31 March 2007

Copyright Concerns

Today I decided to make this blog public (though not yet searchable by Google, but that could change too). Like many instructors who consider posting their work on the web, I experienced a healthy doze of paranoia as I considered the "safety" of going public with my new resources. Yet at the same time, I realized that any student taking one of my online courses could download and share my materials. I suppose I also worried that my peers would judge me out of context. However, aren't we always at the risk of being judged out of context?

To ease my mind, I decided to examine copyright laws. I ran across two helpful websites: Copyright and Fair Use hosted by Standford University Libraries and the U.S. Copyright Office website. On its FAQ's page, the U.S. Copyright Office answers the following question: “How do I protect my sightings of Elvis?” Could it get any better than that? Somehow, my question about going public with this blog no longer seemed silly and, oddly, no longer mattered. While you will find no Elvis here, you'll find a few new assignments and resources to globalize first-year college composition and literature courses, as the blog sub-title promises.

Thanks to my colleague Lawrance for suggesting the literary phrase "The Importance of Being Earnest" for the statement in the right-hand column. I think it captures the true spirit of appropriate sharing of work!

27 March 2007

Harbor City International School

Photo of and by Harbor City International School, published with permission

This blog entry does not contain an assignment, but I'm identifying a potential resource. Today I had an opportunity to tour Harbor City International School, a small public high school in Duluth, Minnesota, with an emphasis on global citizenship and the international perspective. As I am working on globalizing my curricula, I am interested in learning about the school's philosophy and teaching methods and the possibility of sharing ideas about curricula and projects. The school's mission seems very similar to the mission of my former school (for grades 5-12), Tampere Teacher Training School, which is one of many UNESCO Associated Schools in Finland.

Sharing the same goal of globalizing our English curricula, my friend Ted Anderson, English teacher at Harbor City School, and I will begin to exchange ideas and, I hope, make some realistic plans for collaboration. Personally, today's visit was a good reminder that we have many good resources and like-minded colleagues right within our own communities.

25 March 2007

Global Poetry in Text & Video

The Poetry International Web, a worldwide forum for poetry on the Internet, maintains a substantial "Camera Poetica" catalog of authors reciting their poems on video.

This simple exercise was created for my Modern World Literature course, which I usually teach online. Similar exercises, pairing texts with audio and video images, could be used in any online or face-to-face literature course.

Photo taken at the Old St. Augustine Village, Florida

"Camera Poetica" Assignment

(1) Read the poem.
First read the poem “Siberia” by Belgian poet Bart Moeyaert, who has studied and published in the Nederlands. Please, don’t view the video clip yet. Read the poem twice for better understanding.

(2) Reflect in writing.
After having read the poem, respond to the following prompts:

  • Make a list of words of phrases that capture your feelings and values about the poem.
  • Make a list of words or short phrases that capture the feelings or values of what you think the author was trying to express in this poem.
  • Give a plausible explanation for each feeling word or phrase listed above. In other words, what in the poem or in your personal experiences caused these feelings?
  • Why do you think the poem is called “Siberia”?

  • (3) Play the video.
    Then, using the same Internet link, listen to and watch the video clip of the author reading his poem in Dutch.

    (4) Discuss the video.
    In your small group, reflect on the following: What impact did seeing and hearing the poet read his work out loud have on you? Did it add or take away from your original experience with the poem? Explain.

    (5) Summarize the experience.
    Summarize your “Camera Poetica” experience in one word: ____________. Then write a paragraph explaining why you chose this word.

    24 March 2007

    Middle Eastern Writers

    My Modern World Literature students keep asking for more information about and writings by Middle Eastern writers. Since I teach the course most often online, I like to give my students as many online sources as I can find, without having to ask them to purchase an additional textbook. However, if you're looking for a textbook on Middle Eastern writing, Literatures of the Middle East by Tony Barnstone and Willis Barnstone (Prentice Hall, 2003) seems like a great option. The book covers texts from the antiquity to the present, extending beyond the scope of my Modern World Literature course, but it includes all of the writers and some of the works listed below.

    These are some of the new resources that I will be adding to my Modern World Literature reading list. Many of them could also be used in other literature, or perhaps even composition, courses.

    Nawal el-Saadawi (1931-)

    Nawal el-Saadawi, a well-known feminist Egyptian writer and physician, is a prolific writer of short stories, essays, and novels. The author's official website, Nawal el Saadawi Sherif Hetata, contains some quotes that could be used as discussion or writing prompts.

    Reza Baraheni (1935-)

    Reza Baraheni is an Iranian Turk who writes in Persian. He is a leading novelist, poet, and essayist in Iran. With the rise of the Islamic Republic, he was fired from his university post and imprisoned. More information about the author is available from the RAHA - World Independent Writers website.

    Selected poems by Baraheni are available at the Mah-mag - Magazine of the Arts & Humanity website, including "Nostalgia" and "Crying."

    Forugh Farrokhazad (1935-1967)

    Forugh Farrokhzad is the most famous woman in the history of Persian literature. Before her tragic death in an automobile accident in 1967, she wrote several books of poetry and worked as a filmmaker. Forugh Farrokhazad's Open Forum Website is a beautiful dedication to her work.

    A link from this website to “Selected Works” leads to many of her poems, including the following titles: “Another Birth,” “Gift,” “The Wind Will Take Us,” and “Love Song.”

    Mahmud Darwish (1942-)

    Mahmud Darwish is probably the world's most celebrated Palestinian poet. More information about the author is available at the Arab World Books website.

    The Where to Now blog at Word Press.com has posted his poem titled “The Prison Cell,” and the Angry Arab News Service website lists his poem titled “Victim No. 48.” These are the two poems by Darwish that were selected for Literatures of the Middle East.

