modern the other day, “left $200,000. He was considered a rich man in those days; but, dear me! he supported four or five families—all his needy relations and all my grandmother’s.” Think of an income of $10,000 a year being equal to such a strain, and providing suitably for a rich man’s large family in the bargain! It wouldn’t go so far now, and yet most of the reasonable necessaries of life cost less to-day than they did two generations ago. The difference is that we need so very many comforts that were not invented in our grandfather’s time.


  There is a hospital, in a city large enough to keep a large hospital busy, that is in straits for money. Its income from contributions last year was larger by nearly a third than its income ten years ago, but its expenses were nearly double its income. There were some satisfactory reasons for the discrepancy—the city had grown, the number of patients had increased, extraordinary repairs had been made—but at the bottom a very large expenditure seemed to be due to the struggle of the managers to keep the institution up to modern standards. The patients are better cared for than they used to be; the nurses are better taught and more skillful; “conveniences” have been greatly multiplied; the heating and cooking and laundry work is all done in the best manner with the most approved apparatus; the plumbing is as safe as sanitary engineering can make it; the appliances for antiseptic surgery are fit for a fight for life; there are detached buildings for contagious diseases, and an out-patient department, and the whole concern is administered with wisdom and economy. There is only one distressing circumstance about this excellent charity, and that is that its expenses exceed its income. And yet its managers have not been extravagant: they have only done what the enlightened experience of the day has considered to be necessary. If the hospital has to shut down and the patients must be turned out, at least the receiver will find a well-appointed institution of which the managers have no reason to be ashamed.


  The trouble seems to be with very many of us, in contemporary private life as well as in institutions, that the enlightened experience of the day invents more necessaries than we can get the money to pay for. Our opulent friends are constantly demonstrating to us by example how indispensably convenient the modern necessaries are, and we keep having them until we either exceed our incomes or miss the higher concerns of life in the effort to maintain a complete outfit of its creature comforts.


  And the saddest part of all is that it is in such great measure an American development. We Americans keep inventing new necessaries, and the people of the effete monarchies gradually adopt such of them as they can afford. When we go abroad we growl about the inconveniences of European life—the absence of gas in bedrooms, the scarcity and sluggishness of elevators, the primitive nature of the plumbing, and a long list of other things without which life seems to press unreasonably upon our endurance. Nevertheless, if the res angustœ domi get straiter than usual, we are always liable to send our families across the water to spend a season in the practice of economy in some land where it costs less to live.


  Of course it all belongs to Progress, and no one is quite willing to have it stop, but it does a comfortable sufferer good to get his head out of his conveniences sometimes and complain.


  There was a story in the newspapers the other day about a Massachusetts minister who resigned his charge because someone had given his parish a fine house, and his parishioners wanted him to live in it. His salary was too small, he said, to admit of his living in a big house, and he would not do it. He was even deaf to the proposal that he should share the proposed tenement with the sewing societies and clubs of his church, and when the matter came to a serious issue, he relinquished his charge and sought a new field of usefulness. The situation was an amusing instance of the embarrassment of riches. Let no one to whom restricted quarters may have grown irksome, and who covets larger dimensions of shelter, be too hasty in deciding that the minister was wrong. Did you ever see the house that Hawthorne lived in at Lenox? Did you ever see Emerson’s house at Concord? They are good houses for Americans to know and remember. They permitted thought.


  A big house is one of the greediest cormorants which can light upon a little income. Backs may go threadbare and stomachs may worry along on indifferent filling, but a house will have things, though its occupants go without. It is rarely complete, and constantly tempts the imagination to flights in brick and dreams in lath and plaster. It develops annual thirsts for paint and wall-paper, at least, if not for marble and wood-carving. The plumbing in it must be kept in order on pain of death. Whatever price is put on coal, it has to be heated in winter; and if it is rural or suburban, the grass about it must be cut even though funerals in the family have to be put off for the mowing. If the tenants are not rich enough to hire people to keep their house clean, they must do it themselves, for there is no excuse that will pass among housekeepers for a dirty house. The master of a house too big for him may expect to spend the leisure which might be made intellectually or spiritually profitable, in acquiring and putting into practice fag ends of the arts of the plumber, the bell-hanger, the locksmith, the gas-fitter, and the carpenter. Presently he will know how to do everything that can be done in the house, except enjoy himself. He will learn about taxes, too, and water-rates, and how such abominations as sewers or new pavements are always liable to accrue at his expense. As for the mistress, she will be a slave to carpets and curtains, wall-paper, painters, and women who come in by the day to clean. She will be lucky if she gets a chance to say her prayers, and thrice and four times happy when she can read a book or visit with her friends. To live in a big house may be a luxury, provided that one has a full set of money and an enthusiastic housekeeper in one’s family; but to scrimp in a big house is a miserable business. Yet such is human folly, that for a man to refuse to live in a house because it is too big for him, is such an exceptional exhibition of sense that it becomes the favorite paragraph of a day in the newspapers.


  An ideal of earthly comfort, so common that every reader must have seen it, is to get a house so big that it is burdensome to maintain, and fill it up so full of jimcracks that it is a constant occupation to keep it in order. Then, when the expense of living in it is so great that you can’t afford to go away and rest from the burden of it, the situation is complete and boarding-houses and cemeteries begin to yawn for you. How many Americans, do you suppose, out of the droves that flock annually to Europe, are running away from oppressive houses?


  When nature undertakes to provide a house, it fits the occupant. Animals which build by instinct build only what they need, but man’s building instinct, if it gets a chance to spread itself at all, is boundless, just as all his instincts are. For it is man’s peculiarity that nature has filled him with impulses to do things, and left it to his discretion when to stop. She never tells him when he has finished. And perhaps we ought not to be surprised that in so many cases it happens that he doesn’t know, but just goes ahead as long as the materials last.


  If another man tries to oppress him, he understands that and is ready to fight to death and sacrifice all he has, rather than submit; but the tyranny of things is so subtle, so gradual in its approach, and comes so masked with seeming benefits, that it has him hopelessly bound before he suspects his fetters. He says from day to day, “I will add thus to my house;” “I will have one or two more horses;” “I will make a little greenhouse in my garden;” “I will allow myself the luxury of another hired man;” and so he goes on having things and imagining that he is richer for them. Presently he begins to realize that it is the things that own him. He has piled them up on his shoulders, and there they sit like Sindbad’s Old Man and drive him; and it becomes a daily question whether he can keep his trembling legs or not.


  All of which is not meant to prove that property has no real value, or to rebut Charles Lamb’s scornful denial that enough is as good as a feast. It is not meant to apply to the rich, who can have things comfortably, if they are philosophical; but to us poor, who have constant need to remind ourselves that where the verbs to have and to be cannot both be completely inflected, the verb to be is the one that best repays concentration.


  Perhaps we would not be so prone to swamp ourselves with luxuries and vain possessions that we cannot afford, if it were not for our deep-lying propensity to associate with people who are better off than we are. It is usually the sight of their appliances that upsets our little stock of sense, and lures us into an improvident competition.


  There is a proverb of Solomon’s which prophesies financial wreck or ultimate misfortune of some sort to people who make gifts to the rich. Though not expressly stated, it is somehow implied that the proverb is intended not as a warning to the rich themselves, who may doubtless exchange presents with impunity, but for persons whose incomes rank somewhere between “moderate circumstances” and destitution. That such persons should need to be warned not to spend their substance on the rich seems odd, but when Solomon was busied with precept he could usually be trusted not to waste either words or wisdom. Poor people are constantly spending themselves upon the rich, not only because they like them, but often from an instinctive conviction that such expenditure is well invested. I wonder sometimes whether this is true.


  To associate with the rich seems pleasant and profitable. They are apt to be agreeable and well informed, and it is good to play with them and enjoy the usufruct of all their pleasant apparatus; but, of course, you can neither hope nor wish to get anything for nothing. Of the cost of the practice, the expenditure of time still seems to be the item that is most serious. It takes a great deal of time to cultivate the rich successfully. If they are working people their time is so much more valuable than yours, that when you visit with them it is apt to be your time that is sacrificed. If they are not working people it is worse yet. Their special outings, when they want your company, always come when you cannot get away from work except at some great sacrifice, which, under the stress of temptation, you are too apt to make. Their pleasuring is on so large a scale that you cannot make it fit your times or necessities. You can’t go yachting for half a day, nor will fifty dollars take you far on the way to shoot big game in Manitoba. You simply cannot play with them when they play, because you cannot reach; and when they work you cannot play with them, because their time then is worth so much a minute that you cannot bear to waste it. And you cannot play with them when you are working yourself and they are inactively at leisure, because, cheap as your time is, you can’t spare it.


  Charming and likeable as they are, and good to know, it must be admitted that there is a superior convenience about associating most of the time with people who want to do about what we want to do at about the same time, and whose abilities to do what they wish approximate to ours. It is not so much a matter of persons as of times and means. You cannot make your opportunities concur with the opportunities of people whose incomes are ten times greater than yours. When you play together it is at a sacrifice, and one which you have to make. Solomon was right. To associate with very rich people involves sacrifices. You cannot even be rich yourself without expense, and you may just as well give over trying. Count it, then, among the costs of a considerable income that in enlarging the range of your sports it inevitably contracts the circle of those who will find it profitable to share them.




  [From Windfalls of Observation, by Edward Sandford Martin. Copyright, 1893, by Charles Scribner’s Sons.]


Matthews, Brander, ed. (1852–1929).  The Oxford Book of American Essays.  1914.











