As we find ourselves in the midst of the quarter, it's a good time to review the course.
As the course title --Advanced Writing-- declares, this course is designed to assist you in becoming advanced writers, but what does it mean to be an advanced writer?
Obviously, a writer is one who writes, and to be advanced, one must be proficient or even skilled in the process and technique of writing.
Advanced writing can be defined in many ways:
Italo Calvino, an Italian novelist, divides and classifies the qualities of advanced writing into six categories: lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility, multiplicity, and consistency. (Read his Six Memos for the Next Millennium if you're interested in these, or read If on a Winter's Night a Traveller if you want to read his most famous work).
William Zinsser, a former writing professor at Yale, has seven principles: the transaction (the writer's connection to the topic), simplicity, clutter, style, the audience, words, and usage.
CSUB's Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) defines advanced writing as possessing five characteristics: tasks, reasoning, development, organization, and prose. (Here's the link to their explanation).
Advanced Writing as I define it in my English 310 course has the following criteria: insight, logic, organization, style, and adherence to grammatical/mechanical norms. In other words, a work of advanced writing should...
1. Be insightful (with an argument that moves beyond shallow or generic thinking);
2. Be logical (with a thesis, supporting arguments, evidence, and a lack of fallacies);
3. Be organized (with an overall plan to the essay and to individual paragraphs);
4. Have a style (with rhythm and precision through syntax and diction);
5. Be grammatically and mechanically correct (with an absence of errors).
In terms of English 310, the heavy foundation of reading complex texts is designed to assist students in meeting the first aspect of advanced writing. By reading and then synthesizing ideas from complex texts, 310 writers should be making more complex and insightful arguments. More specifically, I have emphasized the idea of archetypes in order to provoke more complex and insightful thought regarding contexts many people dismiss as being meaningless: popular music, popular film, and advertising. In other words, students in my Advanced Writing course will be finding and arguing a meaning that others may not see, which is the definition of insight.
The lectures on the parts of the essay and the rhetorical modes should assist students in organizing their writing more logically and effectively.
The lectures on syntax should assist students with style, and the grammar/mechanics lectures should assist students with understanding grammar and mechanics.
And now, your blog....
1. What is your strength regarding advanced writing? What would you like this class to include (in terms of advanced writing) before the quarter ends?
2. What film are you thinking of analyzing for your next essay?
3. One concept Eliade describes in The Myth of the Eternal Return is the idea of the Celestial Model. In the film Sunshine, we see that process at work in the names of the crew and the ship. Choose one of the following names, explain the name's etymology (this is one instance where you may use Wikipedia to find the name's word history, where it comes from, what it means), and explain how that name fits the person or thing in the film:
Icarus (the name of the ship)