Thursday, December 20, 2018

Multimedia projects

If you want to take a closer look (or another look) at some of the projects we're seeing in class, here is a link to the video of Ethan's song, "Just Say Hi," to Bridget's comic on the joys of thrifting, and to Samaia's graphic memoir/story on affirmative action.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Letter writing!

Here are the tips for letter writing I shared in class yesterday and a few more Reasons We Should Write More Letters. And if you get really interested in letter writing, you can check out the Letter Writers Alliance (which you can also join––only $5 for a lifetime membership!)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Real Life Writing

Today I'm sharing with you my brief "writing resume," a list of the many roles that writing plays in my life as an adult. I often share some bit of "real life" writing when I talk about this in Nonfiction Writing, and in recent weeks, my real life writing has mostly been centered around memorial writing to remember and honor my dad after his death. If you're interested, you are welcome to read the obituary I wrote for my dad (with some research help from my aunt and a bit of collaboration from my husband), published in print and online in The Sheboygan Press. I'm also sharing the eulogy/reflection I wrote and delivered at my dad's memorial service.

Also, I'm playing a short video with some comments from Aiyishat Akanbi. She's a "cultural commentator, artist, and stylist." If you're interested in learning more about her, here's a brief interview with her.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Tuesday's reading

For tomorrow, please read "I Was the Mob Until the Mob Came for Me" by the pseudonymous writer "Barrett Wilson."

After you read this short essay, jot a few notes in your notebook in response to (or at least think for a couple minutes about) the following questions:

  • Which of this essay's points do you find persuasive?
  • What is less than persuasive about this essay?
  • What ideas seem important or wise here? What seems well expressed?
  • What ideas, examples, or turns of phrase do you question or resist?
  • Is this a strong personal essay? Why and/or why not?

Friday, December 07, 2018

Link to Email Notes & Essay Options for next Tuesday

If you want to revisit any of the tips or advice I covered regarding writing email, here's the text. There are a couple of resources mentioned at the end, but because I turned the document into a PDF, the links don't work, so here they are: Re: Your Recent Email to Your Professor  and Email Etiquette from Purdue’s OWL.

Here are the four essays we'll be choosing from for our reading next Tuesday:

"I Choose to Be Fat"

I might as well tell you now that this essay won’t end with a scene from that brighter, happier life: an image of a newly svelte me out hiking or auditioning a red dress for a hot date, reflecting that I’d never known the beauty of the world — and of myself — until I’d lost the weight. This is not that kind of essay. It’s an explanation and a celebration of a single decision: Even if I never lost a single pound, I’d be just fine. I’d be better than fine.

"I Was the Mob Until the Mob Came for Me"

In my previous life... I would use my mid-sized Twitter and Facebook platforms to signal my wokeness on topics such as LGBT rights, rape culture, and racial injustice. Many of the opinions I held then are still opinions that I hold today. But I now realize that my social-media hyperactivity was, in reality, doing more harm than good.

Within the world created by the various apps I used, I got plenty of shares and retweets. But this masked how ineffective I had become outside, in the real world. The only causes I was actually contributing to were the causes of mobbing and public shaming. 

"In Praise of Incompetence"

Perhaps the one act of rebellion I’ve made in a life full of obeisance to my internal gods is to reject the genius mandate and opt instead for competence. This has freed me on the one hand, and made a drone of me on the other. I do not allow myself to expect brilliance; I attempt to squelch even the slightest longing for it. But I do allow myself to strive for paragraphs as well made — if I may say, as masterful — as any solid piece of furniture constructed by a skilled carpenter.

"What Sharp Teeth You Have"

I would rather be killed by a lion than by a man. When lions attack, it’s not personal. You’re either food or a perceived threat, and there’s nothing more to it—no basis in psychopathology or hatred or jealousy, no motivation to manipulate, no “mommy issues,” no rejection of moral standards, no intra-species betrayal. Lions are guileless. We accept that they are killers. 

[With men of my own species,] Distinguishing who presents a danger can be difficult, even among the familiar....

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Presentation sign-up (plus, important poll)

Fourth period students, after you've given your classmates with special project needs time to sign up for their presentations, please sign up for your presentation time here.

