Assignment: Annotations (Essay 1)

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timer Asked: Oct 21st, 2018
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Question Description

To start our Essay 1 unit, we are reading this week: "Why I Write" by George Orwell and "Excerpts from Born a Crime" by Trevor Noah.

You can find them in our class reader. These readings focus on the authors' relationship with language and to an extent reading. After you have read and annotated both pieces, please submit an annotation worksheet which I have supplied.

You can submit one combined annotation worksheet with the information from each work, or submit a separate worksheet for each piece. Once you have finished the annotation worksheet, please write up an academic summary for both readings.

To receive full credit, you must fill out the entire annotation worksheet and submit a completed academic summary for each text. Notice: the Annotation Worksheet Template has been updated.

  • Once again, the following readings for the week are located in our class reader:
    "Why I Write" by George Orwell
    "Excerpts from Born a Crime" by Trevor Noah

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Annotation Worksheet Source: I. Rhetorical Context (Who wrote it or created it? Why was it written? What is it trying to do to or for its readers? What is it? Where does it appear? When was it published? What is its genre?) II. Summary (What does the text say? What are its main points? What did you find most interesting or important?) III. What are THREE golden lines from the text? (Quotes that stood out the most.) Quote 1: Evaluation/Significance of the Quote (Why did you choose it?): Quote 2: Evaluation/Significance of the Quote (Why did you choose it?): Quote 3: Evaluation/Significance of the Quote (Why did you choose it?): Annotation Worksheet IV. Evaluation (Is the text convincing? Why or why not? What new knowledge did you get from reading this text?) V. Questioning (What questions do you have about the text? What would you ask the author if you could speak to him or her directly? Do you have any questions to ask your fellow students or the instructor?) English 120 Reader Table of Contents Unit 1 1 Adler, Mortimer | "How to Mark a Book." 4 Cron, Lisa | Excerpt from Wired for Story. 11 Gaiman, Neil | "Why Our Future Depends on Libraries." Unit 2 19 Chee, Alexander | "The Curse." 30 Lamott, Anne | Excerpts from Bird by Bird. 41 Noah, Trevor | Excerpts from Born A Crime. 80 Orwell, George | "Why I Write." 88 Roanhorse, Rebecca | "Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™" 114 Roy, Arundhati | "Why is the Morally Appropriate Language in Which to Think and Write?" 127 Thurston, Baratunde | "Where Did You Get That Name?" from How To Be Black. Unit 4 132 Block, Francesca Lia | "Bones" from The Rose & the Beast. 139 Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome | "Monster Culture." 162 El-Mohtar, Amal | "Seasons of Glass & Iron." from Uncanny Magazine 176 Gaiman, Neil | "Ghosts in the Machines." 180 Gaiman, Neil | "Snow. Glass. Apples." from Smoke & Mirrors. 194 Goto, Hiromi | "From Across the River" from Hopeful Monsters. 213 King, Stephen | "Why We Crave Horror Movies." 215 Link, Kelly | "The Hortlak" from Magic for Beginners. 242 Machado, Carmen Maria | "My Body, Herself" from Her Body and Other Parties. How to Mark a Book 1 By Mortimer J. Adler, Ph.D. From The Saturday Review of Literature, July 6, 1941 You know you have to read "between the lines" to get the most out of anything. I want to persuade you to do something equally important in the course of your reading. I want to persuade you to write between the lines. Unless you do, you are not likely to do the most efficient kind of reading. I contend, quite bluntly, that marking up a book is not an act of mutilation but of love. You shouldn't mark up a book which isn't yours. Librarians (or your friends) who lend you books expect you to keep them clean, and you should. If you decide that I am right about the usefulness of marking books, you will have to buy them. Most of the world's great books are available today, in reprint editions. There are two ways in which one can own a book. The first is the property right you establish by paying for it, just as you pay for clothes and furniture. But this act of purchase is only the prelude to possession. Full ownership comes only when you have made it a part of yourself, and the best way to make yourself a part of it is by writing in it. An illustration may make the point clear. You buy a beefsteak and transfer it from the butcher's icebox to your own. But you do not own the beefsteak in the most important sense until you consume it and get it into your bloodstream. I am arguing that books, too, must be absorbed in your blood stream to do you any good. Confusion about what it means to "own" a book leads people to a false reverence for paper, binding, and type -- a respect for the physical thing -- the craft of the printer rather than the genius of the author. They forget that it is possible for a man to acquire the idea, to possess the beauty, which a great book contains, without staking his claim by pasting his bookplate inside the cover. Having a fine library