Tuesday, November 16, 2010

ENG101: Final Essay Topics

Due: before midnight on Tuesday, 11/23, by email

Please write a 3-4 page persuasive essay on one of the following topics; be sure to refer to the Style Sheet attached to the syllabus for instructions on how to format your work. The essay should take a position on your topic in a thesis statement, develop that thesis through detailed explanations of several major claims, and provide support for each major claim. You are encouraged to use personal experience to support your argument, but you must use textual support from Fast Food Nation and one source from independent research or the annotated bibliography packets. You must provide MLA in-text citations and a “Works Cited” entry for all references, including Schlosser.

1. In “Cogs in the Great Machine,” Eric Schlosser reports on the shift in the meatpacking industry toward a reliance on “the new industrial migrants,” noting that as meatpacking corporations reorganized they transformed what had been a “middle-class” profession into one that pays “poverty wages” or less (160). Discuss the impact of this system on the migrants themselves by focusing on one specific aspect of the problem, then present your own solution.

2. In “What’s in the Meat,” Eric Schlosser discusses the role of the industrial food system in the spread of food-borne illnesses such as Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 in the United States. Using specific examples, explain the problem and its cause(s), then present your own solution.

3. In “Global Realization,” Eric Schlosser describes fast food corporations’ use of libel laws to silence protestors and other detractors. Is this a legitimate use of national legal systems? An ethical use? Explain your position in detail using specific examples and focusing especially on the role of money, then present your own solution.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Online Peer Review

Please locate your classmate's essay draft on their blog and evaluate it by following the instructions below. Type your evaluation in a word processor, then cut and paste it into a comment on your classmate's blog post. Your work on today's peer review will be graded equal to an annotated bibliography.

Due: On classmate's blog on Monday, 11/22 by 1pm


1. Does the introductory paragraph include a thesis statement? Show the writer which sentence or sentences you think make up the thesis by writing "I think the thesis statement is:" and copying them out. Evaluate the thesis by explaining whether it is simple or complex, according to our previous discussion in ENG101.

2. Choose one body paragraph to focus on. Is the body paragraph structured by a major claim? (Usually the first sentence.) Show the writer which sentence you think is the major claim by writing "I think the major claim of this paragraph is:" and copying it out. Evaluate the organization of the paragraph by explaining whether everything in the paragraph relates to the major claim.

3. Evaluate the organization of the essay by explaining whether the major claims of the essay relate directly to the thesis. Are there any major claims that do not seem to relate to the thesis? List them. Is there anything in the thesis that is not developed in a major claim? Explain.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Using Transitions to Improve Your Writing (and Your Grades!)

Transitions are words and phrases that create logical connections within an essay. They ease the introduction of new ideas by preparing the reader to hear those ideas and by connecting them to what the reader has already learned from the essay. They help to create a sense of "logical flow," keeping the reader oriented and moving steadily forward through the work.

For these reasons, good use of transitions can often be the difference between a "very good" essay and an "excellent" one -- in other words, between a B and and A.

I recommend the following web pages to help you with transitions:

The UNC Writing Center: Transitions
This page provides a good general introduction to using transitions, including examples and a list of transitional words and phrases.

Capital Community College's Guide to Grammar & Writing: Coherence - Transitions Between Ideas
In addition to providing a brief introduction to transitions, this page is useful for its emphasis on "Repetition of Words and Phrases" and "Parallelism" as tools for creating logical connections.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Online "Silent Discussion" of Schlosser ii.9

Today, we're going to experiment with using our blogs to conduct a silent discussion of the reading -- in other words, a discussion that takes place entirely in writing.

Before you begin:

Before you begin, please move your seat so that there is an empty chair between you and the people next to you. If this is not possible, then change seats with someone in the class so that you are sitting next to people that you don't usually sit with.

Step One: Work up some ideas before you blog

  1. Think of a topic to write about: something you learned or that caught your interest as you read this chapter
  2. Choose a quotation to represent your topic
  3. Do a 5-minute free write on the topic using a word processor (or, if it works better for you, pen and paper)

Step Two: Post to your blog

Using your best organizational skills, write a 1-2 paragraph post on the topic for your blog. Briefly revise your post for development and style. Your post should:

  1. Define your topic in your own words
  2. Elaborate on your topic by stating why it interested you and why it should matter to your readers
  3. Introduce your quotation, give the quotation, and cite the quotation using MLA format
  4. Discuss the quotation in detail, "unpacking" its nuances -- the language of the quotation, its reasoning or logic -- and explaining what new insights or further ideas it provides regarding your topic
  5. Further elaborate on the topic as necessary

Step Three: Read and Comment on your classmates' blog posts

Remember, this is a discussion: you need to write substantive comments that bring new ideas and perspective into the mix or encourage your classmates (both the person blogging and other commentors) to elaborate on their ideas.