Also, please take this poll before the end of the period today.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Workshopping your multimedia projects in progress

Get into groups of three and share your multimedia project with your small group, using this handout to guide your discussion. When it's your turn to be a responder, answer the questions on a sheet of notebook paper, which you will then give to the writer/creator after you finish your workshop discussion.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Em-dashes, en-dashes, and hyphens AND our reading for tomorrow

First, here's our reading for tomorrow, Why I'm Black, Not African American by the linguist John H. McWhorter. I chose this essay from among your summer reading essays because it touches on some interesting and important issues related to both the complexities of race and culture and the evolving nature of the English language. Please read it and write a one-paragraph response in your notebook. Take your response in any direction that your reflections on the essay lead you toward, or simply discuss which of McWhorter's arguments for "Black" (and against "African American") persuade you and which you find limited. [Fourth period students, you aren't required to read this essay because of Mr. B's lesson this week. See my email from this morning for details.]

And here is the information I shared with you on dashes and hyphens today in class.

As I mentioned, many writers feel passionately about the em-dash in one way or another. If you’re interested, here are two perspectives enthusiastically in favor of the em-dash––Em Dash: Why Should You Love It? by Kimberly Joki and Regarding the Em Dash by Adam O'Fallon Price. And one perspective urging us to use the em-dash sparingly––The Case—Please Hear Me Out—Against the Em Dash by Noreen Malone.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Avoiding redundancy, navigating contractions, and the secret to great grammar

Here are some tips on avoiding common redundancies.

Here are some thoughts to revisit on hitting a consistent tone with more casual or more formal language, including contractions.

And here is the big but pretty simple secret on How To Avoid Grammar Mistakes (cue heroic music).

The article above refers to "the manual," which used to be one of any number of actual books. These days, it's more likely an online source. The ones I recommend are the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL), the University of Illinois Center for Writing Studies Grammar Handbook, and Grammar Girl (with Grammar Girl, there's not one great central location to explore, but if you type in any grammar issue such as "comma splice" or "punctuation quotation marks" and "grammar girl," you're likely to come up with a relevant, helpful, and witty article).

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Multimedia Project Examples

Here are a few examples of multimedia projects from former students:

Elizabeth's graphic story of her first personal essay

Lizzie's diorama/sculpture of her first personal essay

Grant's painting based on his information essay about Hawaii

Grace's diorama of her argument/information essay on the importance of nature in our screen-filled lives

Maggie's film on ballet as athleticism

Raphaelle's comic on school dress code double standards

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

If it's not already on your radar, you should all be aware of the The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. This is a rare writing contest for high school students in that it has a wide range of categories to submit to. Your writing in this class could fit into one of at least two of the following categories, and if you're a creative writer or a journalist, you may have writing that fits into many or all of these:

Critical Essay
Dramatic Script
Flash Fiction
Novel Writing
Personal Essay & Memoir
Science Fiction & Fantasy
Short Story

If you're a graduating senior, you can also submit a whole Writing Portfolio.

The deadline in our region is December 1st, so you have some time to think about and prepare your work for submission. Be sure to choose your best writing, spend some time revising to make it even better, and proofread before you submit. Feel free to ask me for advice if you have any questions or need some guidance.

Visual artists, note that there are a number of art categoriesto check out, as well!

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Examples of Information Lists and Works Cited for Essay #3 and Essay Writing Clichés to Avoid

Here are some examples of Works Cited and information lists from Information-Plus-Reflection essays that students have written in the past.

Also, here's a brief list of Essay Writing Clichés to Avoid:

  • Opening with "Since the dawn of time" or other sweeping temporal or historical phrase
  • Opening with a dictionary definition (or using a dictionary definition at any point without a specific, meaningful, and interesting reason)
  • Closing with a simple "moral of my essay" or cliché

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Notebook work for "This Is Water"

In your notebook, I asked you to write about which passages you would choose to include in a hypothetical short film based on this commencement speech. Look at those passages and draw from them three major themes or idea categories that you would want to hit on in this hypothetical film. Also in your notebook, list them in short phrases (no more than ten words; a single word is fine) and choose a one-or two sentence quotation that you think illustrates each of them especially well. Spend about five minutes on this.

