Thursday, September 29, 2011

Blog #9

My topic is about how a person's representation of their true identity changes based on where they are. Is this seeming change in personality directly related to the people in specific environments? Do people act differently because it is expected of them to 'fit the mold' of that environment?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Blog #8 "First Writing Since"

    Suheir Hammad shows all of the pain she is carrying in her "First Writing Since." The logos she uses, facts such as when she says, "last night Bush waged war on a man once openly funded by the cia" (Hammad 3.13). The information she includes are relative to the nation, but because of them, there were very personal effects on her own city. Hammad's ethos, or credibility comes from her identity with the city, that she "[has] never felt less american, and more new yorker" (Hammad 4.03). Because she has this connection with the city, her words have more meaning, or credibility to those who are listening, as the images she relates are a part of her emotional struggle.
    Hammad uses, of Aristotle's rhetorical appeals, pathos most profoundly. The emotion in her poem relates the hurt and anger towards racism; the despair and heartache for those who have lost loved ones; and the concern and sympathy for not only the people she knows, but those who are strangers, those who are hurting. She says, "i don't know what to think. but I know for sure who will pay. in the world, it will be women, mostly colored and poor. women will have to bury children, and support themselves through grief. 'either you are with us, or with the terrorists'" (Hammad 3.34). This conveys the awfulness of what mothers have to go through,  to bury their children and endure the agony that comes with it. It also shows that races are treated with prejudice: "one more person assume they know me, or that i represent a people. or that a people represent an evil. or that evil is as simple as a flag and words on a page" (Hammad 2.21).

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Homework #8 Matilda Jarvis

     In chapter five, I found three important elements of an exploratory essay: explaining multiple possibilities/angles so the reader is not caught following a single idea; expressing the thinking process that occurs during research; and revise to keep the essay clear and concise, yet interesting.
"The essential move for exploratory thinking and writing is to keep a problem alive through consideration of multiple solutions or points of views...The thinker resists closure--that is, resists settling too soon on a thesis" (Rammage, Bean, and Johnson 107). Following this, readers have the opportunity to come to their own conclusions, while being lead down a thought path that the writer creates. For this reason, it is important for several points of view to be expressed to show the benefits and downfalls of the possibilities.

     Rammage, Bean, and Johnson say,"...the goal when writing with an exploratory aim is to reproduce the research and thinking process, taking the readers on the same intellectual and emotional journey you have just traveled" (Rammage, Bean, and Johnson 113). It is important to show the readers the thought process you go through so they can clearly understand and make connections from one thought to another.

    Lastly, revising makes a phenomenal difference. The essay may be well thought out, and have an emotional appeal, but it might run too long, leaving the readers with a growing detachment and straying thoughts.  Therefore, "when [writers] revise, their major concern is to improve their essay's interest level by keeping it focused and lively. Often drafts need to be pruned to remove the extraneous details and keep the pace moving...achieve the right balance between summarizing sources and showing the evolution of [their] own thinking" (Rammage, Bean, and Johnson 115). 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Homework #7 Matilda Jarvis

     In this chapter from Kimmel's Guyland, he dives into the pressures that males have to conform to a certain way of acting, speaking, and feeling--or rather, not feeling. A former football player, Don comments on his coach's behavior: "He'd completely humiliate us for showing anything but complete toughness. I'm sure he thought he was building up our strength and ability to play, but it wore me out trying to pretend all the time, to suck it up and just take it" (Kimmel 47). This hit me because of its harshness, and I feel that this method is not as 'practiced' as it was in the years past, but then again, I'm not a guy and wouldn't actually know except for what I have heard. But I do understand the pressure that this situation would present--trying to keep this mask of composure while being humiliated with everyone watching.
    Kimmel says, "What these theories fail to account for is the way that masculinity is coerced and policed relentlessly by other guys. If it were biological, it would be as natural as breathing or blinking. In truth, the Guy Code fits as comfortably as a straightjacket" (Kimmel 51). This describes the strain of intimidation that males feel to conform to a designated behavior. Thank goodness these "manly characteristics" are not inherited. Not only would men be insanely unoriginal, but for males to be completely unfeeling would lead to destruction and mayhem.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Homework #6 Matilda Jarvis