Your comments should:

  1. Respond to your classmates' statements and ideas by treating their post or comment just like any other source and trying to "unpack" it
  2. Raise questions about your classmates' statements and ideas
  3. Expand on the topic by introducing personal experience or knowledge from outside this class, explaining in each case what new insight or further ideas it provides

Step Four: Read and respond to the comments left on your blog

(See previous step for guidance on comments)

Jump back and forth between Steps Three and Four, conducting several discussions at once

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Special Guest for ENG103, 11/15

Quick change of plans for Monday's ENG103: The opportunity has come up for us to join another class in a discussion with Tracie McMillan, a food politics writer who has published in The New York Times, Slate.com, Mother Jones and The Atlantic Online.

For this event, we will meet in room C431-D ("C" building) at 1pm. Please be on time!

This is a terrific opportunity to talk with a professional writer who works in the field we've been discussing -- so bring your questions about writing, the writing profession, and the ethics of food! Since Ms. McMillan writes on local food production and urban farming, anyone working on these topics for the ENG103 research paper should take advantage of the discussion to get her insight.

You can read Ms. McMillan's work at her web site.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

U.S.D.A.: To Market and Protect

Today's New York Times online features an excellent article on Dairy Management Inc., a marketing division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and its efforts to promote increased cheese consumption among American consumers. You may remember Dairy Management's successful "Got Milk?" campaign, which began in the early nineties and rapidly became a contender for the "most parodied advertisement of all time." Although the "Got Milk?" campaign has since faded into obscurity, the position of Dairy Management Inc. may be stranger and more ironic than ever before. Today the irony is this: at the same time that its dairy marketing division is attempting to increase the amount of milk and cheese eaten by Americans, the U.S.D.A. is one of the key participants in the Obama administration's anti-obesity campaign, which actively discourages excess consumption of foods high in saturated fat -- including milk and cheese.

Rarely does one find a single institution so neatly divided against itself, attempting to undo with one hand what it does with the other. From the Times: "Urged on by government warnings about saturated fat, Americans have been moving toward low-fat milk for decades, leaving a surplus of whole milk and milk fat. Yet the government, through Dairy Management, is engaged in an effort to find ways to get dairy back into Americans’ diets, primarily through cheese."

One question that springs to mind is this: Why does the federal government play a role in the marketing of dairy products to begin with? It may be that the root irony is not about health per se, but about the existence of a branch of the federal government tasked with both protecting consumers and selling to them.

For more info an Dairy Management Inc., see their official web page, some of their other marketing efforts here and here, and this scanty Wikipedia entry.

And enjoy this blast of cheesy goodness: http://www.ilovecheese.com.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Notes from Immigration Discussion #1

Immigration and Nationality Act -- USDA.gov

obtaining work visas/green cards:
*"new measures to make it easier for professionals to obtain work visas and green cards"
*"the government is very selective based on your country of origin" > "leads to illegal immigration"
*"how much money you have makes a difference" > "can just buy your way out"

effects on immigrants:
*"inability to travel back home and return once visa is expired"
*"must work 'off the books'"
*"breakup of families when immigrants get deported"

*"US Dept of Labor enforces these laws and regulations"
*"bribery and corruption figures heavily"
*"is there an effort to educate immigrants about their rights?"
*"corporations bring people over the border, but the immigrants are penalized when the law is enforced"
*Schlosser Chapter 8: legal penalty against corporation drastically reduced; fine so small it is meaningless
"how is an illegal immigrant going to hire a lawyer? they just get picked up and tossed"
*Food Inc.: "these companies hire them outside the country and bring them over, then the immigrants get arrested leaving work or at home and get tossed out of the country without getting paid"
*October 12, 2008 raids of Agroprocessors: about half of the work force arrested after reports from workers of child labor and poor working conditions; Guatemalan workers sentenced 5 months.

"corporations don't care"
"it's not about corporations caring, but the government caring: these people are in your country, even if they are here illegally"

"illegal immigrants do jobs citizens don't want"
"some immigrants keep the same jobs after they obtain citizenship"