Archive for the ‘Terms and Definitions’ Category

For this assignment, you will write a sonnet, either Italian or English, and post it to your blog. The sonnet will be worth up to 5 points added on to your final grade. It is due by August 13th at midnight. The number of points you earn will be based on the following:

  • Ability to keep the correct rhyme scheme
  • Ability to keep to iambic pentameter
  • Correct spelling, punctuation and grammar
  • For Italian sonnets, ability to use the sestet to respond to the octave
  • For English sonnets, ability to use the final, rhyming couplet to sum up the poem

Refer back to the presentation on sonnets for a refresher on these terms and concepts and for examples of Italian and English sonnets.


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An author’s style is directly related to his or her diction, or word choice. For example, an author may choose to use few, simple words and short sentences, or long, elaborate sentences with many, complex words. Similarly, the author may choose to give us drawn out explanations of what a character is thinking and feeling and why, or the author may choose to give us very little information about the character’s thought processes.

Raymond Carver’s Popular Mechanics uses a minimalist style, with short, simple sentences, very little detail and very little insight into why his characters do what they are doing. And yet, we do get a sense of the characters’ motivations and the story can still provoke an emotional response. Read through the essay on minimalism and the sample student response on pages 336-338 for more on how Carver effectively uses a minimalist style.

Just as a writer can convey style through word choice, a visual artist can convey style through the use of details. In fact, there are many similarities between verbal and visual representations. Both short stories and comics, for example, use plotting and characterization to create a narrative. Both also rely on images, as a writer uses words to draw a picture in very much the same way as a comic artist.

Just like writers, comic artists can also use a style that is very minimalist or very detailed and realistic. Consider these two illustrations:

Both use very different approaches to render the appearance of a human being. As a result of the artists’ styles, however, we can imagine that stories involving Ziggy might be fairly simple without much investigation of the characters’ psychology. The characters of Apartment 3G, on the other hand will probably go through dramatic, psychologically complex episodes, as the dialogue in the preceding panel suggests.

Finally, the artists’ styles in the two preceding panels influence the tone of their stories. We can imagine that stories involving Ziggy will be fairly lighthearted and cheerful. The stories in Apartment 3G, on the other hand, will probably have a much more dramatic and serious tone. A conflict between Ziggy and his roommate would probably not be as big a deal as one between the characters living in apartment 3G.

For your blog entry, I want you to investigate the styles of the assigned comics and how they influence tone. For each comic, choose a few words to describe the artist’s style, and then write a few sentences describing how the style conveys an attitude towards the subject matter.

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Refer to the following PowerPoint presentation for terms related to characterization:


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The following humorous article offers a definition of irony, some classic misuses of the term, and a warning against being overly fussy about the exact meaning of terms:


Basically, though, when something is ironic, it means the exact opposite of what was said (as in sarcasm) or expected. So, when Annie Proulx says that people living in the middle of nowhere make their own “fun,” she isn’t trying to argue that it’s fun to kill people. Think about what she might really be trying to say through her use of irony.

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For this class, you are expected to know some key literary terms and to refer to them in your papers and on the exams. We will go over them throughout the semester, but for now please read through the following PowerPoint.


Some terms you may already know and others may be completely new to you. If you have any questions about any of these, please ask.

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