   In Tropes vs. Women explores the recurring theme of a 'manic pixie dream girl' that Hollywood uses as a support for the hero. Nathan Rabin defines is as "that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures" (Feminist Frequency). Yes, there are cases of this in movies, but I think that it is becoming more common to have a female as the heroine of the story. In such cases, there are male supports, so are they the 'manic pixie dream boys'?
Another point they made was that "the manic pixie perpetuates the myth of women as caregivers at our very core, that we can go fix these lonely, sad men so that they can go fix the world" (Feminist Frequency). Again, maybe women have a more nurturing nature, but that's certainly not all we do, nor does that describe every female, especially in movies.

   Doofy Husbands: Target Women begins by saying, "Being a woman isn't easy: we work, we take care of the house, we raise children, and we do it all without a shred of help from those lumbering man-beasts known as husbands" (Haskins). It's noteworthy that the stay-at-home mom's work is being acknowledged--it's hard work--but staying at home wouldn't be possible, in this case, if the husband weren't bring in an income for her to do so. So, he's not all together such a 'lumbering man-beast.' This video clip then discusses the before and after of husbands: "Remember what he was like in commercials before he was a husband. Just a fun single dude, driving his awesome car or motorcycle...he was so cool. And then he met you and got married. And now he's slightly dumber than a dog" (Haskins). Harsh words. And not true. But the commercial and advertising industry certainly plays on this as a way to target wives to buy their products.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Homework #5 Matilda Jarvis

   Deborah Tannen's There is No Unmarked Woman shows how women are 'marked' in society, but also gives the contradictory side of the argument to say that men are marked instead of women. Though she gives both sides to the problem, Tannen clearly conveys what she believes: "I suddenly wondered why I was scrutinizing only the women. I scanned the eight men at the table. And then I knew why I wasn't studying them. The men's styles were unmarked" (Tannen 141). In my personal experience, I have to agree with this. While men can vary in their styles, the difference is the most noticeable among women. However, Tannen concludes the text with somewhat of a despondent statement: "I felt sad to think that we women didn't have the freedom to be unmarked that the men sitting next to us had. Some days you just want to get dressed and go about your business. But if you're a woman, you can't, because there is no unmarked woman" (Tannen 145). I disagree with this opinion--sure, sometimes it is difficult to be judged by what you wear, but it helps define you as a unique individual, and that is never something to mourn over.

    I found August's Real Men Don't: Anti-Male Bias in English to be overly severe and perhaps exaggerate much of the evidence, though I don't mean to be offensive and speak lightly of the topic. August says, "As Paul Theroux defines it, be a man means: 'Be stupid, be unfeeling, obedient and soldierly, and stop thinking'" (August 134). This is the polar opposite of my experience; the times I have witnessed this usage of this phrase, it has been to encourage a guy to use his brains and think for himself, to use his judgment (which includes feelings), and to be courageous. Even if, like August says the expression means "that the boy is about to suffer something painful or humiliating" (August 134), it does not mean for him to be as described by Theroux, as stupid and obedient, but to use common sense and reason to figure out how to act in a situation. If that means that he will stand by quietly while being mocked, then it is not because he is not thinking and being soldierly, but because that option is better than the alternative, and he has the courage to endure it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Homework #2 Matilda Jarvis

In chapter one of Everything's a Text, a potent statement stood out which read: "Critical literacy educators argue that an important part of being literate is being aware of the relationship between language and power..." (Melzer and Coxwell-Teague 3). This struck me because it's true; language has an effect on people, whether you are the one speaking (or writing) or the one hearing (or reading) someone else's words. Literacy comes into play as you make the connections, and understand the purpose and meaning of the words.
Another hot spot followed Mos Def's "Dollar Day" when the motivation for message rap was being looked at: "The primary purposes of songs in the subgenre of message rap are to make a political statement by exposing injustices and to persuade the audience to take action" (Melzer and Coxwell-Teague 21). This really shows the power of literacy (awareness of the connection between language and power) as "Dollar Day" explores and provokes thoughts about events that relate to the audience. The rap is a passionate call to its listeners to become more conscious of what is happening, and to inspire them to take action.

