Teaching Academic Writing through Literature John Schilb, co-author of Making Literature Matter, Fifth Ed

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<ul><li>Slide 1</li></ul> <p>Teaching Academic Writing through Literature John Schilb, co-author of Making Literature Matter, Fifth Ed. Slide 2 Elements of Argument When you argue, you attempt to persuade an audience to accept your claims, regarding an issue by presenting evidence and relying on warrants Persuade Audience Claim Issue Evidence Warrants Slide 3 The Chimney Sweeper William Blake When my mother died I was very young And my father sold me while yet my tongue Could scarcely cry, weep! weep! weep! weep! So your chimneys I sweep &amp; in soot I sleep. Theres little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head That curled like a lambs back, was shaved, so I said, Hush, Tom! Never mind it, for when your heads bare, You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair. And so he was quiet &amp; that very night, As Tom was a sleeping he had such a sight! That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned &amp; Jack, Were all of them locked up in coffins of black; Slide 4 The Chimney Sweeper William Blake And by came an Angel who had a bright key, And he opened the coffins &amp; set them all free; Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing they run, And wash in a river and shine in the Sun. Then naked &amp; white, all their bags left behind, They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind. And the Angel told Tom, if hed be a good boy, Hed have God for a father &amp; never want joy. And so Tom awoke; and we rose in the dark And got with our bags &amp; our brushes to work. Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy &amp; warm; So if all do their duty; they need not fear harm. Slide 5 An Obvious Thesis The poems speaker and the other boys he refers to have a hard life, because they must do the dirty work of chimney sweeping even though they are just youths who would, like most children, prefer to play instead. Slide 6 A Better Sample Opening The casual reader of William Blakes The Chimney Sweeper may not notice that among the repeated words in the poem is father. In the second line, the speaker tells us that my father sold me, and when he later reports Toms dream to us, he says that the Angel promised Tom that good behavior would result in Toms having God for his father. Why does Blake repeat this word? Different readers of the poem may have different answers, but the most plausible one is that Blake wishes to emphasize something about the speakers state of mind. Clearly the speaker joins Tom in relying on the image of a heavenly father, but Blake also implies that the speaker looks to God in compensation for his earthly fathers desertion of him. At the same time, Blake suggests, this desertion has left the speaker to become a father figure to his young co-workers, even though he cannot powerfully perform this role because he is just a child needing parental guidance himself. Slide 7 How To Get Beyond the Obvious Identify an issue a question with no obvious, immediate answer how we answer it is important for our understanding of the text Establish a claim your debatable answer to that question Slide 8 Issues of Fact Issues of Theme Issues of Definition Issues of Symbolism Issues of Pattern Issues of Cause and Effect Issues of Evaluation Issues of Genre Issues of Historical and Social Context Issues of Social Policy Kinds of Issues Slide 9 A possibly insignificant issue of fact: Exactly how old is the speaker? A possibly significant issue of fact: How accurately does the speaker report what Tom said about the dream? A possible claim : Although probably the speaker does not extremely distort what Tom said, he seems anxious to summarize and interpret the dream in a way that will comfort himself. Issues of Fact Slide 10 A too-detectable theme: So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm. Possible themes: Child laborers are likely to suffer harm when social institutions encourage them to believe that obeying their employers is what will keep them safe. Improving terrible labor conditions can be especially difficult when workers believe they must accept their lot. Issues of Theme Slide 11 Issues of Definition When my mother died I was very young And my father sold me while yet my tongue Could scarcely cry, weep! weep! weep! weep! So your chimneys I sweep &amp; in soot I sleep. Theres little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head That curled like a lambs back, was shaved, so I said, Hush, Tom! Never mind it, for when your heads bare, You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair. And so he was quiet &amp; that very night, As Tom was a sleeping he had such a sight! That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned &amp; Jack, Were all of them locked up in coffins of black; Slide 12 Issues of Definition And by came an Angel who had a bright key, And he opened the coffins &amp; set them all free; Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing they run, And wash in a river and shine in the Sun. Then naked &amp; white, all their bags left behind, They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind. And the Angel told Tom, if hed be a good boy, Hed have God for a father &amp; never want joy. And so Tom awoke; and we rose in the dark And got with our bags &amp; our brushes to work. Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy &amp; warm; So if all do their duty; they need not fear harm. Slide 13 Possible Claims of Definition Although the speaker refers to literal acts of sleeping, he also sleeps metaphorically, in the sense that he lacks sufficient consciousness to analyze and fight the social conditions that oppress him. Both Tom and the speaker imagine being free in the sense of being able to cavort leisurely in heaven, but as children they are unable to imagine or strive for the earthly freedom that would involve liberating all youths from harsh labor. Both Tom and the speaker imagine being literally washed in a heavenly river, but as children on earth they suffer from their clean minds, being so nave, pure, and innocent that they cannot see how corrupt their society is. Slide 14 Issues and Claims of Symbolism An issue and claim of symbolism: What is the significance of Toms head being compared to a lambs back? The New Testament and other Christian texts associate Jesus with a sacrificial lamb. Tom does not seem saintly, but like Jesus he does undergo sacrifice, in the sense that the elders of his society make him toil in its physical maintenance rather than let him enjoy childhood. Slide 15 FORMAL STRUCTURES (E.G., STANZAS, RHYME SCHEMES) REPETITIONS WORDS SIMILAR IN MEANING OR SOUND OPPOSITIONS BREAKS FROM A PATTERN Issues of Pattern Slide 16 Patterns When my mother died I was very young And my father sold me while yet my tongue Could scarcely cry, weep! weep! weep! weep! So your chimneys I sweep &amp; in soot I sleep. Theres little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head That curled like a lambs back, was shaved, so I said, Hush, Tom! Never mind it, for when your heads bare, You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair. And so he was quiet &amp; that very night, As Tom was a sleeping he had such a sight! That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned &amp; Jack, Were all of them locked up in coffins of black; Slide 17 Patterns And by came an Angel who had a bright key, And he opened the coffins &amp; set them all free; Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing they run, And wash in a river and shine in the Sun. Then naked &amp; white, all their bags left behind, They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind. And the Angel told Tom, if hed be a good boy, Hed have God for a father &amp; never want joy. And so Tom awoke; and we rose in the dark And got with our bags &amp; our brushes to work. Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy &amp; warm; So if all do their duty; they need not fear harm. Slide 18 CRYING SWEEPING FATHERS SLEEPING-WAKING NIGHT-DAY COFFINS DARK- WHITE/BRIGHT/SUNNY/WASHED WORK-PLAY MESSAGES Patterns Slide 19 Issues and Claims of Cause and Effect Character-centered: Why does Tom have the dream he does right after the speaker tries to console him about his shaven head? Perhaps Tom has the dream that very night because even though the speakers advice first manages to leave him quiet, he is not really comforted for long, needing a vision that better acknowledges the chimney sweepers collective misery while it also recognizes that at least God cares for them. Slide 20 Issues and Claims of Cause and Effect Author-centered: Why does Blake have Tom dream his dream right after the speaker tries to console Tom about his shaven head? Perhaps Blake has Tom dream the dream then because the poet wants to suggest that the speakers advice might not comfort a boy like Tomthat such boys need a vision that better acknowledges their collective misery while it also recognizes that at least God cares for them. What is the effect of Blakes placing the dream right after the speakers advice? Blakes placement of the dream has the effect of suggesting to the reader that the speakers advice might not comfort... Slide 21 Evaluation What is a good boy? What constitutes harm? How reliable are the speakers observations and judgments? Slide 22 Claims about Genre Although The Chimney Sweeper concludes with what appears to be a message to the reader (So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm), the poem is not really a sermon by its speaker. Rather, it is basically the speakers attempt at self-consolation. Slide 23 Issues of History, Society &amp; Policy Slide 24 Issues of History, Society and Policy Slide 25 Further Advice Acknowledge that other readers might disagree with you Acknowledge that youve been having a disagreement with yourself Point out what a superficial reader might fail to realize about the poem Dont be afraid to phrase your issue as a question Make sure your reader leaves your introduction aware that your essay has an issue as well as a main claim Slide 26 Issues of Fact Issues of Theme Issues of Definition Issues of Symbolism Issues of Pattern Issues of Cause and Effect Issues of Evaluation Issues of Genre Issues of Historical and Social Context Issues of Social Policy Kinds of Issues Slide 27 JOHN SCHILB And now its time for your questions </p>