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Monday, 11 May 2009

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Ahistoricality

In my field, evidence is not a condiment.

StevenAttewell

Well, evidence is not always the same thing as quotes in every discipline. In my history sections, I always tell my students to lard it up with evidence, call it a lettuce/tomatoes' thickness, but not to blockquote.

tomemos

But surely the "mini-thesis" (like the topic sentence) need not be the top bun in every paragraph? Or can the top bun go in the middle of the burger?

Ahistoricality

I'm sorry, but any model in which the evidence -- quotes or citations, I don't care, though some people prefer veggieburgers, turkeyburgers or hot dogs sliced -- isn't the meat is still going not going to pass muster (pass the mustard!!) in a history course. Obviously, you want analysis: a big hunk of meat with nothing else isn't much of a burger. But something which is mostly lettuce, tomato and pickles is just a salad sandwich. Even when my students give me burger paragraphs, too often they're like this.

SEK

I'm sorry, but any model in which the evidence -- quotes or citations, I don't care, though some people prefer veggieburgers, turkeyburgers or hot dogs sliced -- isn't the meat is still going not going to pass muster (pass the mustard!!) in a history course.

This is true . . . in a history course. But in a composition course devoted to analysis instead of research, the evidence consists largely of plot summary, which is not what I want. (In my course, it's typically a single comic panel or film frame.) If you look at the course blog, "The Group That Said Their Names Were On The Attachment Even Though They Weren't" does the best job of analyzing a single frame, and that's what I'm looking for. I don't want plot summary (even though there's an analytic component to it, with regards to what they include and exclude from the summary).

But surely the "mini-thesis" (like the topic sentence) need not be the top bun in every paragraph? Or can the top bun go in the middle of the burger?

They don't have to follow this model formulaically, but it helps them avoid getting carried away. Basically, it forces them to think about the constituent parts of a paragraph as discrete units, so that they remember to include them all (and the proportions of what they include).

Sisyphus

Yum! Now I am hungry.

Can I steal this the next time I am teaching writing?

SEK

Can I steal this the next time I am teaching writing?

Of course! That's why I puts stuff on the Internets. One tip: the Hamburglar/plagiarism joke took a little longer to set in than I thought it would, so you might have to do a bit of explanation a la "And if someone's stealing your paragraphs &c." Other than that, you can have loads of fun talking about where to put the ketchup and how many patties and how to eat a burger someone's slathered have a jar of mayo on . . . it really does help them contextualize paragraph structure.

Ahistoricality

For some reason, your comments box seems to be stripping out formatting. I was quite sure that I'd linked to http://ahistoricality.blogspot.com/2006/03/i-like-krispy-kreme-i-like-bacon.html at the end of my last comment, and italics and bold don't seem to be coming through in your replies.

SEK

Actually, that just happened. I clicked on your link an hour ago, and all my comments were properly italicized last I checked. I'll put in a ticket with TypePad and see what's what.

SEK

All seems well again.

Beans

Thanks very much for the graphic. I have been using the hamburger paragraph to teach writing for awhile and this best sums up what I want the students to learn! I find that P.E.E. also works well... with the idea that students need to "P.E.E. all over their pages" (point, evidence, explain), but as you've noted, students often skimp out on the explanation.

Raven

Using an analogy which then has to be explained in such a way seems to me to be not very helpful.

The main threefold [= bun-burger-bun] structure, for a public talk overall -- not just a paragraph -- was once memorably described as:

"First tell them what you're going to tell them. Then tell them. Then tell them what you told them."

Shorter, easier to remember, no analogy needed.

Gary Farber

"First tell them what you're going to tell them. Then tell them. Then tell them what you told them."

This is more often advised for speeches, rather than text. In text, it's often called "being redundant."

But writing advice is useless absent context of who your specific audience is, how it will be published, the purpose, and so on.

God knows the above is dreadful advice for, say, many sorts of fiction.

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