Born about 1752, died in 1830; his Nation, the Senecas, his home, near Geneva; his real name, Sogoyewapha, the name “Red Jacket” coming from an embroidered scarlet jacket presented to him by a British officer during the Revolution; saw service on the American side in the War of 1812.





FRIEND AND 1 BROTHER:—It was the will of the Great Spirit that we should meet together this day. He orders all things and has given us a fine day for our council. He has taken His garment from before the sun and caused it to shine with brightness upon us. Our eyes are opened that we see clearly; our ears are unstopped that we have been able to hear distinctly the words you have spoken. For all these favors we thank the Great Spirit, and Him only.


  Brother, this council fire was kindled by you. It was at your request that we came together at this time. We have listened with attention to what you have said. You requested us to speak our minds freely. This gives us great joy; for we now consider that we stand upright before you and can speak what we think. All have heard your voice and all speak to you now as one man. Our minds are agreed.


  Brother, you say you want an answer to your talk before you leave this place. It is right you should have one, as you are a great distance from home and we do not wish to detain you. But first we will look back a little and tell you what our fathers have told us and what we have heard from the white people.


  Brother, listen to what we say. There was a time when our forefathers owned this great island. Their seats extended from the rising to the setting sun. The Great Spirit had made it for the use of Indians. He had created the buffalo, the deer, and other animals for food. He had made the bear and the beaver. Their skins served us for clothing. He had scattered them over the country and taught us how to take them. He had caused the earth to produce corn for bread. All this He had done for His red children because He loved them. If we had some disputes about our hunting-ground they were generally settled without the shedding of much blood.


  But an evil day came upon us. Your forefathers crossed the great water and landed on this island. Their numbers were small. They found friends and not enemies. They told us they had fled from their own country for fear of wicked men and had come here to enjoy their religion. They asked for a small seat. We took pity on them, granted their request, and they sat down among us. We gave them corn and meat; they gave us poison in return.


  The white people, brother, had now found our country. Tidings were carried back and more came among us. Yet we did not fear them. We took them to be friends. They called us brothers. We believed them and gave them a larger seat. At length their numbers had greatly increased. They wanted more land; they wanted our country. Our eyes were opened and our minds became uneasy. Ware took place. Indians were hired to fight against Indians, and many of our people were destroyed. They also brought strong liquor among us. It was strong and powerful, and has slain thousands.


  Brother, our seats were once large and yours were small. You have now become a great people, and we have scarcely a place left to spread our blankets. You have got our country, but are not satisfied; you want to force your religion upon us.


  Brother, continue to listen. You say that you are sent to instruct us how to worship the Great Spirit agreeably to His mind; and, if we do not take hold of the religion which you white people teach we shall be unhappy hereafter. You say that you are right and we are lost. How do we know this to be true? We understand that your religion is written in a Book. If it was intended for us, as well as you, why has not the Great Spirit given to us, and not only to us, but why did He not give to our forefathers the knowledge of that Book, with the means of understanding it rightly. We only know what you tell us about it. How shall we know when to believe, being so often deceived by the white people?


  Brother, you say there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit. If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it? Why not all agreed, as you can all read the Book?


  Brother, we do not understand these things. We are told that your religion was given to your forefathers and has been handed down from father to son. We also have a religion which was given to our forefathers and has been handed down to us, their children. We worship in that way. It teaches us to be thankful for all the favors we receive, to love each other, and to be united. We never quarrel about religion.


  Brother, the Great Spirit has made us all, but He has made a great difference between His white and His red children. He has given us different complexions and different customs. To you He has given the arts. To these He has not opened our eyes. We know these things to be true. Since He has made so great a difference between us in other things, why may we not conclude that He has given us a different religion according to our understanding? The Great Spirit does right. He knows what is best for His children; we are satisfied.


  Brother, we do not wish to destroy your religion or take it from you. We only want to enjoy our own.


  Brother, you say you have not come to get our land or our money, but to enlighten our minds. I will now tell you that I have been at your meetings and saw you collect money from the meeting. I can not tell what this money was intended for, but suppose that it was for your minister; and, if we should conform to your way of thinking, perhaps you may want some from us.


  Brother, we are told that you have been preaching to the white people in this place. These people are our neighbors. We are acquainted with them. We will wait a little while and see what effect your preaching has upon them. If we find it does them good, makes them honest, and less disposed to cheat Indians, we will then consider again of what you have said.


  Brother, you have now heard our answer to your talk, and this is all we have to say at present. As we are going to part, we will come and take you by the hand, and hope the Great Spirit will protect you on your journey and return you safe to your friends.




Note 1. Delivered at a council of chiefs of the Six Nations in the summer of 1805 after Mr. Cram, a missionary, had spoken of the work he proposed to do among them.



The World’s Famous Orations.
America: I. (1761–1837).  1906.





by Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)


Consider this, you that are here present, that yet remain in an unregenerate state. That God will execute the fierceness of his anger, implies, that he will inflict wrath without any pity. When God beholds the ineffable extremity of your case, and sees your torment to be so vastly disproportioned to your strength, and sees how your poor soul is crushed, and sinks down, as it were, into an infinite gloom; he will have no compassion upon you, he will not forbear the executions of his wrath, or in the least lighten his hand; there shall be no moderation or mercy, nor will God then at all stay his rough wind; he will have no regard to your welfare, nor be at all careful lest you should suffer too much in any other sense, than only that you shall not suffer beyond what strict justice requires. Nothing shall be withheld, because it is so hard for you to bear. Ezek. viii. 18. "Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity; and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet I will not hear them." Now God stands ready to pity you; this is a day of mercy; you may cry now with some encouragement of obtaining mercy. But when once the day of mercy is past, your most lamentable and dolorous cries and shrieks will be in vain; you will be wholly lost and thrown away of God, as to any regard to your welfare. God will have no other use to put you to, but to suffer misery; you shall be continued in being to no other end; for you will be a vessel of wrath fitted to destruction; and there will be no other use of this vessel, but to be filled full of wrath. God will be so far from pitying you when you cry to him, that it is said he will only "laugh and mock," Prov. i. 25, 26, &c.

How awful are those words, Isa. lxiii. 3, which are the words of the great God. "I will tread them in mine anger, and will trample them in my fury, and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment." It is perhaps impossible to conceive of words that carry in them greater manifestations of these three things, vis. contempt, and hatred, and fierceness of indignation. If you cry to God to pity you, he will be so far from pitying you in your doleful case, or showing you the least regard or favour, that instead of that, he will only tread you under foot. And though he will know that you cannot bear the weight of omnipotence treading upon you, yet he will not regard that, but he will crush you under his feet without mercy; he will crush out your blood, and make it fly, and it shall be sprinkled on his garments, so as to stain all his raiment. He will not only hate you, but he will have you, in the utmost contempt: no place shall be thought fit for you, but under his feet to be trodden down as the mire of the streets.

The misery you are exposed to is that which God will inflict to that end, that he might show what that wrath of Jehovah is. God hath had it on his heart to show to angels and men, both how excellent his love is, and also how terrible his wrath is. Sometimes earthly kings have a mind to show how terrible their wrath is, by the extreme punishments they would execute on those that would provoke them. Nebuchadnezzar, that mighty and haughty monarch of the Chaldean empire, was willing to show his wrath when enraged with Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego; and accordingly gave orders that the burning fiery furnace should be heated seven times hotter than it was before; doubtless, it was raised to the utmost degree of fierceness that human art could raise it. But the great God is also willing to show his wrath, and magnify his awful majesty and mighty power in the extreme sufferings of his enemies. Rom. ix. 22. "What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endure with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction?" And seeing this is his design, and what he has determined, even to show how terrible the unrestrained wrath, the fury and fierceness of Jehovah is, he will do it to effect. There will be something accomplished and brought to pass that will be dreadful with a witness. When the great and angry God hath risen up and executed his awful vengeance on the poor sinner, and the wretch is actually suffering the infinite weight and power of his indignation, then will God call upon the whole universe to behold that awful majesty and mighty power that is to be seen in it. Isa. xxxiii. 12-14. "And the people shall be as the burnings of lime, as thorns cut up shall they be burnt in the fire. Hear ye that are far off, what I have done; and ye that are near, acknowledge my might. The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites," &c.

        Thus it will be with you that are in an unconverted state, if you continue in it; the infinite might, and majesty, and terribleness of the omnipotent God shall be magnified upon you, in the ineffable strength of your torments. You shall be tormented in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and when you shall be in this state of suffering, the glorious inhabitants of heaven shall go forth and look on the awful spectacle, that they may see what the wrath and fierceness of the Almighty is; and when they have seen it, they will fall down and adore that great power and majesty. Isa. lxvi. 23, 24. "And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord. And they shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched, and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh."

It is everlasting wrath. It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of Almighty God one moment; but you must suffer it to all eternity. There will be no end to this exquisite horrible misery. When you look forward, you shall see a long for ever, a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your thoughts, and amaze your soul; and you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any mitigation, any rest at all. You will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions of millions of ages, in wrestling and conflicting with this almighty merciless vengeance; and then when you have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what remains. So that your punishment will indeed be infinite. Oh, who can express what the state of a soul in such circumstances is! All that we can possibly say about it, gives but a very feeble, faint representation of it; it is inexpressible and inconceivable: For "who knows the power of God's anger?"

