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Analyses of five more random short stories.

February 1, 2010 Leave a comment

1. “Winter Dreams” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

In “Winter Dreams,” the reader observes the American dream in action. Dexter, a young man from humble beginnings, moves up the ranks of the economic and social ladder under his own power due to his strong sense of motivation to better his life. Dexter began as a caddy in his young teen years. Dexter did not do this to make his living, rather to make pocket money.  This leads the reader to believe that Dexter was not poverty stricken, but he was definitely not born with the silver spoon in his mouth either. Although Dexter only caddied for spending money, he took his job very seriously. This shows a strong work ethic in the boy from the beginning. During his time spent caddying, Dexter has the opportunity to meet Judy Jones. Jones exemplifies the life of exuberance and extravagance. She was only eleven at the time of their initial meeting, but Dexter notes that “there was a general ungodliness in the way her lips twisted down at the corners when she smiled and in the−Heaven help us! −in the almost passionate quality of her eyes. Vitality is born early in such women” (2187). This was Dexter’s first glance into the fantasy world that Jones lived in. As he grew older, he decided to attend a prestigious college on the east coast. At the conclusion of his studies, he moved back home and opened a laundry that specialized in the cleaning of golf socks. Soon Dexter was moving in the same circles in which Judy Jones also circulated. They met and had a very dysfunctional relationship that spanned several years. Although Dexter was well-to-do at this point in his life, he never felt like he truly belonged to the social circles within which he moved. He was an outsider looking in. Judy Jones was Dexter’s gold ring. He knew that if he could gain her then he would not have to second guess himself any longer. Dexter invested years into chasing Jones only to be left in the end. Dexter did not love Judy Jones, but he did love the idea of high society and social grace and Judy Jones embodied these qualities. Therefore, Dexter deceived himself into believing that he loved the woman. If Judy Jones had not been the out-of-reach, golden ring, Dexter would not have pursued her as doggedly. The truth is that Dexter’s pursuit of Judy Jones is a reflection of the chase within his life to put his own feelings of inadequacy to rest. Jones was nothing more than a trophy that Dexter pursued to finally feel like part of the in-crowd. In the end, Dexter did not win Judy Jones’ affection and finally had his dreams shattered when he realized that the ideology of his own success and acceptance that he projected on the vivacious Judy Jones had passed away never to return.

2. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

In the story, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Gilman adeptly uses the concept of altered perception for the narration of the tale. The story is focused on a young housewife and her descent from post-partum depression into utter madness. The young woman is confined to an upper room that is decorated with yellow wallpaper. The use of altered perception is objectified within the wallpaper. As the story begins, the narrator is a “normal” housewife suffering from a bout of post-partum depression, which they call a “nervous disorder.” She takes her “treatment” regimen as prescribed by her physician husband, John, which basically consisted of doing nothing and being left alone to contemplate her current life situation. As the story continues, there is subtle change in the narrator’s point of view. At first, she absolutely detests the yellow wallpaper. She asks her caregiver and her husband if they could remove it, but both state that would be impractical since they are only renting the house for a short time. As time passes by, the narrator becomes fascinated by the wallpaper, watching its lines twist and turn and “commit suicide.” Then as the descent into utter madness begins, she notices a woman trapped behind the wallpaper trying to get out.  “At night in any kind of light, in twilight, candlelight, lamplight, and worst of all by moonlight, it becomes bars! The outside pattern, I mean, and the woman behind it is as plain as can be. I didn’t realize for a long time what the thing was that showed behind, that dim sub-pattern, but now I am quite sure it is a woman” (1961). Then the descent continues finally culminating into a confrontation between the narrator and John. As John tries to get into the room where the narrator is, he finds the door to be locked and the key thrown outside. When John finally retrieves the key, he enters the room to find his beautiful bride “creeping” around the edge of the room. John faints and that is where the story ends. The most beautiful thing about the way this story is written is the fact that the reader is able to follow the narrator’s change step by step from a prim and proper housewife into a creeping crazy person. If Gilman would have chosen another writing style, the story would not have effectively communicated what she was attempting to convey to the reader. When reading the first person altered perception, the reader is forced to put himself or herself directly into the shoes of the narrator. The reader is not reading a story about a descent into madness; rather, the reader is experiencing firsthand the change that the narrator is going through. It was extremely effective when the story was published and this story is seen as one of the first and most important examples of feminist literature.

