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Dialectical Journal

While reading, An American Childhood, you will keep a dialectical notebook as part of your nightly homework assignments. You are to select two-three passages from your reading and write them down (abbreviate the quote with page numbers) and then respond to each passage in terms of your insights into it. Draw 3-columns in your notebooks: 1) quote the passage (include page number), 2) interpret the passage, 3) respond to the passage.

I’ve chosen some guiding ideas for themes to look for while reading. Feel free to use the suggestions listed below for dialectical journal entries. You should include specific examples from the text to support your insights as well as specific examples from your own experiences to enhance your writing.

 

Suggestions Include:

  1. Using Dillard’s metaphor of "waking" (also "surfacing" and becoming "alive") that bridges the memoir. What is the self? What is the awareness of self? When do we achieve it? Is awareness unwelcome?
  2. Dillard writes, "What does it feel like to be alive?" (150) and answers her question with a series of extended metaphors. Study her "answers" and, imitating her style, create your own extended metaphor for life.
  3. Theme of maps. How do we define and locate ourselves within our worlds?
  4. Role of the "interior life" (20) of imagination. What is the relationship between imagination and reason? What is the role of each in our lives?
  5. Institutions that shaped Dillard and against which she rebelled. What institutions shaped us in our young lives? Have you ever rebelled?
  6. Class awareness and distinctions. What distinctions did we see as we grew up? And now?
  7. Values. What values were we given as children? Do we select our own values?

 

Please note that these are merely "suggestions." You are always welcome to select your own passages and/or themes to respond to. You will choose two of your dialectical journal entries for your portfolio and the end of the unit.

 

*** In addition, write down and look up the definitions for at least three-five vocabulary words in your notebooks. These words will be used for a writing activity later in the unit J

 

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Personal Writing