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Academic English Workshop Engineering IT Science Spring, 2007


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Title: Academic English Workshop Engineering IT Science Spring, 2007

Academic English WorkshopEngineering IT Science
Spring, 2007
  • Academic Style
  • Essay Writing

ELSSA Centre
  • What do we do?
  • Provide workshops in Faculties, Intensives
  • Provide one-to-one appointments
  • Where are we?
  • Level 18, Building 1
  • Phone 9514 2327
  • Email
  • Amanda Miller

Future workshops
  • Writing speaking and?

The Program Today
  • Spoken and written language
  • Variation in writing styles
  • Features of academic writing
  • Steps for writing research essays
  • Different essay structures
  • Improving coherence cohesion

Spoken or Written?
  • A Lets first look at one aspect of language I
    want to look at the sociological way of looking
    at language all right from this point of view
    some linguists have come up with the idea that
    language is a game like football, soccer,
    baseball each person who speaks in any
    particular language or any community knows all
    the rules of this game they know how to play
    somebody who comes from a different one, as you
    know well may not know all the rules so you
    have some problems with communication because
    we said language is a game doesnt necessarily
    mean that we play it for fun we usual play it
    for serious reasons most of the time
  • B One way to look at language is through a
    sociological or sociolinguistic perspective. In
    this view, language is seen as a game in which
    each person in a particular language community
    knows all the rules. Unlike recreational games,
    however, this game is taken very seriously.
  • (Lebauer, R.S. 1988, Learn to listen listen to
    learnu, Prentice Hall Regents, Englewood Cliffs

Seminar and lecture language
  • Cues to indicate
  • Introduction of new ideas
  • Change of topic
  • Conclusion of an idea
  • Intended organisation
  • Many examples
  • Repetition and paraphrase of main ideas
  • Tangents

Academic written language is
  • Concise
  • Precise
  • Clearly structured
  • Cautious
  • and is characterised by
  • High noun to verb ratio
  • Abstract nouns
  • Complex noun phrases
  • Subordinate clauses
  • Grammatical third person
  • Passive voice
  • Polysyllabic vocabulary
  • Evidence to support claims
  • Absence of colloquial vocabulary
  • Absence of contractions

Written language variation
  • Written texts in Engineering, IT and Science
    subjects can vary from informal written style
    (more like spoken) to formal written style.
  • Examples from
  • Text books
  • Magazine articles
  • Newspapers
  • Journal articles

What type of writing style is this?
  • The ability of tiny computing devices to control
    complex operations has transformed the way many
    tasks are performed, ranging from scientific
    research to producing consumer products. Tiny
    computers on a chip are used in medical
    equipment, home appliances, cars and toys.
    Workers use handheld computing devices to collect
    data at a customer site, to generate forms, to
    control inventory, and to serve as desktop

Academic writing techniques
  • The ability of tiny computing devices to
    control complex operations has transformed the
    way many tasks are performed, ranging from
    scientific research to producing consumer
    products. Tiny computers on a chip are used in
    medical equipment, home appliances, cars and
    toys. Workers use handheld computing devices to
    collect data at a customer site, to generate
    forms, to control inventory, and to serve as
    desktop organisers.

  • Text book
  • Adapted from
  • Stern, N. Stern, R. (n.d.) Computing in the
    Information Age, 2nd ed, Wiley, p.19.

What type of writing style is this?
  • The English backpacker Charlie Witts has no
    qualms confessing his motivation for submitting
    his healthy 23-year-old body to a drug trial. I
    did it purely for the money, he says. The
    football coach volunteered to take part in a
    month long trial of a new cerebral palsy drug at
    a clinic near his home in Suffolk, north of
    London last year.

  • Newspaper
  • Robotham, J. 2006, Trial and Error, Sydney
    Morning Herald, 18-19 March, p. 25.

What type of writing style is this?
  • One important thing to remember with archiving
    systems is the stored datas format. The data
    might be held perfectly for 10 to 15 years, but
    when you need to get it back, its essential that
    you maintain appropriate hardware and software to
    enable you to read it.

  • Popular magazine
  • Crewe, P. 1996, Backup HSM and media choice,
    PC Magazine, May, p.138.

