Wednesday, December 1, 2010

In-Class work: Thursday, December 1st

Congratulations on being almost through the semester and turning in your research essays! Today we're going to review and prepare for our work next week: your presentations on Wednesday, December 8th and your in-class exit exam on Thursday, December 9th.

PART I: First, write a post giving an overview of your presentation next week. Remember your presentation should be between five and ten minutes. Answer the following questions:

- How will you begin, in order to catch our attention and introduce us to your topic?
- What is the central argument you make in your essay and how will you present it to us?
- What are a few key pieces of evidence that support your argument, and how will you describe and present them?
- What is your visual element, and how will you work it into your presentation? Remember that you'll want to do more than just show us something - you want to talk about what it shows us.
- What do you think makes for an effective oral presentation? What makes you want to listen? What can you do to achieve these qualities?

After posting, read the responses of some of your classmates. In the comments, ask questions about anything in the post that is unclear and offer one concrete suggestion for strengthening their presentation.


After you've posted on your presentation AND given feedback to your classmates, you can use the rest of the time to do some reviewing for the final exam OR working on your revision of essay #2 or the research paper. (You can work on revisions of the research paper even though you haven't gotten it back yet - think about what you already know you need to do to make it stronger.)

Extra Credit Posts: Respond to one or more of these topics on your blog for an extra credit addition to your participation grade. This will be especially helpful if you have a lot of absences to make up. You can begin work on these posts today, and you can post as many as you like on your blog through Monday, December 13th.

1) Look at the Winter Soldier testimony from Iraq and Afganistan included in your packet. What
connections do you see between these soldiers' stories and the themes and ideologies we've been discussing all semester? How do they compare to the stories of soldiers we encountered during our unit about Vietnam?

2) Look at Moustafa Bayoumi's article "At the center of a sudden storm," about the controversy around the book from which we read an excerpt: How Does it Feel to be a Problem? Why and how did the book become an issue? What do you think this reveals about the ways racism works in the United States and the role of the media in creating and reporting on these issues?

We'll discuss Bayoumi's article in more depth next week. Be sure you've picked up a copy of the epigraph and the missing page.

(On a somewhat lighter note, here is Bayoumi's article about being an extra in Sex and the City 2 that he mentions at the end of the piece. And here is an interesting Tumblr using humor to combat the kind of racism Bayoumi describes.

3) Yesterday we discussed the idea that much media serves to defend the interests of the elite. We also talked about alternative sources that can give a different perspective. There's no one trick for deciding if a media source is useful or reliable. However, Chomsky's analysis suggests a couple things to look for.

First, because, as he notes, much media is owned by a handful of small corporations, it's useful to seek out indepent sources that work outside this corporations. Here are two: Democracy Now, a radio and TV show, and Indymedia, which produces the Indypendent, which I handed out in class.

Second, because the ideology of nationalism often influences the choice and framing of topics, it's useful to look at sources from different countries. Technology has made this much easier than it used to be. Here is the website for the Guardian, a British newspaper, and here is the website for the English language version of Al Jazeera, a large network serving the Middle East.

Choose one of the four sites linked into this question and notice what's on the front page and how it's discussed. In your post, compare this to what you see on the front page of the New York Times website. What differences do you notice in the kinds of stories that are covered? The way they are covered? What audience do you think each is trying to reach? How do you think these differences relate to the nationality of the source (ie where it is produced) or its ownership?

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