Karen Shepard, The Celestials
A well-organized paragraph develops an argument in logical order, with each point building on
the preceding one. To make this order clear to the reader, an organized paragraph includes “road signs”—topic sentences, summary sentences, transitional phrases—to let the reader know where
the argument is going, how each sentence contributes to the paragraph’s purpose, and how the
parts of the argument are connected to each other.
One way to do this is to use the “known-new contract.” The process of reading (and thus writing) is basically a contract: readers expect new information to link to something that they already know. Readers feel more at ease if each sentence starts with (or at least contains) something they have already been introduced to in the text (what is “known”) and proceeds on to what they don’t know (what is “new”). So, the writer should always create a context into which new information
can be slotted. Here are 3 common tactics for creating and maintaining cohesion between sentences. 1. Noun or pronoun reference: The second sentence begins with a common noun, noun phrase, or pronoun that refers back to a previous clause in the first sentence. Pronouns include he, she, it, we, they, this, that, these, those, and also possessive pronouns like his,
hers, its, theirs, etc. 2. Restatement: The second sentence restates/repeats some of the information or words from the first sentence. 3. Relational transition: The sentences have words or phrases that define the relationship between them, such as later, similarly, in addition, as a result, also, consequently, in fact, that is, however, because, since, but, whereas, although, therefore, etc. These act as signposts for the reader to track changes of direction in thought.
Samples (underlines=“new”; italics=“known”)
Contractions affect the rhythm of sentences and, in doing so, affect the reader’s perception of the writer’s voice. That voice will probably strike the reader as more conversational, less formal, when contractions are part of the message. Contractions help to close the distance between the reader and writer. (From Martha Kolln, Rhetorical Grammar, p. 70.)
The character of Mother Sister crowns herself as the block’s omnipresent matriarch; even when she isn’t involved in the action directly, Mother Sister’s presence is in the background of most of the film’s neighborhood scenes. Her presence always stays put: she never leaves the confines of her home and porch, sans one instance (the riot). Her confinement to the background renders her powerless to meaningfully affect the youth around her.”
Use this space to write a short piece that might help you get your bearings on The Celestials. This piece should contain the following two parts:
A discussion question about your observations on the text and/or how ideas from Marx’s essay engages, applies, or connects to the Wiley piece(s). Avoid comparing & contrasting and agreeing/disagreeing. Instead put the texts in conversation with one another: what kind of ideas are the texts responding to, and how would you, as a critic, position the texts as responses to each other?
An analysis of your observations, set up as the beginnings of an answer to your question.
Sources to use:
1- the Celestials written by Karen Shepard Chapters 1- to end.
2- Karl Marx essay, “The Fetishism of Commodities”; The Celestials, Chapters 12-15 (up
to page 281) ( note it is in the same book)
3- Kehinde wiley’s artwork