Thursday, October 22, 2009

Homework: Essay 2

Begin to work on Essay 2.

Your essay should be somewhat related to one of the two essays we discussed over the last few weeks, China's Big Mac Attack or The Gift of Food. You are also permitted to write about a current issue covered on the CQ Researcher database. CQ Researcher is awesome. It's easily accessed through the database link on our school's library website.

Your essay should be argumentative. That means you state an opinion, perspective, or argument, and prove it with evidence. For this essay, you are required to use at least one acceptable secondary source as evidence.

What is an acceptable secondary source?

Not google. Not wikipedia. Not No .com, or .net sources. .Gov, .edu, and .org are okay. BUT make sure to check the reliability of the site.

As we talked about in class, the BEST sources are library sources. Books. Newspapers. Magazines. The best of the best? Academic journal articles. Like CQ Researcher, they can be accessed through the databases link on our school's website. One of my personal favorite databases is JSTOR. It's a wonderful resource, containing tons of academic journal articles.

Bring Essay 2 to class on Thursday, October 29th. Please include a code name, instead of your real name, in the heading. If you want, you can come up with a code name using a favorite character from a book, TV show, movie or band.

On Thursday, we'll be workshopping our papers. If you come to class without Essay 2, you will not be able to contribute to the workshop, and you will have to make it up on your own time.

Email me if you have any questions!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gift of Pop Tarts

Is food a gift? Or is it just food? Vandana Shiva's essay "Gift of Food" argues for the former. Shiva also states that we've lost touch with the importance of food. Food, she says, is the Creator. It should not be heavily fertilized or processed. Without clean organic food, our nutrition suffers.

Our class felt neither one way or the other about this argument. Food, we said, is a meal. Yes, it's important to eat organic and healthy. But in America, those options are not the cheapest or the easiest to come by.

Jan pointed out that organic food isn't always organic. Josh added that most food is genetically modified to a certain extent. The only way to get non-genetically motified food is to grow it yourself. That is the cheapest and healthiest way to eat, as Dina attested. Perhaps someday, when we all own our own homes, we can try growing our own corn and tomatoes. Gardening is worthwhile and fun. But it's also time consuming. We have to wonder - as Americans - do we have a choice? Or are we as lazy as the rest of the planet thinks we are?

Brie told us about her last trip to the Farmer's Market. She said that she spent twenty dollars on four items. That's too much for a college student, and for anyone working a minimum wage job. Brie said that eating healthy is important to her, so it's worth the extra spendage.

That's the real trick. We eat healthy when we can afford it, or when we don't have a choice but to afford it. We pay for it when we have to. Until then, it's Pop Tarts for breakfast.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Discussion 4 Postponed!

Next Tuesday, October 20th, we'll be discussing "The Gift of Food" by Vandana Shiva.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


For Thursday, October 15th: Prepare for Discussion 4. Read "The Gift of Food" by Vandana Shiva" on page 457.

For Tuesday, October 20th: Complete the Midterm Assignment. This is also the last day to submit your revision of Essay 1.


So far this semester, we've spend a lot of time analyzing. We analyze when we read the essays in our book. We analyze topics out loud in discussion. We analyze arguments on the page when we write.

For your midterm, you are going to analyze an episode of a TV show. You can pick any show you like. It helps to choose a show that has some ratings to back it up as a viable piece of entertainment. In my classes at Neumann University, we watched Family Guy. Other shows I’d suggest include Scrubs or The Office. It should be a quality show that’s entertaining and meaningful. Reality TV won’t work. (That includes The Hills.) If you have an idea of what you want to watch, but aren’t sure if it will fly, email me.

Just like essays, episodes have thesis statements, or messages that the writers want to convey to the audience. As you watch the show, take notes. Think about what the thesis, or message, of this episode could be. Write 1-2 pages of analysis.

In your analysis, you should:

1. State the message, or thesis statement, of the episode.
2. Describe and analyze three events that happen in the episode and support this message.
3. Explain why is this message important to everyone. What’s the universal message?

Bring your midterm essay typed and stapled to class on Tuesday, October 20th. Please make sure your essay follows the requirements listed in the syllabus as well.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Homework for Next Week

Revise Essay 1.

Bring the first draft and the revised draft to class on either Thursday, October 15th or Tuesday, October 20th.

Make sure it is typed, stapled, and follows the essay guidelines listed in the syllabus.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Discussion 3: China's Big Mac Attack

This is the kind of essay that grabs you with the title. Who wouldn't want to read about Big Macs? But before you know it, you're sucked in. What awaits you? A really long essay about how McDonalds is contributing to American globalization, taking over and changing China.

For some of us, it was hard to get into this essay. Not because we aren't interested in China. Because we talked about globalization two weeks ago. Many of us feel the same way as we did then. Globalization is not destroying culture. Simply, people are coming together and changing each other. Perhaps we should be cultivating our own cultures, instead of adopting from one another. But since the beginning of time, people have adopted and adapted to each other and birthed new cultures. It's just what happens. This established, we tried to focus on aspects of the essay that didn't have to do with globalization.

Some of us found it sad that McDonalds is known around the globe as the symbol of America. "That's what represents us," said Brie. "A fast food restaurant." Jan pointed out that anything American stands for freedom. American stuff is cool. Aaron added that when he was traveling, he felt both comforted and depressed by seeing McDonalds in other countries. It's good, he said, because you know what you're going to get if you go in there. It's also sad to think that's our contribution to the world.

Dave and Jan went on to highlight the power of McDonalds as a business. McDs wants to make money, not cultural war. They have been embraced for a number of reasons. Conformity. Cleanliness. The Ronald McDonald House for children. And - last but not least- their food. It's horrible for you. But it tastes good. Can McDonalds be blamed for running a business well?

There were contradictions throughout the essay. According to author James Watson, some people in other countries don't realize that it's an American corporation. But this is a contradiction to the many times Watson states that Chinese parents take their children to McDonalds to connect with the outside world. Josh pointed out that even when other countries boycott American goods, they still go to McDonalds. Perhaps this indicates that McDonalds is a bigger power than any nation, any government? That's a little scary.