Thursday, September 30, 2010

Today in class we reviewed Essay 2. Many students were able to turn the essays in with the peer reviews and self-check. This is progress. Continue in SPHE. Do the exercises pages 108-123. There is a nice recap on Pronoun Agreement on page 106. Bookmark it. We'll write Synthetica in class on Thursday, October 7. Type the templates in advance. This essay is our midterm.

We are up to Chapter 9 for Monday in TKW. We complete the book, the following week.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


English 201 1-3 Recap

We had a good class today. Students who completed their SPHE Essay 2: Pronoun Agreement were able to get a peer review and have time to revise their essays and turn them in. I read most of the second-third drafts of Essay 1, Sentence Punctuation. Students who were not able to revise their essay two this afternoon can turn them in on Monday, October 4.

We didn't get to do the Pronoun Agreement Quiz. We will complete it on Monday. Homework was to continue in SPHE. Start doing the exercises in the next section. We will write the Synthetica essay in class next week. Students will bring the templates to class where they will write the introduction and conclusion.

Topical Invention
We also reviewed Topical Invention (handout). The topic is the CA Justice System:

Here is what we composed:
Definition asks the question: What is it/what was it:

The California justice system sometimes nicknamed "the injustice system" or the "just-us club" is guilty of rushing an execution to save taxpayers' money.

Analogy asks the question: What is it like/unlike:

Analogy: Animal control and the prison system in California have a lot in common, both maintain stability on city streets.

Analogy: The California justice system houses people the way the SPCA houses animals.

Analogy: Merle Haggard and Albert Greenwood Brown were both convicted of felony charges, yet Haggard walked and was recently inducted into the California Hall of Fame by the same Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who wants to speed up AGB's execution (LA Weekly). Where's the justice?

Consequence asks the question: What caused it/Did it call/Will it cause:

U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel gave Albert Greenwood Brown the opportunity to literally chose his poison, lethal injection in two doses or three; however a federal court asked for an examination of California's "new execution laws California's new execution laws comply with U.S. Supreme Court guidelines"-- which means AGB got a stay (LA Weekly).

Testimony asks the question: What does an authority say about it:

Testimony: "The appeals court said that Fogel was wrong in asking [Albert Greenwood] Brown to choose between fatal doses of the anesthetic drug sodium thiopental or taking a three-drug cocktail" because [a]ccording to the appeals court, the option was 'not consistent with California state law[,]' where "[a]n inmate can choose to die either through lethal injection or the gas chamber" (LA Weekly).

Topical Invention Homework
Homework is to develop four thesis sentences using Topical Invention. The topic should come from The Known World Chapter 8. Bring the sentences to class and post them at the link next week below.



Read these two articles about California's death penalty. What do you think about the shortage of the chemical used in lethal injections and the race to execute Albert Greenwood before the medicine expires?

How about the strange case of the Hall of Famer with a criminal record?

It seems as if everyone in California knows someone connected to the criminal justice system, why is that? Do you think this is strange?

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Picks Country Outlaw Merle Haggard for Hall of Fame
By Patrick Range McDonald, Wed., Jul. 7 2010 @ 3:10PM

Country music outlaw Merle Haggard

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced the 2010 inductees of the California Hall of Fame today, with country music outlaw Merle Haggard making the honor roll, which strikes us as kind of funny.

Possibly only in free-wheelin' California would a Republican, movie star governor decide that an ex-convict with a long rap sheet and a stint at the notorious San Quentin State Prison is one of the state's most special and accomplished citizens.
But Haggard's always had good luck with Republican politicians: Former California Governor Ronald Reagan, who, of course, later became president, gave the musician a full pardon in 1972.

Without a doubt, Haggard is a country music legend who deserves the honor, and he hasn't gone soft over the years. Just read this excerpt from an Uncut magazine interview:

"I hate to say this, but politically speaking, there was more freedom in San Quentin when I was there than there is in the streets of America now," said Haggard.

"Everything you did this morning has been recorded on film. That wasn't the case in prison when I was there. They might as well put a wall up: they've got us all under surveillance. In jail at the time, you could play poker 24 hours a day if you wanted to. Now, you can't even smoke. What a world we live in. You can't smoke in a pool hall. What has happened?"

Law-and-order and family values types may be saying the same kind of thing about Haggard's induction.

All we can say is, "Long Live Hag!"

