General instructions: Write a paper of at least two (2) pages in which you
provide a definition for a word and give examples of what that word is and is
not. Youre welcome to discuss other definitions of the word (and be sure to
acknowledge where you found them), but remember that youll be trying to make
a case for your definition.
1) Is there a word that you or someone you know has invented, or a real
word to which you or someone you know has assigned a new meaning?
(Small children are especially adept at this sort of thing, but families
sometimes have words or phrases that have meaning for them alone, or for
a small circle of friends.) What is it? What is its historythat is,
how did it come into being? What does it mean? What word(s) in English
(or other languages, if appropriate) is it similar to in meaning, and
why is the invented word preferable? Describe a situation or two in
which you would use the word in order to demonstrate its proper usage.
2) (Place prompt) Competing notions of what a place is or should or could
be, or what is or should be permissible behavior there, often come into
conflict with each other. Examples of this can range widely: a teen and
her parents will disagree on what privileges she has in her room.
New Orleanians constantly discuss what constitutes real New Orleans,
especially with regard to foods and traditions. Shopping mall landlords
prohibit skateboarding on their property. Native Americans want access
to certain areas on public lands that they consider sacred. The Occupy!
movements encampment in Zuccotti Park, near Wall Street in New York
City, became the site of intense discussions about the nature of public
spacethat is, to whom public space belongsa couple of years ago.
Rarely, if ever, is there not some sort of ambiguity regarding the
essence of any given place.
Think about the place you have been writing about this semester. Have
you had disagreements with others about how to define that place; or, if
it is a public place, do you know of people who disagree over its
boundaries, its rules, and/or its significance? In this paper, describe
as fairly as you can how you and these other people or groups define
this placethat is, for you and these other people, what makes this
place a place?
3) Do you think the meaning of the word identity (as it pertains to a
persons understanding of himself or herself) is different now, in an
age in which most people have some sort of virtual presence on the
Internet via social media? Write a paper in which you describe how your
understanding of the word identity has (or has not) changed as a
result of your interacting with others via social media.
4) InspiroBot (inspirobot.me) is an online bot that will, on command,
generate an original combination of image and text in homage to
inspirational and motivational posters and online memes. Although if
you play with it long enough, certain subjects recur (in my own
adventures with it, it seems fond of farmers and dentists), the
statements and rhetorical questions never repeat themselves. Ive
included some examples below of the kinds of things InspiroBot will
generate, but these will never reappear. Each InspiroBot text is
What makes Inspirobot fun and a dangerously-addictive mind-suck is that,
though its utterances are almost always grammatically correct, they are
often semiotically arbitrary (just now I generated one that says, A
rocket ship is bad for laughter) and thus dont neatly pigeon-hole
themselves into familiar ways of thinking about the world and our place
in it. Yet, those statements often create the illusion of corresponding
to a mindset that is alien to ourselves and to the vast majority of
people we know or have heard of. (I say the illusion of corresponding
to a mindset here because, as a bot that simply trawls the Web for its
images and word selection and imposes grammatical order on text,
InspiroBot isnt even positing a consistent worldview, much less
engaging in that activity humans call thinking.) Its not that
InspiroBot thinks outside the box; its just that, because its box is
the Web, its box is a whole lot larger than yours is.
For this assignment, either take one of the samples from below, or visit
InspiroBot yourself and generate some of your own, and write a paper in
which you assume the statement is in some sense true and make the case
for its truthfulness. If you choose to work with a statement InspiroBot
generates for you, here are two things you should know: a) InspiroBot
does occasionally generate very familiar, Bloom where you are
planted kinds of statements, which, though easy to write on, will
probably not engage you as much as a weirder one would; and b) its
statements can sometimes be abrasive and even crude in their sentiment
(InspiroBot didnt have a mama to raise it right).
Here follow some samp
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- Is there a word that you or someone you know has invented, or a real word to which you or someone you know has assigned a new meaning?
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