For a while on here I had a commonplace book running on Tuesdays -- poems or paragraphs I thought worth quoting. That kind of fell into disarray (as a lot of my work on here has) but I want to try to revive it in a particular form.
I have decided to radically revise my Composition One course. I am envisioning a structure where every day I hand out a paragraph from some work of philosophy, cultural criticism, literary criticism, religious parable, anecdote, etc. and then as a class we work with it (using the excellent textbook They Say/I Say, if you teach this kind of thing and care). But I can't find everything myself, and want you send me stuff. Then I would like to put some of the things you send me into the commonplace book on the blog -- because if they are not interesting to us then they are not interesting enough for my students. Right now I am thinking of a paragraph from Nietzsche for example -- one of the short ones from Beyond Good and Evil. But I am also thinking of that passage in that superhero book that Tarantino ripped off for Bill's Speech in Kill Bill about Clark Kent being Superman's criticism of the human race. I am thinking of the Parable of the Greedy Man and the Envious Man, or Harold Bloom on Freud and Love.
Here are the parameters:
1. It can be no longer than 600 words.
2. It must be relatively self contained -- to the point where it would require no more context than 40 words of introduction.
3. I do not mind weird allusions in the text -- I can always add footnotes.
4. Preference will be given to important "History of Idea" guys but this can come from anywhere.
5. It should come from a work of non-fiction.
6. Vocabulary is not a problem -- my students need to get in the habit of using the dictionary anyway.
Basically, I want you to go though your non-fiction books at home, look for a paragraph you underlined, and if it looks like it might fit the parameters, email it to me.