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For the College Classroom

For the College Classroom

•  S C R I B B L I N G S  •

Hunting Through
Medieval Literature

Classroom Comics: Children's
Medium and the New Literacy

The Maiden with a Thousand

Peter Pan

A Whisper and a Prayer

Christine de Pizan

Hostages in the Rose Garden


A note about study guides: Glenco (McGraw Hill), SparkNotes, and Shmoop tend to be the best for students as they provide some basic background on the author and his or her times as well as a myriad of activities that involve critical thinking, not just regurgitating plot. The Great Books Foundation guides are also good. Note: Schmoop does a good job, but you have to wade through the saracasm.
     For teacher's guide, the Penguin and Random House versions offer discussion guides and suggested activities.

1984 by George Orwell. A prescient sci-fi story of surveillance and totalitarianism.
     >Great Books Foundation Student Guide
     >Penguin Teacher's Guide

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll while written as a children's book has something for everyone and is now seen as an exercise in experimental writing.
     >Random House discussion guide.

Animal Farm by George Orwell. A story of oppression and corruption in the barnyard. "All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others."
     >McGraw Hill student reading/discussion guide.
     >Penguin Teacher's Guide

Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis is the story of a real estate developer with political aspirations. The work satirizes the American middle class.
      >Spark notes study guide

Benito Cereno by Herman Melville. The first pirate story ever written. It takes place on board a slave ship and the ending is delivered with a twist (Part of The Piazza Tales).
     >Schmoop student guide.

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler is a noir classic starring the hard-boiled detective Philip Marlowe.
     >Student discussion questions

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley looks at a society that accepts subjugation at the hands of technocrats.
     >Great Books Foundation student guide.

Candide by Voltaire is a satire of philosophic optimism experienced by a young man who encounters many misfortunes.
     >Penguin study guide

Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas. When revenge tragedies went out of fashion, Dumas wrote a revenge novel.
      >Shmoop student guide.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick A classic sci-fi that examines the question about what it means to be human in a dystopian noir world.
     >Schmoop student guide.

Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes is a satiric peek into the chivalric world of Spain through the eyes of an old knight
     >Teacher's guide
     >SparkNotes for students

Dracula by Bram Stoker. Every vampire tale ever told begins with this classic. Interesting twist: discuss the new technology in the 18th century.
     >Lit Lovers student reading guide.

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. A modern police officer investigates the alleged crimes of Richard III. Top 100 Mystery novels of all time and a great, quick read.
     >Discussion Questions

The Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov. Winner of many Hugo Awards. It tries to do for science fiction what Gibbons' epic, The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, did for history.
     >Penguin Reading Guide (mixed with other stories)
     >Shmoop Guide

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Written on a bet, this is the original Halloween story. The novel discusses morality in the time of technology (when technology was in its infancy).
     >Glencoe student study guide.
     >Penguin teacher's guide.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. This is a Dickens mega-novel complete with orphans, reversals of fortune, and one really creepy spinster.
     >Glencoe student guide.
     >Penguin teacher's guide.

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. The gilded age puts women in gilded cages from which many never escape and if they do they will curse their sudden and inevitable betrayal.
     >SparkNotes reading guide

I, Claudius by Robert Graves is written as an autobiography displaying a decadent and brutal Rome. One of Time Magazines 100 All-Time novels.
     >Discussion questions.

The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison displays what it was like to be African American in the 1950s.
     >Random House Teacher's Guide

    >Random House Reader's Guide

Hiroshima by John Hersey looks at the dropping of the atomic bomb from the POV of six survivors.
     >Shmoop reader's guide.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Fantasy in a fast-paced adventure story that started it all.
     >Spark notes student discussion guide

     >Random House Teacher's Guide

Jane Eyre by Charlote Brontë is the tale of a woman who marries her boss told as a gothic romance with a character that is surprisingly independent.
     >Glencoe student guide.
     >Penguin teacher's guide.