3. “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” by Ernest Hemingway

In “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” Hemingway uses vivid imagery to define death. The whole story is based upon the main character, Henry, and his struggle to rediscover who he is and the happiness of his youth on a safari to Africa. During the trip, Henry had been scratched by a thorn and developed gangrene in his leg. During his last days of life, Henry wrestles with the regrets of his life and his unfulfilled ambitions. Within the story, Hemingway uses several different things to symbolize both physical and spiritual death. The journey had been planned to be a spiritual journey. One that was supposed to rekindle what Henry had lost. Hemingway begins the story telling a legend about a leopard frozen in place on his trip to “the house of God.” Henry envisions himself as the noble leopard, on a vision quest to redefine his life, but after he is stricken with the raging infection, Henry comes to a dastardly conclusion about himself. Catching the scent of his rotting flesh, the scavengers emerge. Hemingway specifically brings the hyena to the forefront. The imagery of the hyena represents the spiritual death that Henry had incurred when he sold out everything that he had been for the easy life. He literally became the scavenger. “And just then it occurred to him that he was going to die. It came with a rush; not as a rush of water nor of wind; but of a sudden evil-smelling emptiness and the odd thing was that the hyena slipped lightly along the edge of it” (2251). Upon the cot which became his death bed, Henry realized that he had departed the path of the noble leopard long ago and had embraced the very countenance of the hyena and he despised himself for it. This is the symbolism of his spiritual death; the death of the man that he once was and the unfulfilled potential of his life. The physical death in the story is personified as Henry lay on his cot.  “Because, just then, death had come and rested it’s head on the foot of the cot and he could smell its breath…It had moved up on him now, but it had no shape any more. It simply occupied space…It did not go away but moved a little closer…It moved up closer to him still and he could not speak to it, and when it saw he could not speak it came a little closer, and now he tired to send it away without speaking, but if moved in on him so its weight was all upon his chest and while it crouched there and he could not move, or speak, he heard the woman say, ‘Bwana is asleep now. Take the cot up very gently and carry it into the tent.’ He could not speak to tell her to make it go away and it crouched now, heavier, so he could not breathe. And then, while they lifted the cot, suddenly it was all right and the weight went from his chest” (2257-2258). Then Henry was dead. Hemingway uses symbolism and personification to describe both spiritual and physical death within this short story. However, the theme of spiritual death is the most salient and most likely the theme that Hemingway wanted to convey as a caution to the reader to always stay true to oneself so that when physical death comes, one would be able to rest in the assurance of the legacy that the person is leaving behind and to pass away in the comfort of a fulfilled life.

