Thursday, March 28, 2013

Animals and Humans

Dear All,

Since you are doing the Nature Walk today (see separate post for that)  I just wanted to draw your awareness to a few links that I find really interesting and important:

1) Animal Rights

Article by Peter Singer: "All Animals Are Equal"

Lecture by Peter Singer about Animal Rights (youtube)

2) Animal Consciousness

Some Introductory Info:

Some Interesting Videos:

3) Animals and Food

Excellent Video on Global Impact of a Vegan vs. a Non-Vegan Diet:

Peter Singer: "The Ethics of What We Eat"

I would like to encourage you to think about these three topics!
Please feel free to post your comments about these links here!

Thank you,


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

More Playtime!

Write the piece you have always wanted to write :) 


Please write a poem about Identity - about who you really are!


Rewrite a movie you really love as a story in which you play an important part.

Have fun! 


Film or Play Analysis

Analyze a movie, or a play of your choice.

Story Time - again!

Write a story in which you explore one of your dreams, or emotions, or compulsions, or memories, or experiences.

Poetry Time - again!

Compose 2 poems that either make strong use of sound elements OR of visual shapes OR that are based on an extended metaphor.



Responding to Talks

Listen to a video lecture (e.g. TED or RSA) of your choice and write a detailed response to it.

Writing about Writing

Write 5 journal entries about writing.

Getting a Feel for Style

Take any literary text of your choice and try to get “a feel” for its style. Then try to imitate this style. Make sure you really only imitate the style by writing about a clearly different topic.
Please let us know which text you chose as a model.

Word Portraits

Write 5 “wordportraits” of words you are not too familiar with. Be inventive and have fun!

Designing Websites

Design a webpage that is relevant for your [imagined] future self or career. You can imitate the website format in a word document or other file if you wish. Try to play around with the possibilities a web publication offers!

The Art of Advertising

Please compose an advertisement (text & image) of an idea, concept or value you want to promote. Try to make use of the power of both text and images to make your ad as persuasive as you can!

Story Time

Write a story that uses at least THREE of the following words: piano, pen, pink, palimpsest, forgotten, ghost, cold, concubine, spring, sweater, chopsticks. 

Poetry Time

Write a poem that usese at least THREE of the following words: blue, dog, star, teacher, obsession, parachute, exceptional, lilac, diamond, whistle, midnight, mist, miracle. Then illustrate your poem. 

Academic Articles

Write a summary of at least ONE scholarly article of your choice. Feel free to use an article that is relevant for your research essay and make sure you give the exact references so that your reader(s) can find the article easily if they would like to read it as well. 

Art and Imagination

  1. Please click on the following link: RQ8UeDvC4TLqAHw54HgDA&ved=0CC4QsAQ&biw=1217&bih=608 
    and select any 5 images that you like but that are very different in character & atmosphere. Now focus on one of them and start freewriting about it for 5 minutes. Then look at the next one and start freewriting about that for 5 minutes. Repeat this process until you have written something about all 5 pictures. Now look only at your texts and see if you can combine them somehow into a larger whole. Feel free to change your freewriting pieces in any way you wish and to add text in between the 5 parts to connect and reinterpret them. 

Music and Emotions

In this exercise you will listen to 5 different pieces of music. Please write down images (e.g. colors, sceneries, symbols, concrete objects) and /or emotions (e.g. happiness, sadness, anger, fear, love, peace, etc) and/or reflections on certain characters or people that come to your mind while listening to each piece. Please make sure you write everything down that you associate with the first piece of music BEFORE you go on to the next. Then listen to the next piece and write down spontaneously what comes to mind then (again, with the focus on images, emotions, and characters/people) while listen to that one etc. When you have listened to all 5 pieces – and written your 5 texts – re-read the 5 texts and see if you can create a whole out of these 5 parts without losing the contrast. 

Here 10 different pieces of music. Please choose any 5 of them:

Cultural or Academic Event

Write about a Cultural or Academic Event you have attended this term in two styles that differ clearly from each other and comment on the effect that these stylistic differences have on the presentation and evaluation of the event in question. Possible contrasts you may consider choosing in this context include: detached-informative vs. polemic-emotional, objective vs. subjective, thoughtful/thought- provoking vs. entertaining/ funny, colloquial vs. formal, spoken vs. written. You can write this piece in any genre you wish but please choose the same genre both times. 

Nature Walk

Please go outside, to a spot where you can experience some "Nature."

1) Walk around for a while to get rid of the stress and just enjoy the feeling of being free and having time and being out in the sun....

2) Then sit down and spend at least 10 to 15 minutes doing nothing - just sitting somewhere "in Nature." Please watch and listen to what is going on around you: the bird and insect sounds, for example, the wind, the waves, the sun, the grass, the moss, a squirrel, a gull, a tree etc.