The Last of the Mohicans: A Narrative of 1757 by James Fenimore Cooper is a novel set during the French and Indian War in the wilderness of New York focusing on the last members of a Native American Tribe
     >Student Discussion Guide
     >Penguin Reader's Fact Sheet

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie
The book's central characters, Victor Joseph and Thomas Builds-the-Fire, are two young Native-American men living on the Spokane Indian Reservation.
     >Discussion Questions

Lost Horizon by James Hilton is a fantasy about the fictional utopia, Shagra-La, whose inhabits appear to live forever.
     >Harper Collins' discussion guide.

The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh. Dark humor at a Hollywood funeral home. Great movie with lots of stars (if you can find it).
     >Analysis and discussion questions

The Maltese Falcon by Dasheill Hammett is the classic noir mystery.
     >CSUN study guide
     >Shmoop study guide

Maus: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman is a graphic depiction of the horrors of the Holocaust that won a Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction.
     >Random House Study Guide

Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. One morning a salesman wakes up to find himself transformed...
     >Glencoe student reading guide

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf explores a day in the life of a post WWI high-society British woman.
     >Spark Notes study guide
     >Teacher's Notes British Library

The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain. Main character, Satan, nephew of the one by the same name, looks at the meaning of life and other issues, like religion and God.
     >Study guide by the Mark Twain House

Neuromancer by William Gibson. The original cyber-punk cowboy jacks into cyperspace.
     >Shmoop study guide

The Once and Future King by T.H. White is based on L'Morte d'Arthur and is a humorous, often anachronistic, work mocking power and (in)justice.
     >Shmoop study guide

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn follows a simple carpenter during a typically unpleasant day at a Soviet labor camp.
     >Glencoe student guide.
     >Penguin teacher's guide.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde tells the tale of a man, his portrait, and a deal with the devil.
     >Spark Notes student guide.
     >Penguin teacher's guide.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Often cited as Austen's best work, this movie, errr, I mean book is the original rom-com.
     >Glencoe student discussion guide
     >Penguin teacher's guide.

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy tells the tale of a British spy trying to save French royals from certain death during the French Revolution.
     >Penguin Teacher's Guide
     >Random House student guide

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson can be seen as the ultimate tale of addiction that displays man's ability to be both evil and good.
     >Glencoe Student Guide.
     >Penguin Teacher's Guide.

The Stranger by Albert Camus is about a man drawn into a senseless murder byexploring the nature of the absurd.
     >Shmoop discussion guide

Their Eyes were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston presents a female coming-of-age story and is a seminal African American work.
     >Student reading guide.

This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald tells the story of a disillusioned Princeton grad who learns that life outside the ivy walls is nothing like what he expected.
     >Student's reading guide.

Tragedy of Pudd'in Head Wilson by Mark Twain is a pre-Civil War critique of society's obsession with race while examining nature vs. nurture. It involves a court case that is the first to use forensics to solve a crime.
     >Student reading guide.

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James a gothic ghost story focused on a governess caring for two children on a remote island.
     >Shmoop guide

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne is one of the first hard sci-fi novels of its day giving us a look at submarine travel in 1868.
     >Schmoop student guide.

The Underdogs: A Novel of the Mexican Revolution by Mariano Azuela tells the story of some civilians dragged into the Mexican Revolution.
     >Random House discussion guide

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackery. The story of Becky Sharp, the original social climber.
     >Penguin/Random discussion guide
     >Shmoop discussion guide

War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells offers a look at what an alien invasion might look like and has spawned numerous movies and one famous radio play. This work has never been out of print. Wells, like Jules Verne, predicted many advances in technology.
     >WSU student's guide.

Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons is one of the most commonly found graphic novels in the classroom and one of the things that attracts teachers and academics is its complicated literary format. Named one of Time Magazines Top 100 Novels of the Twentieth Century.
       >CBLDF Discussion Guide


  The Art of Persuasion

Lots of Shmoop videos which can be silly, but they quickly get the point across.

Both Sides of the Story by Shmoop (CC).

Can my Essay be in First Person? by Shmoop (CC).

