Interjections and Star Wars

I discussed the role Schoolhouse Rock played in my education when we we watched “Conjunction Junction” in the context of coordination and subordination. This nifty little mash-up by One Minute Galactica applies Schoolhouse Rock’s “Interjections!” soundtrack to Star Wars scenes. (Just as a heads up, there is one “disguised” swear word.)

In fact, interjections represent a form of metadiscourse that our textbook does not discuss.

Sample Portfolio Cover Letter

Kelly reminded me to post the sample portfolio cover letter (thanks, Kelly), and I have done so in the “handouts” section in the right side bar.

The sample letter covers some of what I expect in your cover letters but not everything. That is, be sure that your cover letter explains the changes you have made to each draft since I last saw it.

A Proposal for a New Punctuation Mark

For several years now, scholars have argued about the role of email, texting, etc. have played on our literacy and written communication. This si the first time I have seen someone propose that our digital communication has prompted the need for a new punctuation mark

The underlying problem is of course overuse of the traditional exclamation mark in the email/social network era, to the extent that the meaning of this venerable symbol has been severely undermined.

Artist and designer Ellen Susan has decided that the meaning of the exclamation point has become so watered down that we need something that communicates the emotion that a period does not without all the freaked out excitement implied by the exclamation point.

This is precisely why, as Ellen argues, we need a new punctuation mark that resides in the emotional range between the just-the-facts period and the whoop-to-do excitability of the exclamation point. While the new mark would clearly signal positivity, it would save us from communicating with the unhinged emotionality of a note slipped between junior-high students.

Behold, the ElRay.


You can read all about it here.

Analysis #1 Draft Comments


  • Try to provide some specific examples from both the professional writer’s work and your work to add clarity and support to your ideas and claims. The trick to adding the examples is to summarize the information and context without simply copying and pasting a bunch of long quotations.
  • As you analyze the long and short sentences, consider how those sentences function to help carry meaning among sentences surrounding them and within the paragraphs in which they are located. Similarly, consider how the particularly short and long paragraphs work as part of the larger text.
  • It’s worth considering audience and purpose of the published writer’s text and your own text. When you do, be fair to the audience–don’t imply that they are stupid or lazy. There are plenty of other reasons why one would prefer shorter sentences and/or paragraphs for different audiences, purposes, and formats.


  • As a general rule, do not use ambiguous forms of the second person (“you”) in formal writing. As you edit, work specifically on being more concise.
  • Be sure to review the punctuation guidelines for coordination.

Rhetorical Concerns

  • Try to incorporate our coursework into your drafts. For example, if we are considering strategic use of long and short sentences, try to use long and short sentences strategically.
  • I will admit that it is difficult to whip up much excitement about an analytical paper. That said, try to do something with your opening.

Commas and Guns

From the Department of Punctuation Makes a Difference, Darn It!, I thought I would pass along the following item. Does the government have a right to ban individuals from owning guns? Well, in some circles, it all depends on a comma. Yep. A comma.

In a recent New Yorker article entitled “So You Think You Know the Second Amendment?,” Jeffrey Tubin describes some of the controversy surrounding various interpretations of the Second Amendment and its punctuation.

The text of the amendment is divided into two clauses and is, as a whole, ungrammatical: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The courts had found that the first part, the “militia clause,” trumped the second part, the “bear arms” clause. In other words, according to the Supreme Court, and the lower courts as well, the amendment conferred on state militias a right to bear arms—but did not give individuals a right to own or carry a weapon.

That is, the comma implies a causal relationship between the introductory clause and the independent clause that makes up the rest of the sentence. That interpretation survived until a 2008 Supreme Court decision decided that the opening clause was only “prefatory” rather than “causally linked” to the rest of the sentence. What do you think?