4. “After Apple-Picking” and “The Death of the Hired Man” by Robert Frost

In the poems Frost is speaking of death. In “After Apple-Picking,” the narrator is speaking of a life of hard work coming to an end. Within this poem he laments about missed opportunities within his life when he states, “Beside there may be two or three apples I didn’t pick upon some bough. But I am done with apple picking now” (1958). This is a way for the narrator to convey to the reader about missed opportunities, but it would seem that the narrator is not necessarily upset about the path that he has chosen or the decisions that he made with his life. Toward the end of the poem, the narrator speaks of apples that were bruised or spiked with stubble which went to the cider heap. This is also a metaphor for opportunities take that were either botched or not productive for his life. The poem concludes with the narrator pondering whether the sleep that he is about to undertake will be the long sleep of death, or just another human sleep. Contrasting the first person style of “After Apple-Picking,” “The Death of the Hired Man” is written in third person, however, the theme of the poem is similar. This particular poem is about the death of an old and trusted farmhand that had betrayed the plantation owner by leaving during haying season for another farm that promised him more money. Old Silas had come home to die. The narrator suggests through the story of the old farmhand that it is natural for those who are dying to want to go in a place that is familiar with people that they consider family. Mary and Warren discuss the life of Silas and the reader sees a man who was proud to do the task in his life at which he excelled which was tying up hay bales. As Silas is entering the time right before his death, he begins recount to Mary the things in life that for which he had regret. Silas had attempted to teach a younger man the finer points of haying, but their relationship ended abruptly and on uncertain terms when the young man left for school. This particular encounter seems to have plagued Silas. “He thinks young Wilson a likely lad; though daft on education−you know how they fought all through July under the blazing sun, Silas up on the cart to build the load, Harold along beside to pitch it on. Yes I took care to keep well out of earshot. Well, those days trouble Silas like a dream” (1956). The narrator is giving insight into the last moments before we pass on in this life, how regret and sorrow play out in our final moments. Perhaps it is a warning to live life without regret in order to enjoy our final moments of this life. In “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening,” the narrator expresses his longing for rest.  Whether this is the rest of death or sleep, the narrator stresses the desire to stay awhile in oblivion and solace to ponder the greater mysteries of his life. However, his horse brings him back to reality with a shake of his harness, questioning the duo’s sudden stop in the middle of the forest. As much as the narrator longs for rest, there is no rest to be had because he “has miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before I sleep” (1963).

5. “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane

The term naturalism describes a type of literature that attempts to apply scientific principles of objectivity and detachment to its study of human beings. Naturalism implies a philosophical position that contrasts the realist writers who focus on the literary technique. “The Open Boat” is a strong example of naturalism. The story pits four men who survived a ship wreck against the impassive forces of nature, which in this case is the ocean. Another aspect that brings out the naturalism technique within the story is the fact that there is no way that the men inside the boat can exercise free will. They are at the extreme mercy of nature. During the story, the men make several attempts to run the surf as they are approaching land, but each time they were unable to make the beach due to the instability of the craft in which they were sailing. This exemplifies the futile struggle of men against nature and fate. The story ends when the four sailors take matters into their own hands. Deciding against spending another moment on the boat, with the strength of the oarsmen waning, the men make one final drastic attempt to best nature. As the ship presses into the surf, the craft capsizes and breaks up. The men jump clear of the boat to make their gallant attempt to best nature and reach the shore. One by one, the men make it to shore and it would seem that man had bested nature, but tragically, one of the four could not make the final swim emphasizing the naturalistic principle that it is futile for man to struggle against fate.

Works Cited

The Norton Anthology: American Literature. Shorter 7th Edition. Ed. Nina Baym. New York: Norton Company, 2008.

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Analyses of five random short stories.

January 28, 2010 Leave a comment

1. “The White Heron” by Sarah Orne Jewitt.

In “The White Heron,” Jewett contrasts the two main characters of Sylvia and the hunter regarding their relationship to their surroundings. For Sylvia, nature is a force to be respected and enjoyed. The text brings out how nature exhilarated her. “She waded on through the brook as the cow moved away, and listened to the thrushes with a heart that beat fast with pleasure” (1592). Not only did nature exhilarate the young lady, but she acted as if she was a natural extension of nature around her. The animals seemed at ease when she was near even to the point where she is able to observe the white heron from a few feet away while up in a tall pine tree.  The hunter, on the other hand, is portrayed as a destructive force to his surroundings. He shoots and traps game for sport and for food, even attempting to get Sylvia to betray her natural instinct to protect the forest for ten dollars. Sylvia, however, is true to herself and her love of nature in the end when she conceals the location of the hallowed white heron from the destructive force of the hunter.

 2. “An Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce. 