Dare to Disagree
Most people instinctively avoid conflict, but as Margaret Heffernan shows us, good disagreement is central to progress (Subtitles).

How to avoid repetition in an essay by Shmoop (CC).

How to Get your Ideas to Spread
Marketing guru Seth Godin spells out why, when it comes to getting our attention, bad or bizarre ideas are more successful than boring ones (Subtitles).

How to identify ethos, logos, and pathos by Shmoop (CC).

How to write an Argument Essay by Shmoop. Their CC videos can be goofy, but they get the idea across.

How to write an introduction to a literary analysis.

How to write a literary reserach paper by Ways and How

How to write a killer thesis Statement by Shmoop (CC).

How to write a summary by Shaun (all of Smrt English videos are excellent).

Literary Analysis Paragraph Structure.

Outlining by Shmo0p (CC).

Phrases, Clauses, and Sentences by Shmoop (CC).

Plagiarism by Shmoop (CC).

Run-on Sentences by Shmoop (CC).

Sentence Fragments by Shmoop (CC).

Subject/verb agreement by Shmoop (CC).

Synthesizing Information by GCFLearnFree.org (CC).

The Impact of Persuasion
Don Norman is the leader in the application of human-centered design. “All design,” says Norman, “whether of a product, a company, a service or an experience is ultimately aimed at satisfying human and societal needs.”

Thesis statement vs topic sentence by Shmoop (CC).

THUNK 106: The Toulmin Method of Argumentation by THUNK (CC).

Top 10 Essay Writing Don'ts by Shmoop (CC).

Transitions by Shmoop (CC).

Using Citations Effectively by Shmoop (CC).

What not to do in an introduction by Shmoop (CC).

What not to do in a conclusion by Shmoop (CC).

Writing a Killer Conclusion by Shmoop (CC).

Links for ETHOS, PATHOS, and LOGOS

How to write a rhetorical analysis video: Writing Center: Rhetorical Analysis

After reviewing ethos, pathos, and logos, a good way for students to understand these rhetorical concepts is by analyzing television commercials.

As I tell my students, the greatest practioners of rhetoric are advertisers. Their whole job is to convince you to part with your money. One of the best shows in recent television history is Mad Men and they present some really good lessons in ethos, pathos, logos.

According to Aristotle, the best speakers (or writers) utilize all three appeals when it comes to arguments, but if you really want to move people to action (such as opening their wallets), you must resort to pathos (the basest form of argumentation) -- think about those horrible "Save the abused animal" commercial.
>Ethos, Pathos, Logos powerpoint.

The Art of Rhetoric: Persuasive Techniques in Advertising
     Ethos, pathos, and logos in advertising.

Logorama and academy award winning short using nothing but company logos. What does this say about consumerism?


Budweiser Superbowl 2015 Commercial with a rhetorical analysis of Budweiser's "lost puppy" commercial. We discuss the use of rhetorical strategies and appeals to ethos, pathos, and logos in a close reading of the film.

Old Spice

Let's start off with a presentation of ethos, pathos, and logos in "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like"
Rhetorical Analysis of The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

Now it's your turn. How does Old Spice use ethos, pathos, and logos in the next commercial?

Should your Man Smell Like an Old Spice Man?

Logical Fallacies

Before moving on let's take a look at how logical fallacies are used in advertising, politics, and popular at the Logical Fallacies project, including slippery slope, red herring, non sequitur, post hoc, bandwagon, ad hominem, false authority, hasty generalization.

Your logical fallacy is . . . is a website that offers a great handout and some interactive examples. This shows that there are quite a few different kinds of fallacies.
          How to Think, Not what to Think is a TedTalk by the creator of the logical fallacies website, Jesse Richardson, and make some good points about rhetoric.

This prezi project on Logical Fallacies within Advertising points out some fallacies in the Old Spice commercial above.