Now shift gears for ten minutes, putting the film idea on hold and writing in response to this prompt: David Foster Wallace says “In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.” What do you worship now, as a not-yet-adult, and how do you feel about that? And what do you aspire to worship as an adult, five years out of college or so, and beyond? (It’s okay if the two are the same. It’s also okay if either or both answers might make you look good––or bad––in the eyes of others. Try not to judge your own answers too much; just be as honest as you can).

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Peer editing for essay #3

Hello Nonfiction Writing students,

I'm very sorry not to be with you today. My cold never fully cleared up. Instead, it blossomed into a sinus infection, a misery I hope you've never experienced. I hope to be back at school on Tuesday. Read David Foster Wallace's commencement speech (and listen if you care to). Seventh period students, I forgot to tell you that in addition to being a towering figure of late-twentieth-century postmodern fiction, Wallace was also a local back in his youth. He went to Yankee Ridge elementary school and Urbana High. Mr. Rayburn taught with his mom at Parkland.

Okay, now for peer editing. See below.

Best regards,
Dr. Majerus

*     *     *

If you're sharing your essay via googledocs, use these questions and instructions.

If you brought your essay in hard copy and would like to read it out loud, use these questions and instructions. You can print them in the library or at the hallway printing station before you begin workshopping.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Using questions to guide revision (& the audio for "This is Water")

Here's the handout that I would have printed if the English department printer was not kaput. Refer to it, and answer the questions in your notebook.

And, if you're interested, the audio of the commencement speech that the text for "This Is Water" is based on:

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Reflecting on Writing Process

Writing process reflection:

In a pair or a group of three, share your writing process for essays #1 and #2 (you should have at least two sets of notes, and possibly as many as four, in your notebook). You can either read your notes (if they're more written than visual), show the two visual representations (if you drew your process), or describe either in a more general sense. 

After everyone has shared their summary of their writing process, go to the document linked here and contribute a concise statement of least one thing you learned from mapping your own writing process, and (scrolling down) one thing you realized, learned, or were reminded of from hearing your partner(s) describe theirs. (If you see that someone else has expressed exactly what you intended to, you can simply add a √ after that sentence.)

Monday, October 29, 2018

Prompt for Tuesday, October 30

Revisit (or write for the first time) one of these prompts, but using only one-syllable words:

Write about a time you realized that you loved something you thought you hated, or hated something you thought you loved.


How do you feel about your name?


Describe your favorite place, or one of your favorite places.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Why I Doctor

I never liked being called “Ms. Majerus.” My first year at Uni, one of my students was calling my teacher name down the crowded hallway in an effort to get my attention: “Ms. Majerus! Ms. Majerus!” I didn’t hear her. In desperation, she shouted, “Elizabeth!” and I immediately turned around. “Elizabeth” sounds like me to me. “Ms. Majerus” sounds like one of my aunts.

I never felt like Ms. Majerus, but over time I did come to terms with the name. Still, when I finished my PhD a couple years into my Uni career, I briefly considered changing my form of address from “Ms. Majerus” to “Dr. Majerus.” I had been working myself ragged writing my dissertation while teaching full time, and I had put seven years into earning my PhD. It felt like a momentous accomplishment, and the change in my chosen honorific[1]would reflect that. “Dr. Majerus” also just appealed to me more than “Ms. Majerus.” Ms. Majerus sounded mundane, adult but uninspired, while Dr. Majerus sounded more august and somewhat funny at the same time, an expert in her field who might also have some super-secret mad scientist identity.

At the time, however, there was another teacher in my department who already had a PhD, a veteran more than twenty years my senior, who went by Ms. Laughlin. It felt a little strange to insist upon my “doctor” when another teacher I worked closely with was satisfied with plain old “Ms.” So, even though there were other PhDs in the building who went by “Dr.,” I decided to stick with “Ms.”

Flash forward a few years, and somehow I’m one of the veteran teachers in our department. My younger colleague Mr. Ernstmeyer is on the verge of earning his PhD, and we’re gathered around the English office talking about whether he’ll change his honorific to Dr. Ernstmeyer. He admits that he’d like to but is undecided. Regretting my decision to stick with “Ms.” instead of going for the admittedly more pretentious but also, to me, more fun and less mundane “Dr.,” I encourage Mr. Ernstmeyer to go for it, telling him that I will start using “Dr.” as my honorific if he does so. 