The use of fantasy in “The Occurrence at Owl Creek” is used not only to keep the reader involved in the story, but also to bolster the feeling of excitement as Farquhar escapes from his captors. The entire story is based in a fantastical experience that occurs as the main character, Peyton Farquhar, is being executed on Owl Creek Bridge for attempting to sabotage the union army. Bierce tells the story from Farquhar’s point of view. As Farquhar is falling to his assured death by hanging, the rope breaks and he plummets into the river below the bridge. The reader is then led to believe that Farquhar has escaped capture by an amazing stroke of luck. The story continues to chronicle his fanciful escape from the army. Although, the reader is deliberately led to believe that Farquhar has evaded capture, there are several clues that foreshadow Farquhar’s true fate. As he is in the water looking up at the sharpshooters who are attempting to shoot him from either end of the bridge, Farquhar develops super human eyesight being able to see down the barrel of one of the shooter’s rifle all the way to discern the color of the man’s eyes. This is simply not possible. He even has time to ponder how a man with grey eyes is supposed to be the truest marksman. Also, as Farquhar escapes down the river, a company of infantry joins in on the attempt to cut him down with gunfire. As the company fired, Farquhar dove under the water. While under water, Farquhar notices that the bullets seem to lose all speed when they hit the water and begin to lazily float to the bottom. One bullet even becomes lodged between Farquhar’s neck and collar, which he quickly brushes it out because it is “uncomfortably warm.”  The clues continue to roll in as Farquhar finally gets back to his home, recovering from a delirium caused by his long journey, he sees his home and his wife just as he had left them. As Farquhar enters the gate of his home, he sees his wife who does not seem disturbed by the physical state that Farquhar is in with a bruised neck, a tongue pushed out due to unrelieved thirst, and his eyes being unable to close due to swelling. Farquhar then reaches out for his wife and feels a sharp pain in the back of his neck. That is when the fantasy ends and Farquhar’s fate is finally, obviously revealed to the reader. “Peyton Farquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of Owl Creek Bridge” (1482).

 3. “The Storm” by Kate Chopin.

Kate Chopin was a daring author during her lifetime. She published local color stories that often times flirted with the society’s perceived edge of decency. In 1898, she wrote “The Storm,” which was a sequel to the short story “At the Cadian Ball.” In the prequel, Chopin hinted at scandal and flavored the story with an undercurrent of improper flirtation, but these concepts were still well within the limits of the perceived literary standards of the time. However, “The Storm” completely obliterated the line of decency that was established for literature at the time. Chopin valued her ability to publish, so she did not seek to have “The Storm” published as she would have been shunned from the contemporary literary society. The most startling thing about “The Storm” was not necessarily the steamy scene that Chopin adeptly painted in the reader’s mind. Rather, it was the unapologetic attitude of the adulterers that would have crossed the line. It was this displayed attitude that almost certainly kept Chopin from submitting this story for publication.

 4. “Desiree’s baby” by Kate Chopin.

