Prompt: Who are you? Tell me about yourself!

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Cultural Criticism: What argument is this advertisement making?

November 15, 2016


OK. Let us suppose we are going on a class picnic. You need my permission to attend! Remember: I am, if anything, a benevolent dictator.

You really want to go!

You have to bring some kind of food or beverage to share with your fellow humans. What are you going to bring?

When I ask you, please state your full name and tell me what you are going to bring and wait for judgment.

I am the Grand Picnic Arbiter!

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! 

(Want cool points? Tell me what poem this line is from.)

How did it feel to be included in the “in group”?

How did it feel to be excluded from the group?

How did it feel to be passed over and then finally let into the “in group”?

We will be reading Baldwin’s “Stranger in the Village.” To get used to the idea, we will be watching a clip from Edward Scissorhands.

Think about the concept of the “stranger” and be prepared to discuss.

November 16, 2016

Entry Task: You will need notebooks and a pen or pencil

  1. What sets Edward apart from the “village”? Is there anything he can do to fit in?

  1. What makes the community in Edward Scissorhands a “village” (as opposed to a town or neighborhood)?

November 17, 2016

You will need the following: pen or pencil, notebooks, Springboard

In-class Assignment 20 minutes pre-read


  1. What are some connotative synonyms for and words related to “village”?

  2. What does it mean to be part of the group encountering the unfamiliar – to be part of the village?

  3. What are some connotative synonyms for and words related to “stranger”?

  4. What does it mean to be the unfamiliar one, the stranger?

  5. In Edward Scissorhands, how does the filmmaker set the “stranger” apart from the village?

  6. What are some other films that explore this concept?

  7. What does it mean to be a stranger in the village?

These are the same questions on page 68 in Springboard.

Embedded Assessment #2

Rough draft due in class on Tuesday November 22. Final Draft on December 1

This is for peer editing. Use it as an opportunity to get feedback!

You will write a reflective essay that illustrates an event in which you or someone you know felt like a “stranger in the village” or was perceived as a stranger by some group.

This assignment should be at least three to five pages double-spaced typed.

You will be graded on three criteria: Ideas, Structure, and Use of Language. Ideas are weighted more heavily with the final grade being comprised of 50% Ideas, and 25% each of the other two categories. This is for the final grade.

Scoring Guide

Scoring Criteria






The essay

  • thoroughly demonstrates a perceptive understanding of the relationship between the event and the thematic concept

  • uses specific and well-chosen details to create a convincing, compelling text.

The essay

  • demonstrates a solid understanding of the relationship between the chosen event and the thematic concept

  • uses specific details to provide support and create a convincing text.

The essay

  • demonstrates a superficial understanding of the relationship between the event and the thematic concept

  • underutilizes details, and those included do little to create a convincing text.

The essay

  • demonstrates no obvious understanding of the relationship between the event and the thematic concept

  • uses very few details or language to create an engaging or convincing text.


The essay

  • shows a perceptive understanding of the relationships among event, response, and reflection

  • uses transitions to enhance overall coherence and to connect ideas smoothly.

The essay

  • uses a form or structure that is appropriate to the purpose

  • uses transitional words, phrases, and clauses to link events and signal shifts between ideas.

The essay

  • uses a form or structure that shows little understanding of the relationships among event, response, and reflection

  • may contain minimal use of transitions.

The essay

  • uses a confusing form or structure that shows a lack of understanding of the relationships among event, response, and reflection

  • moves between ideas without use of transitions.

Use of Language

The essay

  • uses diction, syntax, and stylistic devices that are notable and appropriate for the subject, purpose, and audience

  • demonstrates strong command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, spelling, grammar, and usage with few or no errors.

The essay

  • uses diction, syntax, and other stylistic devices that are appropriate for the subject, purpose, and audience

  • demonstrates adequate command of standard writing conventions; may contain minor errors that do not interfere with meaning.

The essay

  • uses vague diction, confusing syntax, and other stylistic devices less effectively for the subject, purpose, and audience

  • contains errors in standard writing conventions that interfere with meaning.

The essay

  • uses inappropriate diction, confusing syntax, and other stylistic devices that do not support the subject, purpose, and audience

  • contains multiple serious errors in standard writing conventions that interfere with meaning.






Turn to 1.20 in Springboard on page 71.

Baldwin’s “Stranger in the Village”

November 18, 2016

Vocabulary Quiz

(Last one. I promise… unless I change my mind )

Remember: Chunk Questions for Baldwin’s “Stranger in the Village” due by end of class Monday.

Turn to page 72 in Springboard.

November 21, 2016

Good Morning!

Chunk Questions for Baldwin’s “Stranger in the Village” due by the end of the period today

Rough draft of Reflective essay due in class tomorrow! Work on this!

Let’s get on it!

Entry Task:

In paragraph 14, the narrator states:

“I am a stranger here. But I am not a stranger in America and the same syllable riding on the American air expresses the war my presence has occasioned in the American soul.”

