29 August 2015—New York Review of Books Questions: Autumn 2015
29 August 2014—China's Lunar Calendar 2014 08-29
29 August 2014—New York Review of Books Questions: Autumn 2014
29 August 2013—China's Lunar Calendar 2013 08-29
|[a] Text and illustration RF|
|[b] Reaching, teaching RF|
Teach it, really.
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 “doing theory”).
It needs to be a real person, and the letter will be sent (organized by the Beloit College history department). It is a real letter to a real person. Do not treat this as an "exercise."
You owe it to yourself to listen to this long interview with McPhee (but I know that you are pressed for time). At the very least, though, listen to the first few minutes. It is the very purpose that lies behind this assignment.
Click on the second blue circle on the right side of the page (it is worth it)
Do not, under any circumstances, turn in an assignment shorter than 2,000 words.
Your reader probably doesn't.
Make it make sense.
d. You must have at least one illustration. Think about "the rhetorical role of
illustrations" in the New York Review of Books.
Don't turn in a first draft (it isn't done).
Voilà you will have something not unlike what Alexis de Tocqueville might have written about understanding a complex, foreign culture that baffled and enticed him 180 years ago. While your letter won’t be as long as Democracy in America, it is likely—if it is done well—to be much like Tocqueville’s rich and evocative letters back to his family about encountering people, texts, and institutions in a strange land called the United States.
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.
|[e] And then you may rest RF|