3) Focus in on something you find particularly interesting (e.g. a plant, a rock, an animal, a cloud, the light, the movement of the air, the voice of the ocean, etc). Stay with that being or phenomenon for a while and imagine you are him/her/it or part of him/her/it. What would it feel like? How would your day look like if you were a rock or a squirrel etc?

4) Try to come up with a good personal and original definition of the being/phenomenon you have met.

5) Then write a story either about the being/phenomenon or about your encounter with him/her/it. You are welcome to do some research on the being/phenomenon you have observed and include what you learned about him/her/it but your story can also be totally imaginary/fictional/made up.

Breathe in the Sun, the Wind, the Air, the Smells and listen to all the Music around you!



Museum of Antrhopology

Please choose an object/ artwork from the Museum of Anthropology that appeals to you. Spend at least 10 or 20 minutes just looking at it - and listening to what it has to tell you. Then write two descriptions about it: one that is very subjective/emotional, another one that is objective/rational. Use only your personal associations for the first description but some background information about the object/artwork for your second one. Try to bring out the contrast between the two descriptions.
Then try to imagine the story of your chosen object/artwork - that can be imaginative but should also do justice to the cultural and historical context of your chosen piece. Please tell this story in the form of a dialogue or monologue. The object/artwork may be one of the speakers in the dialogue or someone else may be talking about it. Make sure you add concrete details rather than remaining too abstract!

This exercise, too, is meant to be fun! Enjoy!


Essay Sub-Genres

Please write the beginning (2 or 3 paragraphs) of an Academic Essay about a topic of your choice, then convert it into a General Interest Essay, a Personal Essay, and a Literary Essay. Please make sure that you write about the same topic in each of the 4 essay sub-genres and that your underlying thesis is the same as well. At the same time, please try to bring out the specific character of each essay sub-genre as clearly as you can and make the contrast between the four texts as strong as you can. You may have to modify the content of your essay to do justice to each genre - but please keep the gist of your main argument the same. Use as much stylistic variety as appropriate.


Multi-Genre Exercise

Dear All,

Please choose 5 of the words listed below (or any other 5 words of your choice) as your keywords for a piece of writing that is composed of 3 different genres. Please make sure that the piece is coherent and makes sense - despite the switch of genres.

Words to choose from: dragon, snake, gold, silver, earth, water, fire, air, magic, music, dance, song, story, game, computer, phone, TV, coffee, store, bottle, ship, door, window, mirror, mask, gym, weights, boots, coat, lipstick, necklace, creation, test, love relationship, man, woman, blue, red, black, white glimmer, blanket, police, escape, hiding place, rice, fruit, margin, centre, pencil, string, theory. 

Tip: your piece will probably be more original if you do NOT choose words that are obviously connected but words from different areas (e.g. instead of choosing: dragon, fire, red, gold, magic you may consider choosing: dragon, computer, blue, rice, lipstick, police).

No matter which words and which genres you choose, please make sure that you take the specific genre conventions as well as the situation and the context implied in each genre into consideration and that you try to bring out the specific character of each genre as well as its contrast to the other genres you have chosen. Please also keep your five words int he back of your mind throughout the piece and try to create connections and some kind of coherence within your piece despite the generic variety.

This exercise is meant to be fun!

Enjoy playing!



How we look at the world depends largely on our particular perspective. Just as an object, for instance a chair, will look differently whether we look at it from the front or the back or the side or the top or the bottom, our perception of a particular event will differ depending on our age, our personal experience, our cultural background, our values, and many other things.

Since we are used to seeing and evaluating the world from our own perspective, it is often difficult for us, when we interact with others, to understand that their perspective may be very different from ours, and that their perception of an event may therefore differ completely from our own.

Please choose a text, such as a newspaper article or a story or a poem - and try to retell the "facts" mentioned there from two diametrically opposed perspectives. Please try to imagine you are "in" both perspectives - first in one, and then in the other - and retell the facts the way they make sense to you when you look at them through the eyes of that particular viewer.

Feel free to give the characters connected with these perspectives individual features and even a very unique, individual style, and to add plausible motivations and reasons for the interpretations in question.

Please also feel free to apply these exercise to real life situations - in particular when you are confronted with a view that doesn't make much sense to you.


Books about Writing

Dear All,

True, writing is an art - but, like any art, it requires only about 1% talent and 99% practice. Practice of any kind - and writing is no exception - becomes more efficient if we learn some basic skills and techniques. And these skills and techniques can be taught - and have been taught in numerous classes, workshops, and books.

Since you will hopefully all want to become masters in the art of writing, I would like to invite you to find a book about writing that teaches some useful techniques and skills and write a review about it. The book can focus on academic OR on creative writing, but please choose one that we have NOT used in this class :)

Please remember to give the author and title of the book and to let the rest of us know if you would recommend the book or not.

Thank you!