How dreadful is the state of those that are daily and hourly in the danger of this great wrath and infinite misery! But this is the dismal case of every soul in this congregation that has not been born again, however moral and strict, sober and religious, they may otherwise be. Oh that you would consider it, whether you be young or old! There is reason to think, that there are many in this congregation now hearing this discourse, that will actually be the subjects of this very misery to all eternity. We know not who they are, or in what seats they sit, or what thoughts they now have. It may be they are now at ease, and hear all these things without much disturbance, and are now flattering themselves that they are not the persons, promising themselves that they shall escape. If we knew that there was one person, and but one, in the whole congregation, that was to be the subject of this misery, what an awful thing would it be to think of! If we knew who it was, what an awful sight would it be to see such a person! How might all the rest of the congregation lift up a lamentable and bitter cry over him! But, alas! instead of one, how many is it likely will remember this discourse in hell? And it would be a wonder, if some that are now present should not be in hell in a very short time, even before this year is out. And it would be no wonder if some persons, that now sit here, in some seats of this meeting-house, in health, quiet and secure, should be there before to-morrow morning. Those of you that finally continue in a natural condition, that shall keep out of hell longest will be there in a little time! your damnation does not slumber; it will come swiftly, and, in all probability, very suddenly upon many of you. You have reason to wonder that you are not already in hell. It is doubtless the case of some whom you have seen and known, that never deserved hell more than you, and that heretofore appeared as likely to have been now alive as you. Their case is past all hope; they are crying in extreme misery and perfect despair; but here you are in the land of the living and in the house of God, and have an opportuniry to obtain salvation. What would not those poor damned hopeless souls give for one day's opportunity such as you now enjoy!

   And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open, and stands in calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners; a day wherein many are flocking to him, and pressing into the kingdom of God. Many are daily coming from the east, west, north and south; many that were very lately in the same miserable condition that you are in, are now in a happy state, with their hearts filled with love to him who has loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. How awful is it to be left behind at such a day! To see so many others feasting, while you are pining and perishing! To see so many rejoicing and singing for joy of heart, while you have cause to mourn for sorrow of heart, and howl for vexation of spirit! How can you rest one moment in such a condition? Are not your souls as precious as the souls of the people at Suffield*, where they are flocking from day to day to Christ?

Are there not many here who have lived long in the world, and are not to this day born again? and so are aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and have done nothing ever since they have lived, but treasure up wrath against the day of wrath? Oh, sirs, your case, in an especial manner, is extremely dangerous. Your guilt and hardness of heart is extremely great. Do you not see how generally persons of your years are passed over and left, in the present remarkable and wonderful dispensation of God's mercy? You had need to consider yourselves, and awake thoroughly out of sleep. You cannot bear the fierceness and wrath of the infinite God.-And you, young men, and young women, will you neglect this precious season which you now enjoy, when so many others of your age are renouncing all youthful vanities, and flocking to Christ? You especially have now an extraordinary opportunity; but if you neglect it, it will soon be with you as with those persons who spent all the precious days of youth in sin, and are now come to such a dreadful pass in blindness and hardness. And you, children, who are unconverted, do not you know that you are going down to hell, to bear the dreadful wrath of that God, who is now angry with you every day and every night? Will you be content to be the children of the devil, when so many other children in the land are converted, and are become the holy and happy children of the King of kings?

And let every one that is yet out of Christ, and hanging over the pit of hell, whether they be old men and women, or middle aged, or young people, or little children, now harken to the loud calls of God's word and providence. This acceptable year of the Lord, a day of such great favours to some, will doubtless be a day of as remarkable vengeance to others. Men's hearts harden, and their guilt increases apace at such a day as this, if they neglect their souls; and never was there so great danger of such persons being given up to hardness of heart and blindness of mind. God seems now to be hastily gathering in his elect in all parts of the land; and probably the greater part of adult persons that ever shall be saved, will be brought in now in a little time, and that it will be as it was on the great out-pouring of the Spirit upon the Jews in the apostles' days; the election will obtain, and the rest will be blinded. If this should be the case with you, you will eternally curse this day, and will curse the day that ever you was born, to see such a season of the pouring out of God's Spirit, and will wish that you had died and gone to hell before you had seen it. Now undoubtedly it is, as it was in the days of John the Baptist, the axe is in an extraordinary manner laid at the root of the trees, that every tree which brings not forth good fruit, may be hewn down and cast into the fire.
Therefore, let every one that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come. The wrath of Almighty God is now undoubtedly hanging over a great part of this congregation: Let every one fly out of Sodom: "Haste and escape for your lives, look not behind you, escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed."

*A town in the neighbourhood.



The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The signers of the Declaration represented the new states as follows:

New Hampshire:

Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton


John Hancock, Samual Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:

Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery


Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:

William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:

Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark


Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross


Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean


Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton


George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:

William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:

Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton


Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

 Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this 
continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the 
proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in 
a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so 
conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great 
battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of 
that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their 
lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and 
proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot 
dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. 
The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated 
it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will 
little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never 
forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be 
dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here 
have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here 
dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these 
honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which 
they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly 
resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this 
nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that 
government of the people, by the people, for the people shall 
not perish from the earth.
AM STUDIES: 401 / from SONG OF MYSELF by Walt Whitman
 I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself,
 And what I assume you shall assume,
 For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
 I loafe and invite my soul,
 I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
 My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil,
        this air,
 Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and
        their parents the same,
 I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
 Hoping to cease not till death.
 Creeds and schools in abeyance,
 Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never
 I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
 Nature without check with original energy.
 A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me 
      with full hands;
 How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any
         more than he.   
 I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful
         green stuff woven.
 Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
 A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt,
 Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we
         may see and remark, and say Whose?
 Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of
         the vegetation.
 Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
 And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow
 Growing among black folks as among white,
 Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the
         same, I receive them the same.
 And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.
 Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
 It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
 It may be if I had known them I would have loved them,
 It may be you are from old people, or from offspring taken
         soon out of their mothers' laps,
 And here you are the mothers' laps.
 This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old
 Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
 Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.
 O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues,
 And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths
         for nothing.
 I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men
         and women,
 And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring
         taken soon out of their laps.   
 What do you think has become of the young and old men?
 And what do you think has become of the women and
 They are alive and well somewhere,
 The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
 And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait
         at the end to arrest it,
 And ceas'd the moment life appear'd.
 All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
 And to die is different from what any one supposed, and
 Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore,
 Twenty-eight young men and all so friendly;
 Twenty-eight years of womanly life and all so lonesome.
 She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank,
 She hides handsome and richly drest aft the blinds of the
 Which of the young men does she like the best?
 Ah the homeliest of them is beautiful to her.
 Where are you off to, lady? for I see you,
 You splash in the water there, yet stay stock still in your room.
 Dancing and laughing along the beach came the twenty-ninth
 The rest did not see her, but she saw them and loved them.
 The beards of the young men glisten'd with wet, it ran from
         their long hair,
 Little streams pass'd all over their bodies.
 An unseen hand also pass'd over their bodies,
 It descended tremblingly from their temples and ribs.
 The young men float on their backs, their white bellies bulge
         to the sun, they do not ask who seizes fast to them,
 They do not know who puffs and declines with pendant and
         bending arch,
 They do not think whom they souse with spray. 
 The pure contralto sings in the organ loft,
 The carpenter dresses his plank, the tongue of his foreplane
         whistles its wild ascending lisp,
 The married and unmarried children ride home to their
         Thanksgiving dinner,
 The pilot seizes the king-pin, he heaves down with a strong
 The mate stands braced in the whale-boat, lance and harpoon
         are ready,
 The duck-shooter walks by silent and cautious stretches,
 The deacons are ordain'd with cross'd hands at the altar,
 The spinning-girl retreats and advances to the hum of the
         big wheel,
 The farmer stops by the bars as he walks on a First-day loafe
         and looks at the oats and rye,
 The lunatic is carried at last to the asylum a confirm'd case,
 (He will never sleep any more as he did in the cot in his
         mother's bed-room;)
 The jour printer with gray head and gaunt jaws works at his
 He turns his quid of tobacco while his eyes blurr with the
 The malform'd limbs are tied to the surgeon's table,     
 What is removed drops horribly in a pail;
 The quadroon girl is sold at the auction-stand, the drunkard
         nods by the bar-room stove,
 The machinist rolls up his sleeves, the policeman travels his
         beat, the gate-keeper marks who pass,
 The young fellow drives the express-wagon, (I love him,
         though I do not know him;)
 The half-breed straps on his light boots to compete in the
 The western turkey-shooting draws old and young, some
         lean on their rifles, some sit on logs,
 Out from the crowd steps the marksman, takes his position,
         levels his piece;
 The groups of newly-come immigrants cover the wharf or
 As the woolly-pates hoe in the sugar-field, the overseer views
         them from his saddle,
 The bugle calls in the ball-room, the gentlemen run for their
         partners, the dancers bow to each other,
 The youth lies awake in the cedar-roof'd garret and harks to
         the musical rain,
 The Wolverine sets traps on the creek that helps fill the
 The squaw wrapt in her yellow-hemm'd cloth is offering
         moccasins and bead-bags for sale,
 The connoisseur peers along the exhibition-gallery with half-shut
         eyes bent sideways,
 As the deck-hands make fast the steamboat the plank is
         thrown for the shore-going passengers,
 The young sister holds out the skein while the elder sister
         winds it off in a ball, and stops now and then for the
 The one-year wife is recovering and happy having a week
         ago borne her first child,
 The clean-hair'd Yankee girl works with her sewing-machine
         or in the factory or mill,
 The paving-man leans on his two-handed rammer, the
         reporter's lead flies swiftly over the note-book, the
         sign-painter is lettering with blue and gold,   
 The canal boy trots on the tow-path, the book-keeper counts
         at his desk, the shoemaker waxes his thread,
 The conductor beats time for the band and all the performers
         follow him,
 The child is baptized, the convert is making his first
 The regatta is spread on the bay, the race is begun, (how the
         white sails sparkle!)
 The drover watching his drove sings out to them that would
 The pedler sweats with his pack on his back, (the purchaser
         higgling about the odd cent;)
 The bride unrumples her white dress, the minute-hand of
         the clock moves slowly,
 The opium-eater reclines with rigid head and just-open'd lips,
 The prostitute draggles her shawl, her bonnet bobs on her
         tipsy and pimpled neck,
 The crowd laugh at her blackguard oaths, the men jeer and
         wink to each other,
 (Miserable! I do not laugh at your oaths nor jeer you;)
 The President holding a cabinet council is surrounded by the
         great Secretaries,
 On the piazza walk three matrons stately and friendly with
         twined arms,
 The crew of the fish-smack pack repeated layers of halibut in
         the hold,
 The Missourian crosses the plains toting his wares and his
 As the fare-collector goes through the train he gives notice
         by the jingling of loose change,
 The floor-men are laying the floor, the tinners are tinning
         the roof, the masons are calling for mortar,
 In single file each shouldering his hod pass onward the
 Seasons pursuing each other the indescribable crowd is
         gather'd, it is the fourth of Seventh-month, (what
         salutes of cannon and small arms!)
 Seasons pursuing each other the plougher ploughs, the
         mower mows, and the winter-grain falls in the ground;
 Off on the lakes the pike-fisher watches and waits by the
         hole in the frozen surface,
 The stumps stand thick round the clearing, the squatter
         strikes deep with his axe,
 Flatboatmen make fast towards dusk near the cotton-wood
         or pecan-trees,
 Coon-seekers go through the regions of the Red river or
         through those drain'd by the Tennessee, or through
         those of the Arkansas,
 Torches shine in the dark that hangs on the Chattahooche or
 Patriarchs sit at supper with sons and grandsons and great-grandsons
         around them,
 In walls of adobie, in canvas tents, rest hunters and trappers
         after their day's sport,
 The city sleeps and the country sleeps,
 The living sleep for their time, the dead sleep for their time,
 The old husband sleeps by his wife and the young husband
         sleeps by his wife;
 And these tend inward to me, and I tend outward to them,
 And such as it is to be of these more or less I am,
 And of these one and all I weave the song of myself.
 Walt Whitman, a kosmos, of Manhattan the son,
 Turbulent, fleshy, sensual, eating, drinking and breeding,
 No sentimentalist, no stander above men and women or
         apart from them,
 No more modest than immodest.
 Unscrew the locks from the doors!
 Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!
 Whoever degrades another degrades me,
 And whatever is done or said returns at last to me.   
 Through me the afflatus surging and surging, through me
         the current and index.
 I speak the pass-word primeval, I give the sign of democracy,
 By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their
         counterpart of on the same terms.
 Through me many long dumb voices,
 Voices of the interminable generations of prisoners and slaves,
 Voices of the diseas'd and despairing and of thieves and
 Voices of cycles of preparation and accretion,
 And of the threads that connect the stars, and of wombs and
         of the father-stuff,
 And of the rights of them the others are down upon,
 Of the deform'd, trivial, flat, foolish, despised,
 Fog in the air, beetles rolling balls of dung.
 Through me forbidden voices,
 Voices of sexes and lusts, voices veil'd and I remove the veil,
 Voices indecent by me clarified and transfigur'd.
 I do not press my fingers across my mouth,
 I keep as delicate around the bowels as around the head and
 Copulation is no more rank to me than death is.
 I believe in the flesh and the appetites,
 Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part and tag
         of me is a miracle.
 Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy whatever I
         touch or am touch'd from,
 The scent of these arm-pits aroma finer than prayer,
 This head more than churches, bibles, and all the creeds.
 If I worship one thing more than another it shall be the
         spread of my own body, or any part of it,
 Translucent mould of me it shall be you!
 Shaded ledges and rests it shall be you!   
 Firm masculine colter it shall be you!
 Whatever goes to the tilth of me it shall be you!
 You my rich blood! your milky stream pale strippings of
         my life!
 Breast that presses against other breasts it shall be you!
 My brain it shall be your occult convolutions!
 Root of wash'd sweet-flag! timorous pond-snipe! nest of
         guarded duplicate eggs! it shall be you!
 Mix'd tussled hay of head, beard, brawn, it shall be you!
 Trickling sap of maple, fibre of manly wheat, it shall be you!
 Sun so generous it shall be you!
 Vapors lighting and shading my face it shall be you!
 You sweaty brooks and dews it shall be you!
 Winds whose soft-tickling genitals rub against me it shall
         be you!
 Broad muscular fields, branches of live oak, loving lounger
         in my winding paths, it shall be you!
 Hands I have taken, face I have kiss'd, mortal I have ever
         touch'd, it shall be you.
 I dote on myself, there is that lot of me and all so luscious,
 Each moment and whatever happens thrills me with joy,
 I cannot tell how my ankles bend, nor whence the cause of
         my faintest wish,
 Nor the cause of the friendship I emit, nor the cause of the
         friendship I take again.
 That I walk up my stoop, I pause to consider if it really be,
 A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the
         metaphysics of books.
 To behold the day-break!
 The little light fades the immense and diaphanous shadows,
 The air tastes good to my palate.
 Hefts of the moving world at innocent gambols silently
         rising freshly exuding,
 Scooting obliquely high and low.
 Something I cannot see puts upward libidinous prongs,
 Seas of bright juice suffuse heaven.
 The earth by the sky staid with, the daily close of their
 The heav'd challenge from the east that moment over my head,
 The mocking taunt. See then whether you shall be master!
 I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid
         and self-contain'd,
 I stand and look at them long and long.
 They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
 They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
 They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
 Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania
         of owning things,
 Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived
         thousands of years ago,
 Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.
 So they show their relations to me and I accept them,
 They bring me tokens of myself, they evince them plainly in
         their possession.
 I wonder where they get those tokens,
 Did I pass that way huge times ago and negligently drop
 Myself moving forward then and now and forever,
 Gathering and showing more always and with velocity,
 Infinite and omnigenous, and the like of these among them,
 Not too exclusive toward the reachers of my remembrancers,   
 Picking out here one that I love, and now go with him on
         brotherly terms.
 A gigantic beauty of a stallion, fresh and responsive to my
 Head high in the forehead, wide between the ears,
 Limbs glossy and supple, tail dusting the ground,
 Eyes full of sparkling wickedness, ears finely cut, flexibly
 His nostrils dilate as my heels embrace him,
 His well-built limbs tremble with pleasure as we race around
         and return.
 I but use you a minute, then I resign you, stallion,
 Why do I need your paces when I myself out-gallop them?
  Even as I stand or sit passing faster than you.
 It is time to explain myself -- let us stand up.
 What is known I strip away,
 I launch all men and women forward with me into the
 The clock indicates the moment -- but what does eternity
 We have thus far exhausted trillions of winters and summers,
 There are trillions ahead, and trillions ahead of them.
 Births have brought us richness and variety,
 And other births will bring us richness and variety.
 I do not call one greater and one smaller,
 That which fills its period and place is equal to any.
 Were mankind murderous or jealous upon you, my brother,
         my sister?
 I am sorry for you, they are not murderous or jealous upon
 All has been gentle with me, I keep no account with
 (What have I to do with lamentation?)   
 I am an acme of things accomplish'd, and I an encloser of
         things to be.
 My feet strike an apex of the apices of the stairs,
 On every step bunches of ages, and larger bunches between
         the steps,
 All below duly travel'd, and still I mount and mount.
 Rise after rise bow the phantoms behind me,
 Afar down I see the huge first Nothing, I know I was even
 I waited unseen and always, and slept through the lethargic
 And took my time, and took no hurt from the fetid carbon.
 Were mankind murderous or jealous upon you, my brother,
         my sister?
 I am sorry for you, they are not murderous or jealous upon
 All has been gentle with me, I keep no account with
 (What have I to do with lamentation?)   
 I am an acme of things accomplish'd, and I an encloser of
         things to be.
 My feet strike an apex of the apices of the stairs,
 On every step bunches of ages, and larger bunches between
         the steps,
 All below duly travel'd, and still I mount and mount.
 Rise after rise bow the phantoms behind me,
 Afar down I see the huge first Nothing, I know I was even
 I waited unseen and always, and slept through the lethargic
 And took my time, and took no hurt from the fetid carbon.
 Long I was hugg'd close -- long and long.
 Immense have been the preparations for me,
 Faithful and friendly the arms that have help'd me.
 Cycles ferried my cradle, rowing and rowing like cheerful
 For room to me stars kept aside in their own rings,
 They sent influences to look after what was to hold me.
 Before I was born out of my mother generations guided me,
 My embryo has never been torpid, nothing could overlay it.
 For it the nebula cohered to an orb,
 The long slow strata piled to rest it on,
 Vast vegetables gave it sustenance,
 Monstrous sauroids transported it in their mouths and
         deposited it with care.
 All forces have been steadily employ'd to complete and
         delight me,
 Now on this spot I stand with my robust soul.
 I know I have the best of time and space, and was never
         measured and never will be measured.
 I tramp a perpetual journey, (come listen all!)
 My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff cut
         from the woods,
 No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair,
 I have no chair, no church, no philosophy,
 I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, exchange,
 But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a knoll,
 My left hand hooking you round the waist,
 My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents and the
         public road.
 Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you,
 You must travel it for yourself.
 It is not far, it is within reach,
 Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did
         not know,
 Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land.
 Shoulder your duds dear son, and I will mine, and let us
         hasten forth,
 Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as we go.
 If you tire, give me both burdens, and rest the chuff of your
         hand on my hip,
 And in due time you shall repay the same service to me,
 For after we start we never lie by again.
 This day before dawn I ascended a hill and look'd at the
         crowded heaven,
 And I said to my spirit When we become the enfolders of 
         orbs, and the pleasure and knowledge of every thing in
         them, shall we be fill'd and satisfied then?
 And my spirit said No, we but level that lift to pass and
         continue beyond.
 You are also asking me questions and I hear you,
 I answer that I cannot answer, you must find out for yourself.
 Sit a while dear son,
 Here are biscuits to eat and here is milk to drink,
 But as soon as you sleep and renew yourself in sweet
         clothes, I kiss you with a good-by kiss and open the
         gate for your egress hence.
 Long enough have you dream'd contemptible dreams,
 Now I wash the gum before your eyes,
 You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of 
      moment of your life.
 Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by the shore,
 Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
 To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to 
me, shout,
      and laughingly dash with your hair.
 The past and present wilt -- I have fill'd them, emptied them.
 And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.
 Listener up there! what have you to confide to me?
 Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening,
 (Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay only a
         minute longer.)
 Do I contradict myself?
 Very well then I contradict myself,
 (I am large, I contain multitudes.)
 I concentrate toward them that are nigh, I wait on the
 Who has done his day's work? who will soonest be through
         with his supper?
 Who wishes to walk with me?
 Will you speak before I am gone? will you prove already
         too late?
 The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains
         of my gab and my loitering.
 I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
 I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
 The last scud of day holds back for me,
 It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the
         shadow'd wilds,
 It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.
 I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
 I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.
 I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
 If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
 You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
 But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
 And filter and fibre your blood.
 Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
 Missing me one place search another,
 I stop somewhere waiting for you.
AM STUDIES: 501 / from THE JUNGLE by Upton Sinclair 

