The main activity of the first module of every unit is reading.
Step 1 – Read “Literary Criticism” from Writing Commons
This is a brief overview that explains literary criticism. It will help you understand more about the type of critical thinking you will be doing in the close reading assignment. For more information on literary criticism, check out Literary Criticism readings from the Writing Commons.
Step 2 – Choose Your Strand, Then Read
The readings for this course fit three strands, and each strand presents readings with a specific theme.
You choose which strand to read. Read all of the readings in that strand. (Note: any readings marked “optional” are not required.)
Strand A: The Power of One
The readings in this strand focus on one individual’s ability to take a stand for something she believes in.
As you consider the primary readings for this strand, think about the similarities between both protagonists:
- How are the ethical dilemmas they face similar?
- What is at stake, for each?
- What is similar about the choices each makes to take a stand?
Strand A Readings
- A White Heron, by Sarah Orne Jewett
- Supplemental Reading: Killing Birds, by Kristoffer Whitney
- Anda’s Game, Graphic Novel adapted by Dara Naraghi (adapted from a story by Corey Doctorow)
- Supplemental Reading: Understanding “Gold Farming”, by Richard Heeks
- Optional Reading: Anda’s Game, by Corey Doctorow (Note: this is the original short story. You are not required to read this; this is an optional reading.)
Strand B: Live Deliberately
The readings in this strand explore choices made to live in a way that reflects that individual’s ethical stance.
As you read these works, consider the ways that the writer or narrator of each of these works goes against prevailing cultural values:
- What does the writer or narrator value?
- How are these values at odds with societal values?
- What has it cost the writer or narrator to follow his values?
Strand B Readings
- The Gambler, by Paolo Bacigalupi
- Supplemental Reading: Earning the Future: A Q & A with Paolo Bacigalupi
- “Where I Lived, And What I Lived For,” by Henry David Thoreau
- Supplemental Reading: What Would Thoreau Do? by Nika Knight
Strand C: Identity Shifts
The readings in this strand explore the theme of identity and culture, examining the ways that one’s identity changes with cultural changes.
As you read these works, consider the ways that the writer or speaker of each of these works has experienced a shift in identity:
- How does the writer or speaker change?
- What has the writer or speaker had to give up?
- What has the writer or speaker gained?
Strand C Readings
- “No One Leaves Home Unless Home is the Mouth of a Shark,” by Warsan Shire
- Supplemental Reading: The Arts in Refugee Camps, by Awet Andemicael
- Excerpts from Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca
- Supplemental Reading: “The Conquistador who Wrote a Captivity Narrative: Cabeza de Vaca’s Naufragios as a Captivity Narrative,” by Carmen Gomez Galisteo
- Optional Reading: The Complete Narrative (Note: this is the complete narrative. You are not required to read this; this is an optional reading.)
Step 3 – Discussions
After you complete the readings, participate in the following two discussions:
Discussion 2A – Reading Response
After you’ve read the two primary readings for the strand you selected in Unit 2, write about your response to one or both of these readings.
In your writing, explore and develop your thoughts, feelings, and ideas about one of both of the readings.
If you’d like, you can write this like a journal entry or letter to your instructor, classmates, friend, or even to a character in the reading.
You might include:
- ideas and thoughts you have while reading this piece of writing.
- feelings about the reading
- reactions to the reading
- questions about the reading or the writer
- connections you see between this writing and your life, current events, or other works you’ve read
This entry can be informal. You will not be evaluated on spelling, punctuation, grammar, or organization. Instead, fully develop and explore your ideas, feelings, and reactions.
Be sure to include the title and author of the work(s) you are writing about in either the subject line or first paragraph of your response.
Reply to at least one other student’s response.
Discussion 2B – Taking a Stand
In the primary readings for Module 2, characters or people in works of writing “take a stand”– or fail to take a stand.
For the two primary readings in the strand you selected, identify an ethical dilemma (a choice between “right and wrong”). Then, write about ways that the character or person in each of these two works faced that dilemma.
What would you have done in that person’s position?
Be sure to include the title and author of the work(s) you are writing about in either the subject line or first paragraph of your discussion post. Also, be sure to include at least two quotations from the texts. See the “Notes on Quotations” for more information on properly formatting and incorporating quotations in your writing.
Reply to at least one other student’s discussion post.