Category Archives: Newsletters

End of Semester Reminders

Hi all,

I wanted to send a list of reminders about upcoming tasks regarding the course:

1. Paper 2 is technically due today. But, if you need more time you can have until next week by Tuesday 11/30. The link to where you should upload your paper is on the assignment page on our course site.

2. COIL: Remember you should post at least 10 comments in the #discussion-of-the-essay thread on Slack. Here is the link to the project page.

3. Meeting with mePlease sign up for a time to meet with me to discuss your work in the class.

4. You can find the link for the last paper here.

Let me know if you have any questions.

I hope everyone has a good Thanksgiving!


Week 7 Newsletter

Hi all,

This week we continued our turn to sound, and more specifically, the relationship between sound and spatial development. We brought our reading of Schafer’s “The Soundscape” and Ralph Ellison’s essay “Living with Music.” As many of you wrote in the blog, in this essay Ellison engages a hand-to-hand combat of noise/music against outside noise, and he filters his personal history through this music.

One point that kept coming up in the blogs that I’d like to raise here deals with the relationship Ellison sets up between music and noise in his opening sentence: “In those days, it was either live with music or die with noise.” Defining what “noise” and “music” means is an important aspect of what writers and thinkers represented in this unit do. And, one way of reading what Ellison is saying is that our definitions of what constitutes noise and music should be more flexible. In this sense “living with music” signifies thinking about many different kinds of sounds as music, something that could be thought of as purposefully created, even beautiful rather than noise, which most people would reject and discard. Ellison chooses to participate by cranking the records on his record player rather than retreat into simplistic noise complaints.


As for your grades, I have finished grading blog #5 and #6. If I didn’t see the blog posted I entered a grade of zero. You can correct this by posting a response to the blog and contacting me. (If it seems like I overlooked your work please contact me.) Also, please respond to each other’s posts if you haven’t had a chance to yet.

I’m still working on your papers, but I hope to have them finished very soon.

Upcoming work

Week 8 (11/02-11/06)

Week 6 Newsletter

Hi all,

Last week we focused on “The Art of Quoting” chapter from They Say/I Say, and we made a shift from “Ways of Seeing” to “Ways of Hearing.”

This week will turn to Chapter 6 of They Say/I Say “Planting a Naysayer.” We’ll also continue that shift this week by focusing on the relationship between sound and space. You’ll be asked to compare “The Soundscape” reading and Ways of Hearing podcast episode from last week to Ralph Ellison’s essay “Living with Music.” I am still grading your papers, but you should be seeing your grades in blackboard soon.

Here’s what’s coming up:

Week 7 (10/26-10/30)


Week 5 Newsletter

Hi all,

This week you (hopefully) got the chance to make substantial progress on your first papers, and I hope not having any other work to do for this class helped.

**Speaking of the paper: Here is the link to the folder where you can upload your final draft. Please label the file with your first and last name (ex: Paul_Fess_Paper_1).**

Some of you need to catch up on blogs. Do so quickly because you will start to see zero grades if you don’t .

Here’s what’s coming up next week:

Week 6 (10/19-10/21)

Newsletter Week 4

Hi everyone

This week we talked about the almighty thesis statement, a concept that may have already played a central role in your writing lives, and if it hasn’t yet, it surely will in the future. I want to remind you that I would like you to bring your working thesis statement to our meeting next week. I advise that you use the Sheridan Baker worksheet to create your thesis. Remember a thesis should have two components: an argument and a rationale.

I also want to remind you that we won’t be meeting as a class at all next week. Instead, you will meet with me individually to discuss your paper. If you haven’t done so, please sign up for a time slot.

Additionally, I will grade blog #4 posts soon. Respondez!

What We’ve Done

As I say above, this week you embarked on your thesis journey. Keep the techniques and practices we talked about in mind.

Ways of Seeing, Episode 4: In this episode Berger discusses the ways advertising imagery seduces and convinces us into buying products by promising us fantasies of how our lives could be better. You might think about what Berger says here in terms of the advertisements you encounter around the city, on televisions, and online, in your daily lives.

Seeing Through Raceby Martin Berger (no relation to John, that I know of): Martin Berger lays out an alternative way of seeing photographs that document the Civil Rights era. He focuses on how they depict black suffering over black political activism in order to create sympathy for the movement. You might think about this in comparison to images of the protests that circulated in 2020.

What’s Coming Up

Next week you should focus on writing your paper.

You will also be meeting with me individually to discuss this paper.

Newsletter Week 3

Hello All,

Now that we are up and running with the site I will be posting these newsletters at the end of every week. In general I will divide these newsletters into two broad categories: what we’ve done and what is coming up. There are three items I want highlight this week.

First, I have graded for your introductions and your entries for blog post #1 and #2. (I will grade blog post #3 soon). If you don’t see your grade for a blog post in the Blackboard grade center it means that either I didn’t see it or you haven’t posted it. Please contact me if you would like a grade for these missing blog posts. Otherwise, I will be entering zeros soon.

Second, I have posted the prompt for Paper 1 on the course site. Read it, absorb it, and come to our meeting at the beginning of next week with questions.

Third, please check the course site regularly. In addition to posting links to course activities in the syllabus I also post items that come across the wire such as job and event postings in the “Events and Opportunities” section. For example, now there is a flyer for an upcoming SciFi event that includes details on a writing contest.

What we’ve done

They Say/I Say:

Ways of Seeing:

You should have watched Episodes 1, 2, and 4 at this point. It is essential for you to watch these videos in order to complete the blog posts and the Paper 1 assignment.

Blog posts:

Last week you wrote about Berger’s discussion of representations of women. Here are some things you might think about as you further consider this episode:

  • Berger focuses on representations of women. He defines a distinction between the female nude and nakedness. According to him, the female nude is a constructed image of female sexuality meant to satisfy the desires of the male viewer; whereas, actual nakedness is not constructed. It occurs on the fly, when we are least conscious about it. Berger ties this distinction to the objectification of women.
  • In thinking about this further you might ask yourselves if the same thing takes place with depictions of women nowadays. For instance, when Beyonce creates a sexualized image of herself does the same problem Berger identifies arise? Or, is something different going on? You might also think about the role of social media and the “selfie” in this regard. If an Instagram user creates a “sexy” post of herself is she objectifying herself or is she controlling her own image?

This week you completed Blog post #3, which asks you to consider Berger’s thoughts on advertising imagery. Do the same kinds of manipulations of images go on today? Or, is it different? If the situation is different, how so? We’ll talk about these questions and your posts next week.

What’s coming up?

Here, I’ve listed the items you will take up next week:

Week 4 (10/05-10/07)

Let me know if you have any questions.