With one member trimming beef in a cannery, and another working in a sausage factory, the family had a first-hand knowledge of the great majority of Packingtown swindles. For it was the custom, as they found, whenever meat was so spoiled that it could not be used for anything else, either to can it or else to chop it up into sausage. With what had been told them by Jonas, who had worked in the pickle rooms, they could now study the whole of the spoiled-meat industry on the inside, and read a new and grim meaning into that old Packingtown jest—that they use everything of the pig except the squeal.

Jonas had told them how the meat that was taken out of pickle would often be found sour, and how they would rub it up with soda to take away the smell, and sell it to be eaten on free-lunch counters; also of all the miracles of chemistry which they performed, giving to any sort of meat, fresh or salted, whole or chopped, any color and any flavor and any odor they chose. In the pickling of hams they had an ingenious apparatus, by which they saved time and increased the capacity of the plant—a machine consisting of a hollow needle attached to a pump; by plunging this needle into the meat and working with his foot, a man could fill a ham with pickle in a few seconds. And yet, in spite of this, there would be hams found spoiled, some of them with an odor so bad that a man could hardly bear to be in the room with them. To pump into these the packers had a second and much stronger pickle which destroyed the odor—a process known to the workers as "giving them thirty per cent." Also, after the hams had been smoked, there would be found some that had gone to the bad. Formerly these had been sold as "Number Three Grade," but later on some ingenious person had hit upon a new device, and now they would extract the bone, about which the bad part generally lay, and insert in the hole a white-hot iron. After this invention there was no longer Number One, Two, and Three Grade—there was only Number One Grade. The packers were always originating such schemes—they had what they called "boneless hams," which were all the odds and ends of pork stuffed into casings; and "California hams," which were the shoulders, with big knuckle joints, and nearly all the meat cut out; and fancy "skinned hams," which were made of the oldest hogs, whose skins were so heavy and coarse that no one would buy them—that is, until they had been cooked and chopped fine and labeled "head cheese!"

It was only when the whole ham was spoiled that it came into the department of Elzbieta. Cut up by the two-thousand-revolutions-a-minute flyers, and mixed with half a ton of other meat, no odor that ever was in a ham could make any difference. There was never the least attention paid to what was cut up for sausage; there would come all the way back from Europe old sausage that had been rejected, and that was moldy and white—it would be dosed with borax and glycerine, and dumped into the hoppers, and made over again for home consumption. There would be meat that had tumbled out on the floor, in the dirt and sawdust, where the workers had tramped and spit uncounted billions of consumption germs. There would be meat stored in great piles in rooms; and the water from leaky roofs would drip over it, and thousands of rats would race about on it. It was too dark in these storage places to see well, but a man could run his hand over these piles of meat and sweep off handfuls of the dried dung of rats. These rats were nuisances, and the packers would put poisoned bread out for them; they would die, and then rats, bread, and meat would go into the hoppers together. This is no fairy story and no joke; the meat would be shoveled into carts, and the man who did the shoveling would not trouble to lift out a rat even when he saw one—there were things that went into the sausage in comparison with which a poisoned rat was a tidbit. There was no place for the men to wash their hands before they ate their dinner, and so they made a practice of washing them in the water that was to be ladled into the sausage. There were the butt-ends of smoked meat, and the scraps of corned beef, and all the odds and ends of the waste of the plants, that would be dumped into old barrels in the cellar and left there. Under the system of rigid economy which the packers enforced, there were some jobs that it only paid to do once in a long time, and among these was the cleaning out of the waste barrels. Every spring they did it; and in the barrels would be dirt and rust and old nails and stale water—and cartload after cartload of it would be taken up and dumped into the hoppers with fresh meat, and sent out to the public's breakfast. Some of it they would make into "smoked" sausage—but as the smoking took time, and was therefore expensive, they would call upon their chemistry department, and preserve it with borax and color it with gelatine to make it  brown. All of their sausage came out of the same bowl, but when they came to wrap it they would stamp some of it "special," and for this they would charge two cents more a pound.











 “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” One Hundred Years of Solitude/Gabriel Garcia Marquez

“Darkness, like the darkness after birth, darkness all around.” Rat/Andrzej Zaniewski

“At nine o’clock in the morning, towards the end of November, the Warsaw train was approaching Petersburg at full speed.” The Idiot/Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond.” Things Fall Apart/Chinua Achebe

“124 was spiteful.” Beloved/Toni Morrison

“Riding up the winding road of Saint Agnes Cemetery in the back of a rattling old truck, Frances Phelan became aware that the dead, even more than the living, settled down in neighborhoods.” Ironweed/ William Kennedy

“My squad leader slapped me in the face.” Fires on the Plain/Shohei Ooka

“What it begins with, I know finally, is the kernel of meanness in people’s hearts.” The Book of Ruth/Jane Hamilton

“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.” The Great Gatsby/F. Scott Fitzgerald

“It goes a long way back, some twenty years.” The Invisible Man/Ralph Ellison

“Under certain circumstance there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” Portrait of a Lady/Henry James

“Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.” Ulysses/James Joyce

“There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.” Jane Eyre/Charlotte Bronte

“In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains.” A Farewell to Arms/Ernest Hemingway

“Jewel and I come up from the field, follow the path in single file.” As I Lay Dying/William Faulkner

“Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically” Lady Chatterley’s Lover/D.H. Lawrence

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Pride and Prejudice/Jane Austin

“He was an inch, perhaps two, under six feet, powerfully built, and he advanced straight at you with a slight stoop of the shoulders, head forward, and a fixed from under stare which made you think of a charging bull.” Lord Jim/Joseph Conrad

“Call Me Ishmal.” Mody Dick/Herman Melville

“The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.” A Bend in the River/V.S. Naipaul

“The day broke gray and dull.” Of Human Bondage/W. Somerset Maugham

“All happy families are the same, but each unhappy family is unhappy in it’s own special way.” Anna Karenina/Leo Tolstoy

“Mother died today. Or perhaps yesterday. I don’t remember.” The Stranger/Albert Camus

“When Caroline Meeber boarded the afternoon train for Chicago, her total outfit consisted of a small trunk, a cheap imitation alligator skin satchel, a small lunch in a paper box, and a yellow leather snap purse containing her ticket, a scrap of paper with her sister’s address on Van Buren Street, and four dollars in money.” Sister Carrie/Theodore Drieser

“In Africa you want more, I think.” Mating/Norman Rush

“The studio was filled with the rich odor of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden, there came though the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.” Portrait of Dorian Gray/Oscar Wilde

“The sea is high again today, with a thrilling flush of wind.” Justine/Laurence Durrell

“Gregor Samsa awoke from uneasy dreams to find that he had been transformed into a gigantic insect” The Metamorphosis/Franz Kafka





















    Rain in

    the eyes




      Toe jam



     Fairy tales


     The pinkie




    Row boats



   Ear plugs







  Book markers





   Green apples





     New York,

      New York



   Eating frog legs




 The spitting sink in

  the dentist’s office





  The mole (or wart)

   on Lincoln’s face









 The sound of

  rain in the



  Doll heads


    Low riders


   Figures in










   Soap operas


      Ink spots




















    Wet socks








   Snow blind



     Gifts incereal boxes


     Drive by





  The crazy bone








  Paris, France











  People who

  won’t shut











    Miniature golf




  People who

  have had hair









  The gum


  school desks







Eating spaghetti by


slurping up the



  People who

  always say

   “I’m sorry.”


