"Techniques of the Observer"

a qwriting.qc.cuny.edu blog

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FYI: What to do with a degree in English

May 12th, 2011 · Uncategorized

The English department will be having a career forum for English majors on Tuesday, May 17th, from 12:15-1:40pm in Kiely 271. It will include  a panel of professionals who can speak to a variety of career paths (each speaking about 5-10 minutes), followed by a Q&A. 

I’m going to try to attend and hope to see some of you there!

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Wikipedia Reflection

April 13th, 2011 · Uncategorized

Hi all — After all four groups have presented tomorrow, I am going to ask each of you, individually, to take 15-20 minutes to answer the follow questions in a blank Microsoft Word document, save it as “Wikipedia Group Project reflection” with your name, and then email it to me.

1) What were your impressions of Wikipedia as a informational resource before you began this project? How often did you refer to Wikipedia and for what purpose(s)?

2) Has completing this project changed the way you look at the layout, organization, and/or use of sources on a Wikipedia page? Has it changed the way you discuss Wikipedia with friends, classmates, family, or co-workers?

3) Have you thought about the way that your Wikipedia article might change over time as other people edit it? (Do you already notice places where people might insert more information about your topic?)

4) What have you observed about the ways in which creating this article differed from completing an essay, like the paper on Emily Dickinson?

5) How well have the members of your group worked together? Fulfilled their self-assigned roles? Completed the tasks they volunteered for or were assigned? (Please try to provide at least one example that illustrates your response.) 

 6) To what extent do you feel like you are more of an “expert” on your group’s topic than you were before you started this project? (What does it mean, to you, to be an “expert”?)

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Detailed agenda for this week

April 10th, 2011 · Uncategorized

Hi all,

It’s Sunday afternoon and I am back in New York. At this point, I have received and responded to updates from groups 1, 2, and 4, and have seen in-progress Wikipedia pages from groups 2 and 4. I hope to receive links to similar pages from the other groups soon.

Here’s what our week looks like right now:

On Tuesday, we’ll finish up our discussion of The Ambassadors and round out what connections we see between themes in Holbein’s painting and themes in the book (particularly related to Strether’s character, his role an an “ambassador,” his anxieties, etc.)

On Thursday, we’ll meet in the I-BUILDING, ROOM 205, so that each Wikipedia group can present their entries to the class. Your presentation should be no more than 10 minutes. In it you will want to

1) Discuss the stages in which you composed your wikipedia entry (did you start by looking at other pages? creating an outline? reviewing Wikipedia’s guidelines? What did you do next? And after that? What was your final stage?)

2) Show off the features of your page on the big screen in the room (choose one person from the group to man the computer in order to call up the site)

3) Highlight the most helpful resources onyour subject that you have located over the last month

4) Make sure that all four or five members of the group have spoken!

After all four groups have presented, I will ask you to complete brief, 15-minute individual reflections about the project on the computer and to email me your responses.

Finally, we’ll end the class by discussing the prompts for the final paper that will be due on the last day of class in May. I’ll give you a hard copy of these prompts on Thursday.

Thank you for your continued dedication and hard work,

Professor Zino

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Until we meet again on Tuesday, April 12th..

April 5th, 2011 · Uncategorized

Hi folks,

This is a reminder about what’s due by the time we meet again on Tuesday, April 12th:

1) Finish reading The Ambassadors. After finishing, use your sixth blog post (the sixth of seven–you’re almost there!) as a follow-up to post five (if that post was an initial response to the relationship between the painting and the book). And if you did not write your fifth post about the two versions of “The Ambassadors,” the question that you’re responding to, the one that is hovering over our reading, is this:

Upon seeing Holbein’s “The Ambassadors” (1533) in the National Gallery, why was he compelled to use this title for his novel? How successful has Strether’s mission as an “ambassador” in Paris been? How is the anamorphosis that appears at the bottom of Holbein’s painting a signal of a theme that recurs throughout James’s novel? Can you isolate scenes in the second volume of the novel where this theme appears? (How and where does it appear? In what way is this story, like the “The Pupil” and the “The Real Thing” a commentary on the trickiness of “appearances”?)

You need not address ALL of these questions but can use them to think about the “big picture” (bad pun intended) of the novel.

2) The facilitators of the Wikipedia groups should contact me this weekend with a substantial report about sources the group is using and with, if possible, a draft of part (or all!) of your entry. I should be able to respond on Sunday evening.

