Committee Cafe: New York Committee of Correspondence

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Committee Cafe: New York Committee of Correspondence

Dr. Brandon
Administrator
Use this thread for discussion among your Committee.  After this first week, there will be more serious discussions but, this first week, to get started, introduce yourself and try to get to know one another. Over the next sixteen weeks, you're going to be reading and discussing one another's work.  This will be easier if you know something about the folks who will be reading and commenting on what you have to say.  

Begin by letting your committee members know something about yourself in terms of what your plans are for when you finish up the course or finish up at Reynolds.  Where are you in your program of study?  

Are you looking forward to the course?  Why, or why not?

It's OK if you aren't.  Too many students have flashbacks to horrible literature classes where they'd read something great, got into discussing it, only to find out that no matter what they thought the lit was about, it turned out that the important meaning was hiding somewhere in the teacher's head.  This class won't be an exercise into getting at what I think the lit means.  

This also won't be one of those lit classes where any interpretation is as good as another.  Authors write because they want to accomplish something and, usually, because they want to be understood. Most of this course will be about your learning how to put yourself in the author's place and ask, "If I wrote what I just read, what would I be trying to do and how would I want to be understood."  

Just as in everyday life, understanding others is a complicated process.  However, it's how we learn about others and one means we learn about ourselves.  Because it's complicated, understanding others (and ourselves) is often a process we get wrong.  If we didn't ever get an interpretation wrong, there would never be any misunderstandings and we'd never make decision that later turned out to be wrong on a "gut" level.  Worse, understanding others often involves us taking the risk of others getting to know us and taking a long look at ourselves.  We have to really understand ourselves well if we're going to understand why we'd do or say something we didn't do or say.  We have to risk sounding silly or getting an interpretation wrong, that is, if we're going to discuss our interpretations with others and learn from their interpretations. Take it from a teacher who does it every day, taking the chance of sounding silly in front of a group of relative strangers can be scary, but it's one of the risks involved with a greater joy.  It's sort of like asking someone out the first time.  Yes, you might get shot down.  Yes, you might sound silly, but the risk is sooo worth the joy.    

The bottom line?  One of the main reasons we study lit is to practice understanding what others mean in a low stakes environment.  Let's face it: if you get Poe or Emerson wrong, chances are there aren't going to be huge consequences.  It's not like misunderstanding your boss or significant other and getting fired or getting dumped. We read lit to practice how to get higher stakes, critical readings right, and we study lit to learn how to share our interpretations with others and--in the process--learn to take the risks involved.

Very few of us are really, really good at reading and understanding ourselves and others.  I do it for a living.  I've been getting paid to interpret for a couple of decades.  I've got a doctorate in reading and understanding literature, myself, and others.  All this means is I can successfully get into someone else's head with more success than not.  No one gets it right every time, and the world wouldn't be much fun if people didn't do or say things which just don't seem to make sense, that is, until you get to studying and get to know them.  The bottom line is that you're a sophomore in college.  By definition, you're just getting started and learning the tricks involved in learning to know yourself and others.  Worse...many of you have had horrible experiences, some of them in literature classes, which turned you off to the joys of really getting to know others.  The upshot?  Many come into our course expecting not to like it.  You'll have to take my word for it, but the folks who stick it out--most do and earn a high grade--end up enjoying literature more, and most report really enjoying the class.

So, quit reading me and introduce yourself.

Steve
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Re: Committee Cafe: New York Committee of Correspondence

Sam Coleman
Hello, my name is Sam Coleman. I am taking this class not only to fill my requirement for my liberal arts degree, but also because at my previous school I was an English lit major. Initially when I read the course description I was a little concerned with the workload, but after reading a little more I feel that this course should be manageable, if I put in the necessary work. I look forward to working with all of you and enjoying this class as much as possible.
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Re: Committee Cafe: New York Committee of Correspondence

Dr. Brandon
Administrator
Sam,

Welcome to the class.  The workload is very doable, and most students who stick it out and keep up end up with "A"s and "B"s.  With the amount of possible extra-credit, even if you miss a two or three weeks, it's possible to get your grade back up by doing extra-credit.