In the story, “Desiree’s Baby,” a young woman is caught up in a destructive scheme organized by her self-serving husband. Desiree was a young woman with no name. Orphaned when she was just a toddler and taken in and cared for by a well to do woman, Madame Valmonde, and, although she was loved dearly by Valmonde, she was still a young lady with no defined past. This made her the perfect target for Armand Aubigny. Armand was a well to do planter with a secret so vile to him that he had never been able to admit this terrible revelation to anyone. Armand’s mother “belonged to the race that is cursed with the brand of slavery” (1619), but she had died in France when Armand was eight. Armand knew of his mother’s ethnicity, but he had never revealed this to anyone else in his life. Armand also knew that any respectable southern plantation owner was to marry and raise a strong family, but how could he reproduce with his terrible secret? When he saw Desiree as she was leaning up against a stone pillar, an idea struck him. Desiree was beautiful, but most importantly, she was of an unknown origin. “It was no wonder, when she stood one day against the stone pillar in whose shadow she had lain asleep, eighteen years before, that Armand Aubigny riding by and seeing here there, had fallen in love with her. That was the way all the Aubignys fell in love. As if struck by a pistol shot” (1615). This is the first evidence of foreshadowing in the story. To describe falling in love as being struck by a pistol shot has very violent connotations and prepares the reader for the violent gut wrenching ending of the story. This even gives some insight to the type of man who Armand is, violent, quick to judge, and conniving. At this point Desiree and Armand were married and Desiree moved to Armand’s plantation. Before long, Desiree was to have a child. After the birth of the child, Madame Valmonde visited Desiree’s new homestead. When she walked into the room to view the child, she exclaimed “This is not the baby!” (1616). Desiree mistook her shock to be related to the fact that the child had grown. However, the source of Valmonde’s shock had little to do with the size of the child and all to do with the color of the baby’s skin. This was another instance of foreshadowing within the story. Whether Desiree was blinded by love or just ignorant to the ways of the world, she had not noticed the child’s mulatto skin tone. Slowly as the child aged, a change came over Armand. Everything that he despised about himself and his own Negro heritage was exemplified in his child. Fortunately for his reputation, he had duped Desiree, the girl with no past and now with no future. Armand declared that Desiree was not white and she departed the plantation with her baby into the swamp. Armand had every last vestige that reminded him of the child burned. The foreshadowing in the story led to the heart wrenching ending as Desiree walks into the bayou without changing her thin white garment and her slippers never to be heard from again. The irony, though, is expressed at the end of the story when Armand reads a letter from his mother to his father, which tells the reader that it was not Desiree whom had Negro heritage. Rather, it was Armand.

 5. “Barn Burning” by William Faulkner.

In an effective drama, it is imperative for the author to introduce an antagonist and protagonist to the reader.  The protagonist must be someone who the reader can identify with and support as the story progresses, while the antagonist represents the opposite of societal and moral norm. In the story “Barn Burning,” Faulkner introduces both of these character types. The first that we are introduced to is the antagonist, Abner Snopes. From the beginning, Snopes is painted in a villainous light. He is on trial for burning his neighbor’s barn after the neighbor did Snopes a favor of penning his pig so the animal would not be lost. Snopes is found not guilty due to a lack of evidence, but the Justice of the Peace demanded that the Snopes family leave town immediately. Snopes then relocates his family to a new plantation to begin sharecropping. Upon his arrival, Snopes barges into his new landlord’s home and tracks horse manure onto an expensive rug within their house. The landlord’s name is Major DeSpain. DeSpain is the moral and social opposite of Snopes. Where Snopes is a poor sharecropper, DeSpain is a wealthy land owner. DeSpain rides a gallant steed while Snopes rides a donkey. DeSpain is honest and shows integrity and strength of character. Snopes is a lying, cheating, low life who destroys those around him. In the end, Snopes attempts to repeat his delinquent activity and burn DeSpain’s barn after a civil dispute over Snopes’ idea of “cleaning” DeSpain’s Persian rug. While Snopes goes to the barn, his son (the story’s true protagonist) runs to Major DeSpain and betrays his amoral father, in essence finally being able to choose good over evil. DeSpain the goes to the barn and handles Abner Snopes. “Barn Burning” is an allegorical tale of the constant struggle between right and wrong, good and evil, and the characters of Abner Snopes and Major DeSpain represent the qualities of these two opposing sides.

Works Cited

The Norton Anthology: American Literature. Shorter 7th Edition. Ed. Nina Baym. New York: Norton Company, 2008.

Four months of doom…

January 22, 2010 1 comment

I have come to a conclusion about the next four months of my life.

PANIC! OH MY DEAR SWEET LORD, WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO!

Wait a second.

Deep breath in…

Deep breath out…

*Woosah*

There. That’s better. Let me rephrase in the interest of maintaining a positive outlook. It is going to be extremely challenging.

I am going to be up to my eyes in text. Between my History class and my four English classes I might just die from all of the reading that I am going to have to do. The thing is, though, I love to read and I love classic lit, so it shouldn’t be terribly depressing, but it is going to be extremely time intensive. Unfortunately, time is not a commodity with which I can be too liberal. It is going to take some serious time management to make this semester work.