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Topical Invention

Bring in 4 thesis sentences: definition, analogy, consequence, and testimony, using Topical Invention.

You can post them here as well.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Below I mention that the essay is not due Monday, Sept. 27, but several students in the morning class completed all the exercises. We reviewed Essay 2 errors, so those students can complete the templates.

For everyone else, complete the exercises and the templates for the four errors. We can work on the introduction and conclusion next week if you don't finish. Make sure to catch up on TKW readings.

Perhaps I'll see some of you at Joshua's wife's play at the Malonga Center at 7:30 PM Saturday, Sept. 25. Remember we have a deal, $10.


UC Berkeley is having a free day of arts and entertainment Sunday, Sept. 26, 2010, 11 AM to 6 PM. Visit

Saturday, Sept. 25, at the Main Library there will be poetry readings:

An Afternoon of Poetry at the Oakland Main Library, Saturday, September 25, 2-5 PM

South Asian American Poetry

Indivisible:An Anthology of Contemporary South Asian American Poetry is the first anthology to bring together established and emerging American poets who trace their roots to Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Several of the poets who contributed to the anthology will read their work at the Library from 3 PM to 5 PM.

Earler that same afternoon, Roswitha McIntosh, Distinguished Senior Poet at NYU, will read from In Search of the Good Life, her recent volume of thoughts and poems inspired by her extraordinary life journey. Ms. McIntosh was born in Germany, in the year Hitler came to power. Her childhood experiences,surviving under Nazi rule, have figured prominently in her work.

Both readings are at the Main Library —West Auditorium, 125 14th Street, (510) 238-3138. Visit

I gave students a copy of a review I wrote for the film: Mountains Take Wings. The film is screening on Friday, Sept. 25, 7 PM at East Side Cultural Center. What is exciting about this is the fact that Angela Davis and Yuri Kochiyama will be present at the screening for questions and comments. Visit to read the review and for more information.


Assignment Due Dates Update

The English 201 8 AM class's orientation was with Steve Gerstle, M.L.I.S. -- Reference and Instruction Librarian, 748-5217, on Tuesday, September 21. There were handouts. We also watched a video.

There was no homework due to Professor Gerstle. Here is a link to the Youtube videos on privilege: 20/20 Privilege in America

Here is another Developing a Topic:

The afternoon class met with David Hatfield Sparks, M.M., M.L.I.S. -- Head Librarian -- Technical Services/Systems, 748-2253. There were handouts and an assignment we started in class and continued as homework due Monday, Sept. 27. Professor Spark will grade the assignment sheet. Attach a second page for the third reference, if you have one.

Check-in with a classmate and for further clarification talk to me.

Essay 2 is not due typed on Monday, Sept. 27. Complete the exercises up to the essay, pages 53-85. We will complete the essay by Wednesday/Thursday, Sept. 30-October 1 in the book. The essay will be due by Monday, October 4, typed and printed. Both classes.

The schedule is off, we are behind by a week. I returned the essays I received on Monday to the English 201 afternoon class. Peer reviewers inflated the grades for most students. Do not do this for Essay 2, the reviewer will lose credit for this on their essay beginning with Essay 3.

Most of the errors were not serious, just MLA: spacing, header, heading, underlined titles. The serious mistakes were: missing thesis sentences and/or conclusions, problems with the introduction--two paragraphs instead of one, unnecessary punctuation, incorrect templates.

Don't forget to read your essay aloud to yourself before submission. There is no reason why a student who pays attention cannot turn in an essay and get a passing grade the first time. Work towards this. I do not have help this semester, so I do not have time to read essays more than once.

I will not be kind to those students who I feel are wasting my time, and to pass the course, students have to pass all the PIDD essays.

In the reading in TKW. We are up to chapter 7 as of this week.

Here is the reading schedule:

Chapter Logs up to Chapter 7 due Monday, September 27, typed or copies of handwritten notes, stapled.


Chapter 6-7: Sept. 27/28 Discussion and Writing Assignment; Chapter 8-9: Sept. 29/Oct. 1/2 Discussion and Writing Assignment.

Chapter 9: October 4/5; Chapter 10: October 6/7

Chapters 11/12 end note (letter): October 11-13 Discussion and Writing Assignment. Chapter logs due, copies or typed (typed is best).

Book Report Essay or Life After TKW (smile)
Book report essay due: October 25/26.

