English 102 Short Assignment #1

Response to Stephen King

Begin by reading:

"Reading to Write" by Stephen King (50 Essays)

Stephen King, author of 60 books and around 200 short stories, is mainly known for his tales of mystery, fantasy and horror. He has sold something like 350 million copies. In this short piece, which is reprinted from his book On Writing, he lets us into his thinking concerning the craft of the writer.

The assignment:

King doesn't seem too impressed with what you can learn from television. Even if you agree with him, one way to hone your craft as a writer of argument is to take the opposite side and see what you can do with it, so here is your assignment for this short response:

In urging aspiring writers to turn off their televisions when exercising so they might use that time for reading, King calls TV "the glass teat" (paragraph 11). Write a response which argues that writers have something to learn from television. How might you argue that TV is not a glass teat but a source of information about the world, as well as a place where good writing can also be found?


In a previous semester, several students responded to this assignment by saying that a beginning writer can learn from television by turning on the subtitles and learning new words. Quite aside from the fact that the subtitles are often wrong (because they are generated by a speech recognition program) and that the strategy seems more appropriate for a person in the early stages of learning English as a second language, these students missed the two points of the assignment:

  1. Discuss the idea that television can be a source of information about the world, and
  2. argue that television is a place where good writing can also be found.

As a student who is taking an English Composition course, one of your most essential skills is figuring out what the assignment is asking for.

By the way:

Current American usage for strings of initials:

Mechanical details:

Due date:

This assignment is worth 25 points.

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Revised 7/23/21 • Page author: Curtis Allen • e-mail: callen@ashland.edu.