Sunday, July 26, 2009

Darwin continues

Today we got a good start on Darwin. Emma led us through his life story, accompanied by a few well-chosen images.

She also set two assignments. The first is to take a chapter from The Origin and present it to the class on Wednesday. Mine is The Struggle for Existence, not the most compelling chapter in my view but perhaps it will prove to be by then. She suggests the following questions to be asking as we prepare for this: What is the argument here? What kind of techniques is Darwin using to convince the reader? What kind of metaphors? And so on. We are to sum up our chapters in a short paragraph with a simple saying or "pithy strapline" (like an advertising slogan).

Second is the essay we are to write by the end of the week. I've tentatively chosen "How significant was the part played by the sciences in what Owen Chadwick has called 'the secularization of the European mind' in the nineteenth century?" Luckily, the college library owns the book by the same name, and I've checked it out in hopes that it will make some sense. I'm interested in this topic but know little to nothing about it.

In today's tutorial, Emma said very generous things about my essay and made some thoughtful comments in the margins. She encouraged me to take a little bite of the big question for my final essay, since it should be only around 1000 words.

She's also hatching a scheme to go to Down House! She and another student have cars, so perhaps we could sneak out one morning. It's about 1 1/2 hours drive so it would take most of the day. If not, perhaps Saturday after the course has ended. I'm game since I wanted to go there anyway and it would be so much more fun with EMMA.

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