Announcement: Various meetings keep arising this semester, and scheduling has been difficult. So, instead of holding regular office hours, I’d like to share my schedule (Cooke_schedule_Fall2011) with all of you and encourage you to make appointments if you’d like to see me about anything.
Here is the assignment prompt for MP2: Wr20_Fall11_MP2. Please download it so we can go over it in class on Wednesday.
READING: Please read two brief articles – Kelly et al. 2011 and Fabry 2008. Both can be found on Blackboard. As you read, identify what the thesis of each article is and how the authors use evidence to support their thesis. How are the articles structured and organized?
WRITING: Nothing to turn in, but please bring your laptop and your most recent draft (if you prefer hard copies, bring two copies). You’ll have about half of the class period to do peer editing and proofreading with a partner.
Three items to download:
In addition to the Writing Studio and myself, Undergraduate Writing Partners (UWPs) are available to assist you with your writing on Sundays, Mondays, and Wednesdays from 8-10 pm in Carr 136, beginning on September 18. Who are UWPs? They’re students just like you, the key difference being that they already have Writing 20 under their belt! These sophomores and juniors have volunteered to help with your writing. You can visit at any stage of the writing process – from brainstorming, to drafting, to revising, to polishing the final draft. I’ve shared our course materials with the UWPs, so they will be familiar with MP1. The UWPs can also help with writing for your other courses. No appointment is needed. Just drop in!
Please read a primary research paper by Hall-Spencer et al. (2008), and a news article about this paper (News & Views paper). Make sure you read the primary research article first! These two papers are on Blackboard in the Readings folder. The purpose of these readings is to introduce you to reading scholarly scientific articles and to learn about a cool, influential ocean acidification study (one of the first papers on the Italian CO2 vent research!)
We’ll be having our library research session during our class time on October 3 in the Lilly Training Room (where the movie was shown). But if you have any questions before that about anything library-related (e.g., using the libraries on campus, accessing resources online, library research in general), please feel free to drop in on Emily Daly in room 106 of the Art Building on Tuesdays from 2-4 pm. She’s available during this time specifically for Writing 20 students, and she has said that there is no question too large or too small!
As a documentary, A Sea Change provides its audience with a simple, relatable journey of a grandfather who needs to provide a safe environment for his grandson to grow up into. As an allegory, however, it displays much more poignant and powerful ideas relating to love and loss, of both innocence and tradition through the potential destruction of the environment. The relationship between the storyteller, Huseby, and his grandson, Elias, provides the means for director Barbara Ettinger to explore these themes and use them to convince the audience that in the end, something must change.
Huseby begins his journey as a hunt for information, and as he travels the country learning about the increasing pH of the ocean, his motivation clearly follows him as images and talks with his grandson are brought to the forefront. The audience at this point seems to be parents of any kind, who share the same fears of leaving their children a less than ideal world. The film never really dives deep into the science behind ocean acidification, and this further shows that its intended audience is one less concerned with the physical effects of this environmental shift, and more with the potential moral and ethical effects.
The deeper meanings within this film are present in all of the interactions between Huseby and his grandson. Scenes with Elias portray him as an eager, enthusiastic young child, eager to learn and grow. Huseby shows his desire to facilitate this growth through traditions he learned as a child, but finds that in many cases he is unable to due to changes within the ocean. Huseby’s childhood was centered around the ocean, growing up in both Norway and Alaska, and as he finds these places greatly altered due to changes in ocean chemistry, he experiences a loss of both Elias’ and his own childhood innocence.
This theme of a loss of innocence and tradition is further expounded through more figurative devices in the documentary. Again, the interaction between Huseby and Elias facilitates this theme, and as both are swimming in a pool, Huseby compares Elias to “a fish”. This relates to a point earlier in the film, where an expert on salmon, when talking about why they jump out of the water, wonders whether they might be “just happy”. By comparing children to fish, and giving fish human-like traits, the two become interlocked. What this allegory serves to show is that a negative change in the make up of the ocean could mean much more than an economic downturn or a change in human nutrition; it could uproot the innocence and traditions that have held humans together throughout history.
Perhaps due to the fact that I had barely even heard of “ocean acidification” prior to signing up for this course, I found Barbara Ettinger’s “A Sea Change” to be both thoroughly informative as well as effective in conveying its main message. The film, which does not waste any time, jumps straight to the point with main character/narrator Sven Huseby saying “Imagine a world without fish…”. These first words themselves set the tone of the entire film: uncertainty, worriedness, and even desperation. These same feelings are further relayed at later occasions in the film, one example being when Sven attends a conference regarding the topic of ocean acidification. At the conference, a few of the scientists present are interviewed for the film, and at one point one scientist is asked “Are we screwed?” to which he replies, without hesitation, “Yes.” Additionally, when Sven first explains his attempts to learn as much as he can about ocean acidification in order to teach his grandson Elias about it, he states that he feels sorry for Elias, since he has been born so late relative to the beginning of earth. He claims that it is sad to be born so late in a world that is already degraded. Thus, by showcasing such pessimistic and almost tragically apocalyptic dialogue, the filmmaker is able to get the general audience to realize that ocean acidification is a serious problem and that something must be done about it.
Somewhat contrasting to the underlying tone of urgency and desperation, the filmmaker also makes sure to portray hope and optimism in regards to the solution for lessening ocean acidification. First, the use of children (primarily Sven’s grandson Elias) throughout the film is meant to appeal to the general audience’s emotions, so that they will be more inspired to take action against the ocean acidification problem. The filmmaker also uses children to represent the potential hope and possibility of overcoming this obstacle. Sven blatantly states that his main objective with regards to ocean acidification is to acquire as much information as he can about it and then teach all of it to his grandson, in hopes that Elias and the rest of his generation will be empowered to take action towards ending or lessening ocean acidification. This hopeful tone falls under the category of comic apocalypse since it is promoting the notion that humans have some control over and ability to influence the overall global warming issue. In addition to the portrayal of children as the new generation capable of fixing what older generations have “destroyed,” the filmmaker also makes sure to end the movie on a further positive note by showing Sven speaking with various scientists about wind-powered and solar-powered machines and buildings, that have the potential to significantly reduce the emission of carbon dioxide. Thus, Ettinger, in her film “A Sea Change,” is able to achieve her goal by 1) making sure the audience is aware how serious of a problem ocean acidification and how desperate we are for a solution and 2) highlighting a means of recovery by entrusting children with this task and shedding light on upcoming innovative ideas.
Please read Chapter 6 in the NRC book and two brief articles – an editorial from the scholarly journal Nature called “Over the Limit” and a column from Nature called “Getting it Across.” These articles are in the Readings folder on Blackboard. Please come to class prepared to discuss these readings.
No writing is due, but I strongly encourage you to begin work on MP1. I’ll welcome any questions you have about the planning and drafting processes. I’ll also talk about these three Writing Studio handouts in class: handout_argument, developing_claim, argument