In “Thank You, Esther Forbes,” George Saunders argues that “the sentence [is] where the battle [is] fought” (61). A sentence is more than a tool for conveying information: it creates a specific way of perceiving of the world. For Saunders, Forbes “awoke a love for sentences” (64) by modeling language that was at once beautiful, compact, precise, and honest. In this project, you’ll be collecting your own set of model sentences: sentences that catch your attention with their sound, shape, or meaning. By playing close attention to the language in what you read or listen to over the course of the quarter, you’ll expand your own set of sentence-writing techniques.
In a format of your choice, you will collect five “good” sentences and explain why they stood out to you. Your explanations should be thorough and detailed—aim for 100 to 150 words per sentence. You may discuss the content of your sentences, but by and large, your analysis should focus on language use: syntax, word choice, and punctuation. In other words, I expect to see you noticing things like subjects and verbs, abstract and concrete language, adjectives, prepositions, commas, definite and indefinite articles, rhythm, emphasis, metaphor, comparison, parallelism, or ellipsis.[footnoteRef:1] [1: For a model of what this assignment might look like, see Roy Peter Clark’s analysis of ‘the ten best sentences’ in American literature: http://www.poynter.org/2014/why-these-are-the-ten-best-sentences/245081/]
I’d like you to practice close reading both in and out of class. For this reason, no more than two of your sentences should come from texts we read in this course. The other sentences should come from your other daily encounters with language: news or magazines, social media, recreational reading, advertisements, television, music, podcasts, homework for other classes, etc. Please indicate the source of each sentence when you include it in your project.
|· Analyzes five sentences, no more than two of which come from class readings. Identifies the source of each sentence.|
|· Reveals more about each sentence than the reader would notice on a first read. Discusses a variety of language features, such as syntax and grammar, word choice, rhythm and sound, and figurative language.|
|· Explains the sentence’s effect on the reader in sufficient detail, showing why you found this sentence striking and how you responded to it.|