There is a tough balancing act that comes with cramming so much into life. Grievously, I am not very good with managing my limited time; therefore, my balancing act ends up like a retarded clown trying to juggle flaming torches. I just end up burnt to a crisp with a red rubber nose melted to my face in the middle of an arena full of spectators pointing and laughing. Oh yeah…and still retarded. Not really the place that I want to be.

It is all good, though. I have great professors and my classes are going to be awesome. I am going to delve deeper into the scholastic passions that drive my academic life. It should be a lot of fun actually. I am just concerned that I am going to run out of the ever elusive, always in demand asset. Time.

The paradox with taking on too much is that you accomplish more, but you don’t do as well as you could have if you just eased the pace back a bit. So quality suffers for the sake of quantity. This is never a good trade-off, but I want to finish school so badly that I would have taken 100 credit hours if they would have allowed it. It is more than just school, however. Life is just coming at me full throttle right now and I guess that I’m not handling it well.

Meh. I have to get out of this funk today. Otherwise I am going to drive those around me to murder. To murder me, that is. That is another place that I don’t want to be. You know…

Dead.

Anyway…

I am excited about this weekend. I get to hang out with my girls and actually sit down and get some homework done. Should be fairly productive. Also, I’m out of scheduled writing so I’m going to have to really step up my posting. I might just become a blogger one of these days. Until then, you are stuck with my current incarnation. A sometimes poster who pokes fun at MR.

Man, I’m a douche.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tips for Writing: Fact vs. Opinion

January 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Information is regarded as one of the most highly valued resources found on the planet today. Often, the organization with the most reliable information comes out ahead in whatever endeavor in which the organization is specialized. Information can be separated into two categories: fact and opinion. The real question is, however, what differentiates fact and opinion?
 
Fact can be defined generally as a piece of information that has an objective reality. This means that  information presented in an unbiased way that stands up under scrutiny can be regarded as fact. Because factual information is verifiable under unbiased scrutiny, it can be generally regarded as truth. Facts are outright statements of observable truths, such as the sky is blue. This indisputable as anyone can look up into the sky and see that it is blue. Further, to silence any possible criticism of this statement, science has verified that the molecules that form our atmosphere reflect blue light-giving the sky its blue color.

Opinion is defined as a view, judgment, or appraisal that is formed in one’s mind. Further, an opinion is a belief that is stronger than an impression but less strong that positive knowledge, or a generally held view. Opinion is the prevalent force behind much of the information that governs the majority of the interactions that occur in the daily lives of people. This information type is not necessarily based on objective informational analysis. Rather, opinion is subjectively based; therefore, governed by perception rather than stone cold fact. We see opinions on the news, in political and religious discourse, and in our everyday work environments. Everyone has an opinion and many times these are not solidly based in fact, rather they are based upon individual perception.

At what point does an opinion become fact? The scientific method is useful for explaining this phenomenon. Within this method, a researcher makes an observation. Then, he or she forms an opinion of what the root cause of the observation is. This opinion is then tested. If it stands up under scrutiny, can be repeated, and is verified by third-party sourcing, the opinion then can be generally stated as a fact.

At this point, fact an opinion seem extremely straight forward. The bigger question within the difference between fact and opinion is whether the line that separates the categories is black and white or is it something altogether different? Does the possibility exist that the line between these two categories of information is actually blurred? In many cases of fact, such as in the example of the blue sky, the evidence can be verified on a widely accepted level, but has there ever been a time where perceived fact has been proven wrong?

Aristotle theorized that the Earth was the center of the universe. He supported his theory with seemingly verifiable evidence going as far as to explain the rotation of the Sun, Moon, and stars around the Earth. His geocentric model was accepted as scientific fact until his theory was disproved after the invention of the telescope and the introduction of the heliocentric model of the universe. This irrevocably changed scientific fact into an outdated opinion.