The real trick is to stay up with the work and to keep in touch with me and the class.  Ask questions if you're ever confused, and if you get behind, I'm willing to work with you, that is, if you've stayed in touch and let me know what is going on.

Steve

Stephen Brandon, PhD
Associate Professor, Composition and Rhetoric
J. Sargent Reynolds Community College
Richmond, VA 23221
[hidden email]

Often the accurate answer to a usage question begins, "It depends." And what
it depends on most often is where you are, who you are, who your listeners
or readers are, and what your purpose in speaking or writing is.
-Kenneth G. Wilson, usage writer (b. 1923)


On Tue, Jan 11, 2011 at 11:14 AM, Sam Coleman [via General Assembly Online Discussion Forum, ENG 241, Spring 2011] <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hello, my name is Sam Coleman. I am taking this class not only to fill my requirement for my liberal arts degree, but also because at my previous school I was an English lit major. Initially when I read the course description I was a little concerned with the workload, but after reading a little more I feel that this course should be manageable, if I put in the necessary work. I look forward to working with all of you and enjoying this class as much as possible.



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Re: Committee Cafe: New York Committee of Correspondence

Drew Bridwell
In reply to this post by Sam Coleman
Hello, my name is Drew Bridwell. I am at J. Sarg. in order to transfer credit back to my previous institution after a questionable first semester. I consider myself a music education major, and do not really need this class for anything but the credit hours. However, I am very excited about this class, as reading and writing have always been favorite pastimes of mine. I took both composition classes in high school, and was somewhat bummed about not taking an english until I cam across this class. I look forward to working with everyone and am hoping to have a good time learning about the literature of the past this semester. I don't really have any concerns about the class, other than missing the first day, of course. Hopefully we will meet Thursday, and I shall see you then.
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Re: Committee Cafe: New York Committee of Correspondence

Dr. Brandon
Administrator
Drew,

Welcome.  Where are you planning on transferring the credit?  And, I'm hoping you can bring in all kinds of odd tidbits about the kinds of music that was playing when Poe was written, Jefferson elected, etc.  Poe's folks were in the theater.  In fact, we'll celebrate his birthday on the 19th.  They passed away while performing in Richmond, and he was adopted by the wife of John Allen, a tobacco merchant.  This split up the family, and Poe only got back to his original family after he'd left UVA after, as you say, "a questionable first semester."  At least you didn't run off and join the army under an assumed name.  All you did was take lit classes at a local college.

Steve

Stephen Brandon, PhD
Associate Professor, Composition and Rhetoric
J. Sargent Reynolds Community College
Richmond, VA 23221
[hidden email]

Often the accurate answer to a usage question begins, "It depends." And what
it depends on most often is where you are, who you are, who your listeners
or readers are, and what your purpose in speaking or writing is.
-Kenneth G. Wilson, usage writer (b. 1923)


On Tue, Jan 11, 2011 at 3:52 PM, Drew Bridwell [via General Assembly Online Discussion Forum, ENG 241, Spring 2011] <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hello, my name is Drew Bridwell. I am at J. Sarg. in order to transfer credit back to my previous institution after a questionable first semester. I consider myself a music education major, and do not really need this class for anything but the credit hours. However, I am very excited about this class, as reading and writing have always been favorite pastimes of mine. I took both composition classes in high school, and was somewhat bummed about not taking an english until I cam across this class. I look forward to working with everyone and am hoping to have a good time learning about the literature of the past this semester. I don't really have any concerns about the class, other than missing the first day, of course. Hopefully we will meet Thursday, and I shall see you then.



