Response Paper #2
Twain, “Personals” (pages 257-259)
Foo, “Experience of a Chinese Journalist” (pages 268-270)
Twain’s impetus for writing “Personals” is attributed to how New Yorkers were “isolated in the crowd and unsure how to find companionship” (257). This work is dated 1867—but have times really changed? Twain concludes his piece by commenting, “Many a New Yorker is proof against the seductions of the Cable’s despatches, but none of them can resist the Herald’s ‘Personals” (259). What do you think he means by this? What does this statement imply about New Yorkers, in general? And, do you think it is still true—can New Yorkers today resist the Craigslist “Missed Connections”?
For this response, focus on Twain—explore what you think his meditation on “Personals” has to do with New York. What is he trying to accomplish in this piece? What would a “Personals” by Mark Twain look like if it was written in 2012?
Compare and contrast Mark Twain’s “Personals” and Wong Chin Foo’s “Experience of a Chinese Journalist.” What do you think each author is trying to accomplish? What is the underlying message or theme they are exploring about the city of New York? What do you think is “at stake” in these pieces of “journalism,” or in other words, what argument are these writers aiming to prove and are they successful? Why or why not?
DUE: Thursday, February 16 (1-2 pages typed)
Response Paper #1
Jacobs, “from The Death and Life of Great American Cities” (pages 811 to 815)
Dickens, “from American Notes for General Circulation” (pages 51-64)
Why do you think Dickens titled his piece American Notes for General Circulation? What does this work accomplish? What do you think Dickens is aiming to show or tell his readers? Why is this text referred to as “satiric”? In other words, if you choose this response, look closely at Dickens’ chapter—examine what his language does to the city of New York.
Compare and contrast Dickens’ description of New York with Jane Jacobs’ rendering of her own neighborhood. How do these accounts differ? Why? Which do you think is closer to the New York you know? Why?
DUE: Tuesday, February 7 (1-2 pages typed)