Bring in the book or titles for consideration beginning September 29-30 to October 11. I need to approve the book first. The book doesn't have to be an autobiography, however, if it is, it can also be used for the Social Entrepreneur assignment. We are looking at people who are using their business to better society or more specifically to work against privilege or entitlement based on race and class and/or gender.

Social Entrepreneur Essay
Our last essay, the Social Entrepreneur Essay planning is due mid-November for peer review.

We will start reviewing the portfolio process in November as well to be completed before finals. We will not have a final in this class. The portfolio and the portfolio presentation is the final. We will complete this before classes end.

More later on this.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

In the morning class we reviewed Essay 1 in SPHE. Students completed the introduction and conclusion. The freewrite was to respond to two questions posted yesterday in the other class re: TKW. Read through chapter 5-6 in TKW.

Next week, in both classes, students should bring in a typed copy of the essay on Monday. We will complete peer reviews and grade each other's papers and turn in.

Make certain you complete the self-evaluation. We will also have two grammar quizzes from SPHE on sentence punctuation.

We do not post Pidd assignments. Occasionally students might email them to me, but not post, the authors do not like posts. It encourages cheating they tell me.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010



Today in class, the presentations varied in preparation and depth. Some students put more into their preparation than others. I noticed how some students with the same object learned from their peers and how such students improved on the prior presentation by adding more clarifying material to their topic.

Remember, the topic is American Culture, which means a question one could have asked is: What is America? What is culture? How does culture help define this country, its people and values? What object best symbolizes a value I want to share?

Basketball or sports, credit cards, technology-- from iPods to portable play stations; microphones symbolizing our First Amendment rights, to the inscription on coins and bills: In God We Trust.

Hum, what is American culture?

Samon said it was a light or flame, something burning or passionate about this place where all are welcome (philosophically) and all are one --if one sees the flame or the fire as the great equalizer.

Some of the presentations were practical like Quaneda's assertion regaring American's propensity to looking and smelling good --wearing deodorant and lotion, where another student, Jimmy spoke of how wealth is symbolized by how many people carry wallets, even if they are empty. Wallets represent wealth or at least that's what thieves think (smile).

Football and basketball were represented by fans of the game and participants. Ricardo and Budarin played in high school, while Budarin reflected on how in other countries America is known for its athletes and sports.

One student, Folami, looked at natural disasters, and how America's response to disasters at home is often based on race and class: Hurricane Katrina the linchpin.

So within our American cultural landscape there is an inconsistent response to its citizenry, something that dates back to the founding of this country --the notion of who are the true or real Americans, a question Dan Hoyle asks in his play, "The Real Americans."

Post your American Culture narratives and comments on two classmates presentations at the link below.

Homework is to complete Essay 1 in SPHE. Bring in a printed copy for a peer review. make sure you complete the self-evaluation. Don't forget to do the exercises in the axillary on quotation marks (Pollitt Baker 328-329).

The answers to the questions in the introduction (Pollitt Baker 46) are paraphrased (Pollitt Baker 339-350).

The Known World Readings
Read chapter 5 for next week. Answer three questions posted in the freewrite below, also respond to two students responses to your questions (smile). Do you agree with their answers? How might you expand their analysis?

If no one answers your questions, respond to students who chose the same question(s) you do. Are their answers similar?

In each answer, use the book to support your response. We have a library orientation next Wednesday, Sept. 22, 1-2 PM. We will meet in the library and then spend the second part of the class in discussion on The Known World.

We will read TKW chapters 6-8 for the following week Sept. 20-24.

The freewrite was not supposed to be homework, but not many students were able to post, let alone respond to a question. Do the freewrite last.



Develop essay questions for each chapter: 1-4 in TKW; two per chapter 1-4. Answer minimally three questions. You can answer more if you like. Respond to two student responses.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Cyber-Assignment for ENG 201 1-3

In Monday afternoon's class, homework was to complete the templates for Essay 1 and bring in electronically. Email the templates to yourself.

How was the discussion Monday? Post reflections on the Literature Circle. How was it? What did you enjoy most? Least? How did it help you learn more or expand your appreciation of the text, its themes and concepts?

Homework is to read up to chapter 4. Next week students need to be up to chapter 6 for Monday, Sept. 20. We have a library orientation next Wednesday. We will meet there.

American Culture Presentation

We will start class with the American Culture presentations. Students are to bring in an object that represents American cultural values. Students explain what their object is and how it fulfills the assignment (smile).

