Click here for the introduction to the Round and Square series "Assignments"
|[a] Text and illustration RF|
Midterm Writing Assignment:
Teach them, really.
The letter writing exercise is especially useful while studying source materials such as ours. The nonfiction writer John McPhee explains to his students that a letter is often precisely the solution to problems of interpretation or clarity—when in doubt, write to mother, he says. In this case, it is not a plea of “send money” that the letter contains, but a reworking, rethinking, and contextualization of your work. You need not limit yourself to kinfolk, but you need to think about who the recipient will be (ideally someone who will welcome a letter about “studying sources”).
You owe it to yourself to listen to this long interview with McPhee. At the very least, listen to the first two minutes. It is the very purpose behind this assignment.
|[c] I said, "start writing" RF|
3. Your letter must address the "ways of the tribe," and you must spend at least a bit of your letter describing the Chronicle of Higher Education. What makes "the tribe"..."tick?"
4. You must have at least one illustration that highlights something you find interesting about college life. This can come from any source (from drawing your own to using Internet images). Just cite your source (this isn't going to be published, so you won't get into trouble).
5. Your letter must discuss your readings from the course, but especially the books that we are reading in Weeks IX-XI (Patrick Allitt's I'm The Teacher, You're The Student, and William Chace's One Hundred Semesters).
explain what you think we are studying.
materials, from memoirs and lectures to The Chronicle of Higher Education.
c. You must discuss give several specific examples from your own fieldnotes.
d. You must discuss what it is like to "do ethnography" by watching the way people
think and act in their everyday lives on campus.
e. Finally, give your reader some sense of what it is like to learn about the
"business" of colleges (how colleges work) while (at the same time) learning
to be a student.
Voilà you will have something that will become the solid foundation for all of the rest of your work this semester.
You get the idea. If you don't, just raise your hand and ask me (or send me an e-mail message). I'll be happy to help.
You will have three weeks to prepare this assignment, and there will be weekly "tune-up" assignments to get ready (due each Friday by 5:00, as usual).
|[e] And then you may rest RF|