The line between fact and opinion is one that is crossed everyday in every conversation and human interaction that occurs in our world. While fact can be obviously defined in some cases, fact and opinion blur together on subjects that cannot be conclusively verified. Where fact ends and opinion begins must be scrutinized on a case by case basis.

Works Cited

Graff, G., Birkenstein, C., & Durst, R. (2009). The Moves That Matter In Academic Writing: They say I say (, pp. 463-481). New York: W.W. Norton & Company .

Tips For Writing: Effective Communication

January 11, 2010 Leave a comment
The art of communication is often overlooked in today’s society. The ability for the populous at large to communicate within the bounds of  the every day interaction between people has slowly declined over the last several decades. There are a myriad of factors that could be causative to this issue, but the overarching effect is simply that people are not as adept with communication as they once were, whether it be written or spoken.

One of the major issues plaguing every day interaction is rooted within people’s inability to plan the full discourse of a document or speech prior to the presentation. As with the example of Dr. X, a one sided biases speaker,  found within The Moves That Matter In Academic Writing: They say I say , we see that a communicative presentation loses much of its effectiveness when the author fails to equally present both sides of an issue, or, at the very least, introduce the opposing view of the opinion that the communicator is attempting to present.

Objectivity within communication is achieved when the communicator effectively presents both sides of an issue without presenting a personal bias. It is a quality that is highly regarded in journalism, but this writing quality can add much needed credence to any form of persuasive communication. When the presenter appears to be extremely knowledgeable on all sides of an issue, it enables the communicator convey his or her opinion in a more highly regarded manner, ensuring that the audience will at least consider the information presented. This is also a key element in writing an effective summary.

Summary is an effective tool within persuasive communication in which the presenter conveys the general ideas of another author on a specific subject while adding his or her stance on the particular issue being reviewed. This also lends to the presenter having a greater credibility with the audience. When an author is willing to present the opposite opinion of what he or she believes, it conveys confidence, which is imperative when attempting to engage the audience and to have the presented opinion be seriously considered.

With an increased awareness in the tools of strong communication, many of the daily communicative interactions between people would become much more effective, which would lead to a reversal of the general decline that communication has experienced over the last several decades. The only way to remedy this problem is through strong, relevant communication education presented in a way that will captivate audiences making them more likely to apply these principles in their day to day communication.

Works Cited
 

Graff, G., Birkenstein, C., & Durst, R. (2009). The Moves That Matter In Academic Writing: They say I say (, pp. 463-481). New York: W.W. Norton & Company .

Tips for Writing: Entering the Conversation

January 7, 2010 Leave a comment

When an author is embarking on a new literary quest, he or she must consider several different factors when planning an effective article. One of the most important factors that the author must take into account is which method of “entering the conversation” will be used in the paper to most effectively introduce his or her opinion. It is vital for the author establish the purpose of his or her discourse before attempting to dissect the subject at hand. After establishing the purpose, the author must consider the general body of work that has been done about the particular subject being written about. Once this has been mapped, the author has several different options when deciding how he or she will add their opinion to the general body of work that has been established regarding the subject of focus for the paper.

One of these options is clearly seen within the article “Fat as a Feminist Issue” by Susie Orbach. Within her article, she is tackling the issue of obesity in women; however, she is approaching the subject from a unique angle. This makes her argument something that “no one is talking about”. Orbach is introducing a completely new idea to the area of female obesity. She states that women eat compulsively and have become fat in order to break forth from the mold that society casts for their gender.

In this article, she is not necessarily responding to a specific argument for or against obesity in women. Instead, she is filling in a gap in the overall body of work for this issue and actually introducing a new idea as to why the percentage of obese women continues to grow in America. This technique is effective, but there are other options for authors that include stating what “they say” explicitly, which is extremely effective when introducing an alternate opinion. This is a strong technique because the author is able to address each argument that the opposition utilizes in a point-by-point writing style that allows he or she to introduce his or her counterpoint to each of these arguments.