Here's some famous fallacies:
     Slippery slope on Direct TV
Post hoc fallacy from Bud Light

Five Fallacies | Idea Channel
Straw man fallacy, ad hominem attack, black and white fallacy (either/or), authority fallacy, no true scotsman (universal)

Even More Fallacies | Idea Channel
Don't forget counterarguments! Fallacy fallacy (if there is a fallacy idea/argument must be bad), sharp shooter fallacy (cause/effect reversed), moving the goalposts (raising the bar)

An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments combines two of my favorite things - comics and rhetoric. A fun look at fallacies that tries to make understanding them a bit easier.

Mad Men

Let's look at the Mad Men expert, Don Draper, and how he explains his use of ethos, pathos, and logos in advertising.

Pitches based on nostalgia: Kodak Carousel and Hershey's Chocolate.

Pitches based on sex appeal: Jaguar, Gillette, and Lipstick, Jantzen Swimsuits.

But why choose one cigarette, toothpaste, or cereal over another? Cigarettes are what is known as a parity product--a product that is functionally equivalent to its competitiors.
          At Mad Men they have given up on ethos (positive medical testimony) and are going to stick with logos when pitching Lucky Strikes.

Q) All successful ads combine all three elements of argument--ethos, pathos and logos--to sell products. Can you identify how each ad uses these three elements of appeal?

Q) What logical fallacies can you spot?


Teaching rhetoric with McDonalds. Here's a look at ethos:

"The Showdown" - Bird vs. Jordan McDonald's ad - 1993

and a modern remake

McDonald's Commercial with LeBron James and Dwight Howard

Q) How does McDonald's use ethos in these commercials? (Wanna be an athlete like Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Dwight Howard, or LeBron James - eat McDonald's)

Q) Why did McDonald's create the same commercial with different athletes? (Appeal to younger generation audience)

Teaching pathos:

You don't even need to understand the words to get what's going on in this commercial:

McDonalds Shrek 3 Commercial in Spanish

Q) How does McDonald's use pathos in this commercial? (Appeals to the baser emotion of greed - children want all the cups)

Teaching logos:

McDonald's Happy Meal Ad Cha Cha Slide

Q) How does McDonald's use logos in this commercial? (McDonald's has healthy food - apples. It's convenient.)

More ethos:

Two Japanese McGrand commercials. The first was created via a Project Runway segment:

Tomato McGrand

The second is designed for young men?

Japanese Ronald McDonald

Q) How does McDonald's use ethos in these commercials? (Wanna be a skinny model? Eat McDonald's).

And now for something completely different, especially if you are coulrophobic. The Happy Meal




It's what I tell my students, and it's what every writer should practice.

READ anything including magazines, newspapers, comic books, graphic novels, fiction and non-fiction full-length books--it's one of the few things the internet is good for.

READ every genre, including sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, poetry, thriller, essay anthologies, historical fiction, short story collections, literary fiction and non-fiction and every medium AND that includes comics.

Dr. Eliot was a Harvard University President who gathered a 51-volume anthology together of the "classics" to provide students an excellent liberal studies education. A list of Dr. Eliot's Classic titles can be found at Wikipedia under "Harvard Classics".

For More READING Lists and Links to History and Favorite authors click on >Links

For Comic READING sites and lists click on >Graphic Novels for the College Classroom

WRITING For the College Classroom

Read-Think-b4-u-write. blogspot.com has lots of writing prompts, grammar tips and exercises. It also contains posts about rhetoric, careers, advertising, comics, and reading.

A Curious Question offers hundreds of prompts to jumpstart your journaling. Remember, practice makes perfect and that includes writing, the more you write the better you'll get.


The Impotence of Proofreading - hysterical.

The problem with English grammar is that most rules have exceptions. In this electronic age, grammar standards are changing to keep pace with changing technology. The more I read, the more I see author's breaking language rules, changes which may now be conventions. What's a writer to do? Avoid some of the most common grammar errors (see a few tips below).