3) If you’ve received your first paper and would like to revise, I will gladly take your revision next week, before our break. If you want to talk to me about turning in a revision after the 14th, I can be flexible. Next Thursday, after each group delivers their 10-minute wikipedia presentations in which they talk about the process of composing their wiki, show off their site, and lead us to helpful resources on their subject that they have located over the last month, I will distribute prompts for the final paper that will be due in mid-May.

Ok–deep breath. We will get all this done.

Speak to you soon,

Professor Zino

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A word of encouragement

March 29th, 2011 · Uncategorized

Hi folks,

You all did some really good interpretive work in class today. It was a pleasure to hear you make sense of James’s stories as you–as a group–explained what he seems to mean by “the real thing.” Thank you.

For those who didn’t make it to the seminar today, here’s one observation Samantha made about how Henry James seems to want us to approach his fiction that you may find useful: “In order to have an analysis that is truthful, and provable, readers should look on the whole to understand the parts. The parts are just pieces that when joined together, you get…meaning.” This sounds, in fact, quite similar to what William James was observing about the meaning of a sentence in that short passage we kept returning to from the “Stream of Thought.”

Please keep this up this careful critical work as you venture into The Ambassadors.

See you on Thursday!

Professor Zino

p.s. Don’t forget to take a look at the post below this one.

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If you did not write about “The Real Thing” or “The Pupil,” try this prompt for blog #5

March 29th, 2011 · Uncategorized

Take a look at this image of Holbein’s 1533 painting, “The Ambassadors.”  After reading the first two books of Henry James’s The Ambassadors (1903), in preparation for Thursday’s meeting, write one paragraph about what seeing the painting adds to your reading of the book. Then, write second paragraph about what reading the book adds to what you see in the painting. At this early stage in your reading, what case can you make for the relationship between Holbein’s painting and James’s novel?

(Your next blog post, for Tuesday, April 12th, will then be a follow-up to and reflection on this post.)

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For this Tuesday, March 8th

March 7th, 2011 · Uncategorized

A prompt for your third blog post has been posted on the “course readings” page.

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The Wikipedia Group Project

March 4th, 2011 · Uncategorized

Hi all,

The PowerPoint from Thursday’s session has been posted under the class notes page. Here’s what I have on record for you so far:

Group 1

Article topic: “Jonathan Crary” 

Tim – Facilitator

Betty – Source Collector

Allison-  Source Colector

Tommy – Entry Editor

Group 2

Article topic: JMW Turner’s “The Morning After the Deluge (Goethe’s Theory)”

Liza- Source Collector

Cassie- Source Collector

Juan- Entry Editor

Samantha- Facilitator

Group 3

Article topic: “The Transparent Eyeball” 

Kristen – The Facilitator
Rayshma – The Entry Editor
Maggie -Source Collector
Josephine – Source Collector
Steven – Source Collector

Group 4

Article topic: “episcotister”

Jessica – Facilitator

Rida- Source Collector

Jackie- Source Collector

Mary- Editor

See you on Tuesday,

Professor Zino

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For Thursday, March 1st, 2011

March 1st, 2011 · Uncategorized

On Thursday we’ll be in the I-Building, room 203. Please meet us there for a tutorial and introduction to your Wikipedia group projects.

For homework, please read  “Writing an Article,” which will provide you with an introduction to Wikipedia and give you some very necessary information about to create your first article.  Please come to class with both of the following things prepared:

1) Create your own Wikipedia account and record your user information in a readily accessible place (somewhere in the notebook you use for class)

and

2) After reading, go back through your notes and course readings with an eye for objects, people, and theoretical terms that meet Wkipedia notability guidelines for articles. (Write out a list.) Then, check to see if these terms already have Wikipedia pages. On your blog, post two to three  possible new article ideas that don’t already exist on Wikipedia. Please do this before noon on Thursday so that I can see you suggestions before our class.

 In the lab, I will assign you to your groups for the project and have you select your role in the group (more on this on Thursday…).

A note on the status of your drafts for the first paper: I will be reading the electronic versions of your drafts this week and emailing them back to you by the start of the weekend so that you can can re-think, re-organize, and edit for the Thursday, March 10th due date.

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A reminder for the long weekend

February 17th, 2011 · Uncategorized

Please see the homework under the “course readings” page, as well as the assignment sheet from today’s class, posted on the shiny, new “assignments” page.  I think you’ll really enjoy the weekend reading and I look forward to reading your second blog posts about it early next week.

Happy reading (and dreaming),

Professor Zino

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