English IV

English IV

St. Francis School

Instructor: Juan Eugenio Ramirez Sarazen


I like the feeling of words doing

As they want to do and as they have to do

                                                            -Gertrude Stein



Course Description

Welcome seniors. This is an English course. We study the construction, rhetoric, and (my favorite) the aesthetics of the English language. We do this by reading literature in the English language and attempting to write it. I am an artist and not a scholar. I will teach you as an artist would. Think of this class as writing course in which you will read different forms of literatures and attempt writing like the masters who have written these literatures. The class will consists of writing personal essays, memoir, short fiction, poetry, and analysis. We will periodically engage ourselves in a writer’s workshop.


A Word on Shakespeare

Yes. We read William Shakespeare. Hamlet. This will take place the last quarter of the year. I teach Shakespeare through an experiential approach. Hamlet is a play. It is meant to be performed. We will internalize this language and perform it. Again, we will perform the language.


Required Texts

·         Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson

·         Praying Drunk by Kyle Minor

·         Syzygy, Beauty by T. Fleischmann

·         Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

·         Hamlet by William Shakespeare


Classroom Policies

Be honest 

Be punctual

Be kind

Be respectful

Be considerate

Be creative

Be adventurous

Be critical

Be rational (when needed




  • 1 composition notebooks (for writing)
  • A 3 ring binder (for handouts that are given in class)
  • Art supplies (for visual art assignments in class)




There will be writing in the classroom and out of it every day.  The first composition notebook is where this writing will be recorded.  Students are required to title and date all entries in the composition notebook.  Dating the entries is of the utmost importance because it provides a record of progress for the sake of grading.  


Typed Assignments


The instructor (me) will inform students when and what written assignments are to be typed,  always a 12 point sized, Times New Roman font, always double-spaced with one inch margins.  All typed assignments are to be turned in via Goggle Docs, sharing the document with the instructor and allowing for commenting privileges.




  • Typed writing 50%
  • Composition writing 30%
  • Participation 20%


Cell Phone Policy


Students are expected to follow the classroom policies of being respectful and considerate, not only toward one another, but toward the instructor as well.  Please exercise rational judgment as it pertains to the use of a cell phone in an academic environment. In short, I don't want to see it.





Throughout the year the class will convene in a workshop.  This is an opportunity to talk about one another’s writing.  Please adhere to the classroom policies during this process.  A workshop is a place where anxieties and insecurities could hinder a person’s thinking and participation, but it is also a place to work those same issues out.  We will learn how to talk about the craft of writing and offer criticism with courtesy.  This is an opportunity for students to engage one another in matters of academics and art.  Respect the workshop environment.



Write a composition in which place becomes a character. Give it personality by filling the space with objects, people, sounds, textures, smells. Introduce someone or something who represents an outsider, someone or something that does not belong. Make sure to charge images with the emotional and the intellectual. Add one unfamiliar adjective/abstract noun combination within the prose. Remember, make it new, strange, jarring, uncomfortable. This is due Friday 8/28.

Introducing . . . QUOTING METHOD 2!

A key to your future in academic writing and close-reading pleasure!


What is quotation for?

            (a) supporting your idea

(b) bringing the voice of the text into your own text; reminding the reader about the text, its voice, texture, and diction

(c) plumping up your paragraphs so you can stick to one good idea and juice it fully

            (d) helping you be genius in close-reading

(e) giving you late-breaking ideas


[But: What is Quoting Method 1? – slight side-track here]

·         The “Sex Question” becomes the text’s motif builder.

·         There is nothing new about “not touching” in Geryon’s ethics.

·         “Talking music” reminds Birdie of the life she left behind.





Homely analogies for QM2: The Quotation Sandwich, or if you prefer not to be reminded of your hunger, the Quotation Waltz


The sequence of dance moves – or the construction of the sandwich – proceeds like this:


Step One: the idea you want to support with text

Step Two: locating the reader in the text area

Step Three: a colon and the passage you’re bringing

Step Four: close-reading the passage


Suzanne Bizot Gorman