Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"On Writing Well"

From the Nota Bene section of the indispensable Arts & Letters Daily today is a useful article which encourages plain English by offering "some thoughts on writing well."
At my local recycling center, the first bin is labeled “commingled containers.” Whoever dreamed up this term could have taken the easy way out and just written “cans and bottles.” But no, the author opted for words out of the bureaucrat’s style book, and chose the raised-pinky elegance of a phrase distant from normal English. He also added poor spelling (“comingled,” also a correct spelling, would have been clearer) and pointless redundancy (the concept of “co” is already embedded in the word “mingled”). How did they pack so many errors into two words of modern environmental prose?

Instructor's CopyEditing Key

Follow this link, as well as this other link, for a legend of the standard copy-editing symbols used in the marking of your Mid-Term Examination essay.

Some of the more frequently-used are the following.
  • SYN: faulty syntax
  • GR: faulty grammar
  • AWK: awkward wording or awkward expression of idea.
  • SP: faulty spelling
  • PRON: missing or faulty pronoun.
  • AGR: faulty agreement (grammar.)
  • T: incorrect tense (grammar.)
  • M: incorrect mood (grammar.)
  • //: lack of correct parallelism
  • ¶ : faulty paragraph structure
  • CAP: capitalise
  • MM: mixed metaphor
  • NO CAP: don't capitalise
  • WDY: excessive, roundabout or unhelpful wording that obscures the argument.
  • ARG: argument required.
  • DEV: faulty or missing development of the argument
  • D: faulty diction (e.g. use of jargon or informal idiom.)
  • PASS: passive (usually adjectival rather than adverbial) form
  • WC: faulty word choice
  • WW: wrong word
  • PURPLE: gradiloquent section: ornate, florid or overly-written piece of incongruous writing.
  • LITOTES: unnecessary and unhelpful use of negative construction.
  • RELEV: irrelevant remark.
  • PETITIO: a petitio principii ('begging the question')—assuming as a conclusion that which needs to be established as a premis. Often in essay argument, a statement delivered as a proof which itself is as yet unproven.
  • UNCL: unclear expression of an idea
  • ARTIC: missing or mistaken use of grammatical article.
  • REP: repetitive wording or repetition of a previously-presented idea.
  • REL: faulty relation of idea or no clear relation to surrounding idea.
  • TRUISM: statement of the obvious: unnecessary.
  • C&E: mistake between cause and effect
  • P: faulty punctuation.
  • INTROD: faulty (e.g. weak, missing or unclear) introduction of idea or item.
  • DEL: unnecessary text requiring deletion
  • PLEON: pleonasm
  • REPORT: book report--i.e. absence of argument. 
  • CIT: missing citation
  • DANGL: dangling modifier.
  • STR: faulty or absent argument structure.
  • R-O: run-on sentence.
  • FRAG: sentence fragment
  • THESIS: misplaced thesis-level sentence
  • X: false statement.
  • SS: faulty sentence structure
  • ARR: faulty arrangement of the sentences in relation to the argument.
  • INDIR: indirect expression of idea--often weak or padded syntax.
  • EVAL: an evaluative opinion of quality, in word or phrase, rather than argument.

Example of Dialectical Attitude to Religion

I came across this delightful example of the dialectical spirit in action vis-à-vis religion. Magician Penn Jillette, an Atheist, describes in the clip (from his blog) an encounter he had with a Christian at a 'Penn & Teller' show.

The dialectical result presented in the clip is not agreement, or conversion, but respect & understanding--and these are glory enough compared to the malevolence and antogonism common in polemics.

"Atheists, please read my heathen manifesto:

This linked article from England's The Guardian online is a useful re-framing of the problem for Atheism around its name:
It has long been recognised that the term "atheist" has unhelpful connotations. It has too many dark associations and also defines itself negatively, against what it opposes, not what it stands for. "Humanist" is one alternative, but humanists are a subset of atheists who have a formal organisation and set of beliefs many atheists do not share. Whatever the intentions of those who adopt the labels, "rationalist" and "bright" both suffer from sounding too self-satisfied, too confident, implying that others are irrationalists or dim.
If we want an alternative, we should look to other groups who have reclaimed mocking nicknames...."Heathen" fulfils this ambition.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Mid-Term Examination Topics

Make your choice between these two topics for your Mid-Term Examination. The comprehensive Examination details are in the Mid-Term Examination Detail post, below. Keep in mind that all of the material and ideas referenced by each of the two topics is directly and entirely from lecture.

Note that you are making a single unified argument, on the model described in lecture, under a single thesis statement: it is assumed that you already have functional understanding of the individual religious and civilisation concepts.
  1. Use specific examples from Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood to explain how mujokan, wabi-sabi, and mono no aware are separate Japanese civilisation expressions of one and the same underlying Buddhist religious idea. 
  2. Give an account of how Monica Ali uses a dialectic of setting in Brick Lane to engage with tenets of the Islamic religion under umbrella term Inshallah

Monday, July 1, 2013

Mid-Term Examination Detail

The Mid-Term Examination is a stay-at-home examination.

The examination requires you to write an essay of between 600-800 words, in the basic essay form detailed in class, on your choice from two available topics.

The essay will be judged on the following criteria:
  • exclusive fidelity to lecture concepts and discussion.
  • irrefutable evidence that the course texts were read diligently and ahead of lecture, and that the lecture material was attentively engaged with.
  • proper grammar
  • proper basic essay form, from lecture.
  • clear, succinct, and unique statement of thesis.
  • consistent rhetorical arrangement. 
  • correct and coherent logical development.
  • quotations from the course texts: advised but not required.
  • quotations will not need formal citation; however the Instructor will verify them for exactitude.
The essay will be graded on the assumption that it was written in a maximum window of two-hours (ninety minutes to write outline and draft the essay, and thirty minutes to revise.) This is your precise  benchmark for the level of quality that your Mid-Term essay should meet.

Course texts, online lecture slides and, most importantly, your own notes from classroom lecture can be used in the Mid-Term. On the honour system, no consultation or contact with anyone else is permitted during the stay-at-home Examination. Your work must be entirely your own; independently done.

The two choices of Examination topic will be released here on the Course Website at 15:00, July 2nd 2013.

The completed essay must be received by e-mail at stephen_ogden@bcit.ca no later than 23:59:59 on July 2nd 2013 in the following form:
  •  '7023midtermlastnamefirstname.rtf'.
Mid-Terms will be graded only if they meet the deadline and the precise submission format stipulated above.

Sunday, June 30, 2013