Rehearse the presentation. It should be about 1-3 minutes.

I gave students an assignment sheet for the entire semester for SPHE. Ask for a copy if you missed it. I will post it later.


American Culture Cyber-Post

Today in class we began our presentations on American Culture. We found ourselves talking about many student's objects long after their formal presentation ended. Take for instance one student's presentation on a popular alcoholic beverage. This led to a lengthy discussion about alcoholism in American culture.

Post your narratives here and respond to another student by Thursday, Sept. 16 8 AM.

We will continue tomorrow in class, a few students weren't able to share.

I gave students an assignment sheet for the entire semester for SPHE. Ask for a copy if you missed it. I will post it later.

Stewart Pidd Hates English Assignments for Fall 2010

Sept. 7-9/13-16
Essay 1 pp. 31-51 Templates due electronically Sept. 15-16. Each student needs to prepare their essays: heading, header. Essay due Sept. 20, printed out.
Exercises pp. 1-30.

Sept. 20-23
Essay 2 pp. 86-106 Templates due typed Sept. 22-23. Essay due Sept. 27, printed out.
Exercises pp. 70-85

Sept. 27-30 Midterm Synthetica Essay
Pronoun Case – In class essay: Sept. 29-30. Bring in the templates typed and the essays heading and header with title already completed. We will pay special attention to ellipsis marks, which need to be properly used in this essay.

Don’t miss class, this is not homework.

October 4-7
Essay 3 pp. 153-175 Essay due October 6-7. We will print it in class.
Exercises pp. 128-152.

October 11-14
Essay 4 Be Verbs 198-220. Essay due October 18, printed out.
Exercises pp. 178-196

October 18-21
Possessives in-class essay due October 20-21. We will print in class.
Exercises pp. 222-247.

October 25-28
Parallel Structure in-class essay due October 27-28. We will print in class.
Exercises pp. 250-275.

November 1-4
Essay 5 Subject Verb Agreement 283-285. Essay due in class Nov. 3-4.
Exercises 278-285.

Hootenanny—(p. 288) November-December
This essay will use student essays written about their book report as the Pidd assignment. Any revision essays of the Social Entrepreneur essay will also use this format. These essays will list the errors, corrections and then students will also rewrite/revise the essay scrutinized.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


Michael Jackson assignments

For those who sent me lyrics, if you'd like to get credit for the assignment, write a summary of the song. Remember, summaries are shorter than the original work.


Afternoon class Homework Assignments

Today in class we practiced sending emails and saving an assignment to the desktop. Students sent the emails to me. They bounced because I gave out the wrong address and then we practiced forwarding.

We then reviewed the quizzes in SPHE --Confused Words (14-15) and Sentence Punctuation (29), and students worked independently on Chapter 2, Sentence Punctuation (18-30).

We will write Essay 1 in class next week on Monday. It will be due Wednesday, Sept. 15. Students will bring in the templates typed on Wednesday/Thursday and assemble the essay in class Wednesday/Thursday.

We will try to complete a SPHE essay each week or week and a half, depending on the essay. After we complete The Known World, students get to chose their own book to read. See the syllabus for specifications. I will give students an assignment sheet on this.

We concluded the class with student responses to August 31 cyber-assignment. The response needs to be three (3) paragraphs long. Each paragraph needs to include one citation: a free paraphrase, a block quote and a short in-text citation.

Please also include a works cited at the end of the essay. Students do not have to add a separate page. Post at the link provided below. If the post is too long, (post in two installations...just include your name on the second one and put part 1 and part 2).

Since students have read two chapters in The Known World, use both chapters to inform the comment on your characters.

Other homework is to read The Known World chapters 3-4 (if you are a slow reader). Keep reading logs and vocabulary logs. You will turn these in at the end of the book. It will also help students in discussions.

What's Kickin' with Professor Sabir Week of Sept. 9-12
I gave students a list of events I am attending this weekend: "What's Kickin' with Professor Sabir Sept. 9-12. Let me know if you are planning to attend anything on the sheet. We can carpool or look for each other.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


Freewrite: Cyber-Assignment Sept. 1-2

Today in the afternoon class, only a few students completed the reading so we spent the first half of the class reading half the first chapter (page 20). We talked about certain ideas in the first chapter such as how Robbins, Henry's owner treats the boy's parents, from changing the price for Henry's freedom at will, to depriving the boy's parents of Henry's presence and encouraging Henry's neglect and disregard of his parent's feelings.