What type of writing style is this?
  • Vincenty's (1975) formulas for the direct and
    inverse geodetic problems (i.e., in relation to
    the geodesic) have been verified by comparing
    them with a new formula developed by adapting a
    fourth-order Runge-Kutta scheme for the numerical
    solution of ordinary differential equations,
    advancing the work presented by Kivioja in 1971.
    A total of 3,801 lines of varying distances (10
    to 18,000 km) and azimuths (0 to 90, because
    of symmetry) were used to compare these two very
    different techniques for computing geodesics. In
    every case, the geodesic distances agreed to
    within 0.115 mm, and the forward and reverse
    azimuths agreed to within 5106 seconds of arc,
    thus verifying Vincenty's formula. If one wishes
    to plot the trajectory of the geodesic, however,
    the fourth-order Runge-Kutta extension of
    Kivioja's formula is recommended as a numerically
    efficient and convenient approach.

  • Academic Journal
  • Thomas, C.M. Featherstone, W.E. 2005,
    Validation of Vincentys Formulas for the
    Geodesic Using a New Fourth-Order Extension of
    Kiviojas Formula Journal of Surveying
    Engineering, Vol. 131, No. 1, pp. 20-26.

Style is choice
  • Are any of these styles appropriate to use as
    style models for your assignments?

Is this academic writing?
  • Because only a few people have most of the money
    and power in Australia, I conclude that its not
    an equal society. Society has an Upper, Middle
    and Lower class and I think that most people when
    they are born into one class, end up staying in
    that class for their whole lives. When all three
    classes are looked at more closely, other things
    such as differences between the sexes and
    peoples racial background also add to the
    unequal nature of Australian society.
  • (http//
    (accessed 18/2/04)

Or is this?
  • The inequity in the distribution of wealth in
    Australia is yet another indicator of Australias
    lack of egalitarianism. In 1955, 20 of the
    Australian population owned 72.2 of Australias
    wealth with the top 50 owning 92.1 (Raskall
    1988, p.287). Such a significant skew in the
    distribution of wealth indicates that at least in
    terms of economics, there is an established
    class system in Australia (Raskall 19888,
    p.288). McGregor (1988) argues that Australian
    society can be integrated into three levels the
    Upper, Middle and Working classes. In addition,
    it has been shown that most Australians continue
    to remain in the class into which they were born
    (McGregor 1988, p.156) despite arguments about
    the ease of social mobility in Australian society
    (Fitzpatrick 1994). The issue of class and its
    inherent inequity, however, is further compounded
    by factors such as race and gender within and
    across these class divisions.
  • The relative disadvantage of women with regard
    to their earnings and levels of asset ownership
    indicates that within classes there is further
    economic inequity based on gender.
  • (http//
    (accessed 18/2/04)

Features of academic writing vocabulary
  • What vocabulary could you substitute for the
    following in academic writing?
  • to find
  • to book
  • to try
  • to fix
  • to come before
  • to get

Academic vocabulary
  • to find to discover
  • to book to reserve
  • to try to attempt
  • to fix to rectify
  • to come before to precede
  • to get to obtain, to acquire

Features of academic writing vocabulary
  • What vocabulary could you substitute for the
    following in academic writing?
  • trouble
  • boss
  • worker
  • better
  • wrong

Academic vocabulary
  • trouble disturbance
  • boss employer
  • worker employee
  • better improved/preferable
  • wrong erroneous/faulty

Features of academic writing precise verb choice
  • Substitute a more formal word for the phrasal
    verbs in italics.
  • Scientists are looking into innovative ways to
    combat AIDS.
  • The purpose of this paper is to try to figure out
    what is lacking in our current understanding of
    corrosion protection in concrete.
  • Researchers have recently come up with hybrid
    vehicles that use a fuel-cell engine and a
    battery-assisted power train.
  • Worldwide consumption of pesticides has gone up
    to 2.6 million metric tons.
  • AIDS researchers have run into a variety of
    unexpected problems in their efforts to develop a

  • 6. Recent studies on car scrapping have brought
    up the important question as to whether CO2
    emissions can be significantly reduced.
  • 7. Problems with this policy showed up soon
    after its implementation.
  • 8. The leading causes of death in Australia
    heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and diabetes
    are brought on by overeating, lack of exercise
    and cigarette smoking.
  • 9. Rice and aquatic products make up a major
    part of the diet of the Mekong Delta.
  • 10. The use of touch screen voting systems would
    get rid of many problems associated with
    traditional paper-based ballots.