  Jimmy Dean

  pork sausages
























    People who

    make lists



      Early May



   Power tools








 Skipping rope




    TV stations






   Gold fillings







    The Rocky




  Pole vaulting









  Pet turtles



   Flat tires



   Modern art



   Taxi drivers














   People with

   lots of keys





  Eating insects




   Train wrecks


    Driver’s Ed







  People who

  can wiggle

  their ears


   Pogo sticks







   candy bars






























  Dead birds

   in winter







  Pillow fights



  Zoned parking










  Star gazing










  The homeless






     Ash trays


  Small slivers

    of soap 



   Card games









 Sand castles










  Peanut butter





    Scotch tape


  Phone answering

  machine messages


    99 degrees











   Flying kites






   Last minute







  Kids too big

  to ride in






The post office



   Squirt guns












    Lip stick






   The mall





















 Jello with
















  Ice cream




  Riding a bike

  with no








   Barney the






   Spit balls























1. Its tone is deeper and less brilliant than that of the violin.

2. It is used mainly in the orchestra and chamber music, but recently has become increasingly popular as a solo instrument

3. It is the only original member of the violin family to exist continuously in the same size.

4. The viola is about one seventh larger than the violin and tuned a fifth lower.

5. In the 17th and early 18th cent. it was used mainly as an accompanying instrument in the orchestra, but the classical period made it much more independent.



1. These four met regularly at the Café Guerbois in Paris with Cézanne, Pissarro, and Morisot, and later with Degas, Manet, the critics Duret and Rivière, and the art dealer Durand-Ruel.

2. The movement began with the friendship of four students of the academic painter Marc Gleyre: Monet, Renoir, Sisley, and Bazille.

3. Although they painted everyday subjects, they avoided the vulgar and ugly, seeking visual realism by extraordinary stylistic means.

4. The painters repudiated academic standards and reacted against the romantics’ emphasis on emotion as subject matter.

5. They forsook literary and anecdotal subjects and, indeed, rejected the role of imagination in the creation of works of art. Instead they observed nature closely, with a scientific interest in visual phenomena.



1. Two solutions separated by a semi-permeable membrane are said to be isotonic if no osmosis occurs.

2. Osmosis will occur if a vessel is separated into two compartments by a semipermeable membrane, both compartments are filled to the same level with a solvent, and solute is added to one side.

3. If an external pressure is exerted on the side containing the solute, the transfer of solvent can be stopped and even reversed (reverse osmosis).

4. The level of the liquid on the side containing the solute will rise as the solvent flows from the side of its higher concentration to the side of lower concentration.

5. If osmosis occurs, transfer of solvent is from the hypotonic solution to the hypertonic solution, which has the higher osmotic pressure.



1. Because he was acceptable both to the conservative Democrats and the New Dealers as well as to powerful labor leaders, Truman was nominated for Vice President in 1944 and was elected to office along with President Roosevelt.

2. In 1934 he was elected a U.S. Senator.

3. In his second term he achieved national prominence as chairman of a Senate committee to investigate government expenditures in World War II.

4. By 1940 the Pendergast machine had been broken, and Truman had a hard fight for reelection.

5. His vigorous investigations revealed startling inefficiency and bungling on war contracts.

6. In the Senate he was a firm supporter of the New Deal policies of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but the administration was cool toward Truman because of his connection with Pendergast.



1. Yet the successor of Charles VII, Louis XI, benefited from these evils.

2. Civil wars (see Jacquerie; Cabochiens; Armagnacs and Burgundians) and local wars (see Breton Succession, War of the) increased the destruction and the social disintegration.

3. The Hundred Years War inflicted untold misery on France.

4. Farmlands were laid waste, the population was decimated by war, famine, and the. Black Death (see plague), and marauders terrorized the countryside.

5. For England, the results of the war were equally decisive; it ceased to be a continental power and increasingly sought expansion as a naval power.

6. The virtual destruction of the feudal nobility enabled him to unite France more solidly under the royal authority and to promote and ally with the middle class.

7. From the ruins of the war an entirely new France emerged.



1. During flood time it also carries great quantities of silt from the highlands of Ethiopia; these now collect in Lake Nasser behind the Aswan High Dam, but for centuries they were left on the floodplain after the floods and helped replenish the fertility of Egypt’s soils.

2. The Blue Nile rises in the headwaters of Lake Tana, NW Ethiopia, a region of heavy summer rains, and is the source of floodwaters that reach Egypt in September; the Blue Nile contributes more than half of all Nile waters throughout the year.

3. Other important tributaries of the Nile are the Atbara and Sobat rivers.

4. The Gezira, or “island,” formed between the Blue Nile and the White Nile as they come together at Khartoum is Sudan’s principal agricultural area and the only large tract of land outside Egypt irrigated with Nile waters.

5. The White Nile (known in various sections as the Bahr-el-Abiad, Bahr-el-Jebel, Albert Nile, and Victoria Nile) rises in the headwaters of Lake Victoria in a region of heavy, year-round rainfall; unlike the Blue Nile, it has a constant flow, owing in part to its source area and in part to the regulating effects of its passage through lakes Victoria and Albert and the Sudd swamps.

6. The trunk stream of the Nile is formed at Khartoum, Sudan, 1,857 mi (2,988 km) from the sea, by the junction of the Blue Nile (c.1,000 mi/1,610 km long) and the White Nile (c.2,300 mi/3,700 km long).



Slattery / Rychlewski


Directions:  Each student will be required to……. 

1.      Choose a minimum of two of the following activities One from the history list, and one from the English list – You are encouraged to do more.

2.      Collect and organize notes and then write 1-2 page original typewritten document, using the raw materials and focusing on the targeted skills.

3.      Be prepared for peer criticism and several rewrites over the course of the first quarter.

4.      Take responsibly for your future.

5.      Show learning.   


Class Activity / Topic

Targeted Skills

Raw Materials




Historical Moment:

What defines or qualifies as an historical moment? (on a personal or public level)

Thesis Sentence Writing

A, B, C :  reasons for support


Developing and sustaining support


Your personal Life

Quotes on historical moments

American History : see 50 Years that Changed the World 1875 – 1925 on our web-site under Handouts/AP WORLD LIT


Using Foner’s premise that the idea of freedom is constantly changing, support, qualify or refute his idea giving historical analysis or empirical evidence from your own personal history.

Thesis Sentence Writing

A, B, C :  reasons for support


Developing and sustaining support


Your personal life

Quotes on freedom

History (American Revolution, French Revolution, Civil Rights Movement, etc…)

Political Philosophers: 

Using standard letter writing format, write a personal letter to a philosopher evaluating the degree to which their ideas apply in today’s world.

Letter Writing





Primary Source Documents

Text books


Handouts / Class worksheets




Childhood Map: 

From the childhood map you have drawn in class, create a geographical, historical or ‘personality’ pattern and then apply that pattern to a narrative essay.

Graphic Organizers

Narrative Patterns

Personal experiences


Personal memorabilia

Classroom map

Springsteen Songs (The Rising) or 9/11 Article

Analyze the rhetorical techniques used by the writer to make their point.  (audience, exigence, purpose, logos, ethos, pathos)

Active Verbs



Springstein lyrics from internet

Newspaper articles

Op-Ed pieces

Internet articles

Active verbs list

Open Dreams: 

Write a process analysis in which you explain how you intend to realize any of the 4 “dreams’” you discussed with the clock activity in the 1st week.

Process Analysis

Any of the four sections from the  clock activity in class.



I’ve asked you to write an essay in which you examine the advantages and disadvantages of making children and childhood the subject of poems. I think one good way to start would be to separate the ten or so poems we’re examining into groups: which ones have a child narrator, which ones have an autobiographical bent to them, which ones are about a rite of passage, which ones have a shift in which the narrator changes or the child changes, which ones are deeply ambiguous as to the exact tone or meaning or dramatic irony, which ones are filled with the imagination of the child, which ones are told from the adult point of view…etc. You might wish to create a table to assemble your data. You will find that many of the poems will fall into several categories. After you’ve done this you may wish to rate the poems according to their effectiveness. This would imply that you knew what they were trying to do and could determine how well they did it. Those poems that succeed at whatever criteria you impose would then be considered candidates for poems about children which have been realized, which are successful. Please note: by I don’t mean for you to discuss whether the characters are good or bad or if the feeling of childhood evoked in the poems is positive or negative. I want you to consider the advantages in writing poems about children or with childhood at the center and I would like you to discuss what they are.  Similarly, what are the disadvantages. There is no guarantee that your table/list will fully answer this question because it’s a very difficult one, but it should give you some material to think about. Outside of love and war, I would think childhood is the subject most frequently written about by poets. Let’s think about the pitfalls of this sub-genre. And the inherent guarantees.

Here are a few more poems to consider: “The Portrait” by Stanley Kunitz, “Ave Marie” by Frank O’Hara, “Sunday Afternoon” by Denise Levertov and “Three Songs for the End of Summer” by Jane Kenyon. You should be able to find these on the internet.

And the list from before “Janet Waking” by John Crowe Ransom, “The Ball Poem” by John Berryman, “Daddy,” by Sylvia Plath, “My Mother Would Be a Falconress,” by Robert Duncan, “We Are Seven” by William Wordsworth, “The Chimney Sweeper,” by William Blake, “Fern Hill, “ by Dylan Thomas, “The Picnic” by John Logan,” “From the Foot to its Child” by Pablo Neruda, “On the Death of Friends in Childhood” by Donald Hall.