    Mohamed el-Bisatie (1938-)

    Mohamed el-Bisatie is a member of the group of Egyptian writers known as “Gallery 68.” More information about the author is available at the Arab World Books website.

    The same website provides a copy of his short story “A Conversation from the Third Floor," which was also selected for Literatures of the Middle East.

    Hatif Janabi (1955-)

    Hatif Janabi was born in Iraq, but he has lived in exile in Poland since the late 1970s. He has published several volumes of poetry. So far the only websites I have found about the author are in Polish.

    Selected poems by Janabi are available on the Artful Dodge website (scroll down, past Mattawa's prose poems), including “Savage Continents” and “To Where.”

    Yashar Kemal (1922-)

    Yashar Kemal is one of the most popular contemporary Turkish writers and a candidate for Nobel Prize in Literature. Read more about the author at the Books and Writers website.

    Kemal's short story “Campaign of Lies” is posted on the web by the Soc.Culture.Kurdish.

    Naguib Mahfouz (1911-)

    Naguib Mahfouz is a well-known Egyptian writer and 1988 winner of Nobel Prize for Literature. Read more about the author at the Books & Writers website.

    Study questions for and a synopsis of Mahfouz'z short story “Zaabalawi” are available at Dr. Fidel Fajardo-Acosta's World Literature Website. However, I have not yet been able to find the story itself online.

    Khaled Mattawa (1964-)

    Khaled Mattawa was born in Libya, but he immigrated to the U.S. in 1979. More information about the author and his work can be found on the Artful Dogde website, including “Cricket Mountain,” "Days of 1932," "Days of 1948, " and “Selima!”

    More poems by Mattawa, including “Borrowed Tongue” and “The Bus Driver Poem,” can be found on the Web del Sol website.

    Mohammed Mrabet (1940-)

    Mohammed Mrabet is a Moroccan storyteller whose tales often portray the Maghrebi region. His complete biography can be found on the Paul Bowles Web Site.

    An audio recording of his story “The Saint by Accident” is available on the Odeo website.

    Amos Oz (1939-)

    Amos Oz is an Israeli novelist, short story writer, and essayist, whose stories often describe life on the kibbutz. More information about Oz can be found on The Jewish Agency for Israel website.

    Oz’s short story “Nomad and Viper” is available on the website of Tammie Bob from College of DuPage website. The story portrays the Arabs as “the Other” – imagined as dangerous, threatening and yet seductively attractive.

    Dan Pagis (1930-1986)

    Dan Pagis, an Israeli poet, is considered a major world poet of his generation. Pagis was born in Bukovina, Romania. During World War II, he was interned in a concentration camp for several years. He arrived in pre-state Israel in 1946 and became a teacher on a kibbutz. Pagis writes about his family on the Holocaust Studies website.

    Selected poems by Pagis are available on the ISRO Press website, including “Instructions for Crossing the Border,” “Brothers,” “Europe Late,” and “Written in a Pencil in the Sealed Railway-Car.”

    Nizar Qabbani (1923-1998)

    Nizar Qabbani is a Syrian poet and diplomat. More information about him is posted on the Damascus Online website.

    Qabbani has written lyrics for many songs – some examples can be heard on the same Damascus Online website (requires the Real Player). The poet’s own Old Poetry website lists 37 of his poems in English.

    Dahlia Ravikovitch (1936-)

    The Poetry International Web describes Dahlia Ravikovich as “one of the most brilliant and versatile Israeli poets."

    Selected poems by Ravikovich can be found on the same web site (use the link above), including
    “A Dress of Fire,” “In the Year to Come, In the Days to Come,” ”Pride,” and “Three or Four Cyclamen.”

    *) Graphic image from Ever Eden Design

    Global Terms

    As global connectivity, integration, and interdependence continues to increase, our students keep encountering new terms describing global activities and phenomena. I have listed just a few examples of terms that my students, both in literature and composition courses, have asked about and researched.

    A photo from my recent visit to New York City's China Town. Cultural tourism, right?

  • Acculturation - as defined by Answers.com
  • Cultural Imperialism - as defined by The Globalization Website (Emory University)
  • Cultural Industries - as defined by the UNESCO Culture website
  • Cultural Tourism - as defined by the UNESCO Culture website
  • Islamophobia (or arabophobia) as defined by the Islamophobia.org website

  • Undoubtedly, this list will grow much longer as I my students begin to work on more activities that focus on the global context.

    23 March 2007

    Global Travel Articles

    As global travel has become more popular and more possible in recent years, many more writers are hoping to make travel writing a career. Just check the web! Besides numerous articles and blogs on travel experiences, we can find travel writers offering their tips on how to become a travel writer. One well-known U.S. writer, Rick Steeves, writes in his article "How to Be a Travel Writer" about the importance of becoming "a generous teacher of travel, not a travel agent."

    Tallinn, Estonia

    About the Genre
    Travel writing is a literary form of expressing the self-definition of the author who parallels his or her cultural experience to the experiences of other cultures. Generally, the goal of travel writing is to incorporate facts and impressions that enhance the readers' understanding and acceptance of other cultures. A travel article or essay can be written in any style. According to Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature, travel literature is "nonfiction prose form that depends largely on the wit, powers of observation, and character of the traveler for its success." Yes, we like witty writing!

    About the Writers
    This blog entry contains information of critically acclaimed global travel writing by U.S. writers. About half of the essays were recognized in The Best American Travel Writing 2004 collection published by Houghton Mifflin, and the rest are included on the Outside Magazine's Literary All-Stars list on the Outside Online website. By the way, the "all star" list includes Garrison Keillor, Ian Frazier, and Jane Smiley, among others.