Features of academic writing choosing the more
formal alternative
  • Crash test dummies are really important for
    automotive crash tests.
  • We got encouraging results using structural
    bamboo rather than timber.
  • Many urban areas do not have enough land to build
    new facilities.
  • Allergic reaction to local dental anaesthesia do
    not happen very often.
  • The competition faced by Australian manufacturers
    from Asian imports has gotten more intense.

Features of academic writing nominalisation
  • Children like Sega games.
  • The popularity of Sega games is well-known.
  • People objected to the building.
  • Objections to the building were voiced.

Features of academic writing nominalisation
  • Use nominalisation to increase the level of
    formality in these sentences.
  • It is essential to have someone who can assess
    the damage accurately.
  • To run the company profitably is the basic aim of
    any manager.
  • We noticed that the Prime Minister didnt come to
    the meeting.
  • We recommend that employees retire at the age of

Features of academic writing nominalisation
  • Change the italicised verbs into noun forms. You
    will need to make other changes to the sentences.
  • Lasers are widely applied in medicine. For
    example, they can be used to treat eye disease
    and to prevent blindness.
  • The way that laser light and eye tissue interact
    is not fully understood.

Features of academic writing passive voice
  • Two researchers from UTS examined the effect of
    alcohol on manual dexterity.
  • The effect of alcohol on manual dexterity was
  • Note that the focus in the second sentence is on
    the research itself.

Active or passive?
  • The Information Services Department (divide)
    into two sections. The first, Statistical Data,
    (provide) information from a data bank for all
    other departments. The second, Support Services,
    (deal) with requests for specific information.
    When a request (receive), one member of the
    team (allocate) to the task and then (carry
    out) all the necessary research. The department
    (staff) by five information officers who (work)
    as a team. A team leader (appoint) for a six
    month period. The position of team leader
    (rotate) so that each member of the group (act)
    as leader at some stage.
  • (Breiger, N. Sweeney, S. 2000, The Language of
    Business English, Pearson Education, Harlow.)

Features of academic writing subordination
  • If the working week is shortened, the
    consequences will be both immediate and
    long-term. One of the immediate effects will be
    an increase in overtime worked, which will, in
    turn, mean a rise in labour costs per production
    unit. One of the long-term effects will be a
    decrease in the flexibility of the workforce
    because employees will be more confined to their
    own workplaces. A shorter working week has mixed

Use subordination to combine these sentences
  • You should view the writing process as a series
    of drafts.
  • These drafts move closer towards the final
  • Hand in the final version.
  • The view of the writing process can help you
    overcome writers block.
  • This term refers to the experience of finding it
    difficult to begin writing.
  • It may even be impossible to begin writing.

Suggested answer
  • Writers block, which refers to the difficulty,
    even impossibility of beginning to write, can be
    overcome by viewing the assignment writing
    process as a series of drafts that move closer
    towards the final version.
  • Adapted from Morley-Warner, T. 2001, Academic
    Writing is CREA Publications, Sydney.

Features of academic writing tentative tone
  • Compare the following sentences and decide which
    seems more academic
  • Violence on television causes juvenile
  • Violence on television may be a contributing
    cause in some cases of juvenile delinquency.

Features of academic writing tentative tone
  • Which words and phrases seem to soften, moderate
    or qualify the claims?
  • Currently, satellite launches cost approximately
    30,000 for each kilogram lifted into space.
    However, this may soon change as a result of
    microelectricomechanical systems (MEMs) devices,
    which could greatly reduce the size, weight,
    power requirements, complexity, and, eventually,
    the costs of space systems. For example, because
    of MEMs miniaturisation it may be possible to
    construct a 1kg satellite that is highly
    resistant to radiation and vibration and
    therefore more reliable than a traditional
    satellite. Preliminary tests of MEMs subjected to
    accelerations over 20,000 times gravitational
    acceleration have shown promising results (Cass

Features of academic writing tentative tone
  • Tentative language techniques
  • may, might
  • it is possible, it is unlikely
  • seem, appear
  • based on the limited data available, in the view
    of some experts, according to this preliminary
  • indicate (not establish), suggest (not prove)

Features of academic writing tentative tone
  • Use tentative language to make these sentences
    more academically respectable.
  • Passive smoking causes lung cancer.
  • Recycling is the best solution to the waste
    disposal system.
  • Physical exercise prevents depression.
  • Deep tunnels are safer and less vulnerable to
    earthquake shaking than are shallow tunnels.
  • Alcohol causes people to become violent.