There is no need to write on all of these poems, but you should probably read most of them a few times and think about them before you begin your essay. Feel free, of course, to refer to them in your essay.



 (P. # 1 Write an opening paragraph that sums up or rephrases the question at hand and introduces the text you’re going to be using to answer this question.)

          EX 1: Sometimes in literature you’ll find characters who are pulled powerfully in different directions.  The choice they have to make seems impossibly difficult. Their struggle to decide often illuminates the theme of the story. Elizabeth Proctor in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible is an excellent example. EX 2: Sometimes in literature it's difficult to proportion the blame for the horrible things that happen in the story. ................

(P. # 2 Then write a brief paragraph that summarizes the plot, discussing as you go along the question at hand. Three or four clear sentences should be enough. Be sure to include your character in the plot description if it's a question about character.)

          EX 1: The Crucible concerns….  The play recounts… This is a story about…with ________ as a central figure with cannot decide between_______ and _________.. 

(P # 3 Now explain the background of your character--if that is the question at hand--and the details of his/her struggle using specific examples from the text. This is the meat of your argument so do it well)

Elizabeth is a woman who… She comes from… She also appears to be the type of person who… As the story begins, she seems… Then, when she discovers. As the conflict intensifies, she sways back and forth between… At the beginning of scene three, when John…. Later, after Abigail…  Finally, Elizabeth….

(P # 4 Then explain why your character plays a significant role in the main conflict. This may take several sentences.)

         As you can see, Elizabeth plays a crucial role in this story. She is the character who has… She must… Without her… Clearly the decision off all the other characters hinges on…

(P # 5 Now explicate the theme and connect it to this struggle, briefly recapping the major highlights)

          It’s seems that in this play Miller is trying to tell us that people… Elizabeth is a perfect example of this problem…situation…conflict… She… Then she… And finally she… But in the end she…




Transitions to qualify = there’s another point of view to consider


on the other hand,


Transitions that prove the effect of a cause = this caused that to happen



as a result,

because of this,


Transitions that add further proof = and I’ve got five good reasons!


in addition,

in fact,



Transitions that conclude = this is why things are the way they are

to summarize,

in conclusion,





I have been at this job for four days, and I have done ______of the _______ tasks my


boss told me to do. I did/didn’t do _____________; transition of cause/effect, I


_____________________.  Transition for further proof or to qualify, I did/didn’t do


_____________________.  Transition for further proof or to qualify, I did/didn’t do


_____________________.  Transition for further proof or to qualify, I did/didn’t do


_____________________.  Transition to conclude, my boss should keep me/fire


me/give me/a second chance. If this were a school, I would deserve________, and


and it would be the grade I have created for myself and for which I have myself to


 _______.  Thank you, Mr. R, for giving me the opportunity to give myself a ____.


Possible attack plans:


Total Success  /  Partial Success  /  Partial Failure  / Total failure


Possible subjects

1.     Something learned/not learned in childhood

2.     Some change in you because of travel

3.     Some change in you because of an illness or death

4.     A course you did or did not like

5.     A friendship that grew or diminished

6.     A pivotal moment in your life

7.     A book, movie, play, song or work of art that changed you in some way


Consider: 4 sheets taped together, 2 notebooks and 2 file folders, a paragraph telling me what you want me to know about you, dates of wars that I requested you find out about, attendance, tardies.





Aberrant – abnormal or deviant.

Abstract – theoretical; not concrete.

Accolade – award of merit.

Acquiesce – assent; agree without protesting.

Acrimonious – bitter in words or manner.

Acute – quickly perceptive; keen; brief and severe.

Adulation – flattery; admiration.

Adversary – opponent.

Advocate – urge; plead for.

Affable – easily approachable; warmly friendly.

Ameliorate – improve; make more satisfactory.

Amorphous – formless; lacking shape pr definition.

Antagonistic – hostile; opposed.

Antithesis – contrast; direct opposite of or to.

Apprehension – fear; disconcernment.

Archaic – antiquated.

Ascetic – practicing self-denial; austere.

Assuage – ease or lesson (pain); satisfy (hunger); soothe (pain).

Astute – wise; shrewd.

Audacious – daring; bold.

Banal – commonplace; trite.

Belligerent – quarrelsome.

Benevolent – generous; charitable.

Capricious – fickle; incalculable.

Concur – agree in opinion.

Contentious – quarrelsome.

Cryptic – mysterious; secret; hidden.

Debilitate – weaken; enfeeble.

Deference – courteous regard for another’s wish.

Deplore – regret strongly; express grief over.

Depravity – corruption; wickedness.

Deprecate – express disapproval of; protest against; belittle.

Didactic – teaching; instructional.

Diffuse – wordy; rambling; spread out.

Diligence – steadiness of effort; persistent hard work.

Disdain – view with scorn or contempt.

Dispassionate – calm; impartial.

Dissipate – squander; waste; scatter.

Dissonance - Lack of agreement, consistency, or harmony.

Eclectic – selective from choosing from a variety of sources.

Effervescent – exuberant; bubbly and excited.

Enervate – weaken.

Ephemeral – short-lived; fleeting.

Erudite – learned; scholarly.

Exacerbate – worsen; embitter.

Expedite – hasten.

Expository – explanatory; intended to explain.

Exuberance – overflowing abundance; joyful enthusiasm; flamboyance; lavishness.

Fallacious – false; misleading.

Fastidious – difficult to please; squeamish.

Florid – ruddy; reddish; flowery.

Fortuitous – accidental; by chance.

Frugality – thrift; economy.

Garrulous – loquacious; wordy; talkative.

Gratuitous – given freely; unwarranted; unprovoked.

Gregarious – sociable.

Hedonist – one who believes that pleasure is the sole aim in life.

Hiatus – gap; interruption in duration or continuity; pause.

Homogeneous – of the same kind.

Hyperbole – exaggeration; overstatement.

Ignominy – deep disgrace; shame or dishonor.

Immutable – unchangeable.

Impecunious – without money.

Imperious – domineering; haughty.

Inadvertently – by oversight; carelessly or unintentionally.

Incisive – cutting; sharp.

Incorrigible – uncorrectable.

Indigenous – native.

Indubitable – unable to be doubted; unquestionable.

Inept – unsuited; absurd; incompetent.

Inimical – unfriendly; hostile; harmful; detrimental.

Innate – inborn.

Innocuous – harmless.

Insipid – lacking in favor; dull.

Insurgent – rebellious.

Intermittent – periodic; on and off.

Irascible – irritable; easily angered.

Jocular – said or done in jest; joking.

Laconic – brief and to the point.

Lassitude – languor; weariness.

Levity – lack of seriousness; lightness.

Loquacious – talkative.

Magnanimous – generous.

Maladroit – clumsy; bungling.

Meticulous – excessively careful; painstaking; scrupulous.

Misanthrope – one who hates mankind.

Morbid – given to unwholesome thought; moody.

Mutability – ability to change in form; fickleness.

Nefarious – very wicked.

Obdurate – stubborn.

Obsequious – slavishly attentive; servile; fawning; attempting to win favor by flattery.

Officious – meddlesome; excessively pushy in offering one’s services.

Ostentatious – showy; pretentious; trying to attract attention.

Paltry – insignificant; petty; trifling.

Parochial – narrow in outlook.

Pedantic – showing off learning; bookish.

Penchant – strong inclination; liking.

Perfunctory – superficial; not thorough; lacking interest, care, or enthusiasm.

Pernicious – very destructive.

Petulant – touchy; peevish.

Pithy – concise; meaningful;     substantial; meaty.

Pomposity – self-important behavior; acting like a stuffed shirt.

Pragmatic – practical (as opposed to idealistic); concerned with the practical worth or impact of something.

Precipitous – steep; overhasty.

Predilection – partiality; preference.

Prevalent – widespread; generally accepted.

Profane – violate; desecrate; treat unworthy.

Provincial – limited in outlook; unsophisticated.

Pugnacity – combativeness; disposition to fight.

Querulous – fretful; whining.

Recalcitrant – obstinately stubborn; determined to resist authority; unruly.

Relish – savor; enjoy.

Renegade – deserter; traitor.

Reprehensible – deserving blame.

Resplendent – dazzling; glorious; brilliant.

Reticent – reserved; uncommunicative; inclined to be silent.

Rhetorical – pertaining to effective communication; insincere in language; used for persuasive effect.

Scrupulous – conscientious; extremely thorough.

Spurious – false; counterfeit.

Squander – waste.

Strident – loud and harsh; insistent.

Supercilious – arrogant; condescending.

Superfluous – excessive; unnecessary.

Sycophant – servile flatterer; bootlicker; yes man.

Tenacity – firmness; persistence.

Tractable – docile; easily managed.

Transcendent – surpassing; exceeding ordinary limits; superior.

Vacillate – waver; fluctuate.

Vindicate – clear from blame; exonerate; justify or support.

