Friday, November 19, 2010

Darwin Documentary On-Line

The Darwin documentary that we saw parts of in class is online at

The PBS website homepage for the series, Evolution: Darwin's Dangerous Idea, has background information in best promotional form.
Why does Charles Darwin's "dangerous idea" matter more today than ever, and how does it explain the past and predict the future of life on Earth? The first show interweaves the drama of Darwin's life with current documentary sequences, introducing key concepts of evolution.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Final Paper

The Final Paper is due in lecture on December 2nd on 8-10 double-spaced, single-sided, Times New Roman 12-point font, MS Word default line-length (whew!) pages.

It is open topic, and must treat one of the following alternatives:
  • three primary course texts
  • two primary course texts and one class handout.
Equal focus does not have to be given to the three texts that you chose: one or two may dominate. If you are searching about for a thesis, you will find that the Evaluative Response can serve (as if so designed by a wise and benevolent authority) as basis for a thesis paragraph.

Regarding the deadline, if you should find it a challenge for some personal reason, you may apply for an extension with type-written justification handed in at lecture on and only on November 25th.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Essay Analysis; Copy Editing Symbols

Follow this link, as well as this other link, for a legend of the standard copy-editing symbols used in the marking of your essays

Some of the more frequently-used are the following.
  • SYN: faulty syntax
  • GR: faulty grammar
  • AWK: awkward wording or awkward expression of idea.
  • SP: faulty spelling
  • PRON: missing or faulty pronoun.
  • AGR: faulty agreement (grammar.)
  • T: incorrect tense (grammar.)
  • M: incorrect mood (grammar.)
  • //: lack of correct parallelism
  • ¶ : faulty paragraph structure
  • CAP: capitalise
  • MM: mixed metaphor
  • NO CAP: don't capitalise
  • WDY: excessive, roundabout or unhelpful wording that obscures the argument.
  • ARG: argument required.
  • DEV: faulty or missing development of the argument
  • D: faulty diction (e.g. use of jargon or informal idiom.)
  • PASS: passive (usually adjectival rather than adverbial) form
  • WC: faulty word choice
  • WW: wrong word
  • PURPLE: gradiloquent section: ornate, florid or overly-written piece of incongruous writing.
  • LITOTES: unnecessary and unhelpful use of negative construction.
  • RELEV: irrelevant remark.
  • PETITIO: a petitio principii ('begging the question')—assuming as a conclusion that which needs to be established as a premis. Often in essay argument, a statement delivered as a proof which itself is as yet unproven.
  • UNCL: unclear expression of an idea
  • ARTIC: missing or mistaken use of grammatical article.
  • REP: repetitive wording or repetition of a previously-presented idea.
  • REL: faulty relation of idea or no clear relation to surrounding idea.
  • TRUISM: statement of the obvious: unnecessary.
  • C&E: mistake between cause and effect
  • P: faulty punctuation.
  • ITAL: italicise this text.
  • DEL: unnecessary text requiring deletion
  • PLEON: pleonasm
  • REPORT: book report--i.e. absence of argument. 
  • CIT: missing citation
  • DANGL: dangling modifier.
  • STR: faulty or absent argument structure.
  • R-O: run-on sentence.
  • FRAG: sentence fragment
  • THESIS: misplaced thesis-level sentence
  • X: false statement.
  • SS: faulty sentence structure
  • INDIR: indirect expression of idea--often weak or padded syntax.

G.K. Chesterton: the "Missing" Sections

The two short sections that complete Orthodoxy are on-line here:
  1. The Man in the Cave
  2. Professors and Prehistoric Men
They are delightfully short and delightfully interesting. I am confident that you will never forget them.

Arts & Letters Daily this past weekend presented the following teaser:
Of course, we should love, honor and cherish our species, says Mary Midgley. But do we have to worship it as well?... more»
The link is to short article in ("Ideas for Godless People") by the venerable and rather intimidating philosopher and writer Mary Midgely. Well worth our time in an upcoming seminar, I believe that you will find.

And a note to remind you to bring your Back to Methuselah to the November 18th class. We will now witness the Darwinist problem acted on the stage....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Evaluative Response Assignment

Updated. By November 21st craft your own evaluation of one of the critiques of Charles Darwin's writings presented in the course and send it by e-mail to

Your e-mail will thus appear as a post to the main course blog, and will be a contribution to its quality.

Your evaluative response should be five hundred words, give or take, and be engaging, scholarly, and balance a strong personal voice with an ear for a wider audience.
To adopt a jargon from Business, you should take a vertically-integrated approach to your post. Take a very narrow band of the full spectrum of primary material that we are studying, and present a vision that is bright and sharply-focused. Some piece of the material critiquing Darwin will stick in your mind, and use your thoughts to evaluate that one particularity and start out with some brief notes--in an email message pane, say--and save them while your ideas solidify, and then work them up in odd moments here and there, until you arrive at a firm and well-written evaluative post. And just email that off to the address given.
The Lecturer will provide a written analysis and letter grade of the quality of your insight, argument and writing to you in class.

Send your post any day before the deadline: use the exigencies of your own schedule and your preference for analysis of your abilities and progress in the course as your guide.