doesn't prove that its owner has a mind enriched by books; it proves nothing more than that he, his father, or his wife, was rich enough to buy them. There are three kinds of book owners. The first has all the standard sets and best sellers -- unread, untouched. (This deluded individual owns woodpulp and ink, not books.) The second has a great many books -- a few of them read through, most of them dipped into, but all of them as clean and shiny as the day they were bought. (This person would probably like to make books his own, but is restrained by a false respect for their physical appearance.) The third has a few books or many -- every one of them dog-eared and dilapidated, shaken and loosened by continual use, marked and scribbled in from front to back. (This man owns books.) Is it false respect, you may ask, to preserve intact and unblemished a beautifully printed book, an elegantly bound edition? Of course not. I'd no more scribble all over a first edition of 'Paradise Lost' than I'd give my baby a set of crayons and an original Rembrandt. I wouldn't mark up a painting or a statue. Its soul, so to speak, is inseparable from its body. And the beauty of a rare edition or of a richly manufactured volume is like that of a painting or a statue. But the soul of a book "can" be separate from its body. A book is more like the score of a piece of music than it is like a painting. No great musician confuses a symphony with the printed sheets of music. Arturo Toscanini reveres Brahms, but Toscanini's score of the G minor Symphony is so thoroughly marked up that no one but the maestro himself can read it. The reason why a great conductor makes notations on his musical scores -- marks them up again and again each time he returns to study them--is the reason why you should mark your books. If your respect for magnificent binding or typography gets in the way, buy yourself a cheap edition and pay your respects to the author. 2 Why is marking up a book indispensable to reading? First, it keeps you awake. (And I don't mean merely conscious; I mean awake.) In the second place; reading, if it is active, is thinking, and thinking tends to express itself in words, spoken or written. The marked book is usually the thought-through book. Finally, writing helps you remember the thoughts you had, or the thoughts the author expressed. Let me develop these three points. If reading is to accomplish anything more than passing time, it must be active. You can't let your eyes glide across the lines of a book and come up with an understanding of what you have read. Now an ordinary piece of light fiction, like, say, Gone with the Wind, doesn't require the most active kind of reading. The books you read for pleasure can be read in a state of relaxation, and nothing is lost. But a great book, rich in ideas and beauty, a book that raises and tries to answer great fundamental questions, demands the most active reading of which you are capable. You don't absorb the ideas of John Dewey the way you absorb the crooning of Mr. Vallee. You have to reach for them. That you cannot do while you're asleep. If, when you've finished reading a book, the pages are filled with your notes, you know that you read actively. The most famous "active" reader of great books I know is President Hutchins, of the University of Chicago. He also has the hardest schedule of business activities of any man I know. He invariably reads with a pencil, and sometimes, when he picks up a book and pencil in the evening, he finds himself, instead of making intelligent notes, drawing what he calls 'caviar factories' on the margins. When that happens, he puts the book down. He knows he's too tired to read, and he's just wasting time. But, you may ask, why is writing necessary? Well, the physical act of writing, with your own hand, brings words and sentences more sharply before your mind and preserves them better in your memory. To set down your reaction to important words and sentences you have read, and the questions they have raised in your mind, is to preserve those reactions and sharpen those questions. Even if you wrote on a scratch pad, and threw the paper away when you had finished writing, your grasp of the book would be surer. But you don't have to throw the paper away. The margins (top as bottom, and well as side), the end-papers, the very space between the lines, are all available. They aren't sacred. And, best of all, your marks and notes become an integral part of the book and stay there forever. You can pick up the book the following week or year, and there are all your points of agreement, disagreement, doubt, and inquiry. It's like resuming an interrupted conversation with the advantage of being able to pick up where you left off. And that is exactly what reading a book should be: a conversation between you and the author. Presumably he knows more about the subject than you do; naturally, you'll have the proper humility as you approach him. But don't let anybody tell you that a reader is supposed to be solely on the receiving end. Understanding is a two-way operation; learning doesn't consist in being an empty receptacle. The learner has to question himself and question the teacher. He even has to argue with the teacher, once