Since I made the change, I have come to like “Dr.” more and more. It feels more equitable that it’s not only the administrators at our school who are given the respect of the honorific that corresponds to their advanced degree, and I love the fact that “Dr.” is gender neutral. I still feel more like an “Elizabeth” or even a flat “Majerus” than a “Dr. Majerus.” But “Dr. Majerus” feels much more like me than “Ms. Majerus.” It’s sort of like the name version of the clothes I wear at school vs. the clothes I wear at home. Dr. Majerus feels like a set of clothes that are more formal and maybe a bit less comfortable than I’d choose to wear around the house, but still, clothes that I chose. Ms. Majerus felt like I was borrowing my aunt’s sweater. It was a perfectly nice sweater, and it kept me from getting chilly, but it wasn’t mine. 

[1]Honorificis the English word for a title prefixing a person's name, e.g.: Ms., Mr., Sir, Dr., Lady, Lord, etc.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Erdrich, Whittemore, and sentence combining

Louise Erdrich, “The Names of Women” and Katherine Whittemore, “Endangered Languages”

With the first two of the following three tasks, you can change the sentences radically, but try as much as possible not to change the meaning of the sentences or phrases within them. Work with the words from the original as much as you are able. Also label your two sentences with the names of your group members:

  1. Take one of the longest sentences from either of these essays and break it into two sentences, then post it in the “favorite sentences” googledoc. Label the new sentences “Broken up.”
  2. Then take two relatively short sentences that are next to or near each other and turn them into one sentence. Label the new sentence “Combined.”
  3. Now, as a group, judge whether the broken up or combined sentences you created are better, worse, or about the same as the originals, and briefly comment on this in the doc. Label it “Comment.” 

When your group has finished its sentence work, answer the following questions in your notebook:

  1. Do you feel like you learned anything from the sentence breaking-up/combining exercise above? If so, what? 
  2. What do these two short essays seem to you to have in common with one another? Which was more interesting and why? Or were they equally interesting in different ways?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Michael Pollan's notes for the Intro and Chapter One: The Apple (also: colons & semi-colons!)

Before, during, or after you read the apple chapter of Michael Pollan's The Botany of Desire, please take a look at Pollan's notes for both of these chapters, which we'll talk about on Friday, in addition to discussing the chapter itself.

And here's the information on colons and semi-colons that I shared in class today.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Defend Americans' right to assemble and petition our government

If you care about our First Amendment rights as Americans to peaceably assemble & to petition the government for a redress of grievances, please submit an official comment on the regulations currently under consideration to create new barriers on organizing protests and large gatherings like the Million Man March near some of our most important government buildings in Washington D.C.

Our nation has a long history of marches, gatherings, and protests––from a wide range of points on the political spectrum–– that have been held on the National Mall and other places of national and symbolic importance in D.C.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

My Feelings Relating to the Word "Relatable"

I wrote the post below the second time I taught Nonfiction writing, so it's several years old at this point. But a couple weeks ago I referred in passing to my dislike of (and resignation regarding) the word "relatable," and a student in fourth period was curious about a fuller explanation, so I am reproducing the post here in the unlikely event that you want to hear my whole rationale for why I dislike the word. (Note that I wrote this back when I was not resigned to its use, so I was more inclined to rant about it. Now that I'm resigned, there's really no point. I'm sure you can relate :)


Nonfiction Writing is one of my favorite classes to teach. I love spending a semester helping students learn how to write eloquent, concise, engaging personal essays and seeing them develop a compelling writing voice of their own.

The last time I taught Nonfiction Writing was the first time I came across the word "relatable" in my students' writing. A student or two described the voice or tone or topic of an essay we'd read as "relatable." My reaction to this word was negative, but it didn't seem like a big deal, since it didn't come up more than a couple times. I may have mentioned the word to my students, and if I did, I may have told them that it's not a real word. I may not have. I don't remember. I certainly remember thinking "That is not actually a word, and if it were... feh."

