ENG 3U: The Art of Classification

Lecture 4008 via FIckr, by Reith Lectures

If you remember, I had you attempt to classify a series of items according to criteria of your choice. Your taxonomies included classifications of dogs, music, trees, restaurants, and, of course, zombies.  By the end of next week, you will complete a short essay in which you fully explain your taxonomy. Today, we need to ensure that our taxonomies will break new ground.

How to Classify Insightfully

  1. Make it personal. While you need to define your classifications to some degree, your classifications shouldn’t read like dictionary definitions. Don’t tell me that hip hop is a form of urban music that is very popular with youths; instead, tell me how it makes you feel. Similarly, I am aware of the differences between diners and fancy restaurants; I’d rather have you classify them according to your memories.
  2. Use a tone appropriate to the taxonomy. Some taxonomies invite playfulness. I can’t, for example, imagine a serious examination of zombie classes. I can, however, imagine a humorous–perhaps even satirical–examination of our slow-moving friends.
  3. Rhetoric is powerful. Use the devices we studied in our last unit to help you structure your work. Allusion might be particularly useful. Think of famous examples of your classifications, and use them to your advantage. While some trees might be like the Giving Tree, patient and selfless, others might be like the oak tree in Boo Radley’s yard, full of mystery and secrets.
  4. Be descriptive. Use powerful and specific language. Zombies don’t just walk slowly:  they shuffle, shamble, and shake. Descriptive language will also help you amplify the differences between your classifications. I love diner food, but I wouldn’t use the same language to describe a burger from my favourite diner and the crab cakes from my favourite restaurant.

Your Homework:

  • Read the article called the Geography of English 102, found at http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/composition/classification.htm.
  • In an Edmodo post to the entire class, explain how the author meets one of the four requirements outlined above. ( 1 short paragraph)
  • Respond to another student’s paragraph about a requirement you did not choose write about in the previous step. In your 1-2 sentence response, try to provide another example of the requirement that the student did not consider, such as a particularly descriptive word or phrase.
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