What is the purpose of tentative words?
  • To suggest rather than to declare, particularly
    in discussion
  • To invite further discussion and research
  • To avoid seeming simplistic

Features of academic writing cohesion
  • One way to achieve cohesion is to use
    this/these a noun to join ideas together.
  • For example
  • In recent years the number of students applying
    for PhD programs has increased steadily, while
    the number of places available has remained
    constant. This situation has resulted in intense
    competition for admission.

Features of academic writing cohesion
  • Choose a summary word from the list to complete
    each sentence
  • process situation finding estimation
    problem difficulty disruption view
  • Our pilot study has shown that wind turbines used
    to generate electricity can pose a threat to
    flying birds. This suggests a need for further
    research on
  • Normal average human skin temperature is 37C. At
    any lower environmental temperature, heat will be
    lost from the skin to the environment as the body
    attempts to heat up the air in direct contact
    with the body. This is known as conduction.

Reports and essays whats similar?
  • Both require
  • formal style
  • introduction, body and conclusion
  • analytical thinking
  • application of relevant theoretical concepts
  • referencing
  • careful proofreading and neat presentation

Reports and essays whats the difference?
  • Reports
  • Present information
  • Can be scanned
  • Have numbered headings and sub-headings
  • Have short concise paragraphs
  • Use graphics
  • Include executive summaries
  • May have recommendations
  • May have appendices
  • Can be produced by group
  • (http//
  • Essays
  • Present arguments
  • Must be read carefully
  • Do not have headings and sub-headings
  • Ideas linked in cohesive paragraphs
  • Do not use graphics
  • Do not have executive summaries
  • Do not include recommendations
  • Do not include appendices
  • Cannot be produced by group

Research reports
  • Some reports at university have some report and
    some essay features.
  • e.g. Reports in Macroeconomics
  • Report features
  • Executive summary
  • Table of contents
  • Sub-headings
  • Graphics
  • Essay features
  • Written by individuals not group
  • No recommendations only conclusions

How do you know whats required?
  • Read the assignment instructions carefully
  • If the assignment instructions arent clear, ask
    your tutor/lecturer for clarification!

If a business report is required
  • Letter of transmittal
  • Title page
  • Table of contents
  • List of abbreviations/glossary
  • Executive summary/abstract
  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Conclusion
  • Recommendations
  • References
  • Appendices

What is a case study?
  • an account of an activity, event or problem
    that contains a real or hypothetical situation
    and includes the complexities that you would
    encounter in the workplace

Writing research essays
  • A research essay is an argument revealing why
    you think about a topic the way you do.
  • It aims to convince the reader that your
    position is valid, supported by evidence and
    carefully considered.

Steps in writing a research essay
  • Analyse the question (task/topic)
  • Plan your research
  • Gather data
  • Organise data
  • Decide your position
  • Plan the essay
  • Write a draft of the essay (for you to read and
    clarify your ideas)
  • Edit for content and structure
  • Write a second draft (with your lecturer/tutor as
    reader in mind)
  • Edit for coherence, cohesion, grammar and

Analysing essay topics
  • Discuss the application of sustainability
    theories to either horticulture, or inshore
    fisheries or native timber harvesting. Evaluate
    the progress of current moves towards
    sustainability in these industries in this
    country. Include a discussion of international
    directives and this countrys statutes.
  • Topic sustainability theories inshore
    fisheries this country
  • international directives this countrys
  • Focus application progress of current moves
  • Task Discuss Evaluate Discussion
  • (from Silyn-Roberts, H. 1996, Writing for
    Science a practical handbook for science,
    engineering and technology students, Longman,

Essay organisation
  • An essay is written
  • in continuous prose
  • usually without sub-headings
  • An essay has three parts or stages
  • Introduction
  • Body (several paragraphs)
  • Conclusion
  • and references, of course!