    Descriptions of Example Articles

    "Everybody Loves the Assassins" by Tim Cahill
    Traveling to Iran to visit ancient castles and members of an Islamic sect, Cahill discovers people who can't stop being nice. Recognized in The Best American Travel Writing 2004 collection.

    "Sandbags in the Archipelago" by Heather Eliot
    On a remote South Pacific island Eliot meets a man and explores the fine line between fantasy and reality. Recognized in The Best American Travel Writing 2004 collection.

    "Chasing the Wall" by Peter Hessler
    Hessler, Peter. "Chasing the Wall." National Geographic 203.1 (2003): 2. InfoTrac: Expanded Academic ASAP. Lake Superior College Library. 18 Mar. 2007.
    Hessler drove 7,436 miles and, in his own words, "found the good, the bad and the real great wall of China." Recognized in The Best American Travel Writing 2004 collection.

    "Gansta War" by George Packer
    Packer, George. "Gansta War." The New Yorker 79.33 (2003): 68. InfoTrac: Expanded Academic ASAP. Lake Superior College Library. 18 Mar. 2007.
    Packer, a former Peace Corps volunteer, visits the Ivory Coast in Africa, where civil war is turning the once glamorous city of Abidjan into a hellhole. Packer follows the trails of two separate gangs. Recognized in The Best American Travel Writing 2004 collection.

    "The Road to Herat" by Elizabeth Rubin
    Rubin, Elizabeth. "The Road to Herat." The Atlantic Monthly 291.1 (2003): 194-204. InfoTrac: Expanded Academic ASAP. Lake Superior College Library. 18 Mar. 2007.
    Guided by a former Taliban director of investigations, Rubin fishes with grenades and visits a notorious outlaw during her travels in Afghanistan. Recognized in The Best Travel Writing 2004 collection.

    "The Kabul Express" by Peter Symmes
    Symmes visits the 1960's and 1970's hippie trail that brought foreigners to Afghanistan. Today's Kabul is an interesting, lively mixture of NGOs, soldiers, spooky nation-builders, and freaks. Recognized in The Best Travel Writing 2004 collection.

    "A Jug of Wine (More Jugs of Wine) et Moi" by Bill Vaughn
    Vaughn writes about his long winding bike ride through southern France and tells how extreme pleasure and adventure can coexist.

    Note: If you ended up using any of these articles in your courses, please let me know how you used them and how students reacted to them.

    Researching Global Popular Culture

    Students like popular culture, but students don't always enjoy in-class or homework exercises on finding and documenting sources. I'm currently developing this new assignment for College Composition II, which taps into global popular culture resources. It could be used as an individual or a group exercise. Since it is still a work in progress, I welcome any new ideas for global popular culture terms - food, clothes, anything!


    1. Select a popular culture term.

    Select one of the following popular culture terms. Don't worry if you are not very familiar with the term. The idea is to learn something new while practicing your research skills.

    What or who is Manga?

    Popular Culture Terms:

    • Rai music
    • Beur film
    • Telenovela
    • Nordic walking
    • Dub poetry
    • Reiki massage
    • Manga
    • Bollywood
    • Smart car

    2. Define the term.

    Research websites to find out what the term means. Choose 1-2 credible, informative sources, and write a brief (about 2-5 sentence) definition, paraphrasing the source(s) in your own words. Do not include any word-for-word quotations. Within the definition, identify and cite your source(s) correctly using the MLA style. Print out copies of your sources.

    3. Research background & summarize.

    Decide on one additional aspect of the term that you would like to examine further - such as person, place, event, or product commonly associated with the term. For example, if your team were working on the term "salsa dancing," you could decide to research one famous salsa dancer or one famous salsa musician. Print out copies of your sources.

    Find at least five credible, informative sources on your topic, and choose the best two. Then write one full paragraph (about 8-10 sentences) summarizing the information from the two sources. The paragraph should be largely your paraphrasing of the original sources; however, use one brief direct (word-for-word) quotation. Decide carefully which words should be quoted. Cite your sources in the MLA style.

    4. Combine information & add your own commentary.

    Combine your definition and summary into one paragraph. Add your own observations and commentary. You will end up with one long paragraph that (1) defines the term, (2) focuses on one specific aspect about the term, supported by external evidence, and (3) provides your own commentary on the topic. Check your citations.

    5. Write a Works Cited page.

    Write an MLA style Works Cited page for all the sources you used (3-4 sources in total). Consult your textbook, the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 6th edition, or the library online information on documentation.

    *) This is a public domain image from Wikepedia.

    22 March 2007

    Global Film of the Month

    I Love Foreign Films, but . . .

    I don't always have time or reason to create assignments using global films in the courses I teach. However, I still think college is a great place to introduce students to films (and, of course, other resources) that provide them a cultural perspective that expands beyond the "mainstream" U.S. culture. This can be done with simple "Film of the Month" recommendations, which could be used as prompts for class or small group discussions and informal writing exercises. I used to provide all the selections for the students, but now I am relying on the students to make the recommendations, as the assignment below shows. This way the students become teachers, teaching each other and teaching me.

    The information below has been prepared for my Fall 2007 Modern World Literature Students.

    “Global Film of the Month” Recommendations & Discussion

    The following film recommendations were chosen by Modern World Literature students who took this course in Fall 2006. The students also wrote the film descriptions.

    As you can see, no recommendation has been made for the month of December. Each of you will have an opportunity to submit one recommendation to me, and the recommendation with the most nominations will be listed as the “Film of the Month” selection. I will provide more detailed information about the selection process by early November. The four top nominations will be listed as the selections for the next semester’s World Literature course, January through April.

    Since the goal of this course is to learn about less familiar cultures, the "Film of the Month" selection must portray a culture that cannot be predominately described as "mainstream" U.S. culture. In the second week of the semester, we will discuss the concept of "mainstream" culture and brainstorm some possible film recommendations.