In the morning class, students read the first chapter, so we were able to discuss them at length, identifying where they appeared first in book and profiling them.

Homework/classwork for both classes
Homework for the morning class is to respond to the freewrite here. Both classes are to read Chapter 2 in The Known World and keep a reading log to share at the next class meeting. Continue in SPHE. Complete or finish the section on paraphrasing.

Many students this afternoon did not complete their essays, so you can report it later. You will have two posts. I wanted to see what you had written, so this is fine. Make sure you have the correct MLA for the heading.

Classwork for the morning class is posted below. We will do this Wednesday for the afternoon class.

What are the qualities of good writing as illustrated in Edward P. Jones's The Known World?

In the three paragraph essay use examples from the book: free paraphrases and direct quotes. Include the page numbers in parentheses at the end of the sentence.

Here is an example:

In Edward P. Jones's book The Known World he takes his audience on a journey into another land. He baits his hook with an all-star cast of interesting and strange characters who act as guides into and beyond the Townsend Plantation and Manchester County, Virginia. When I read the lovely passage of overseer Moses out in the field tasting dirt, a man bound to and by the land, the way he was bound to slave owner, former slave himself, Henry Townsend, I was hooked. Certainly a quality of good writing is not being able to put the book down even to sleep (smile).

Jones's writes of Moses, "He was the only man in the realm, slave or free, who ate dirt . . . because it tied him to the only thing in his small world that meant almost as much to him as his own life" (1-2).

Another quality of good writing is mystique or the writing's ability to arouse one's curiosity. I found myself on a number of occasions interrogating the text, asking questions, pausing in disbelief.

Again, it was a character, Alice who made me wonder if she was really as crazy as she seemed. With a black slave owner, at a time when more often, Henry's kinfolk (other black people) were enslaved--makes one question the shear impossibility of such an idea. This in turn made me question everything. it seems that Jones's Known World makes even simple things like a child's love for his parent, seem wrong. But that was the nature of slavery. Black people didn't have anything like a family, society recognized, yet, Henry as an adult, helped a prostrate enslaved woman, Alice up when she slipped and fell when slave catchers brought her home (13).

I don't think he helped her up because he was protecting his property; it seemed as if he cared about her well-being. Henry does horrible things or has horrible things done to his slaves, yet this one act, complicates one's desire to condemn him completely.

As I read the book, I withheld judgement because after this brief and all too early sojourn between the pages, I begin to question what it is I used to think true about human nature, about slavery, about kinship and history.

Imagine Henry's father's dismay when his son begins to love his owner more than he loves his father and mother, and the ease with which Augustus's child's alliances to the man who loves him slip and fall.

When his present owner, Robbins, realizes Henry's value, he begins to use the boy as a gambling chip on a table where he holds all the cards and the wheel's lever, and the killer is, boy helps him. This is a sad day for his father who in death holds the papers for his son, Henry, the slave owner's freedom.

The irony of an institution where one would think its victims automatically champion freedom, yet don't, is captured in the personalities of free slaves owning blacks. The brilliance of Jones's book lies in this ethical and moral contradiction. His characters keep me on the edge of my seat as I try to anticipate what turn the story will take next and find I have not only missed an exit, I am up to my chin in rancid water.

The author says in an interview published at the end of the novel that he is the "god" of Manchester county and all who reside therein, so he has to maintain consistency and authenticity in this 388 page journey, so his audience will believe what he says is true. This means he has to remember the details of his people and their lives...especially the ones who live into a ripe old age like Tessie.

In answer to a question about the way he tells the story, its nonlinear trajectory, Jones says his intention was to tell the story in a straightfoward manner, but if a character lived a long life he might have to reall events that happened in the distant past (P. S. 4).

"I, as 'god' of their ... first days and their last days and all that was in between [means] What Tessie the child did one day in 1855 would have some meaning for her fifty, seventy-five years later. She might not be able to look back and see that moment, but her creator could. That perhaps, is why she says something about the doll her father made for her to Caldonia and Fern in September 1855 that she will repeat on her deathbed, some ninety years later; she might not even remember the first time she uttered those words, but I can't afford to forget if I'm trying to tell the truth" (P.S. Insights, Interviews, & More 4).

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