Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Paper #1 Conferences Next Week

REMEMBER: No class this Thursday--finish Paper #1 instead and turn it in by 5pm. For next week, please attend the conference you signed up for below. Let me know if you need to reschedule and I can find an alternative time for you. Likewise, if you missed class today (Tuesday) please e-mail me with one of the available times.

TUESDAY, FEB. 7
11:00 Christian H
:10 Ryan S
:20 Brenna H
:30 Kara H
:40 Bailey C
:50 Michaela M

12:00 Matthew B
:30 Tiffany T
:40 Tara C
:50 Simirka L

1:00 Micah B
:10 Taylor A
:20 Kristin T
:30 Jacob M
:40 Ben C
:50 Molly R

WEDNESDAY, FEB 8
11:00 (OPEN)
:10 Anna L
:20-:40 (OPEN)
:50 Brooke W

12:00 Harim K
:10-:50 (OPEN)

1:00 Courtney B
:10 Almira G
:20-:50 (OPEN)

THURSDAY, FEB 9
10:10 Johnathan L
:30 Danny C
:40 Emily C
:50 Cameron C

11:00 Grant P
:10 Pramila A
:20 Ace V
:30 Halle W
:40 Megan H
:50 Lisa D

12:00-:20 (OPEN)
:30 Paige Y
:40 Ashley G
:50 Carly H

1:00 Rachel G
:10 Qua'ry T
:20 Matt C
:30 Garret W

Friday, January 27, 2017

MLA Citation Handout (from class)

MLA CITATION IN PAPER #1 (and all subsequent papers)

“Such is the duplicitous nature of daydreams; such is their insidious siren’s call, luring employees toward the perilous shoals of decreased performance ratings. But once you have chosen to host the Daydreamer by Proxy, you will no longer be cursed with such afflictions. Your once-lazy brain will seek its usual refuge during the late hours of the second shift to find that your childhood sweetheart’s once-soft skin has returned to the sandpaper that it truly was, that her once-poetic professions of love have returned to the stutters and lies they truly were.”  

QUOTATION SANDWICH: Introduce Quote + Quote/Citation + Response

As Palmer writes in his story, “Daydreamer By Proxy,” “Such is the duplicitous nature of daydreams; such is their insidious siren’s call, luring employees toward the perilous shoals of decreased performance ratings. But once you have chosen to host the Daydreamer by Proxy, you will no longer be cursed with such afflictions” (103). This passage is important because it shows us how the company links imagination with unproductivity. They would rather remove the essence of our humanity to make you more productive than develop a more organic work schedule for their workers.

OR BLOCK QUOTE FORMAT (for quotes over 4 lines)

In one passage of the story, “Daydreamer By Proxy,” the author writes,
            Such is the duplicitous nature of daydreams; such is their insidious siren’s         call, luring employees toward the perilous shoals of decreased     performance ratings. But once you have chosen to host the Daydreamer by    Proxy, you will no longer be cursed with such afflictions. Your once-lazy             brain will seek its usual refuge during the late hours of the second shift to          find that your childhood sweetheart’s once-soft skin has returned to the   sandpaper that it truly was, that her once-poetic professions of love have     returned to the stutters and lies they truly were” (Palmer 103).
This passage is important because it shows us how the company links imagination with unproductivity. They would rather remove the essence of our humanity to make you more productive than develop a more organic work schedule for their workers.

WORKS CITED PAGE ENTRY

Palmer, Dexter. “Daydreamer By Proxy.” Best American Science Fiction and
            Fantasy 2016. ed. Karen Joy Fowler. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,
            2016.

[Author + Title of Work + Book/Journal + Publication Information]




Paper #1: Metaphors of the Future


 “It feels satisfying, somehow, to claim his right to have no political feelings about the technology in his body” (Huang, “By Degrees and Dilatory Time”)

Science fiction juggles two balls in the air: one is the ball called “what if?” and the other is the ball called “metaphor.” The first ball suggests what might happen based on plausible scenarios of the future, especially worse case’ scenarios. The second ball is less concerned with what could happen and instead focuses on what has happened by shifting our perspective. As with the “Pale Blue Dot” photo, when we see the Earth as a dot, it changes how we see our home—and our lives. By setting a story in the near-future, with different technology and developments, we make the world just strange enough to see ourselves distorted, like a fun-house mirror. Yet we eventually recognize ourselves (or our world) in the mirror and understand that this is us, and the predictions have already come true.

Q: For your first paper assignment, I want you to answer the question: which of these ‘futures’ would you be most terrified of growing old in—and having children born into? In other words, which “what if?” scenarios seem the most frightening or problematic? Choose TWO stories from the four we read to help you answer this question. As you do so, be sure to show us (a) why specific aspects of the stories are disturbing, and (b) why these stories are metaphors for ideas/concerns that are already in existence today. In other words, make sure we understand the stories are frightening because they’re not really science fiction, but close to becoming science fact. For this paper, you don’t need secondary sources unless you want to, but you must use two of the stories from class to create your ‘conversation.’

REQUIREMENTS
  • at least 4 pages double spaced
  • Respond to the stories: show us the implications of their ideas and let us know how you understand/interpret them
  • Quote from at least 2 of the stories read in class; don’t merely summarize them or say “like we read in that one story about the cats”—quote and discuss specific examples
  • Cite all stories according to MLA or APA format and include a Works Cited page
  • DUE THURSDAY, FEB. 2nd BY 5pm (no class that day!)
  • E-mail me with questions or concerns, or come to my office hours


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

For Thursday: Huang. “By Degrees and Dilatory Time” (pp.75-86)




Answer TWO of the following:

Q1: In his author’s note, Huang writes that “this story was also very much a reaction against every other story about cancer I saw growing up” (282). What kind of stories do you think he’s referring to, and why is this a different cancer story? What does it suggest is the reality of surviving cancer and coming to terms with a transformed body?