Essays that ask should or why
  • Introduction
  • Orientation - introduces reader to topic
  • Definition of terms (if required)
  • Thesis/position/or restatement of the question
    and indication of your opinion/decision on the
  • Brief indication to reader of main areas the
    essay will focus on

Essays that ask should or why
  • Body
  • Each paragraph gives a reason
  • Each reason introduced in topic sentence
  • Elaboration examples etc
  • Support for your position from your reading

Essays that ask should or why
  • Conclusion
  • Restatement of position
  • Summary of body paragraphs
  • Final comment
  • Implications
  • Predictions
  • Possible modification of original position

Essays that ask you to discuss, analyse,
  • Introduction
  • Orientation
  • Statement of issue
  • Interpretation of question
  • Brief indication of the areas the essay will
    focus on

Essays that ask you to discuss, analyse,
  • Body
  • Point 1 or
  • Side 1
  • Side 2
  • Point 2
  • Side 1
  • Side 2
  • Body
  • Side 1
  • Point 1
  • Point 2
  • Side 2
  • Point 1
  • Point 2

Essays that ask you to discuss, analyse,
  • Conclusion
  • Restatement of issues
  • Summary of body
  • Final comment
  • Implications
  • Predictions
  • Possible acknowledgement of the difficulty of
    arriving at definitive answer
  • Possible raising of other questions

The meanings of discuss
  • In an arts or social science essay discuss can
    mean give evidence for and against a viewpoint
    and arrive at your preferred position.
  • In a science essay discuss can mean give a
    thorough balanced account of an area of
  • (from Silyn-Roberts, H. 1996, Writing for
    Science a practical handbook for science,
    engineering and technology students, Longman,

Essays that ask you to describe or explain
  • Introduction
  • Orientation
  • Purpose (rewording of essay question)
  • Definition of terms (if required)
  • Brief indication of the points described/explained
    in essay

Essays that ask you to describe or explain
  • Body
  • Paragraphs following points in introduction
  • Topic sentences of each paragraph
  • Supporting sentences giving examples, facts etc
  • Possible summary sentences for each paragraph

Essays that ask you to describe or explain
  • Conclusion
  • Restatement of preview
  • Summary of body paragraphs
  • Final comment
  • Wider significance

What type of essay is this?
  • Example
  • Information systems are obviously constructed by
    someone, but many methodologies speak as if IS
    development is more like a scientific
    investigation - needs are discovered, problems
    are solved and solutions are tested. Does
    this image match your experience? What is an
    information system? Who constructs it? What is it
    constructed from? How is the construction
    influenced by technical constraints or fashions?
    Discuss all these issues making reference to some
    of the different approaches introduced in this

Paragraph structure
  • Essay paragraphs should
  • begin with a topic sentence which
  • links back to the previous paragraphs
  • announces the topic of the paragraph
  • deal with one idea only
  • be logically organised (general to specific)
  • be between five and ten sentences

Paragraph structure
  • Example
  • Two measures could be used to gauge the degree
    of integration that has occurred between the
    three Chinese economies since Chinas open door
    policy began in the late 1970s. One measure is to
    calculate the share of t intra-bloc trade for
    the three economies as a percentage of the total
    exports of the three and look at the trend in
    these shares over time. Secondly, growth rates
    for this intra-bloc trade can be calculated and
    then compared to the growth rates for external
    trade. Both of these measures could be applied to
    total trade, manufactured trade, and, at a much
    more disaggregated level, to selected
  • (from Craswell, G. 2005, Writing for Academic
    Success , London, Sage, p.82.)

Example of an introduction
  • Question Workplace diversity is now recognised
    as an important feature in organisations,
    especially in multicultural nations like
    Australia. What communication problems might
    arise in a culturally diverse workplace, and how
    can managers best deal with them?
  • Over the past twenty five years, since Australia
    embraced multiculturalism as a policy, issues of
    intercultural communication have become more and
    more prominent in the workplace. However, until
    relatively recently, little had been written on
    these issues, and even now, many organisational
    managers have no training or knowledge of how to
    deal with communication problems, even though
    most workplaces are staffed by people of diverse
    cultures. Particular problem areas include the
    difficulties that some non-English speakers have
    in understanding safety instructions (figures
    produced by the ABS in 1997 show that migrant
    workers have a higher incidence of accidents at
    the workplace) an ignorance of the different
    forms of non-verbal communication used by other
    cultures (for example it is considered impolite
    in some societies for an employee to look
    directly at his or her employer), which can lead
    to misunderstandings and unpleasantness and the
    lack of knowledge about differing expectations.
    Based on interviews with managers and staff in
    six organisations (public and commercial), this
    report examines these three problem areas, and
    shows that many of the difficulties faced by both
    natives and migrants in the workforce are caused
    by a lack of awareness of, and training in,
    intercultural communication.
  • (http//

