bonjour, mon petit 9th graders, write this: (response #6)

I have often said in class that Odysseus is the James Bond of the ancient Greek world. I believe I stole this idea from Berkely professor Hubert Dreyfuss, who is kind enough to educate me each summer via free podcasts of his philosophy courses. But it’s a great analogy–Odysseus is a cross-world traveler, he fits in everywhere he goes, women and goddesses find him irresistible, and, although his emotional outbursts can get him into trouble, he is “never at a loss” when it comes to extracting himself from sticky situations.

Well, today, you’re all going to be the James and Jamette Bonds of writing: Like the British superspy, you’re going to be dropped into a sticky situation that you’re going to have to adapt to, and improvise your way out. Also, like Odysseus, you’re going to have to do it on someone else’s turf, finding a way to somehow not only fit it, but totally seduce the native occupants. Here’s the assignment:

Response paper #6

Log on to a writing lab computer and open a word-processing document. Double-space it, and put the usual information at the top (your name, teacher name, class name, due date [1/21/08]). On the next line, write and center the word “Title.” On the next line, left-justify, hit tab, change the font to “Arial,” and then stop.

Stand up and look around for another person standing by their computer. Trade places. Now you’re ready to write part 1, as explained below. When you finish part 1, go back to your own computer, change the font back to Times New Roman, and write part 2. You must use and build upon what the previous person wrote, although you may add to what they wrote, or edit it for proper grammar, spelling, etc.

What to write:

In the narrative mode (where you write about sequences of events that introduce a situation and character, build to a climax, and then resolve), create your own mini-epic. Remember, an epic is a story of a hero with the following elements:


    • An epic hero with some sort of extraordinary abilities, talents, or power
    • A quest (a journey with a purpose)


    • The hero is tested for their own worthiness, and the worthiness of the journey (is what their fighting for really worth fighting for?)
    • The hero is often helped by companions, human or otherwise, often supernatural
    • The hero travels to the supernatural world
    • The hero reaches a low point when their success and survival is in serious doubt
    • The hero somehow survives and is “resurrected,” better, stronger, even more handsome/beautiful than they were before, into their own world.

    For part 1, which you will write on someone else’s computer, introduce the hero, the setting, and the quest. Put your name in parentheses at the end of the section you write.

    For part 2, complete the narrative of the epic hero’s journey. Maintain and enhance the hero the first writer created. Keep to the same tone and style of the first writer. Try to get into their head and figure out where they were going with the story, then take us there

    It goes without saying that when you are writing on someone else’s paper, you should respect them by not putting in anything offensive or naughty, and that if you do, not only will I fail you on this assignment, but you are kind of a bad person. Or at least a person with bad judgment–like many tragic heroes, which we haven’t been discussing this week, so don’t do it.

    Happy travels.



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