Monthly Archives: March 2015

Survey results and official changes

The Irony Synthesis essay (by a vote of 24-20) will be counted in the summative category.

Further, upon serious consideration, The Meta-Profile  will be counted as a formative grade. The rationale for this decision is as follows: It was the only responsible and accurate way reflect your grade due to the lost time (snow days and PARCC testing).  Two assignments were canceled to accommodate student workload concerns. In order to mitigate the impact of individual essays, an appropriate number of assignments need to be submitted in the major categories (formative and summative). On the day that Column #3 of the Mighty Columnist Project Part II was canceled, I announced that the Meta-profile would count as a summative grade in all classes. Pre-emptively, in the spirit of compromise, I have changed the point value from 50 to 25 points, in order to reduce impact for any students who may have missed the original change as it was announced in class. It is my understanding that this will be found to be agreeable and beneficial to all interested parties.

To summarize the official revision:

Column #4: Irony Synthesis Essay: 50 point summative; Meta-Profile 25 point formative

However, if you should have a concern, please first check how these decisions impact your grade. If your concern remains, please see me in person.


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AP Survey

As we discussed in class, here is the survey to determine the last summative for the AP Lang 3rd quarter.

AP Lang students only. No shenanigans, please.

Vote here

Poll will close Wednesday, March 25th at 8:00am.

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Cabin Fever

“That’s it! The American Dream is history.”

-Klein, grading papers

“History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I’m trying to awake.”

-James Joyce, Ulysses  

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The Tetragrammatonic Moustache

Symbolism. It’s now going on the list with “strong diction” and “powerful imagery.” It’s quickly becoming one of the more abused literary terms, a thing someone says just to say something. So, let’s do some disabusing, starting with the basics. A literary symbol is a signifier that “represents, stands for, or suggests an idea, visual image, belief, action, or material entity.” Simple enough. You knew that already. Just hang on a second.

Let’s take an example: A red octagon symbolizes “stop” even without the word. (Shh…go get your socks and put them back on. My turn to wait.)

Who cares, right? Well, what if we ask how the red octagon came to represent “stop”? That’s a bit more interesting. Don’t bother googling it. Doesn’t matter. Just take the turn with me.

While we don’t tend to write literary analysis on such self-evident notions as the red octagon meaning stop, we may sometimes wish to discuss symbols without raising hackles, offending sensibilities, earning the term philistine. How do we do that?

We most certainly do not want to say something like, “The green light in The Great Gatsby symbolizes hope.” That’s like saying that the red octagon means stop. Either we’ve said something outrageously obvious, or we’re begging the question (assuming a questionable premise which itself needs to be substantiated). If it is the former, we need to go find something more interesting to write about. If it is the latter, we must explore how we’ve come to that conclusion. How does the author get us to connect these ideas? How do we even know we should? (i.e. sometimes a cigar is just a cigar) What does the author accomplish with this symbolism? Answering questions like these requires close-reading language analysis, text interrogation. And that’s where things get fun.

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Is irony ruining our culture? Or is it TV? Or rhetorical questions?

Something I posted last year while you’re ironing out the details of your synthesis essay.

Mr. Klein's Online Classroom

Expanding our conversations of potential limits for satire…

Here’s the light version from (for those of you in a hurry):

David Foster Wallace was right: Irony is ruining our culture

Here’s the heavy version from A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again:

E unibus pluram: television and U.S. fiction by David Foster Wallace

And for those who want more DFW:

Here’s a bunch of DFW essays that Harper’s has made available in memorium. Scroll down to the January 1996 “Shipping Out” link for his famous cruise ship essay…but really, you can’t go wrong with any of them.


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An idea…

So, I think that Blair needs an incredibly obscure, ridiculously underground, completely unpredictable and unreliable literary publication. If you agree, let’s do something about this. I’ve re-purposed my other blog as a place for submissions and information dissemination. I’ll open a page for this if it gets legs. For now, this will be the only entry point.

update: 3/6/15

Based on web traffic and the few messages I received, I chose a meeting date. Information on other blog.

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Flower Week!

It’s here…expect it next time I see you…shh…let’s go.

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