Q2: During his recovery, the narrator “began paying attention to the transhumanist movement...People wanting to modify themselves. People wanting to modify their children. Other people claiming the right to hate and condemn them for it” (82). Though we don’t have ‘transhumanists’ in our society, what might this be a metaphor for in our own society? Why might Huang make this reference in his story, about someone who becomes transhumanist involuntarily?

Q3: For all the science fiction elements, this is also a story of a patient’s relationship with his doctors. From the patient’s point of view, what makes it difficult to be in the hands of various medical specialists? What don’t doctors see/understand about the vulnerable position of their patients?  

Q4: The narrator observes that “the human mind is infinitely adaptable” (84). And yet, we can argue that he never adapts to his eyes or his repaired knees, but simply learns to ignore them. What might this say about the psychological effects of being augmented or becoming a ‘cyborg’? Can removing a single part of a person remove his or her humanity? Is humanity actually skin deep?


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

For Thursday: BASFF, “Rat Catcher’s Yellows” (207)


Answer TWO of the following:

Q1: Toward the end of the story, the narrator remarks: “I stare out...at the rows of people in cat masks all tapping away on their separate devices, like a soft rain. All genders, all ages, all sizes, wearing track suites or business-casual white-collar outfits. The masks bob up and down, almost in unison. Unblinking and wide-eyed, governing machines” (217). Why does she call them “machines” in this sentence, and how might this passage relate to our own world? Remember that science fiction is always about metaphors—ways of relating a strange, science fiction world to our own day-to-day experience.

Q2: Video games are typically seen in our society as entertainment (at best) or as time-wasting and morally corruptive (at worst). And yet through the game, Shary is able to tackle problems “that economists have struggled with in the real world. Issues of scarcity and resource allocation, questions of how to make markets more frictionless” (214). How might a video game or VR simulation help people approach old problems from new perspectives? How could a game like Minecraft or World of Warcraft, for example, actually help change the world?

Q3: George Henderson, who organizes the Divine Right of Cats convention, says of Shary, “She’s...she’s amazing. Could a sick person create one of the top one hundred kingdoms in the entire world?...Grace, your wife is...just amazing” (212). Besides winning the game, what makes Shary’s performance so “amazing” in this story? How might this be a commentary on how we measure ability/talent in our society in general? Why would most people—including the narrator—not initially see this ability in Shary?

Q4: Judy, whose husband is another prodigy in the game, tells the narrator, “I have this theory that it’s all one compound organism....The leptospirosis X, the people, the digital cats. Or at least it’s one system” (217). What does she mean by saying it’s all “one system”? How does this tie into the narrator’s own suspicions about the game, and what it seems to be learning from its participants? If this was a true story, would this be exciting information...or somewhat alarming?



Thursday, January 12, 2017

For Tuesday: BASFF, “The Daydreamer by Proxy” (101) & Headshot (122)


Answer TWO of the following in a brief paragraph (a few sentences). As long as you give a thoughtful response based on your reading, you'll get credit for this assignment. What won't get credit is (a) not doing it; (b) turning in a single sentence response; (c) restating the question without giving an actual answer. Remember, these are designed to make you think "inside" the stories and start writing about them...and this will help you on the paper assignments to follow. 

QUESTIONS (respond to any 2): 

Q1: Both stories are “what if?” scenarios that show a world not too far removed from our own. That is, it’s not about aliens and spaceships, but a world that almost resembles our own, if just this or that happened. What makes one or both of these stories disturbing predictions of the future? Why should we be concerned?

Q2: How can you tell that “The Daydreamer by Proxy” is a satire? (remember, a satire pretends to be serious through irony—stating the opposite of what it really intends; the point is to make fun of some person or idea). What, specifically, is the author satirizing in this story? Focus on a specific passage that wants us to see the absurdity of this situation.

Q3: “Headshot” gives us very little context for the story, but instead simply throws us into the conversation between an interviewer (for CNN) and a corporal in the USMC. What does “democracy” mean in this world, and how does it relate to military operations? Why at the end does Corporal Peters say “that’s how it should work. That’s democracy” (126)? Does he believe this—and why?

Q4: Julian Mortimer Smith, who wrote “Headshot,” explained that “we rarely see photographs of dead bodies in newspapers. The images we see of war are often highly anesthetized (made more pleasant, artistic, etc.), sanitized for consumption around the breakfast table. When images of death do appear in newspapers, they provoke strong reactions—outrage, letters to the editor, cancelled subscriptions” (286). How do you think “Headshot” is trying to comment on our relationship to death and the battlefield? In other words, why do you think he wrote this story?


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Welcome to the Course!


Welcome to Freshman Composition II, which I also like to call "Writing in the Outer Limits." This second-semester writing course asks you to enter the most discussed, written about, and watched form of entertainment in the 21st century: science fiction. Not necessarily the spaceships-and-aliens kind (though we will consider that), but also the kind that uses the future, technology, and other worlds to help us examine our own. In the end, we only look to the future to understand who we are or want to be when we get there. And for many people, we’re already there, exploring a brave new world where computers chart the far-reaches of space and even our phones can predict the weather. Through our discussions and writings, I’ll challenge you to consider some of the ‘hot topic’ conversations of our century, and become a better writer and thinker in the process. You’ll also read some pretty interesting books!


Required Texts: (a) Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy 2016; (b) Anderson, Feed; (c) Asimov, I, Robot

See you in class!