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Re: Committee Cafe: New York Committee of Correspondence

kevcon27
In reply to this post by Dr. Brandon
Hi, everyone my name is Kevin Connors.  I'm taking the class to ultimately transfer to UVA.  I want to go to school for public policy.  I'm pretty out going and highly opinionated.  I never had any problems with lit classes and love discussion.  I have been all over the continental U.S. and I look forward to learning about our literary history. After reading some more of the class discription I will say I'm down for the field trips.  I lived in DC for almost 10 years and have friends all over the state so let me know whats good. Hopefully the powers that be will let us have class tomorrow.  I look forward to meeting you all and reviewing each others work.
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Re: Committee Cafe: New York Committee of Correspondence

Dr. Brandon
Administrator
Kevin,

I suspect the course will fit you well.  You'll get a chance to understand better a few of the artistic and philosophic discussions that were involved in setting public opinion and public policy in the Revolution and Early Republic, and you should keep an eye out for the role literature and discussion played in forming policy.

Steve

Stephen Brandon, PhD
Associate Professor, Composition and Rhetoric
J. Sargent Reynolds Community College
Richmond, VA 23221
[hidden email]

Often the accurate answer to a usage question begins, "It depends." And what
it depends on most often is where you are, who you are, who your listeners
or readers are, and what your purpose in speaking or writing is.
-Kenneth G. Wilson, usage writer (b. 1923)


On Wed, Jan 12, 2011 at 3:39 PM, Kevin Connors [via General Assembly Online Discussion Forum, ENG 241, Spring 2011] <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi, everyone my name is Kevin Connors.  I'm taking the class to ultimately transfer to UVA.  I want to go to school for public policy.  I'm pretty out going and highly opinionated.  I never had any problems with lit classes and love discussion.  I have been all over the continental U.S. and I look forward to learning about our literary history.  Hopefully the powers that be will let us have class tomorrow.  I look forward to meeting you all and reviewing each others work.



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Re: Committee Cafe: New York Committee of Correspondence

Kevin Connors
Dr. Brandon,

  I very much agree with your statement about literature and the affect on policy and public opinion.  We can look at Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" and see how many people who were on the fence about the revolution, changed their support.  Also Jefferson, Franklin and many of the founding fathers were well educated in the humanities.  They were not only rebels in the new world they were intellectual rebels bucking the status quo of established european intellect.  At the time that Ben Franklin was living in France they still had the people living as serfs basicly.  The French aristocracy fatefully and greatfully supported the rebels.  They would have the american experience three times and would liquidate their ruling class in the regeign of terror.  Well I'm running off at the mouth. See you at 10.
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Re: Committee Cafe: New York Committee of Correspondence

Raven
In reply to this post by Dr. Brandon
Hola!

    Im Raven! I am attending J Sarge to acheive my Associate of Social Sciences, where I plan to transfer to a four-year university to major in Sports Medicine. As looking forward to this course, I am a little afraid actually because I am not a strong writer. I do hope this class helps me to improve my writing skills. On the bright side, I do like the fact that there is history to writing and that's part of this class (I LOVE history). I do not read or write enough as I should and hopefully this class will give me a good start.
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Re: Committee Cafe: New York Committee of Correspondence

wg225
In reply to this post by Dr. Brandon
Hello
My name is Woubet and my native nationality is Ethiopian but i have lived in the U.S. for a little over 15 years.  My plan at Reynolds is to get my associate degree in Business Administration and transfer to VCU.  I graduated from Reynolds last year May, 2010 for career certificate in Real Estate.  I only have to take three more classes or 9 credits to graduate.