I hesitate devoting large segments of class time to grammar because it often leads to that "deer in the headlights" look that means my students have just gone into the "fear or flight" mode. College students should be familiar with the basics, and often are, however they don't know what your talking about when you use phrases like "faulty parallelism," "dangling modifier," or "verb agreement." One suggestion I give students is to buy a good, cheap "Handbook for Writers." They include basic grammar and can be found in any used bookstore (if there is one in your town). Then as a teacher you need to show them how to use the index.

For students who want to write beyond the basics, I recommend William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White's Elements of Style, it is well worth studying. It's super short—the copy I have is only 85 pages—and worth the read.

Here's a few basic grammar tips for the things I see most often:

• Avoid overuse of the verb "to be" (is, was, were, are, been, being)
My favorite professor's pet peeve.

• Avoid starting sentences with "It," "There is," or "There was." When you do it sounds like amateur hour, especially when you use them over and over, then it just gets annoying.

• Limit common dialect and contractions to dialogue, and then use sparingly.

• Do NOT use text messaging language in papers. While this form of verbal short hand is good for taking notes, it is not appropriate in any college level paper or manuscript (Yes, I actually do have to say this to students).

• Avoid the overuse of "I". Many students have been taught by their high school teachers to avoid I completely because it leads to too much personal opinion. In college, on the other hand, professors strive towards informed personal opinions. The problem lies in finding ten "I"s on a single page, or a paper where every other sentence starts with "I did this" or "I believe that." Again, repetition just gets annoying.

• And the first of my personal favorites (meaning, "the hardest error for me to break"): avoid Yoda speak, i.e. the pointy-eared little monk from Star Wars. "Tax returns they have been filed," should be "Filed tax returns." "The newspaper was taken by the dog," should be, "The dog took the newspaper." "Plans to marry," should be, "Marriage plans."

• Favorite bad habit number two (yes, that's mine): Contrary to purple pens, adjectives and adverbs often do not strengthen verbs, they weaken them.

     held tightly = gripped, clutched

     froze over completely = froze

     wrapped tightly = bundled

     pull energetically = jerk

     moved slowly = sauntered

     sat heavily = plopped

     desperately wanted = desired

• Which leads to favorite bad habit no. 3: When the crew of the USS Enterprise decided to "Boldy go where no man has gone before" they split their infinitives. They should have decided “To go boldly where no man has gone before." A split infinitive occurs when an adverb or adverbial phrase is placed between to and the verb.

School House ROCK

I use "School House Rock" as a refresher and then ask students to define the grammar term and provide an example in a complete sentence. These short videos are memorable and fun, but BEWARE, you'll be singing "Conjunction Junction, what's your function" for the rest of the day.

Mr. Morton - Subjects and Predicates


Verb: That's What's Happening

Conjunction Junction

Rufus Xavier Sarsasparilla (Pronoun)

Busy Prepositions

Unpack your Adjectives


Lolly, Lolly, Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here

Online Grammar RESOURCES

Cengage Learning - These grammar quizzes can be emailed to the instructor and cover everything from subjects and verbs in simple sentences to capitalization and punctuation. Quizzes take anywhere from three to five minutes to complete and there are about 100 to choose from. I often use as an extra credit possibility.

Identifying Sentence Errors - SAT Practice Test - Sentences ask students to identify specific errors. There is also a "show me the answer" option with an explanation of the error.

Grammar COMICS

How and why to use Whom in a sentence - he=who, him=whom

How to use an apostrophe - "The soldiers' rifles were no match for Bob's amazing lightning pants."

How to use a semicolon - the most feared punctuation on earth.

How to use "literally" - without exaggeration.

Ten Words you need to stop misspelling - "alot is not a word, you don't write alittle or abunch..."

When to use i.e. in a sentence - "The best way to take out a unicorn is with a claymore, i.e. a directional mine which explodes shrapnel into a designated kill zone."

Online Writing LABS

Owl at Purdue - A great site for basic grammar and citation questions. From practice questions to tips for avoiding plagiarism and writing a résumé, there is something here for every college student.

Hypergrammar - University of Ottawa Writing Centre - Lots of basic grammar pages with lots of good examples, but they use British spellings . . . like centre rather than center, so beware.