Zealot – fanatic; person who shows excessive zeal (enthusiastic devotion).



abject, abstract, acrimonious, acumen, aesthetic, affinity, affluence, alacrity, analogous, apathy, arbitrary, benevolent, candid, capricious, clairvoyant, chicanery, cognizant, complacent, compulsory, conciliatory, conjecture, conspicuous, deleterious, destitute, deviate, (-25-)

devious, diligent, discernible, disdain, disparage, disseminate, diverse, dogmatic, eccentric, emulate, enigma, epiphany, erudite, expedite, exonerate, extricate, facetious, fallacious, fortuitous, futile, gratuitous, hackneyed, homogeneous, impeccable, impervious, (-50-)

impetuous, incessant, incorrigible, indifferent, indolent, incognito, inevitable, innocuous, inquisitive, insatiable, insidious, integrity, jocular, judicious, kindle, kinetic, lethargy, loquacious, ludicrous, lugubrious, meticulous, mitigate, morose, mundane, nihilism,  (-75-)

novice, obscure, obsequious, oscillate, ostensible, ostentatious, palpable, pandemonium, paradigm, penitent, pertinent, plausible, precipitous, precocious, prerogative, prevaricate, propensity, provocative, querulous, quiescent, recalcitrant, ramification, rapacious, recant, reclusive, (-100-)

recrimination, rectify, redolent, redundant, refutable , regressive, relegate, relinquish, remonstrate, reparation, replenish, repose, reprehensible, repudiate, requisite, resilient, resolute, reticent, reverence, rigorous, rudimentary, sanguine, scrutinize, sedentary, soporific, (-125-)

spontaneous, squander, stringent, succinct, superficial, surreptitious, terse, theoretical, truncate, ubiquitous, unctuous, unobtrusive, unscrupulous, vacuous, vindictive, virulent, wanton, xenophile, zenith

The site with practice tests is: http://www.vocabulary.com/top144satwords.html





NAME ___________________________ CLASS_________PERIOD____

Quarter_____   Week(s) _____    From Date  _______ to ______



























Tardy ______    Absent _______  (2 points off each time)

Professional Conduct = polite, prepared, paying attention, contributing to the discussion, homework done on time, improvement in vocabulary, reading and writing. Your argument is written clearly.





                                                                                                                                                                  out of 20





NAME ___________________________ CLASS_________PERIOD____

Quarter_____   Week(s) _____    From Date  _______ to ______



























Tardy ______    Absent _______  (2 points off each time)

Professional Conduct = polite, prepared, paying attention, contributing to the discussion, homework done on time, improvement in vocabulary, reading and writing. Your argument is written clearly.





                                                                                                                                                                  out of 20





The features in the table below are only tendencies, not absolutes. In fact, the tendency to see things in seemingly obvious, binary, contrasting categories is usually associated with modernism. The tendency to dissolve binary categories and expose their arbitrary cultural co-dependency is associated with postmodernism.



  • Using rational, scientific, logical means to know the world. Optimism that we can understand and control an objective world


  • A reaction against rationalism, scientism, or objectivity of modernism.
  • There is an absolute, universal truth that we can understand through rationalism and logic.
  • There is no universal truth. Rationality by itself does not help us truly understand the world.
  • Humans are material machines. We live in a purely physical world. Nothing exists beyond what our senses perceive.
  • Suspicious of such dogmatic claims to knowledge.
  • Humankind is progressing by using science and reason.
  • "Progress" is a way to justify the domination by European culture of other cultures.
  • Time, history, progress
  • Culture on Fast Forward: Time and history replaced by speed, futureness, accelerated obsolescence.
  • history as a "narrative of what happened" with a point of view and cultural/ideological interests.
  • Postmodern historians and philosophers question the representation of history and cultural identities: history as "what 'really' happened" is from one group's point of view
  • Faith in "Depth" (meaning, value, content, how things work) over "Surface" (appearances, the superficial, how we use things).
  • Attention to play of surfaces, images, things mean what we make them mean, no concern for "depth" but with how things look and respond
  • "disenchantment with material truth and search for abstract truth."
  • "There is no universal truth, abstract or otherwise."
  • Faith in the "real" beyond media and representations; authenticity of "originals"
  • Hyper-reality, image saturation, simulacra seem more powerful than the "real"; images and texts with no prior "original".
    "As seen on TV" and "as seen on MTV" are more powerful than unmediated experience.


  • (Renaissance?) Enlightenment > 1750s > 1890-1945.


  • Post WWII, especially after 1968


  • Attempt to acheive a unified, coherent world-view from the fragmentation that defines existence


  • Attempt to overturn the distinction between "high" and "low" culture
  • High Modernism 1920s & 1930s, following WWI -- outmoded political orders and old ways of portraying the world no longer seemed appropriate or applicable; reaction against existing order
  • Eclecticism, a tendency toward parody and self-reference, and a relativism that knows no ultimate truth; no distinctions between "good" and "bad"
  • Classification of the world; order; hierarchy
  • The way we understand the world is relative; it depends on our culture, position, class, gender, age, time period, beliefs, etc.
  • Mastery and progress Historical development; past affects present and future. Universalizing Linear (like a novel) Works of art, science are windows to the truth.
  • "Localizing", pluralizing Non-linear (like the Web) Works of art, science are only texts, can only be understood in themselves.


  • PCs/UNIX/command line environments Stand-alone mainframe computers


  • Macintosh/Windows; Internet/WWW Computer networks
  • Subverted order, decentralized control, fragmentation.


  • High culture vs. low culture -- strictly divided; Only high culture deserves to be studied, analyzed


  • Everything's "popular" culture -- it all deserves to be studied; pluralizing Commodification of culture -- everything can be bought or sold
  • Humans are self-governing and free to choose their own direction
  • People are the product of their culture and only imagine they are self-governing.
  • reality can be discovered through science and can be expressed abstractly (equations)
  • "the transformation of reality into images" (Britney Spears is not a person but an image; Nike is not about shoes but about an image, etc.)
  • Mass culture, mass consumption, mass marketing.
  • Demassified culture; niche products and marketing, smaller group identities.




  • Pastiche and parody of multiple styles: old forms of "content" become mere "styles"


  • "in a world in which stylistic innovation is no longer possible, all that is left is to imitate dead styles... (retro, bell bottoms, resurect old styles periodically because there is nothing else new-- we can only remix what's been done.)


  • stylistic masks, image styles, without present content: the meaning is in the mimicry


  • postmodern attempts to provide illusions of individualism (ads for jeans, cars, etc.) through images that define possible subject positions or create desired positions (being the one who's cool, hip, sexy, desirable, sophisticated...).


  • Symbols & meaning: hammer and sickle = world communism


  • Symbols drained of meaning: hammer and sickle in advertising (e.g., beer commercials)


  • "Form follows function"; Le Corbusier, "machine aesthetic"; Mies van der Rohe; International style (eg, airports): straight, clean lines


  • Multiple, historical refs.; "playful" mix of styles, past and present. Las Vegas, Pompidou Center; Venturi, Robert Stirling


  • Clear dichotomy between organic and inorganic, human and machine


  • cyborgian mixing of organic and inorganic, human and machine and electronic


  • Big ideas/big, centralized political parties rule


  • Fragmented ideas, decentralized power; "micro-politics": interest groups rule (minority factions, NRA, business groups); Foucault, "everyone has a little power" TV politics -- clash of images: "how will it play on the six o'clock news?"
  • Door-to-door politics; big rallies
  • "Late capitalism" rules
  • Capitalism vs. communism: clash of ideologies "The Making of the President" Parody: Dr. Strangelove; Orwell's Animal Farm
  • "The Selling of the President" Pastiche: Wag The Dog


  • Sense of unified, centered self; "individualism," unified identity.


  • Sense of fragmentation and decentered self; multiple, conflicting identities.


  • Artist is creator rather than preserver of culture Impressionism, Cubism, abstract expressionism, suprematism (Malevich's "Black Square") "Photograph never lies" -- photos and video are windows/mirrors of reality


  • Artist plays with different styles; aesthetics; pastiche all-important Pop Art, Dada, montage
  • Art fights capitalism
  • Photoshop: photos and video can be altered completely; montage (where's the reality?) Art is consumed by capitalism
  • Art as unique object and finished work authenticated by artist and validated by agreed upon standards.
  • Art as process, performance, production, intertextuality. Art as recycling of culture authenticated by audience and validated in subcultures sharing identity with the artist.
  • Art as one unique object created by a master artist.

    Analog media: quality deteriorates the farther removed a copy is from the original
  • Art as copies (Andy Warhol's Factory)

    Digital media: there is no distinction between an original and a copy
  • Seriousness of intention and purpose, middle-class earnestness.
  • Play, irony, challenge to official seriousness, subversion of earnestness.
  • Sense of clear generic boundaries and wholeness (art, music, and literature).
  • Hybridity, promiscuous genres, recombinant culture, intertextuality, pastiche.


  • Novel is the dominant form; movies Author determines meaning; the "canon"; of great works: Shakespeare, Kafka, Joyce, Some can tell "good" from "bad" -- art critics important


  • TV, WWW; Meaning is indeterminate. Thomas Pynchon, Cathy Acker, William Gibson. Rise in importance of "popular" culture; we can't tell good from bad; it's all relative
  • Interpretation of a text; there is an ultimate meaning hidden inside master literature
  • Non-interpretation of a text; there is no ultimate meaning, instead meaning emerges from what the audience brings to the text
  • the book as sufficient bearer of the word; the library as system for printed knowledge
  • hypermedia as transcendence of physical limits of print media; the Web or Net as information system


  • Knowledge mastery, attempts to embrace a totality.

    The encyclopedia.


  • Navigation, information management, just-in-time knowledge.

    The Web.
  • Broadcast media, centralized one-
    to-many communications.
  • Interactive, client-server, distributed, many- to-many media (the Net and Web).
  • Centering/centeredness,
    centralized knowledge.
  • Dispersal, dissemination,
    networked, distributed knowledge


  • Mozart, Beethoven, Schoenberg Idea of creating an artistic "piece" continued through to rock'n'roll era.


  • "World music"; Djs mixing of styles Sampling John Cage, David Byrne