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The Commonplace Book

Contextual Information about what a commonplace book is, what its purpose is and how to create one.

Joanne Polec

on 14 October 2013

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Transcript of The Commonplace Book

What is it?
What is its purpose?
How do I create one?

The commonplace Book
What is a Commonplace Book?
Guideline for Evaluation:
In earlier times, commonplace books were like journals or scrapbooks where a person would record information, favourite quotations, excerpts and their own ideas. “Many scholars[used] their commonplace books solely as a place to record their intellectual pursuits.”
“One of the best ways to use a commonplace book is record your
with the books you read. Whether you’re studying the classics, devouring science volumes, or doing an in-depth investigation into a particular subject, a commonplace book can help you keep track of important quotes,
to the text,
make connections
, and
your own ideas.”
What is its purpose?
- to track and document your existing interests and sense of self and your emerging inquiry about what is important to you, and how you see yourself in the future
- to create a concrete piece of artifactual literacy that not only has meaning for you personally but that you can use to prepare for the diploma
- to experiment with a tool that can have life after this course, on that you can use throughout the rest of your high school career into your post-secondary choices
- to become aware of inquiry, literature and literacy as both intertextual and relational
- to experience and understand inquiry, literature and literacy as "memory work" situated in our personal histories as well as the larger world's history
- to add a new dimension of depth to your reading.
Instead of being a static, one-sided activity, reading
will become a dynamic experience
1. Use Death of a Salesman as your "found" object/ commonplace book.
2. Includes various types of life writing works or fragments. This means this includes YOUR OWN WORK!!! This work can be ANY PROSE FORM and must include writing from your previous years of schooling, and current life/ reflective writing.
3. Include a minimum of 20 items:
- 2 or more concrete objects
- 4 or more images
- 4 or more examples of life writing (complete works or fragments)
- 4 or more intertextual connections from outside the class
- 6 or more intertextual connections from within the class
How do I create one?
In Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient (1993), the patient has a commonplace book. It was a battered copy of an 1890 edition of The Histories, which also contained "other fragments - maps, diary entries, writing in many languages, paragraphs cut out of other books...references to cave art or gallery art or journal notes in his own small handwriting" (p. 96).
A mid-17th century commonplace book
As the English patient showed us, when we gather evocative fragments of text and objects into a commonplace book, we are engaged in inquiry. Through selecting, researching and compiling this book, our relationship to the commons (land, people, community and the relation between them) is examined and revealed.
- You must document/ label the origin of items inserted.
- Items must be arranged strategically. This means that you have made connections between the commonplace book and the text, image, or item being added; as opposed to these items being "thrown in" wherever. Your work must have a purpose!
- Include a reflective rationale.
- Present commonplace book in class.
- Submit on or before January 16, 2013.
check Met expectations (60-79%)
✓✝check plus Exceeded expectations (80-100%)
check minus Working toward expectations (50-59%)
x Limited/ minimal expectations (below 49%)

To achieve a 90% or higher, you must receive a ✓✝ for every item listed. To achieve an 80% or higher, you must receive a ✓ or ✓- for every item listed. If you do not meet expectations (✓-) for any of the items listed, you cannot receive over an 80%. To achieve a 60% or higher, you must receive a ✓ for every item listed. Consistent ✓ - will result in a pass but not a mark over 60%.
Grade: /100% (scalar weight 2)
In essence, a commonplace book is a way for us to validate the value of our own life stories. We tell stories because:

- we are human
- we learn and assimilate information much more through stories than we do through charts and statistics
- we are sentient beings - we not only think about things, we feel these things too
- it is central to human existence because it involves a symbiotic exchange between teller and listener
- we use stories to make sense of our world and to share that understanding with others
- they are universal
- it is immersive - meaning, you can use it to drill down as deeply as you like about anything you want to know about
- we are a social species. Stories are a shortcut to the human heart. We tell stories because we need to connect with one another
- stories help people to carve out a role for themselves, to make their lives their own
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