A man of letters

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A man of letters Empty A man of letters

Post  elephantastic on Tue Nov 16, 2010 1:54 pm

Investigate the connection between Sacks' form and content, posting your group's answers to the Forum.

Describe how Sacks constructs his essay. (give evidence)

He gives his account and then backs it up/enriches it/supports it with references to primary sources, such as Howard’s personal account, and Dejerine’s account of Oscar C. He makes a claim about Howard’s condition, and then supports it with a reference to the primary source. He separates each claim with a distinct break in the structure, segmenting the essay into multiple discrete sections, and organizing these sections to follow Howard’s story.

Do you see patterns in his structure? (evidence?)
His structure is formulaic and repetitive. He introduces a concept with a general statement, makes a claim and then supports it with evidence from personal accounts. The arguments are presented in a logical sequence, following Howard’s story. He drives this series of claims towards a common argument.

Pg. 2: “Like Howard Engel, Oscar C. was unable to read even the headlines of his morning paper, although he nonetheless recognized it, by its format, as his usual newspaper, Le Matin. And, like Howard, he could write perfectly well:
‘While reading is impossible, the patient... can write fluently and without any mistakes whatever material is dictated to him. But, should he be interrupted....’”

How does he move his argument forward. (evidence?)
He moves his argument forward by analyzing different effects of alexia, chronologically as he follows Howard’s tale. Sacks also uses the very personal story of Howard to keep the reader engaged. The reader is hooked by Howard’s story, and is drawn in. The natural progression of Howard’s story and the personal nature of the narrative maintains the reader’s sympathy for Howard and drives the argument forward. Sacks utilizes questions about the functionality and development of the human brain to further his arguments regarding the origins of reading and writing.

“Why should all human beings have this built in facility for reading when writing is a relatively recent cultural invention?” (p. 5)

Define his central or main point. (evidence?) What conclusions does he draw. (evidence?)
The adaptivity of the human brain can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

“It is dependent on the plasticity of the brain, and on the fact that, even within the small span of a human lifetime, experience - experiential selection - is as powerful an agent of change as natural selection...We are literate not by virtue of a divine intervention but through a cultural intervention and a cultural selection that make a brilliant and creative new use of a preexisting neural proclivity” (p. 5 - 6).

“Howard Engel is still alexic, but he has found a way to remain a man of letters” (p. 6).


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A man of letters Empty exemplary work!

Post  MaryShelley on Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:20 pm

Excellent work, here, Elephantastic & Co. The googledoc collaboration clearly enhanced your response. The level of detail in your answers is just right. You nailed this assignment. +


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