Select 2 or 3 consecutive lines from one of the following poems by Jorge Luis Borges posted on Canvas: “Rain” OR “Adam Cast Forth.”
Write a 500-to-600-word discussion board post that interprets your chosen lines through close reading and analyzes what your chosen lines reveal about Borges’s philosophy.
In your post, clearly and meaningfully engage with the lecture videos on Borges in the Week 3 module.
Write substantial 50-word comments on three of your classmates’ posts.
Submit your post and comments correctly and by the deadline to the “Writing Assignment #1” discussion board in the Week 3 module in Canvas.
Your post and three comments are worth 15 points total and will be assessed through the Writing Assignment #1 Rubric Download Writing Assignment #1 Rubric, which is available in the Week 3 module in Canvas.
Read the rest of this assignment carefully, as it offers in-depth explanations of each of the requirements mentioned above.
As stated on the syllabus and in our welcome video, the use of generative AI (artificial intelligence) is strictly forbidden for your work in this class. You are not allowed to use tools like ChatGPT, Google Bard, or Grammarly Go, among many other AI tools. If we discern that your discussion board post or comments have employed AI, or any other means of plagiarism, your assignment will receive zero points and you will be reported to USM’s Office of Academic Integrity. In addition, depending on your violation, you might possibly earn an F or XF in the course.
INTERPRETING THE LINES THROUGH CLOSE READING
Once you have selected 2 or 3 consecutive lines from “Rain” OR “Adam Cast Forth,” you must interpret what those lines mean by close reading them. A close reading requires that you examine the individual components of a brief passage as if under a microscope: you will scrutinize diction (word choice, both in the way words sound as well as what they mean), syntax (the order in which words are arranged, including punctuation and line length), and imagery (especially the use of figurative language like metaphor and simile). A close reading does not merely restate, paraphrase, or summarize the lines. See the “questions to consider as you start your assignment” section at the end of this document for guidance in generating your close reading.
ANALYZING HOW THE LINES REVEAL BORGES’S PHILOSOPHY
What do your chosen lines—specifically their diction, syntax, and/or imagery—reveal about Borges’s philosophy, such as how the world works, how art works, OR how human beings work? Your chosen passage should allow you to discern and analyze some aspect of Borges’s philosophy in precise and specific ways—not in broad generalizations. For instance, rather than saying Borges believes “life is a mystery” [he doesn’t], you might say “Borges shows us we can only see the world in relation to ourselves.” (Do not use these exact words if you decide to analyze Borges’s philosophy about the relationship between the world and the self. Papers that use this sentence will receive zero credit due to plagiarism.) See the “questions to consider as you start your assignment” section at the end of this document for guidance in analyzing your chosen lines.
MEANINGFULLY ENGAGE WITH LECTURE VIDEOS
Your analysis must clearly refer to and build on material from one or more of Week 3’s lecture videos. “Rain” and “Adam Cast Forth” are not directly addressed in the lecture videos; however, there are many ways to use the lecture material to deepen your analysis of your chosen lines. Some of you may choose to refer to one or more of Borges’s recurring motifs, like mirrors, mazes, and dreams. You might focus on a theme like the unreliability of story, interconnected journeys, or multiple personas. You could even decide to include information about how your chosen lines connect with Borges’s innovations: the invention of hypertext, his theory of art, or the relevance of existentialism to his philosophy. Make sure that you extend and enhance, rather than simply repeat, what is in the lectures. You may also choose to very briefly reference (in 1-2 sentences) other assigned texts by Borges in order to deepen your analysis of “Rain” or “Adam Cast Forth.” If you do briefly reference another text by Borges, remember that your post’s focus must stay on “Rain” or “Adam Cast Forth.”
THREE COMMENTS ON CLASSMATES’ POSTS
After you post to the discussion board, you must comment substantively on at least three of your classmates’ posts. Each comment must be a minimum of 50 words, and you must go far beyond saying “Great job!” or “I disagree.” Instead, you might indicate if your classmate’s post taught you something, or made you think about the topic at hand in a new way. If you think a classmate’s post is strong, explain why you think it’s strong. If you agree or disagree with a classmate, explain why you agree or disagree. You also might want to indicate how your classmate’s post relates to your own. Do you have a similar or different approach to the text and/or the topic? All three of these comments must be completed by the deadline on Sunday, Feb. 4. If any comments are made in the late window (after 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 4 and before 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 7), the assignment will be designated late and will lose one point as a late penalty.