    All films listed are available at many video stores and online film suppliers, such as Netflix and Blockbuster, as well as many libraries. Students in previous semesters have also scheduled common movie nights. Let each other know if this option appeals to you!

    The Motorcycle Diaries. Dir. Walter Salles. Sundance, 2004.
    "This film is based on the journals of Che Guevara, leader of the Cuban Revolution. In his memoirs, Guevara tells about the adventures he and his best friend Alberto Granado had as young men while crossing South America by motorcycle in the early 1950s. They encounter many interesting people, including a colony of lepers."

    The Story of a Weeping Camel. Dir. Byambasuren Davaa. Thinkfilm, 2004.
    "In this Mongolian documentary, a family in the Gobi Desert tries to get a mother camel to recognize and nurture its baby. Because the birth had been difficult, the mother resisted her natural role, and the family had to send for a musician to sooth her with music. It was very fascinating to see how the mother camel responded positively to the music. The film was made in the Gobi Desert and the families that live out in the windy and remote area are in small huts that are filled with their belongings and mementos. Although there is no voice over narration and only minimal dialog, the viewer gets a real sense of the 'simple' lives they lead as camels and sheepherders and how they are mostly removed from modern society."

    The Warrior. Dir. Sung-su Kim. Miramax, 2001.
    "In this film a group of Korean envoys is captured during a diplomatic mission to China. They are accused of espionage and sent to a remote desert to die. Eventually they make their way back to Korea, but before they reach their destination, they rescue a beautiful Ming princess and battle with bloodthirsty Mongol warriors. This action-packed film is visually very interesting."

    The selection will be determined by your recommendations and votes!

    We will have an ongoing “Film Forum” discussion using the online course discussion tool. Each month's discussion will have its own subject heading and due date, which will be listed in the forum as well as on the course schedule. In general, you will be asked to view the films and then comment freely on the recommendations and, as needed, provide relevant Internet links for support or further information on the films. In December, you will be asked to make your own recommendation – and justification - for your own “Film of the Month” selection, including a brief description of the film and complete distribution information: the title, the director, the distributor, and the year of release.

    *) Image from Free Graphics

    FIRE Model: Poetry

    Critical Thinking

    As the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum Goal 2 states, our goal as teachers it to help our students develop into "thinkers who are able to unify unify factual, creative, rational, and value-sensitive modes of thought."

    In efforts to achieve this goal, I have lately been using the FIRE model much more intentionally than before. Whether stated in the assignment or not, I try to incorporate the four modes of thinking into most class assignments, and perhaps more importantly, I make students aware of the different ways of thinking - the Factual, Imaginative, Rational, and Evaluative thinking.

    Below is an example of a simple way to use the FIRE model to analyze poetry. The same questions and prompts could be applied to many different texts.

    Applying the FIRE Model to Poetry Reading

    Introduction to the Poet
    Go to the Poetry International Web, a worldwide forum for poetry on the Internet, to read about a well-known Palestinian poet, Taha Muhammad Ali, who has lectured and read his works at many universities worldwide, including the United States.

    Read about Taha Muhammad Ali: http://israel.poetryinternationalweb.org/piw_cms/cms/cms_module/index.php?obj_id=3181


    Read the following two poems by Taha Muhammad Ali:

  • “Fooling the Killers”

  • “Meeting at an Airport”

  • Then choose one of the poems for your FIRE analysis, and respond to the following questions and prompts:


  • After having read the poem, make a list of words or short phrases that most closely connect with your personal feelings or values.

  • Make a list of words or short phrases that capture the feelings or values that you think the author was trying to express in this poem.


  • Give a plausible explanation for each word or phrase you listed in the “Evaluative Thinking” section above, rationalizing what factors in the poem or in your personal experience cause these feelings.

  • Think about the poem’s structure. What is interesting or puzzling or strange about the poem’s structure? Why do you think the poem is structured this way?


  • What is the poem’s setting, i.e. where and when does it take place?

  • Who is the subject “you” in the poem?

  • What is the relationship between the poem’s speaker and its subject?

  • What is the poem’s opening question and who asks it?

  • What is the poem’s concluding image? Describe the visual details.


    One-word Summary:
    Summarize the poem in a single word that you think captures its overall significance or impact. Then write a paragraph or two explaining why you chose this word.

    *) Graphic image from Ever Eden Design

    Free Web Images

    As many teachers have discovered, it is possible to find all kinds of images on the web free of charge. It is rather time-consuming though, especially if you are searching for a specific theme. Many images are also of poor quality or the wrong size, requiring some reformatting. I have listed a few websites offering free images. Some of them contain good global images of people, geography, and culture.

    Please note that each site has specific information about license conditions that determine where and how the images can be used. In some cases, you will have to ask permission first (the times I have done this, it's been very easy and fast). The safest choice, of course, would be to use your own photos.

  • The image in this blog is from the Pic4learning.com collection. Have a sunny day!

    21 March 2007

    Cultural Identity: Works Cited

    This assignment has been created for College Composition II as one of several homework exercises practicing the skills of writing an MLA style Works Cited page. While working on this assignment, students will have an opportunity to explore their cultural self-identity in sounds and images.

    Exploring Cultural Identity in Sounds and Images:
    A Works Cited Exercise

    Research a variety of resources to create a representation of your own cultural self-identity and prepare an MLA style Works Cited page of all the sources used.

    Focus on any aspects of culture, such as ethnic heritage, religion/belief system, values, traditions, dress, geographic places/space/climate, and attitudes, that have made you who you are today. Your goal is to determine your own "cultural make up" - the perspective from which you experience the world.

    From what perspective do you experience the world? What is your cultural context?

