Student Life at ISU

Adam_BlogOver the weekend I ran into Adam, a former Kennedy HS and AP Lang student. Sounds like he’s doing impressive things at Iowa State University these days, which is no surprise to anyone who knows him. But the reason I’m posting here about him is that he was blogging this year for Cyclone Life, a student organization at ISU. Among other things, now I know where I should eat the next time I’m in Ames. Thanks for sharing, Adam, and keep up the good work!

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Formatting an Essay Like the New York Review of Books

To make your essay look like one of the essays on, you’ll need the following:

  • all the publishing info about your book;
  • an image that evokes an important idea within your essay;
  • a caption for your image, including whose image it is.

Remember that you’ll also have to include a Works Cited page. The formatting guidelines for those are here, if you’re using MLA. An example of what it looks like is here.

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The Dauntless Oracle

CaptureRecently, former student Austin Anderson e-mailed me to say hello, and to let me know about a new blog he started, called The Dauntless Oracle. On it, he writes about a range of topics, but all of them seem to be around the intersection of technology and culture. Those of you who are writing about those might want to go check it out. Nice work, Austin!

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Author Study Panel Schedule


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The Rhetorical Triangle

For future reference, some questions to ask when you’re beginning a piece of rhetorical analysis.

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Aristotle, Joshua Bell, and Persuasion

Watch the video. Then I’ll have a few words about this after the jump.
Continue reading

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The Credible Hulk

Posted by request

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Join Us for ICAPLCPE4

This guy is probably walking into an AP Practice Exam. You should too.

As you all know, I’ll be holding the Fourth Annual Iowa City AP Language and Composition Practice Exam (ICAPLCPE) on the University of Iowa campus a week from tomorrow. That is, Saturday, May 3, at 8:00 AM. It will be at the Iowa Memorial Union, which is the university’s main building for hosting conferences, concerts, and other events. How do you get there? Here you go.

The value of going through a full practice exam, in my view, is that you’ll walk into the actual exam knowing what it feels like to answer 65 or so multiple choice questions, and write three essays, all in one sitting. Well, two sittings. There’s a little break. But you get the idea.

Try hard not to be late. Give yourself plenty of time to get there, in case you take a wrong turn at Albuquerque. Drive carefully. Bring a couple of pencils. Bring a bottle of water. We’ll take the first fifteen minutes to get settled, go over the rules, that sort of thing.


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Essayists for Author Study 3

Anthony Bourdain


Bill Bryson


Ta-Nehisi Coates


Nora Ephron


Henry Louis Gates, Jr.


Malcolm Gladwell


Christopher Hitchens


Michael Pollan


Anna Quindlen


Oliver Sacks


David Sedaris


Peter Singer


Neil deGrasse Tyson


Sarah Vowell


Naomi Wolf





Taylor Branch


bell hooks


David Foster Wallace


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Book Review Essays, Spring 2014


This term we’ll talk about book review essays a lot. I insist on tacking the word “essays” on the back end of that phrase to help differentiate between those we’ll be reading, and those which might first come to mind. The latter might include reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Goodreads, reviews that offer a quick-glance judgment by seeing four-out-of-five stars reddened. If you’ve regularly read around in newspapers and magazines, you might think of a slightly more sophisticated version, a review that tells you in a more nuanced fashion about a newly-published tome, its strengths and weaknesses, and at least an implied final evaluation.

The essays we’re going to talk about do some of that, but more. They are essays in their own right, about the topic at hand, at some point discussing a recent book on that same subject.

To that end, I’ll frequently refer to the New York Review of Books, a magazine (and, of course, website) which publishes this and other sorts of essays (this morning I find an essay on freedom and spying by German Chancellor Angela Merkel). Clicking there this morning I see several great examples for us. Essays on books about weighty historical topics like slavery and anti-Semitism. There’s another about women at the top of their fields. Each of these is after something greater than even the kind, well-read man or woman at the sales counter of your favorite book store. Each is also an essay, in the sense we’ve discussed all year, hoping to persuade the reader of something, often hoping to change our focus on the world just a little.

When you need to find your way back to these essays, or those like them, click over on the right there, on the tag “book reviews.” It will take you to the posts over the past few years where I’ve linked to many such reviews.

UPDATE: Here’s Steve Coll’s essay, “The King of the Foxes,” which we discussed on Friday, which is a biography.

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