A Playful Dictionary of Assignment Terms, 1st ed.

This is one of the handouts we gave to our participants at the PNWCA conference this past weekend. It was a kind of a “get your creative juices flowing” kind of thing we hoped our participants would read as they were waiting for the formal session to begin. Jeremy said he heard many people laughing at the entries (I was busy doing something else, so I had no idea how it went over.) Anyway, I’d like to add to it.

Toward A Playful Dictionary of Assignment Terms

academic argument, n. 1. a professorial spat; 2. a yelling match between a dean and an instructor.

critique, n. 1. A boutique where people gather to offer to each other their individual judgments on certain essays, articles, books, movies, CDs, DVDs, etc. — v. To go to a boutique in order to give one’s judgment on an essay, article, book, movie, CD or DVD, etc.

describe, v. 1. To write around something, to encircle something with writing. 2. Also see “describe handout.”

discuss, v. 1. To talk about something using only swear words. 2. To diss or cuss about a topic.

edit, v. 1. Something one does not do until one is satisfied with the shape, content, and force of one’s writing. Editing too soon would be like Michelangelo polishing his statue of David before David had become, well, before he had become David, and was still a blob.

evaluate, v. 1. To imagine that one is a judge, with a gavel and a black robe, in order to determine the relative value of something.

explore, v. 1. To travel about — usually by foot — within one’s mind, one’s emotions, or within an idea or topic. 2. Also see “explore handout.”

grammar, n. 1. One’s mother’s mother. The saying goes that if someone says to one, “Maybe I should watch my grammar,” an apt reply is: “Why, is she ill?”

organize, v. 1. To make an organ out of something; 2. To arrange “in order” as if on an organ’s or piano’s keyboard in a way that makes music, not noise.

paraphrase, v. 1. To walk side-by-side with someone else’s words.

reflect, v. 1. To bend back., as if one’s mind gets bent back on itself: bending one’s thoughts back on one’s self, looking for one’s thoughts about one’s thoughts, considering your own experience. 2. Also see “magic mirror.”

report, v. 1. To return one’s finished essay to the drawer to one’s left, for the second time.

summary, n. 1. The opposite of wintry; 2. A writing game one plays in summer; 3. The opposite of the device fiction writers use to insert themselves into a narrative (i.e., a “mary sue”); —v. to summarize 1. The opposite of winterize; 2. To make one’s paper ready for summer.

Thesis, n. 1. An alternate name for Theseus, the Greek hero who went about the countryside saying to townsfolk, “stay with me here, people… focus, focus!”; 2. A poem that begins “a thesis keeps together the pieces”; 3. NOTE: thesis may also be transliterated as “This is” as in “This is my main point.”


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