This technique is used in the article “Being Fat is OK” by Paul Campos. Within this article, Campos is attacking the overall picture of how America defines obesity based on a system that uses the body mass index as the indicator for obesity and overall healthiness. He is also attacking those who claim that every overweight person would be better if he or she lost weight. The main thrust of his argument is the lack of scientific evidence that exists to support this argument. He explicitly states what the opposition says and then introduces his counterpoint in each example within the article. Another reason that this technique is effective is because it leaves no doubt what the author is attempting to communicate to the reader.

When the author is “entering the conversation” he or she must consider what mode of presentation will be most effective in relaying his or her specific contribution within the subject to the audience. Regardless of what method is ultimately chosen, it is overwhelmingly apparent that this specific aspect of writing can make or break a paper and must be given considerable weight during the planning phase for the article.

Works Cited

Graff, G., Birkenstein, C., & Durst, R. (2009). The Moves That Matter In Academic Writing: They say I say (, pp. 463-481). New York: W.W. Norton & Company .

What is on the Horizon for Spring?

January 6, 2010 5 comments

Well the time for registration has come and gone and I am officially registered for Spring classes. I also finished some other important housekeeping items that were hanging over my head at the meeting with my advisor. I have been pursuing the same degree in education off and on for several years now, but, according to the official school record, I had not declared my major. Now I am a bona fide English major also pursuing my teaching certificate.

Also, through a strange exercise of fate, it seems as if I am going to receive a second bachelor’s degree in History as well. I had been pursuing a history degree until last semester when I switched my major to English because I love writing and hope to pursue a career in this field. Unfortunately during my pursuit of this degree when I was young and dumb, I took four History classes that I just stopped attending mid-semester following my marriage. This means I have four failing grades to redeem in order to bring my GPA back up to where I am happy with it. As a result, I will be one class away from obtaining my History degree in addition to the degree in English. I would be a fool not to take this opportunity.

So why am I telling you this? Simple, I just want you to be prepared for what is in store for the coming semester and what subjects I will be writing about. Without further ado, here are the classes that I will be taking.

Lit Matters– I am not sure what this class holds in store for me as a writer. There is no course synopsis available, but I do know the professor quite well, and she always comes up with interesting writing assignments so I am expecting good things from this one.

Women Writers This is another class that is being taught by Professor P (My lit instructor), so I should have some great subject matter to write about. She displays a few feminist tendencies, but I love her teaching style and the way that she loves literature, so I am definitely looking forward to this one.

British Literature II: The 19th Century-Present I am actually really excited about this class. British literature is the root of American literature. Although this class is focused the period following the Revolutionary War, I believe that I will get to experience many of the authors that influenced early American literature. I will also get to read some great classic lit which is exciting for a nerd like me. 

Theory and Practice This is another required class for my English degree. This one should focus on the “how-to’s” of writing and the theories behind why we write the way we do. This class has the potential to be extremely burdensome, but we will have to wait and see how it all pans out. This is an on-line class, so whether it sinks or floats all depends on how well the professor communicates with the students. I have had good and bad on-line experiences, so this one is up in the air.

Women in European History This is a repeat of one of the classes that I bombed several years ago the semester after getting married and preparing for fatherhood. I am excited to get back into a history class as I do have a love for the history of our planet. Specifically American history, but I have a soft spot for learning about the events that shaped the landscape of today’s geopolitical terrain. This is an on-line class as well, so I hope to have several papers to share with you from this course.

I am looking to take a sixth class (technology in the classroom), but the powers that be at my school have instituted a new overload policy where any schedule over 17 hours must be approved by the administration. My advisor told me that they had been very rare in granting their approval. Hopefully Drury will allow me to take this class because I have a lot of work to do and a limited time to get it done.

I am extremely excited about this semester (I am a dork, I know. What can I say?). I can’t wait to share the interesting things that I learn with you and I hope that you are looking forward to reading them as well.