    Note: remember to distinguish between cultural and personal characteristics. As we have discussed, cultural characteristics refer to what a particular group has in common whereas personal characteristics refer to the ways in which each individual is different from other people.

    A soundtrack of your life:
    Select 3-5 songs to create a soundtrack of your life, as represented by songs that reflect significant aspects of your culture. You can consult any sound sources, such as CD’s, radio, movie sound tracks, or the Internet, and text-sources of song lyrics. Try to use a different kind of source for each song or musical piece.

    Then write an MLA style citation for each source.

    An art exhibit of your cultural self-identity:
    Select 3-5 visual art works that to create an art exhibit of your cultural self-identity. Feel free to contact any sources that contain visual images, including books, magazines, Internet sources, album covers, advertisements, pamphlets, and posters. Try to use a different kind of source for each image.

    Then write an MLA style citation for each source.

    Works Cited:
    Combine all the 6-10 citations to create a complete MLA style Works Cited page. Consult the documentation material in your textbook. For additional information, consult the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (6th ed., 2003). Bring a word-processed Works Cited page to class next time or submit it to the online course supplement.

    Before next class period, share one or both of your creations – the soundtrack and/or the art exhibit – using the course online supplement or your own blog. The online course supplement will have more information on how to do this, and we will also review the instructions in class.

    *) Image from Free Graphics

    Ethnic Identity: Literature

    This assignment has been created as an exercise for Modern World Literature students. While students in this course are learning about other cultures, I also encourage them to examine their own ethnic identity - the "cultural lens" through which they view the world. I think this exercise could be used in many other courses as well.

    Using Literature to Explore Ethnic Identity

    Consult a reliable online literature catalog or site to find a contemporary example of a poem, short story, or essay written by a writer who represents your ethnic identity. Then post your find to this week’s discussion forum, with the following information:

  • Presentation of the text:
    Give the title of the work, the author’s name, and the date of publication (if available), along with a live link to the work.

  • A brief reflection on your selection:
    Explain why you chose this particular text, how it reflects your ethnic identity, and how you responded to it. How did the text make you feel? What is familiar about the theme or content? Did anything in the text surprise you?

  • What beliefs, values, and traditions have shaped you?
    Image taken at a Greek Orthodox monastery in Eastern Finland by Mikko Erpestad

    Additional Information:

    If you are a combination of many cultures, as most Americans are, choose the culture with which you identify most strongly. For example, I have some Swedish blood and I have lived in many cultures, but my ethnic identity, without doubt, is Finnish (by the way, I will be posting my selection too!).

    Remember to find a relatively contemporary source, written during the “modern” time period (after World War II), which is the focus of this course. Look for dates of publication or the writer’s age. If you can’t determine how old the writer or the text is, you must seek another one.

    If you have trouble finding a reliable or useful source, you might try one of the following sites as they apply to your situation. If you still need help, ask your instructor or the college librarian.

    Dmoz Open Directory Project
    Google Literature Directory
    Words Without Borders
    World Literature Online

    Other possible resources:

    All of these sites give information about authors’ names and titles that you could research further, and many of them also provide live links to their work.

    Chippewa/Ojibway/Anishinabe Literature
    This website is hosted by Indians.org.

    Finnish Literature Today
    This website is hosted by Virtual Finland.

    French Literature
    This website is hosted by Discover France.

    German Literature
    This website is hosted by About-Germany.org.

    Hmong Literature
    This website is hosted by the Hmong Cultural Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.

    Latino Literature
    This website is hosted by lasCulturas.com.

    Middle Eastern Literature
    This website is hosted by Columbia University Libraries.

    Norwegian Literature
    This website is hosted by NORLA, which connects Norwegian writers with global publishers.

    Russian Literature
    This website is hosted by Duke University Libraries.

    Serbian Literature
    This website is hosted by Serbian Unity Congress.

    Swedish Literature
    This website is hosted by the Consulate General of Sweden.

    Culture Experience Report

    This assignment has been created as an extra credit assignment for my online Modern World Literature course. However, it could easily be used, or modified for, many other courses. I have used a version of this in the past. Students have always enjoyed the opportunity and encouragement to experience something completely new.

    Culture Experience Report:
    Ethnic Movies, Events & Dining

    Write about a 300-500 word report on any new ethnic cultural experience you have experienced this semester - not an experience from the past. Choose a culture that is previously unfamiliar to you. For example, you could attend an ethnic cultural event in your community or at the college, view an ethnic film, or dine at an ethnic restaurant. Think beyond overtly Americanized versions of ethnic experiences, such as dining at Taco John's or Olive Garden, or celebrating the Octoberfest at the Green Mill Restaurant. Check the suggestions at the end of this document, and feel free to run your ideas by the instructor.

    To practice the habit of critical thinking, using the FIRE model, your report should address the following:

    Factual Thinking -
    First you must report the relevant facts - the event's name, time, and location, or the film's title, director, and year and information about where you found it, or the name and location of the restaurant. Also, give a brief factual summary of your experience—i.e. what did you see or observe. Avoid lengthy explanation of every detail in the plot, event program, or dining experience.

    Evaluative & Rational Thinking -
    How did the movie, event, or dining experience make you feel? What factors in the experience caused you to feel this way? If this was a communal experience, how did the others feel, and why do you think they felt this way? How did the experience meet your expectations? Would you recommend this experience to others – why or why not?

    Insightful Thinking – “Seeing the Big Picture”
    How does this experience (the event, film, or dining experience) connect with the themes or cultures addressed in this course? How does the experience relate to your own life? How might you, or anyone else who has the same experience, be able to apply new information from this experience to a future circumstance?