With a partner, determine the meaning of this quote and its relationship to the whole essay.

Be ready to discuss

Chunk 5, paragraphs 10 – 13 is particularly challenging. With a partner, paraphrase the main idea of each paragraph on a separate sheet of paper.

Be ready to discuss

November 22, 2016

Peer Editing

You will need: a copy of your Reflective Essay, a pen or pencil, rubric


    1. Trade papers with your neighbor.

    2. Read the essay at least two times.

    3. On the second read through, mark the pages, noting any confusing language use, punctuation mistakes, obvious errors.

    4. At the end of the essay, write:

      • The event

      • The response

      • The reflection (a transition to a discussion more universal in nature)

If these are unclear or you have to work too hard to “make it work,” you should let your classmate know in the most positive way that they need to revise in order to address the prompt clearly.

    1. Based on the Rubric, rate each of the three categories on a 1-4 scale and provide a note explaining the reasoning for each.

    2. Provide at least one comment about the strengths of the essay.

    3. When you believe you have thoroughly covered all of the steps above, reread the essay to see if anything else gets your attention.

    4. Repeat steps 1-7 with another classmate!

Ad infinitum.

November 28, 2016

Good morning! Welcome back!

You will need: notebooks or paper, writing utensil


Dialogue lesson


You will be required to add dialogue to your Reflective Essay for Embedded Assessment #2. This is due by midnight on Thursday DECEMBER 1.

I hope that you have started drafting!

New requirement for EA #2: At least one dialogue exchange in your narrative.

We will be starting Ayn Rand’s Anthem this week. There will be reading questions designed to guide you in your quest. Please be ready to discuss the novelette by staying current with the reading and writing. There will be a 900-word essay due on December 16 concerning Ms. Rand’s work and the concepts therein.

Anyway… Onwards!

November 29, 2016

Bring Anthem every day from now on!

Entry Task:

Write dialogue concerning this picture. Please have at least three lines per speaker. Try to use the concepts etc from yesterday’s lesson.

Stranger in the Village (with actors):

Embracing the Stranger:

Turn to page 76 in Springboard. Read (or reread) paragraph 14. You will work with a partner to determine the meaning and its relationship to the whole essay.

What is significant? What is Baldwin’s “thesis”?

In paragraphs 22-23, Baldwin discusses identity politics between “white” and “black”. Discuss what he means when he writes that “the white man’s motive was the protection of his identity; the black man was motivated by the need to establish an identity.”

November 30, 2016

Read Baldwin’s letter to his nephew.

This is a bit of an appendix to “Stranger in the Village” first published in 1962 and later adapted to be published in his The Fire Next Time.

This is another appendix from 1969 filmed in London.

Baldwin on race in America:

December 1, 2016


Switching Gears!

Entry Task:

What do you think is meant by the word “dystopian”? What is a “utopia”? How are these concepts related? What are some examples of utopian and dystopian literature, movies, etc.?

We have all heard these words in reference to books, movies, television shows. We will be reading Ayn Rand’s Anthem this week and next week.

Some background:

Genre: The Dystopian Novella

Longer than a short story but shorter than a novel, Anthem is identified as a novella. More specifically, Anthem belongs to the genre of dystopian novellas.

In contrast with utopian fiction, which depicts an ideal society, dystopian literature illustrates a profoundly flawed social order. Dystopian societies are widely varied, but many are characterized by the absence of individual rights, the suppression of independent thinking, and an extremely controlling government.

In Anthem, Rand uses this genre to illustrate the principles of objectivism. By creating a world in which collectivism has been taken to an extreme, she illustrates the importance of individual rights and freedoms.

Dystopian literature can usually be divided into three parts:

    1. An exposition, in which the details of the dystopian society are fleshed out, characters are introduced, and the main conflict is introduced or foreshadowed. In dystopian fiction, the main conflict is usually external, pitting the protagonist against the established social order.

    2. The rising action, which often consists of the protagonist’s struggles to address the main conflict and leads to the climax – the story’s turning point. In dystopian fiction, this is often the point at which the protagonist attempts to challenge or escape the constraints of his or her dystopian society.

    3. The resolution, in which the protagonist succeeds or fails at escaping or changing the social order.

2 handouts: Arab writers and dystopian fiction and “What makes it Dystopian?”

December 2, 2016

Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life (23 minutes)

Ayn Rand: Objectivism

Objectivism is a philosophy developed by Ayn Rand in response to what she viewed as growing worldwide collectivism. According to Rand's philosophy, there is an objective reality independent of the mind, which individuals can perceive through their five senses. Objectivism further asserts that the proper moral purpose of human life is the pursuit of "rational self-interest." According to this moral code, the ideal social system is one that completely respects individual rights. This respect is best enacted through pure capitalism, unfettered by governmental monitoring or regulation'{i.e., laissez-faire capitalism).

To describe objectivism, Rand wrote:

My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.