 I am looking forward to the course, even though i think it is going to be a lot to read and interpret.  I have to take another literature class next semester but i haven't decided which class to take.  I look forward to communicating with this committee or group.
Thanks,
Woubet
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Re: Committee Cafe: New York Committee of Correspondence

Jenica
In reply to this post by Dr. Brandon
Hello,
   My name is Jenica.  I am attending J. Sarge to complete my Arts and Sciences Associates so that I may apply to the Bon Secours Rad. Tech. program.  I enjoy reading but usually mystery novels.  I read a lot of Harland Coben, Hunter S. Thompson, and other books as well. Running With Scissors was an interesting one.  I'm big into art and love to do photography. I also am a huge fan of the performing arts and have even been a competitive dancer for most of my life. I work as a bartender to support my family of two: me and my orange tabby, Ziggy.  I dislike writing, love live music, and tend to be a softer voice in the class room setting.    
Jenica Dodge
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Extra credit

kevcon27
In reply to this post by Dr. Brandon
Hey on a note I'm down to drive to anywhere for extra credit.  Just let me know.
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Re: Committee Cafe: New York Committee of Correspondence

Jenica
In reply to this post by Dr. Brandon
Dr. Brandon agreed that walking/driving the Richmond Slave Trail could be extra credit.  I do know a little bit of information about it already and have an actual map to follow if anyone was interested.  It starts down at Ancarrow's Landing, crosses the bridge, along the canal, behind the bottom bars, shows a hanging side, passes Lumpkin's jail and finally ends at the First Baptist Church on Broad St. It takes a couple of hours to do.  If you would like to all go together maybe we can coordinate.
Jenica Dodge
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Re: Committee Cafe: New York Committee of Correspondence

Dr. Brandon
Administrator
In reply to this post by Raven
Raven,

The class should help you improve your writing skills.  The class will offer a rare opportunity to get feedback from a set of your peers on a regular basis.  Reading and offering your feedback on how to improve their writing will also help you with your writing.

The history is built into the course.  The approach is a cultural and rhetorical approach to the literature.  This means that I work to give students insight into the readers and the purposes for which the author was crafting their literature.  Often, to get a handle on what the author was attempting to accomplish and to whom s/he was speaking, it's necessary to understand the history and context in which the writing takes place.  

You'll also have changes to combine extra-credit field trips with much of the reading.  For instance, you can walk the slave trail as we're reading Harriot Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.  You can visit the Poe museum as we read Poe's poetry.  You can visit William Byrd's plantation on the James as we read his Secret History of the Dividing Line and look at his journals.  The list goes on.  Take a look at the extra credit tab, and if you have any ideas as to other field trips, let me know.

Steve

Stephen Brandon, PhD
Professor, Composition and Rhetoric
J. Sargent Reynolds Community College
Richmond, VA 23221
[hidden email]
[hidden email]

Often the accurate answer to a usage question begins, "It depends." And what
it depends on most often is where you are, who you are, who your listeners
or readers are, and what your purpose in speaking or writing is.
-Kenneth G. Wilson, usage writer (b. 1923)



On Mon, Jan 17, 2011 at 6:30 PM, Raven [via General Assembly Online Discussion Forum, ENG 241, Spring 2011] <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hola!

    Im Raven! I am attending J Sarge to acheive my Associate of Social Sciences, where I plan to transfer to a four-year university to major in Sports Medicine. As looking forward to this course, I am a little afraid actually because I am not a strong writer. I do hope this class helps me to improve my writing skills. On the bright side, I do like the fact that there is history to writing and that's part of this class (I LOVE history). I do not read or write enough as I should and hopefully this class will give me a good start.



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Re: Committee Cafe: New York Committee of Correspondence

Dr. Brandon
Administrator
In reply to this post by wg225
Woubet,

Kudos on getting so close to graduation.

I hope you find the literature interesting.  I'd recommend ENG 242--the second semester of American literature as your other literature.  It compliments this course well.  I don't teach 242, but I can recommend some good professors.