    Give your report an interesting title and double-space the entire document, using the MLA style. If you watched a movie, you must also provide a Work Cited page (please, review the example report). The report must, of course, be word processed and submitted electronically into the course Dropbox. Save it as an RTF (Rich Text Format) document as follows: Lastname_CultureReport (Example: Erpestad_CultureReport)

    Some Suggestions:

    A. Going to the Movies

    Below is a list of films strongly recommended by former students. Most of them are also available in local movie rental stores, Netflix, and the college library. While the citations are for DVD’s, many of the films are also available in video. Your instructor has viewed all the films below and she also has a longer list in case you would like to consider other options.

    Amelie. Dir, Jean-Pierre Jeunet. DVD. Miramax, 2001.
    This French film tells about a shy waitress Amélie, who returns a long-lost childhood treasure to a former occupant of her apartment. After seeing the effect it has on him, she decides to set out on a mission to make others happy and in the meantime pursues a quirky guy…

    Bend It Like Beckham. Dir. Gurinder Chadha. DVD. Searchlight, 2002.
    This is a story about a daughter of strict Indian Sikh immigrants living in Britain. Jess is a very gifted football, or soccer, player – much to her parents’ dismay!

    Born into Brothels. Dirs. Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman. DVD. Sundance, 2004.
    Shot in India, this documentary reveals the world of Calcutta's impoverished red light district. The filmmakers inspired a special group of children of the prostitutes to photograph their environment…

    Bride and Prejudice. Dir. Gurinder Chadha. DVD. Miramax, 2004.
    This is an Indian Bollywood retelling of Jane Austen’s novel—it has an all-singing, all-dancing cast. The film is full of energy, color, comedy, and human emotion…

    City of God. Dir. Fernando Meirelles. DVD. Miramax, 2002.
    This Brazilian film is set in Cidade de Deus (City of God), a housing project built in the 1960s that became one of the most dangerous and violent places in Rio de Janeiro. The film tells the stories of many young boys whose lives sometimes intersect...

    The Motorcycle Diaries. Dir. Walter Salles. DVD. Sundance, 2004.
    This film is based on the journals of Che Guevara, leader of the Cuban Revolution. In his memoirs, Guevara recounts adventures he (in his twenties), and best friend had while crossing South America by motorcycle in the early 1950s…

    Europa Europa. Dir. Agniezka Holland. DVD. World Films, 1990.
    In this film, a Jewish boy is separated from his family in the early days of WWII. To survive, he poses as a German orphan and is taken into the heart of the Nazi world and eventually becomes a Hitler Youth and falls in love with a German Nazi girl…

    Good Bye Lenin! Dir. Woolfgang Becker. DVD. Sony Pictures, 2003.
    This film portrays life in the former East Germany in 1989. A young man protests against the regime, and his mother watches the police arresting him and suffers a heart attack and falls into a coma. Some months later, the GDR does not exist anymore and the mother awakes…

    Hero. Dir. Zhang Yimou. DVD. Miramax, 2004.
    This film is based on events in China during the 3rd century BC. From 475 – 221 BC, when the land was divided into seven major Kingdoms. This was a time of endless brutal wars and much hardship and suffering…

    House of Flying Daggers. Dir. Yimou Zhang. DVD. Sony Pictures, 2004.
    This Chinese film is set during the reign of the Tang dynast. A secret female organization called "The House of the Flying Daggers" rises and opposes the government…

    Kitchen Stories. Dir. Bent Hamer. DVD. ICA Projects, 2004.
    This quirky Norwegian film is inspired by a 1950s Swedish study about the perfect kitchen floor plan. The film is an unusual tale about comradeship and camaraderie starts as a research project in which an observer, sitting on a very high chair, watches his subject as he goes about his daily routine…

    The Lives of Others. Dir. Florian Henckel Donnersmarck. DVD. Sony Classics, 2007.
    Set in 1984 East Germany, before the Fall of the Berlin Wall, this film portrays with remarkable reality the operations of the East German secret police. A group of writers are being under surveillance for anti-government activities…

    The Motel. Dir. Michael Kang. Palm Pictures. DVD. 2006.
    In this coming-of-age comedy, a womanizing playboy befriends a Chinese-American motel owner’s teenage son…

    Run Lola Run. Dir. Tom Tykwer. DVD. Sony Pictures, 1999.
    This German film explores events controlled by fate. The film tells about Lola and her boyfriend, whom she desperately tries to save from death by helping him obtain a huge amount of money he carelessly lost…

    Smoke Signals. Dir. Sherman Alexie. DVD. Miramax, 1998.
    This is a first film written, directed, and co-produced by a Native American. Two mismatched young men live on the same Indian reservation in Idaho and decide to take a road trip together to collect the remains of one man's father…

    Tsotsi. Dir. Gavin Hood. DVD. Miramax, 2006.
    After shooting a woman and driving off in her car, Tsotsi, a young South-African thug, is surprised to discover a crying infant in the backseat of his car. He grudgingly takes the child home and is forced to care for the child…

    B. Dining Out

    Yellow Pages:
    Check the Yellow Pages in your community phonebook – some also have a separate “Restaurant Menus” section. For example, the Duluth-Superior-North Shore Yellow Pages has a map of restaurant locations and full-page menus for places such as Saigon Café, Lan Chi’s Restaurant, Taste of Saigon, and Hacienda del Sol.

    Online Resources:
    Check the web for information about local restaurants. For example, the Dining Channel website has restaurant directories for all larger cities, including Duluth.

    C. Community Outing

    Some of the community events that students have attended in the past include Native American powwows, The Hmong New Year celebration, Feast of the Nations Festival in the Twin Cities, the International Folk Festival in Duluth, world music concerts, a Middle Eastern belly dancing performance, and so on. Below is a list of a few ways to get information about events in your region.

    For events taking place at Lake Superior College, check the Campus Wave online publication.