In the Pearson text, I realized the way we have been taught in high school to write essays is just fine and dandy for certain situations, but I regret not having the opportunity to write more creative and "less structured" pieces as well. For, "to become a better writer...the most crucial thing is to have 'a good, interesting question'" (Ramage, Bean and Johnson 1). Writing  essays was a pain until I made sure to choose topics (when I could) that I really cared about, and that I wanted to know about enough that researching it would be worth the work. Continuing this subject, the authors say, "By 'thought-provoking,' we mean questions that don't have simple 'right answers' but that invite 'possible answers' supported by different lines of reasoning, speculation, and argument" (Ramage, Bean and Johnson 11). These types of questions are the ones we should have been taught to explore. Sometimes in persuasive writing, especially in high school, it is more difficult to add counter-information because it goes against the thesis; but by exploring the possible answers, readers are able to make their own decisions while learning about the subject and the author's opinion.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Homework #3 Matilda Jarvis

In What's I Got to Do with It?, Hamilton writes emphasizing the role that personal literacy plays in an individual's identity. She borrows quotes from others to showcase the importance of personal literacy. In one such quotation, Shaugnessy remarks on the situation of students entering college in reference to their personal literacies:
College both beckons and threatens them, offering to teach them useful ways of thinking and talking about the world, promising even to improve the quality of their lives, but threatening at the same time to take away from their distinctive ways of interpreting the world, to assimilate them into the culture of academic without acknowledging their experiences as outsiders. (Melzer and Coxwell-Teague 65)
It is a powerful statement; that the exposure to knowledge taught in a certain way actually weakens the individual's power to interpret what they experience. Now, the question: is it true? I think, some students rely heavily on what they are taught--the teacher's way is the only way--especially since that is what the schools have ingrained into their minds from very early years. However, I still do not believe it to be entirely true. Rather, the perspectives in college offer a new light to view the world; and instead of diminishing that unique view, they refine the individual's outlook on the world.

AnzaldĂșa writes about the significance of variety in society, customs, and lifestyles: "Ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity. I am my language" (Melzer and Coxwell-Teague 67). I immediately agreed with her declaration of how ethnic identity corresponding directly to linguistic identity, but the more I think about it, the more I hesitate to support it fully. True, language is one of the key elements to ethnic identity, but as today's world is ever becoming more connected and children, starting in middle school, begin to study a new language, perhaps the statement loses its full potency. For myself, my first language was Finnish, and English my second. Though my linguistic identity holds the two languages, I ethnically identify more readily with one more than the other. So, is it completely true? or is it losing its full meaning as the people in the world begin adding to their linguistic identities?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Homework #4 Matilda Jarvis

     Amy Tan's "Mother Tongue" provides examples of open form prose. Already in the second sentence, does this become clear as Tan writes, "I cannot give you much more than personal opinions on the English language and its variations in this country or others" (Tan 113). Is this an explicitly stated thesis that tells the reader the argument the essay is making? No, rather this essay explores the idea, or theme, of the English language, based on Tan's experiences. She continues by explaining that she contemplates "...the power of language--the way it can evoke an emotion, a visual image, a complex idea, or a simple truth" (Tan 113). Her statement supports the fact that this text is uses open form prose as it not only presents an idea, but also offers a human significance as language evokes powerful reactions. Another element found with open form prose is the usage of anecdotes to organize the text. Tan shares several stories from her own experiences to add strength to her writing. In one such example, Tan says, "When I was fifteen, she used to have me call people on the phone to pretend I was she. In this guise, I was forced to ask for information or even complain and yell at people who had been rude to her" (Tan 114). With this anecdote, Tan conveys the emotional struggle she and her mother went through because of language differences.
     I believe this essay is meant for adolescents, those who are outgrowing their childhood, and have felt uncomfortable, or embarrassed, that they were raised with traditions different from "normal." For "Mother Tongue" describes Tan's own discomfort and how she overcame it with the realization that "...[her] mother's English is perfectly clear, perfectly natural. It's [Tan's] mother tongue" (Tan 114).
     "Mother Tongue" complies with the genre conventions of an essay as it presents an idea, and gives supporting evidence to persuade and evoke from its readers emotions and reflections of situations in their own lives.