That was a couple years ago, and now I'm teaching the class again. And in the first assignment I collected, where students responded to several essays of their own choosing, I came across the word "relatable" at least a dozen times. One student, normally a clear, precise, and confident writer, used the word a total of four times in a two-page paper.

I've been an English teacher long enough to know that before I make some pronouncement to my class, along the lines of "That's not a real word" or "The correct pronunciation is...," I need to check my sources. The English language is vast, complex, and ever-changing. We are fortunate to have a gigantic vocabulary at our disposal, and our words come from every corner of the globe, with new ones being added and old ones morphing into new ones all the time.

So I looked up "relatable" and found that it is indeed in the dictionary. Of course it's in the dictionary, because it is in fact a word. It means "able to be related." Like a story. But that's not how my students are using it. They mean "able to be related to." And according to my beloved ginormo desk dictionary, the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th edition), that's not the definition. "Relatable" is just there at the end of the entry for "relate," meaning that the AHDEL defines it my way, not my students' way.

Merriam-Webster's online dictionary, however, backs up the young'uns:

re·lat·a·ble/riˈlātəbəl/ Adjective: 1. Able to be related to something else.
2. Enabling a person to feel that they can relate to someone or something: "Kate's problems make her more relatable."

Why do I hate this word? It's not the very fact of turning a verb into a noun. "Debatable" is fine, as is "dependable" and "deniable." Partly it's the preposition thing. To relate something is very different than to relate to something, and part of me thinks that therein lies my issue.

But no. I'm not normally picky in that way. It is a little ugly to cram "to relate to" into an "able" ajective. But it's more than that.

I think my problem is an assumption that underlies the word: that if this character, this person, this being has something very obvious in common with me, I can "relate to" him, her, it, and thus I can validate him, her, or it. And if we have nothing in common that I can see from a cursory glance, then I might just feel that this voice isn't speaking to me. And I find that a bit solipsistic and shallow.

In fact, there's a better word that we English teachers have been promoting for years that fits the "relatable" bill but is less dependent on the reader's (or viewer's or listener's) experience and worldview being replicated by the artistic or writerly perspective in question. It's "sympathetic." The question of whether we can sympathize with a character, with a writer, with a voice is a much larger one, and (I would argue) enables a more sophisticated and a more outward-looking conversation.

Perhaps we need to promote sympathy as a better lens through which to evaluate writing than "relatability." And perhaps we need to have a conversation about other, more specific, less flabby words that fit into the big baggy mess that is "relatable." But I begin by rejecting the word.

I do not relate.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Finding sources on gender non-specific language

You are interns for a small online magazine that focuses on popular culture from a general interest point of view. Your boss wants you to write a casual but informed 600-word piece on gender-nonspecific language in the twenty-first century. It should introduce the basic issue of gender specific language and give a very brief bit of history (feel free to use Anne Fadiman as one historical source), and it should end by offering readers advice on and/or range of options for how to approach gender nonspecific language. 

Begin by sharing the list of language issues related to gender that each of you made last week. Decide on which issue or issues seems the most pressing and the most relevant to a magazine audience of college-educated younger adults interested in popular culture. You can choose one issue, or a small handful with one being the main focus.

Then make a list of places where you might find information about the issue(s) you've chosen to focus on––this can include print and online resources, but also any other information source you could access within a small budget (for example, contacting experts or commenters in any number of fields or areas by phone, email, etc.). 

Then spend a few minutes trying to find two or more sources to check for basic information that you can use to begin to shape the very first draft of your piece. 

Create a rough outline for the piece you envision (including references to any information you intend to gather from more time-intensive means like interviews).

If you have time, write the first paragraph or two.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Notebook questions (and a note) for "Best American Answers to the Question 'What Do You Believe...'"

For the "Best American Answers to the Question 'What Do You Believe Is True Even Though You Cannot Prove It,'” please complete the following in your notebook:

  1. As you read, write down the last name of the writer and the first three to five words of the answer for each of these answers, then as you finish each decide whether it seems to be making an argument. Write “yes,” “no,” or “yes and no” for each answer. (You don’t need to explain at this point, though we will likely discuss your whys on Wednesday.)
  2. Decide which two answers offer the most persuasive logic for their "thing I believe in even though I can't prove it." What specific elements of these answers make each persuasive for you?