    For events taking place in your own community, check the local newspapers. Most offer information online. For example, the Duluth News Tribune publishes a weekly “WAVE” section, with information about concerts, theater plays, musicals, art exhibits, and other cultural events taking place in the region (select the “WAVE” link on the home page). The Minneapolis-St. Paul area StarTribune.com has an “Entertainment” link on its home page.

    For further ideas, simply ask others to recommend a movie, event, or restaurant. Don’t be timid to try something new. If you’re not sure what you might be facing or how to proceed with this assignment, don’t hesitate to contact your instructor

    20 March 2007

    Global Literature Discussions

    These exercises have been created for my Modern World Literature course. However, some of them could be used in other literature courses or as critical reading and thinking exercises in composition courses.


    Read the poem titled “Frida Kahlo” by the English poet James Reich: http://www.richmondreview.co.uk/library/frida_kahlo.html

    Discussion Questions:
    1. Who is Frida Kahlo? If you don’t know, do a quick Internet search on her and provide a live link to your source within your discussion post.
    2. What is she like? List some specific examples and images from the poem.
    3. Does the poem have any references to her geographical or cultural origin? What are they?
    4. Why do you think James Reich, an Englishman, wrote about Frida Kahlo?
    5. What other poems or songs do you know that portray a famous person? If you can, find one example on the Internet and provide a live link to your discussion group.


    Read the following two poems:

    “A Peach Larger Than a Former Three-Story Building, Larger Than the Sun” by the Slovenian poet Josep Osti: http://www.litrag.com/indexthirteen.html

    “Ode to the Tomato” by the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda: https://lsc.ims.mnscu.edu/d2l/orgTools/ouHome/ouHome.asp?ou=406868

    Discussion Questions:
    1. The subject of each of these poems is a natural food product. In what way do the two poems portray its primary subject similarly? Give some specific examples.
    2. How does the writer use an ordinary fruit or vegetable to reveal something about the poem’s cultural context? What specifically does each food item reveal about its culture?
    3. What is the point of each poem? Do the poems have any kinds of “message”?
    4. What is your personal reaction to these poems? Explain.
    5. If you had to choose a natural food item for a poem or a song, what would it be? Explain why you would choose this particular item and how you would use it. Find an Internet link depicting your choice, and attach a live link to your discussion post. Have fun with it!


    Read the short story “Lepanto’s Other Hand” by the Mexican writer Carmen Boullosa:

    Discussion Questions:
    1. Who was Esteban Luz?
    2. What does “Moorish” mean and why is this information relevant to the story? If you don’t know, do a quick Internet search and provide a live link to your source within your discussion post.
    3. What is special about Esteban’s parents and his relationship with them?
    4. After reading the story carefully, answer the writer’s own questions, which are stated at the end of the story:

    · Which of the two stories identified is true? Neither?
    · Did time itself do away with Esteban Luz, since he never understood that to practice his art he needed protection, money, friends in high places?
    · And protection from what?
    · Why such jealousy?
    · Why could he not just paint and be admired and bask in glory?


    Read the short story “The Man With the Long Mustache” by the Brazilian writer Carlos Machado:

    Discussion Questions:
    1. What is the situation and mood of the story’s opening scene?
    2. Who is the narrator and what is his “eccentricity”?
    3. Why does the narrator call his “eccentric” activity a vice?
    4. How does the narrator’s wife find out about and deal with his habit?
    5. Who is the “Man With the Long Mustache” and what role does he play in the story?
    6. What is the impact and meaning of the story’s last sentence?How realistic is this story?
    7. What, if any, experience(s) in your own life parallel the narrator’s experiences? Explain.

    1) Image (c) Eden Graphics Design

    Cultural Analysis Exercise

    This in-class exercise could be used in a variety of different writing or composition courses as preparation or prompt for a writing assignment. I will attempt to keep the links active. If you have trouble viewing them, please let me know! You can, of course, substitute the images with your own. I welcome your suggestions. Admittedly, these links were chosen after a rather quick web search.

    Cultural Analysis

    Cultural analysis examines texts and images in terms of the culture that produced them. It looks beyond what individual authors or artists have created by examining the larger forces behind them. For example, cultural analysis might ask what lifestyles, values, beliefs, or perspectives the texts and images represent.

    Cultural analysis also pays very close attention to the intended audience—and people who might have been excluded intentionally or unintentionally.

    Lenin on roller blades? *)

    Below are listed some basic questions for a cultural analysis:

  • Who is the author or producer of the text or image?
  • What is the purpose or message?
  • How might different people interpret the message?
  • What type of text or image is it? Does it belong to any genres or common categories?
  • How is it produced? What technologies or techniques have been used to create it?
  • What beliefs, values, ideologies, or points of view are implied?
  • If applicable, who or what is left out?
  • What is your personal reaction to this work? Do your group members feel the same way? Why or why not?


    In your group, choose a spokesperson and a secretary. The secretary should record the group’s answers in writing, and the spokesperson will report out at the end of the exercise.

    Choose any two works/products from the following list:

    “He’s Not Worth It”:


    “Global Warming Is Worse Than We Thought”:

    A Sunday Observer Classified Ad:

    “Eye to Eye”:

    “Perfect Teeth”:

    “Be a Perfect Partner”:

    Analyze each in terms of the culture that produced them by answering the questions above and be ready to share your answers with the entire class. You will also be asked to hand in your written answers to the questions.

    *) Image (c) Pics4learning.com

    Evaluative Paper

    This assignment has been created as a take-home final exam for College Composition II. It could also be modified for a regular evaluative essay assignment without the end-of-semester focus.