Please note: rude or unprofessional comments will result in an automatic zero for your entire assignment. We want you to engage with your peers, but in a respectful fashion.
FORMAT & LENGTH
At the very beginning of your post, quote the 2-3 consecutive lines from “Rain” or “Adam Cast Forth” that you analyze in your post. You must use the version/translation of the poem from the pdf posted to Canvas. Your analysis must be at least 500 words long, and shouldn’t go longer than 600 words. Note: the length of your quotation does not count towards your post’s word count.
Example start of a post:
“The afternoon has brightened up at last
For rain is falling, sudden and minute.
Falling or fallen. There is no dispute:”
These opening three lines from Borges’s poem “Rain”…[rest of analysis would follow]
To receive credit for this assignment, students must submit it correctly. The post and comments must be submitted to “Writing Assignment #1: Close Reading Discussion Board,” linked to in the Week 3 Canvas module. Once in this discussion board, write your post directly into the text box, and click “post reply” to submit your post. You cannot submit your post and/or comments any other way (such as by email, Canvas message, or as an attachment to a post or to a submission comment). Remember to proofread your post before you submit it; it should be well written and relatively free of grammatical errors and typos.
DUE DATE & LATE WORK
This assignment—the post and all three comments—is due by 11:59 p.m. (CT) on Sunday, February 4. Because this assignment requires that you respond to your peers, we ask that you try to complete and post your original response as soon as possible, ideally by Friday, February 2.
Late assignments will be accepted only for 72 hours immediately following the due date and time. The late deadline is 11:59 p.m. (CT) on Wednesday, February 7. No submissions will be accepted after the late deadline on Feb. 7.
If any part of the assignment is submitted during the late window (including one or more comments), then the whole assignment will be marked late. All late assignments will receive a 1-point deduction for lateness; the same late penalty applies whether the assignment is 1 hour late or 72 hours late.
SUPPORT & EXTRA CREDIT
If you have questions about this assignment, you can ask them in the designated Q & A Forum in the Week 3 Module in Canvas; message the course coordinator, Ms. Hannah Mummert; or attend Ms. Mummert’s office hours from 2:00-4:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can earn extra credit by attending a Writing Center appointment to work on this assignment. Ask the Writing Center to email Ms. Mummert a record of your appointment. Consult the syllabus for more information on this extra credit opportunity.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER AS YOU START YOUR ASSIGNMENT
What aspect of Borges’s philosophy do your 2-3 lines seem to be addressing: how the world works, how art works, how the human mind works? Does he answer one of those big questions—like his explanation for the significance of dreams in the human mind in “Ragnarök”—or does he leave you with more questions than before, as with the way the world works in “The Garden of Forking Paths”? What is the significance of this answer or the lack thereof?
What specific information do readers learn from the 2-3 lines you’ve chosen?
What effect does the word choice have on the meaning of those lines; that is, are any of the words unusual or unique? How does their meaning or the way they sound contribute to the meaning of the 2-3 lines? Are any words repeated or capitalized; if so, how does drawing attention to those words help you to interpret the lines?
Are the chosen lines of equal length, or is there variation in line length? Where do the lines use punctuation: at the end of the lines, in the middle of the lines? Aside from showing us where to pause as we read aloud, what does that punctuation placement show us about what the poem is emphasizing?
Are there any unusual images in the 2-3 lines, especially ones which you might not immediately associate with rain (in “Rain”) or Adam (in “Adam Cast Forth”)? How are those images described; is there figurative or sensory language in the 2-3 lines? How do those images help us to understand why the rain or Adam is significant to Borges? Do the rain or Adam symbolize something else?
Have you seen any of the characteristics of diction, syntax, and/or imagery from “Rain” or “Adam Cast Forth” in Borges’s other works? For instance, in the lecture video on identity in “Borges and I” and “That One,” Dr. Cochran points out that those two texts both mention hourglasses, maps, and Buenos Aires. How is it significant that you might recognize something in your chosen lines from a different Borges text(s)? Remember that he did not make much distinction between short stories, poems, and essays, so you may think about any of his assigned texts.
Do your 2-3 lines contain any of the recurring symbols or ideas we’ve seen before in Borges’s texts? For instance, if you identify the symbol of a mirror in your chosen lines, is it a mirror that accurately reflects (like in “The Art of Poetry”) or one that obscures a clear reflection (as in “Sleep”)?