he understands what the teacher is saying. And marking a book is literally an expression of differences, or agreements of opinion, with the author. There are all kinds of devices for marking a book intelligently and fruitfully. Here's the way I do it: Underlining (or highlighting): of major points, of important or forceful statements. Vertical lines at the margin: to emphasize a statement already underlined. Star, asterisk, or other doo-dad at the margin: to be used sparingly, to emphasize the ten or twenty most important statements in the book. (You may want to fold the bottom comer of each page on which you use such marks. It won't hurt the sturdy paper on which most modern books are printed, and you will be able take the book off the shelf at any time and, by opening it at the folded-corner page, refresh your recollection of the book.) 3 Numbers in the margin: to indicate the sequence of points the author makes in developing a single argument. Numbers of other pages in the margin: to indicate where else in the book the author made points relevant to the point marked; to tie up the ideas in a book, which, though they may be separated by many pages, belong together. Circling or highlighting of key words or phrases. Writing in the margin, or at the top or bottom of the page, for the sake of: recording questions (and perhaps answers) which a passage raised in your mind; reducing a complicated discussion to a simple statement; recording the sequence of major points right through the books. I use the end-papers at the back of the book to make a personal index of the author's points in the order of their appearance. The front end-papers are to me the most important. Some people reserve them for a fancy bookplate. I reserve them for fancy thinking. After I have finished reading the book and making my personal index on the back end-papers, I turn to the front and try to outline the book, not page by page or point by point (I've already done that at the back), but as an integrated structure, with a basic unity and an order of parts. This outline is, to me, the measure of my understanding of the work. If you're a die-hard anti-book-marker, you may object that the margins, the space between the lines, and the end-papers don't give you room enough. All right. How about using a scratch pad slightly smaller than the page-size of the book -- so that the edges of the sheets won't protrude? Make your index, outlines and even your notes on the pad, and then insert these sheets permanently inside the front and back covers of the book. Or, you may say that this business of marking books is going to slow up your reading. It probably will. That's one of the reasons for doing it. Most of us have been taken in by the notion that speed of reading is a measure of our intelligence. There is no such thing as the right speed for intelligent reading. Some things should be read quickly and effortlessly and some should be read slowly and even laboriously. The sign of intelligence in reading is the ability to read different things differently according to their worth. In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through you -how many you can make your own. A few friends are better than a thousand acquaintances. If this be your aim, as it should be, you will not be impatient if it takes more time and effort to read a great book than it does a newspaper. You may have one final objection to marking books. You can't lend them to your friends because nobody else can read them without being distracted by your notes. Furthermore, you won't want to lend them because a marked copy is kind of an intellectual diary, and lending it is almost like giving your mind away. If your friend wishes to read your Plutarch's Lives, Shakespeare, or The Federalist Papers, tell him gently but firmly, to buy a copy. You will lend him your car or your coat -- but your books are as much a part of you as your head or your heart. 4 5 Once upon a time really smart people were completely convinced the world was flat. Then they learned that it wasn’t. But they were still pretty sure the sun revolved around the Earth … until that theory went bust, too. For an even longer period of time, smart people have believed story is just a form of entertainment. They’ve thought that beyond the immense pleasure it bestows—the ephemeral joy and deep sense of satisfaction a good story leaves us with—story itself serves no necessary purpose. Sure, our lives from time immemorial would have been far drabber without it, but we’d have survived just fine. Wrong again. Story, as it turns out, was crucial to our evolution—more so than opposable thumbs. Opposable thumbs let us hang on; story told us what to hang on to. Story is what enabled us to imagine what might happen in the future, and so prepare for it—a feat no other species can lay claim to, opposable thumbs or not.1 Story is what makes us human, not just metaphorically but literally. Recent breakthroughs in neuroscience reveal that our brain is hardwired to respond to story; the pleasure we derive from a tale well told is nature’s way of seducing us into paying attention to it.2 In other words, we’re wired to turn to story to teach us the way of the 6 world. So if your eyes glazed over