Objectivism is based on three axioms: the axiom of Existence, the axiom of Identity, and the axiom of Consciousness. The axiom of Existence states, "Existence exists." The law of Identity states that a thing is what it is ("A is A"). An individual's failure to perceive "A" fully or correctly does not alter or redefine "A." Finally, the axiom of Consciousness states that a person's perceiving something is evidence of his or her ability to perceive it, not evidence of the thing's existence. Likewise, an individual's inability to perceive something does not prove its non-existence.

While the axiom of Existence deals with the question of whether or not something exists, the law of Identity deals with the object's nature as distinct from other objects. Rand wrote, "A leaf cannot be all red and green at the same time, it cannot freeze and burn at the same time. A is A."

An object does not exist because one thinks it exists; it simply exists. For Rand, "to be conscious is to be conscious of something." Thus, an objective reality, independent of consciousness, must exist first in order for one to be conscious of it. The mind cannot create its own reality; it can only be conscious of the objective reality that exists beyond itself.

Objectivism further asserts the "Law of Causality"-things act in ways consistent with their natures. Rand rejected the idea that everything has a cause; her assertion was that existence itself has no cause. Nor did she believe that any chain of cause and effect links action to action. According to Rand, an "action" is not an entity. Rather, every action is performed by some entity, and each entity acts only in ways consistent with its specific nature or "identity."

On the subject of ethics, objectivism assumes that a person's own happiness is-and ought to be-the moral purpose of his or her life. However, since objectivism focuses first and foremost on existence, and not states of mind like happiness, the only measure of the extent to which an action will contribute to one's happiness is the extent to which it will promote one’s life.

Rand wrote: "Man has to be man-by choice; he has to hold his life as a value-by choice; he has to learn to sustain it-by choice; he has to discover the values it requires and practice his virtues-by choice ...A code of values accepted by choice is a code of morality"

Rand named her philosophy objectivism because the term she preferred for her philosophy – existentialism – was already in use

In 1962, at the release of Atlas Shrugged, a book salesman asked Ayn Rand if she could explain her philosophy of objectivism in lay terms. She responded:

My philosophy, objectivism, holds that:

    1. Reality exists as an objective absolute-facts are facts, independent of man's feelings, wishes, hopes, or fears.

    2. Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man's senses) is man's only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.

    3. Man-every man-is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.

    4. The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. The government acts only as a police officer that protects man's rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use, such as criminals or foreign invaders. In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.

December 5, 2016

Objectivism in a nutshell:

Or… in a larger nutshell:

Now: Chapter one of Anthem!

December 6, 2016

Good Morning!

Entry task:

How would you define the concept of “individualism”? How would you define the concept of “collectivism”?

Where and how do we see these concepts play out in modern society?

What is “Individualism”?

It stresses self-reliance, individual liberty, and human independence. Individualists oppose most forms of outside interference with an individual’s choices – whether they be social, governmental, or institutional. They strongly favor the formation and pursuit of individual goals. Individualism, therefore, stands in direct opposition to collectivist, fascist, communist, and totalitarian philosophies. Extreme individualism also stands opposed to notions that tradition, religion, or any other external moral standard should be used to limit an individual’s choices or actions.

Do not confuse with egoism!

Individualists participate in society to further their own ends and goals. It is associated with classical liberalism (Locke) and Libertarianism. A premise of these ideas is that individuals know best and that society has the right to interfere with individual rights only in extreme circumstances, if at all.

For fun:

So… logically, “collectivism” is the polar opposite of the above.

It is the term for any moral, political, or social viewpoint that emphasizes the importance of community and human interdependence over individual desire, effort, or need. Collectivist views treat group goals as superior to individual goals, and are founded largely on the notion that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. That is to say, society as a whole is more valuable than its individual members.

Ayn Rand’s Anthem Chapter 2

December 7, 2016

Pearl Harbor Day.

Discussion Question:

In many real and fictionalized totalitarian societies, children live apart from their families. Why would dictatorial leaders enforce this living arrangement? What do you think is the effect on the population in general?

Pol Pot in Cambodia, Nazi Germany, Idi Amin in Uganda, United States government policy towards Native Americans, Argentina’s “Disappeared”, Pinochet and Chile’s Los Desaparecidos, the list goes on…

From Amnesty International:

Enforced disappearance is frequently used as a strategy to spread terror within society. The feeling of insecurity and fear it generates is not limited to the close relatives of the disappeared, but also affects communities and society as a whole.

It has become a global problem. Once largely used by military dictatorships, disappearances now happen in many internal conflicts, particularly when trying to repress political opponents.

Human rights defenders, relatives of victims, witnesses and lawyers seem to be particular targets, but vulnerable people are also at risk, such as children and people with disabilities.

Every disappearance violates a range of human rights including:

• right to security and dignity of person

• right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
• right to humane conditions of detention
• right to a legal personality
• right to a fair trial
• right to a family life
• right to life (if the disappeared person is killed or their fate is unknown).

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