Example of a conclusion
  • It is clear, therefore, that not only do
    employees have to be trained for working in the
    Australian multicultural workplace, but managers
    also need to be trained. Managers must ensure
    that effective in-house training programs are
    provided for migrant workers, so that they become
    more familiar with the English language,
    Australian communication norms and the Australian
    work culture. In addition, Australian native
    English speakers need to be made aware of the
    differing cultural values of their workmates
    particularly the different forms of non-verbal
    communication used by other cultures.
    Furthermore, all employees must be provided with
    clear and detailed guidelines about company
    expectations. The interviews with managers and
    staff reveal that a majority of managers must
    also have training in cross cultural
    communication and in managing a culturally
    diverse workplace. Above all, in order to
    minimise communication problems and to maintain
    an atmosphere of tolerance, understanding and
    cooperation in the multicultural workplace,
    managers need to have an effective knowledge
    about their employees, to understand how their
    social conditioning affects their beliefs about
    work and to have the communication skills to
    develop confidence and self-esteem among diverse
    work groups. The culturally diverse Australian
    workplace may never be completely free of
    communication problems, however, further studies
    to identify potential problems and solutions, as
    well as better training in cross cultural
    communication for managers and employees, should
    result in a much more understanding and
    cooperative environment.
  • (http//

Coherence throughout the essay
  • Does the essay make sense to someone not in your
  • Is the argument consistent?
  • Have you made the structure explicit?
  • Are the ideas presented in a logical order?
  • Is there a transition from each paragraph to the

Cohesion between sentences
  • Links can be made between sentences by
  • Transition from old information to new
  • Use of summary words
  • Thematic consistency
  • Parallel constructions
  • Lexical ties
  • Transition signals
  • Reference words

Comparison/Contrast Essays
LEO Literacy Education Online http//leo.stcloud When you
compare things, you show their similarities when
you contrast things, you show their
differences. We can really understand only those
things that are familiar to us or similar to
things we already understand, so comparing and
contrasting the unfamiliar with the familiar is
one of the most important techniques for writing.
You can, and probably do, use comparison and
contrast to describe things, to define things, to
analyze things, to make an argument -- to do, in
fact, almost any kind of writing. When they are
comparing and contrasting, for example, two
ideas, like corsets and footbinding, most
writers structure their essays one of four
ways. 1. First compare, then contrast (or
vice versa). 2. First do one idea, then do
the other. 3. Write only about the comparable
and contrastable elements of each idea. 4.
Only compare or only contrast.
Transitional Devices
  • To Compare
  • whereas, but, yet, on the other hand, however,
    nevertheless, on the contrary, by comparison,
    where, compared to, up against, balanced against,
    vis à vis, but, although, conversely, meanwhile,
    after all, in contrast, although this may be true
  • Comparison/Contrast
  • - What is ____ similar to? In what ways?
  • - What is ____ different from? In what ways?
  • - ____ is superior (inferior) to what? How?
  • - ____ is most unlike (like) what? How?

Identify the cohesive ties
  • Consider the example paragraphs on the previous
    slides and identify the type of cohesive ties.

If you must choose the title
  • Be as precise as possible.
  • Use a noun phrase.
  • Dont use a question.
  • Example
  • A comparison of the modernisation processes and
    the contemporary characteristics of manufacturing
    industries in China and Japan
  • Not Manufacturing industries in China and
  • Not How are the manufacturing industries in
    China and Japan different?

A useful book
  • Silyn-Roberts, H. 1996, Writing for Science a
    practical handbook for science, engineering and
    technology students, Longman, Auckland.

Useful links essays
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//

  • Materials for this workshop compiled by Liz
    Craven Therese Pinson, and adapted by Amanda