Steve

Stephen Brandon, PhD
Professor, Composition and Rhetoric
J. Sargent Reynolds Community College
Richmond, VA 23221
[hidden email]
[hidden email]

Often the accurate answer to a usage question begins, "It depends." And what
it depends on most often is where you are, who you are, who your listeners
or readers are, and what your purpose in speaking or writing is.
-Kenneth G. Wilson, usage writer (b. 1923)



On Mon, Jan 17, 2011 at 10:02 PM, Woubet Gebreab [via General Assembly Online Discussion Forum, ENG 241, Spring 2011] <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hello
My name is Woubet and my native nationality is Ethiopian but i have lived in the U.S. for a little over 15 years.  My plan at Reynolds is to get my associate degree in Business Administration and transfer to VCU.  I graduated from Reynolds last year May, 2010 for career certificate in Real Estate.  I only have to take three more classes or 9 credits to graduate.

 I am looking forward to the course, even though i think it is going to be a lot to read and interpret.  I have to take another literature class next semester but i haven't decided which class to take.  I look forward to communicating with this committee or group.
Thanks,
Woubet




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Re: Committee Cafe: New York Committee of Correspondence

Dr. Brandon
Administrator
In reply to this post by Jenica
Your love of photography can help you document any extra-credit field trips you take.  I'm always looking for public source photos that help teach something about the period or illustrate a modern take on some of the literature.  Hopefully, the practice you get writing will help you get over your dislike of it.  A lot of people don't like writing, but most have never actually had an audience out there to write for and from whom they can get honest, helpful feedback--feedback which isn't tied to a grade.

At any point, if you have questions, get in touch.

Steve

Stephen Brandon, PhD
Professor, Composition and Rhetoric
J. Sargent Reynolds Community College
Richmond, VA 23221
[hidden email]
[hidden email]

Often the accurate answer to a usage question begins, "It depends." And what
it depends on most often is where you are, who you are, who your listeners
or readers are, and what your purpose in speaking or writing is.
-Kenneth G. Wilson, usage writer (b. 1923)



On Tue, Jan 18, 2011 at 3:31 PM, Jenica [via General Assembly Online Discussion Forum, ENG 241, Spring 2011] <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hello,
   My name is Jenica.  I am attending J. Sarge to complete my Arts and Sciences Associates so that I may apply to the Bon Secours Rad. Tech. program.  I enjoy reading but usually mystery novels.  I read a lot of Harland Coben, Hunter S. Thompson, and other books as well. Running With Scissors was an interesting one.  I'm big into art and love to do photography. I also am a huge fan of the performing arts and have even been a competitive dancer for most of my life. I work as a bartender to support my family of two: me and my orange tabby, Ziggy.  I dislike writing, love live music, and tend to be a softer voice in the class room setting.    



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Re: Committee Cafe: New York Committee of Correspondence

Dr. Brandon
Administrator
In reply to this post by Jenica
Remember, you get "extra" extra credit if you take one of the extra-credit field trips with other members of your committee.  The slave trail is a good one to take.  You can walk a few extra blocks and see not only the Slave Trail but the corner of 14th and Main, where the Statue for Religious Freedom was argued into law.  A few blocks more will get you to the Poe Museum, St. John's Church, Chimorozo Medical Museum, or Jefferson's State Capital...

The list goes on.

Steve

Stephen Brandon, PhD
Professor, Composition and Rhetoric
J. Sargent Reynolds Community College
Richmond, VA 23221
[hidden email]
[hidden email]

Often the accurate answer to a usage question begins, "It depends." And what
it depends on most often is where you are, who you are, who your listeners
or readers are, and what your purpose in speaking or writing is.
-Kenneth G. Wilson, usage writer (b. 1923)



On Wed, Feb 9, 2011 at 2:49 PM, Jenica [via General Assembly Online Discussion Forum, ENG 241, Spring 2011] <[hidden email]> wrote:
Dr. Brandon agreed that walking/driving the Richmond Slave Trail could be extra credit.  I do know a little bit of information about it already and have an actual map to follow if anyone was interested.  It starts down at Ancarrow's Landing, crosses the bridge, along the canal, behind the bottom bars, shows a hanging side, passes Lumpkin's jail and finally ends at the First Baptist Church on Broad St. It takes a couple of hours to do.  If you would like to all go together maybe we can coordinate.
Jenica Dodge



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