    This is a take-home final exam assignment, requring you to write an evaluation of your own Research Paper. The assignment is self-evaluative and self-reflective in nature, asking you to determine and explain the following:

  • The quality of your own Research Paper: To what extent does your paper meets the standards of effective argumentative writing and the topic requirement?
  • The value of learning that has taken place this semester: What do you know about argumentative writing and cultural/global themes that you did not know before? What is the value of this learning to you? Discuss at least one possible real-world application of what you have learned in this course.

  • Which direction did your paper go? Are you happy with it? 1)
    You should follow the order in which the two sub-topics have been listed above, using the basic academic essay structure: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. You will decide how many body paragraphs you will have in total and how long each paragraph should be. For example, you could devote 1-2 body paragraphs to the first sub-topic and one paragraph to the second sub-topic.


    Your paper should be at least two pages (about 500 words) long and word processed using the MLA style format. The essay can be as long as it needs to be; however, additional pages will not determine your grade – the effectiveness of your content does. Also, keep in mind the “golden rule” of polished writing: “Omit needless words!”


    The quality of your own Research Paper:
    When evaluating the quality of your Research Paper, reflect on your paper’s successful features as well as the areas where you fell short or your goals. In both cases, discuss the choices you made and the outcomes and suggest ways to improve. The purpose of this assignment is to evaluate your own work and learning honestly.

    You should minimally address the six parts of classical organization listed in the “Research Paper Assignment” handout, reflecting on how well your Research Paper addresses each part:
  • Introduction: Does your paper make the topic and purpose clear right from the start? As required, does the topic address a specific cultural and global issue and make it interesting to the reader? How effectively does the opening information “hook” your readers’ interest? What could you have done differently?
  • Statement of proposition: Does your paper state a clear claim about the topic? Is this statement located in an effective place? What could you have done differently?
  • Narration: Have you indicated why the topic is important? Is the cultural or global topic relevant to your audience? Does your paper provide adequate background information about the topic and the events that led up to the controversy? Would your audience have needed more background information, examples, or explanations to follow your line of reasoning? Does your paper establish emotional appeal by citing reasons for your interest in the subject and qualifications for writing about it?
  • Proof: Does your paper provide convincing - i.e. sufficient, reliable, and timely - reasons and evidence that are acceptable to your audience? Have you cited the information appropriately? Have you taken into account your readers’ best interests and beliefs? How well does your writing accomplish these goals? What makes this paper persuasive? What could have made it even more persuasive? How would you describe your essay’s tone? Does it work for your topic and audience? Is your writing voice engaging? Is it appropriate to your topic and your point of view? What would you have done differently?
  • Refutation: How well does your paper refute opposing positions? How have you done this? What would you have done differently?
  • Conclusion: Does your conclusion emphasize the most important point and remind the audience of the other important points? How effectively does your conclusion make your final comments stick in your readers’ mind? How effective is your argument in the end? What would you have done differently?

    The value of learning that has taken place this semester:
  • In this section of your Evaluation Paper, you should identify a few key examples of what you know about argumentative writing and cultural/global themes that you did not know before. Feel free to focus on any course activity, topic, or theme. Then reflect on the value of this learning to you. Discuss at least one real-world application, explaining how you will use the new knowledge in a real situation outside class. Again, evaluate honestly, giving examples that are meaningful to you.

    Additional Instructions:
    The overall tone of your Evaluation Paper can be reflective – somewhat similar to journal writing. However, you still need to follow the standards of good academic writing, paying attention to grammar, spelling, and mechanics. It is not necessary to cite additional sources. However, if you do, you must cite correctly and provide an MLA style Works Cited page of all sources cited.

    1) (c) Free-graphics.com

    Research Topic Exploration 2

    This assignment has been created as preparation for the Research Paper Assignment listed two blog entries below.

    One of the broad topics for your research paper is globalization. Another is culture, which was discussed in Topic Exploration 1.

    Definitions of Globalization

    Globalization means different things to different people. Some say it is the movement of people, language, ideas, and products around the world toward markets and policies that transcend national borders. Others see it as the dominance of multinational corporations and the destruction of cultural identities. All aspects of globalization – including its nature, causes and effects - are hotly disputed.


    Learning Audit
    For about 5-10 minutes, reflect informally in writing on what you already know about globalization. What is your understanding or definition of globalization? How is globalization affecting your community and your personal life? How do you feel about globalization? Why do you think globalization is spreading rapidly in the contemporary world? Is globalization a new phenomenon?

    Café Discussion on Globalization
    From the choices listed below, pick two topics that you would like to discuss and go to a table labeled with one of your topics. Use your Learning Audit notes to prompt your memory. Each group should appoint a facilitator and a recorder and discuss the assigned questions for the topic. The recorder should write the highlights of the discussion on the flipchart/board provided. After 7 minutes, each student should move to another table and repeat the process.

    What is your group’s definition of globalization? If it varies, record all responses.
    Why do you think your definitions are similar? Or if your definitions are different, why do you think they differ? Speculate who outside this class would agree or disagree with your definition(s).

    How are business and trade affected by globalization? Discuss specific examples.
    The term “free trade” is often associated with globalization. In your knowledge, what is “free trade” and what is its global impact? (If you don’t know, research it briefly on the web.)

    How does globalization affect different cultures? Discuss specific examples.
    Some correlate globalization with Americanization or Westernization. What do you think they mean by that, and what are your thoughts on this?

    How are the natural environments affected by globalization? Discuss specific examples.
    How are urban environments affected by globalization? Discuss specific examples.
    Does your group agree or disagree on the points discussed above? Why or why not?

    What role does technology play in globalization? Discuss specific examples.
    How do you feel about the global impact of technology, and why? If your group members disagree, discuss the reasons for your disagreement.

    Class Discussion
    The reporters of each group will summarize their discussion, followed by a brief class discussion on the topics.

    One-Minute Paper
    Write a quick response to the following question: What do you know about globalization that you did not know before?