The seminar paper.

English 101

Seminar Paper Assignments for Unit 2 (The Review)

Due Dates: Seminar Paper #5  due on Wed 2/1

Seminar Paper #6 due on Thu 2/2


VERY IMPORTANT! Read “About Seminar Papers” (paper handout or on our class website) for more that you need to know about seminar papers—format, length, quotation requirements, required research, and additional reading, grading, etc.

Quotation Requirements

As with the previous seminar papers, for these your answers must include the three following kinds of quotations:

  • Introduced by a short signal phrase plus a comma.
  • Introduced by a full idea-containing sentence of your own plus a colon.
  • Blended into your own sentence—for quoting short phrases and individual words.

Do not include any quotations longer than four typed lines (your typing, your lines) of text. Use ellipses or careful choices about how to quote so as to avoid these long quotations.


Seminar Paper #5: “How to Listen to Donald Trump Every Day for Years,” by John McWhorter.

                                 From The New York Times, link available on Canvas in the Unit 2 Module.

Due: Wednesday, February 1

  1. If you look at this essay as a review, what is it reviewing? What in the text supports this idea?
  2. If you look at this essay as a review, what larger category does McWhorter put the item he’s reviewing?
  3. According to McWhorter, what are some of the criteria for an ideal item in this category?
  4. According to McWhorter, what are the differences between speaking and talking?
  5. What does McWhorter mean when he says, “We shed the fedora and the white gloves eons ago. What are the chances we would still cherish ‘whom’-using oratory?”? Use your own words to explain this quotation.
  6. Does McWhorter’s essay make a judgment about whether Trump’s way of speaking is good or bad? Support your answer with examples from the essay.
  7. What is your own opinion about speech vs. talk? Are there some situations where talk is not appropriate? Are there some situations where speech is not appropriate? How do you decide whether to talk or speak in a particular situation?

Seminar Paper  #6: “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” by Nicholas Carr, in 50 Essays

Due Thu, 2/2


  1. For class discussion, prepare a question about the reading. This should not be a fact-based question or a yes or no question, not a question for which the answer can be easily looked up (you should already have looked up the answers to these kinds of questions). This should be a question about what the author means and says. For example, you can introduce a particularly mysterious or complex part of the text (using a quotation!) and ask how it might be interpreted. You could observe something about the author’s writing style and ask how it affects the reader. You could call attention to a part of the text (using a quotation!) that stands out to you and ask why it stands out and how it connects to the meaning of the essay as a whole.
  2. Write a few sentences or a paragraph giving your own answer to the question you asked in #1. This can be a speculative sort of answer—you might not fully have a clear or “correct” answer to the question, but you are exploring possibilities as you write. In fact, there probably is no single correct answer to the question, if it’s a good question.
  3. Do Carr’s ideas reflect your experience of using the internet and various contemporary information technologies? If you grew up writing by hand or typing, or researching in books in a library, how do you think the internet has changed you, or has it? If you have grown up with phones, the internet, and writing on computers, how do you think it has shaped you? For example, have you been affected in any way similar to how Nietzsche was affected by the typewriter (95)?
  4. If you were to look at this essay as a review, what do you think it is reviewing? For example, is it reviewing Google, is it reviewing the entire internet, is it reviewing our concentration or research/reading methods? Is it reviewing what Daniel Bell calls “intellectual technologies” (qtd. in Carr 95)?
  5. According to Carr, what would an ideal version of this reviewed item look like? He doesn’t describe exactly what the ideal internet or research method or “information technology” would be, but from reading his critique of how Google may be making us stupid, what do you think his ideal would be? Think creatively about how you might describe this ideal. For example, look at the “‘cathedral-like’ structure Carr cites Richard Foreman as describing (qtd. in Carr 101).
  6. Give brief examples of how the essay shows ethos (author credibility), pathos (appeal to readers’ emotion), and logos (appeal to reason and logic). Do you think the author depends more on any one of these, or do they all have equal force in the essay?

Extra Credit (3 points): If you were writing an essay criticizing or complaining about something—as Carr does and as McWhorter may be doing—what would you criticize or complain about? What gives you the credibility (ethos) to judge this topic? What reasoning or evidence (logos) can you use to support your position? In your imagined critique, how would you appeal to the readers’ emotion (pathos)—what images or story would you use?

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