back in high school when your history teacher painstakingly recited the entire succession of German monarchs, beginning with Charles the Fat, Son of Louis the German, who ruled from 881 to 887, who could blame you? Turns out you’re only, gloriously, human. Thus it’s no surprise that when given a choice, people prefer fiction to nonfiction—they’d rather read a historical novel than a history book, watch a movie than a dry documentary.3 It’s not because we’re lazy sots but because our neural circuitry is designed to crave story. The rush of intoxication a good story triggers doesn’t make us closet hedonists—it makes us willing pupils, primed to absorb the myriad lessons each story imparts.4 This information is a game changer for writers. Research has helped decode the secret blueprint for story that’s hardwired in the reader’s brain, thereby lifting the veil on what, specifically, the brain is hungry for in every story it encounters. Even more exciting, it turns out that a powerful story can have a hand in rewiring the reader’s brain—helping instill empathy, for instance5—which is why writers are, and have always been, among the most powerful people in the world. Writers can change the way people think simply by giving them a glimpse of life through their characters’ eyes. They can transport readers to places they’ve never been, catapult them into situations they’ve only dreamed of, and reveal subtle universal truths that just might alter their entire perception of reality. In ways large and small, writers help people make it through the night. And that’s not too shabby. But there’s a catch. For a story to captivate a reader, it must continually meet his or her hardwired expectations. This is no doubt what prompted Jorge Luis Borges to note, “Art is fire plus algebra.”6 Let me explain. Fire is absolutely crucial to writing; it’s the very first ingredient of every story. Passion is what drives us to write, filling us with the exhilarating sense that we have something to say, something that will make a difference. But to write a story capable of instantly engaging readers, passion alone isn’t enough. Writers often mistakenly believe that all they need to craft a successful story is the fire—the burning desire, the creative spark, the killer idea that startles you awake in the middle of the night. They 7 dive into their story with gusto, not realizing that every word they write is most likely doomed to failure because they forgot to factor in the second half of the equation: the algebra. In this, Borges intuitively knew what cognitive psychology and neuroscience has since revealed: there is an implicit framework that must underlie a story in order for that passion, that fire, to ignite the reader’s brain. Stories without it go unread; stories with it are capable of knocking the socks off someone who’s barefoot. Why do writers often have trouble embracing the notion that there is more to creating a story than having a good idea and a way with words? Because the ease with which we surrender to the stories we read tends to cloud our understanding of stories we write. We have an innate belief that we know what makes a good story—after all, we can quickly recognize a bad one. When we do, we scoff and slip the book back onto the shelf. We roll our eyes and walk out of the movie theater. We take a deep breath and pray for Uncle Albert to stop nattering on about his Civil War reenactment. We won’t put up with a bad story for three seconds. We recognize a good story just as quickly. It’s something we’ve been able to do since we were about three, and we’ve been addicted to stories in one form or another ever since. So if we’re hardwired to spot a good story from the very first sentence, how is it possible that we don’t know how to write one? Once again, evolutionary history provides the answer. Story originated as a method of bringing us together to share specific information that might be lifesaving. Hey bud, don’t eat those shiny red berries unless you wanna croak like the Neanderthal next door; here’s what happened.… Stories were simple, relevant, and not so different from a little thing we like to call gossip. When written language evolved eons later, story was free to expand beyond the local news and immediate concerns of the community. That meant readers—with hardwired expectations in place —had to be drawn to the story on its own merits. While no doubt there were always masterful storytellers, there’s a huge difference between sharing a juicy bit of gossip about crazy Cousin Rachel and pounding out the Great American Novel. Fair enough, but since most aspiring writers love to read, wouldn’t all those fabulous books they wolf down give them a first-class lesson in 8 what hooks a reader? Nope. Evolution dictates that the first job of any good story is to completely anesthetize the part of our brain that questions how it is creating such a compelling illusion of reality. After all, a good story doesn’t feel like an illusion. What it feels like is life. Literally. A recent brain-imaging study reported in Psychological Science reveals that the regions of the brain that process the sights, sounds, tastes, and movement of real ...
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