Note: In the last paragraph of her answer, Alison Gopnik refers to Dan Dennett’s answer, which is not reprinted in this group, but can be found online here. Basically, his answer is a rather Wittgensteinian “I believe, but cannot yet prove, that acquiring a human language (an oral or sign language) is a necessary precondition for consciousness.”

Monday, October 01, 2018

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Group work for college administrator admissions essays

1.     As a group, come to an agreement on which two essays among the six that we read for today seem most like argument essays, which seem most strongly to make a debatable point. For those two essays, agree on a sentence that you think is the best candidate for a thesis statement.

2.     Imagine that your group is the admissions committee for an elite graduate program for college administrators seeking an advanced certificate in Social and Emotional Learning. Excellent writing skills are one of the criteria for admission. Other qualities the committee is looking for are strong leadership abilities, good critical thinking skills, and emotional intelligence. 

You have a group of six finalists, all of whom have been deemed equal in every respect (graduate school transcripts, publications, service to their universities, etc.) and now you must choose which two candidates to admit based on the writing samples you have before you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Revision advice

Here's a link to the text of the PowerPoint presentation on revision I've beenI sharing with you in class, in case you want to revisit any of the strategies or ideas we covered.

You're encouraged but not required to revise essay #1. Remember that revisions are due a week after you receive your feedback from me (or on Friday, September 21, if you received your feedback before Friday, September 14). But you are also welcome to ask for an extension on your revision for essay #1. Don't forget your cover letter detailing the significant changes you've made in your revision. (Below, you will find a few examples of revision cover letters.)

Example #1:

Example #2

Example #3

Monday, September 24, 2018

The power of the open letter

If you're interested in a discussion of the open letter as a form of political protest, "The Intimate, Political Power of the Open Letter" by Emily Nordi explores how the form has been used as a vehicle for literary activism by writers of color.

Open letters can also address more personal concerns, or can even be used to humorously raise issues with a colleagues, public servants, institutions, or nursery rhyme characters, as is sometimes the case in the various "Open Letters to People or Entities Who Are Unlikely to Respond" at McSweeney's Internet Tendency.

In the last few minutes of class, begin thinking about who or what you would write an open letter to if you could (or had to). Make a short list of what you might want to say in your open letter, and if you have time, begin drafting the first two or three paragraphs.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Launching Points and Monday's reading assignment

We'll talk about launching points in class today, so her are a few resources for you to consult if you feel your essay needs a launching point and you're working on creating one:

A basic overview of the launching point

A simple example of a revision that introduces a launching point

A second example essay in need of a launching point

The second essay with a more nuanced launching point introduced through revision.

And here is your reading assignment for Monday, James Baldwin's "A Letter to My Nephew" (this is a link to online publication; here's a PDF version if you prefer to print the essay). Written in 1962, "A Letter to My Nephew" is an open letter (a genre we'll talk about in class on Monday), and thus it serves the dual purpose of a correspondence and also an essay (or, in many cases, some other public statement).

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Tuesday, September 18 in class

A few modes of opinion essay, as reflected by purpose-announcing titles

·     “In defense of…” (as in Judith Drake’s 1696 long essay, An Essay in Defence of the Female Sex)

·     “An Apology for…” (as in R.L. Stevenson’s 1877 essay “An Apology for Idlers”)

·     “In Praise of…” (as in Bertrand Russell’s 1935 essay, “In Praise of Idleness”)

·     “In Celebration of…” or “A Celebration of…” (as in “A Celebration of Life”by Rene Dubos)

·     “Against…” (as in Susan Sontag’s 1966 essay “Against Interpretation”)

·     “A Critique of…” (as in Emmanuel Kant’s 1781 workCritique of Pure Reason)

Claim: A single, debatable assertion, expressing a particular “take” on or an informed opinion on a topic or issue. A claim is an essential element of every point you make, and of the argument as a whole. You can’t make a point without making a claim.

Choose a claim from Hazlitt’s “On the Pleasure of Hating” or Stevenson’s “An Apology for Idlers” and write three paragraphs agreeing and expanding on it (and/or updating it for the twenty-first century) OR disagreeing with and disproving it (and/or suggesting why it isn’t relevant in the twenty-first century)