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Sparking Questions

Your answer for each set of Sparking Questions must be submitted to no later than one hour before class meets.  Completing these assignments will prepare you for class discussions and help you consider the readings more thoughtfully.


Due 2/29

1. Write a short summary of "The story behind Jar'Edo Wens . . ." (no longer than 150 words).  You must incorporate one quote and use one of the sentence forms found on pages 116-118 in your textbook.

2. Write a short analysis of "The story behind Jar'Edo Wens . . ." (no longer than 150 words).  You must incorporate one quote and use one of the sentence forms found on pages 116-118 in your textbook.


Due 3/2

Minimum 300 words

1. What benefits does the Internet bring into our lives?  Use one claim of fact and one claim of value in your answer.

2. What drawbacks does the Internet bring into our lives?  Use one claim of fact and one claim of value in your answer.


Due 3/9

1. How does what Nicolas Carr describes as happening to our brains because of the Internet relate to your personal experiences?  Does it sound accurate or inaccurate?  Have you had similar or different exeriences? (Minimum 150 words)

2. Analyze Carr's writing and argumentative style.  How does he present his argument?  What techniques does he use?  What is most or least effective? (Minimum 100 words)

3. Pick one section from each chapter that stands out to you (it can be a paragraph, a story, a piece of data, etc.).  Identify it by the page on which it begins (do not quote anything longer than one sentence), and write 25-100 words explaining why you chose it.  What was interesting, shocking, ridiculous, unbelievable about it?  Make sure you do this for EACH chapter. (Minimum 100 words)


Due 3/14

Minimum 400 words

1. What does Thompson mean when he writes: "We're all playing advanced chess these days.  We just haven't learned to appreciate it" (6)?

2. Which of the "new literacies" Thompson describes play the biggest role in your online activities?  Do you prefer them to the written word?  Why or why not?

3. Would you be interested in wearing a computer the way Thad Starner does (as described in "The Art of Finding")?  What about it sounds attractive or unattractive to you?

4. What roles do "strong ties" and "weak ties" play in your online experiences?


Due 3/23

Minimum 300 words

1. How do you think Henry's time traveling impacts the way he interacts with people?

2. How has Clare's unusual relationship with Henry impacted the way she lives her life?

3. Would you like to be able to time travel the way Henry does?  Why or why not?


Due 3/28

Minimum 300 words

1. According to boyd, what does social networking give teens that they can't get elsewhere or otherwise?

2. How does the teenage idea of "audience" affect their social networking behaviors?

3. How does what boyd describes relate to your social networking behaviors and/or what you observe of others'?


Due 3/30

Minimum 300 words

1. How has Henry's past impacted his behavior and life choices?

2. Clare is always desperate to learn about Henry's life, both when they meet in the Meadow and once they start dating in the present.  How does the knowledge she acquires impact her opinion of him?

3. What is the experience of spending Christmas with the Abshires like for Henry?


Due 4/4

Minimum 300 words

1. What points do these articles make that are good counterarguments to the danah boyd excerpts? If you don't think there are any, explain why.

2. Is it fair for people (particularly college officials or potential employers) to judge you based on your social media activity?  Why or why not?

3. Should young people take more responsibility for what they post online?  Why or why not?


Due 4/6

Minimum 200 words

1. Consider the theme of Longing in this book.  Who experiences it?  What or who do they long for? What is that experience like for them?

2.  At their first meeting, Clare says to Richard DeTamble "But don't you think [ . . . ] that it's better to be extremely happy for a short while, even if you lose it, than to be just okay for your whole life?" (Niffenegger 239).  What is your response to that question?


Due 4/20

Minimum 300 words

1. Pick one of Clare's dreams and try to interpret its meaning.

2. Analyze Lucille Abshire's poem about Clare.  Why do you think it meant so much to Clare?

3. How do you feel about Clare and Henry's repeated attempts to have a baby?  Were they worth the pain and suffering?  Were they making foolish choices?


Due 4/27

Minimum 300 words

1. Do you think it was fair or kind of Henry to tell Clare the secret he included in his letter to her?  Why?

2. Do the math: how long did Clare know and have Henry in her life, and how long did Henry know and have Clare in his life?  If you had to choose one of their lives (disregarding the time travel part), which would you prefer?

3. Pick three bird/wing/flight images from the book that you think go together.  What purpose do you think they serve in the overall narrative?  Are they symbolic, metaphorical, plot-driven?  Why do you think the author chose to use them so specifically?


Due 5/9

Minimum 300 words

1. Consider the 19th century commentary on public shaming (pages 52-55).  Do they seem accurate to you or over exaggerated? Why?

2. Ronson discusses the public's choice to "willfully misunderstand" (74) Justine Sacco's tweets. Do you think that's why her "joke" received such a backlash?

3. Ronson's anonymous friend admits that he is afraid to post jokes online because he sees social media as "an unpredictable, angry, unbalanced parent who might strike out at any moment" (282). What do you think about this? Appropriate caution? Paranoia?

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