Post #13: The Concept of Discourse Community

Hooray our last article for the semester! For this last reading I read “The Concept of Discourse Community” by John Swales who breaks down the meaning and the controversies behind the discourse community.Before even getting into the article a forward is used to communicate with the reader the breakdown of the following article. This helped me out greatly while reading the actual article because the forward told me how the first two sections are a bit wordy and unfocused, but the third section is where the information that needs to be known comes in.

In the first section, Swales talks about how there needs to be a clarification for what the difference is between a discourse community and a speech community. This ultimately sets up his next section where he goes in depth on how speech and discourse communities vary. For example, in a speech community members usually gain membership at birth whereas in a discourse community members are recruited by persuasion, training, and or relevant qualifications.

The third section is where the good stuff comes up: what are the qualifications that define whether or not something is a discourse community? In this section, Swales gives us the six criteria for determining a discourse community. According to him a discourse community must have a common set of public goals, have mechanisms of intercommunications, provide information and feedback, possess one or more genres, have a specific lexis, and a ratio between experts and novices in the community. With this criteria in mind, Swales then gives an example of a discourse community, the Hong Kong Study Circle, and then goes on to talk about how it meets all of the criteria mentioned before in the previous section.

Overall this article will be very helpful when it comes time for me to choose the community I will be analyzing in my project, as it will give me the criteria to make sure is found in my community.

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Post #12: Community and Writing

In writing 105 we started off the year examining how we write in our own lives. Then, we moved on to studying writing in a rhetorical sense and how to analyze this rhetoric textually and contextually. Now that we have finished this unit, we have switched gears to talk about writing in the community. To begin this unit, I read an article titled “The Idea of Community in the Study of Writing” written by Joseph Harris. Like some of the other academic articles I have read this year so far, the article was a little hard to follow, but I will do my best to break down what Harris talks about here.

At the start of the article, Harris introduces the definition of community developed by Raymond Williams who talks about community as an existing set of relationships that never is given any sort of bad connotation to seem unfavorable. Harris goes on to examine this and determines community as having strong rhetorical power that is very alluring. If one were to examine the definition Williams gives rhetorically, it can definitely be said that there is pathos appeal being used in the definition, since it elicits strong emotions of belongingness and shared purpose.

After establishing this, Harris analyzes how communities can be either interpretive or speech, where they are either among a profession or discipline, or a neighborhood or classroom respectively. Following, Harris focuses on how being part of a community comes with using different word choices and speech all together. This can be shown through the examples he uses of two people, Sylvia and Ron, who are part of multiple communities that consist of different discourses, or communication. Each of them is aware that they are part of vastly different communities that use discourse in very different ways, however this makes their writing more interesting to read.

One of the overall themes that Harris covers in this article is the concern of the academic community. This theme that is dispersed throughout the text addresses how students should be enforced to write a certain way to match the way of the academic community. However, by the end of the article Harris reaches the idea that while students should have to learn the standards of their new academic community when entering college, they should be allowed to reflect on past communities they were or are part of in their writing. I think that this is a very good idea to integrate into college writing in order to allow students to explore communities that they are interested in and hopefully make them more enthusiastic to write academically.

Post #10: SU as the author

Keeping with the theme of rhetorical analysis, after doing an analysis of a Syracuse athletic schedule, I was assigned to pick some other Syracuse flyer or poster to perform a rhetorical analysis on. For my rhetorical analysis I decided to examine a water conservation flyer posted on the bulletin board on my residence hall floor.

When first looking at the small poster, the first thing that catches my eye personally is the logos at the bottom, not necessarily the words above. My eye first goes to the logo on the bottom right that says “Be Orange, Think Green” so I know immediately that the flyer has something to do with helping the environment. After this I begin to look at the top section of words. However, because of the choices in font colors I am more drawn to reading the longer passage with the white color than the heading in the blue color because of the contrast it has on the background. I think that these passages can be arranged in either way but if they want the first thing you read to be the big passage, I would place the small one below it.

Immediately the flyer utilizes the logos appeal with the statistic that “on average each of us uses about 80-100 gallons of water everyday” which is a good way to grab the attention of the viewer. Then the flyer addresses the viewer directly by saying how “you” can make a difference. This can be argued as being an ethos approach since it is appealing to how you behave ethical and stating that the things you do now that are bad for conserving water can be easily changed, making the person want to try out some of the water saving techniques. Finally, in the heading in dark blue pathos can be seen being utilized in the specific word choice of “precious”. By using this word the viewer is made to associate water with something that is sacred, treasured, beloved, and cherished all connotations of the word “precious”. This in turn makes the viewer feel protected over the water and therefore sets them up to be more likely to listen to the rest of the flyer since they have already experienced this emotional response to the header.

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Post #9: Rhetorical Analysis of SU Athletics

As seen through the last few posts I’ve made, currently in my writing class we have been focusing on understanding rhetorical analysis and it’s applications in different aspects of society. As practice for an upcoming essay we will be writing, we were assigned to do a rhetorical analysis on a schedule of a Syracuse athletic team’s schedule. For my practice, I chose to analyze the schedule of the football team which I have photographed below.

The first thing I notice about this schedule is its utilization of color. Immediately on the listing of games, the person viewing can take note of the games highlighted in orange. While these games are this way because they are home games, I also believe that it is printed this way to make people viewing the schedule pay more attention to these days and therefore be more likely to attend these games

Next, the middle section of the schedule includes information on how to buy tickets. Here it is clear that they put in very bold lettering how to order and the different types of tickets they offer, however the put the actual pricing of tickets very small so that way people who view the schedule are more likely to overlook this part, especially since the pricing is stated in a not so bold white colored font. This can also be applied to the left side which displays the different types of seating at the carrier dome, but has the pricing of each section very small so patrons are more likely not to notice it or notice it after the initial appeal of buying tickets so that way they are more likely to buy the tickets.

Overall, I noticed that throughout the schedule the printers used a very bold orange colored sans serif font. I believe the reasoning behind this to be that the orange color makes important parts of the schedule catch the patron’s eye immediately. Additionally, it is known that sans serif fonts are easier to read, which would explain why they would use it throughout the schedule so people can get all the information they want to get, faster and easier.

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Post #8: The Rhetorical Situation

Let me first start off by saying this: What did I just read?

Taking on the unit of rhetorical analysis in my writing class, tonight I read an essay by Lloyd F. Bitzer about the rhetorical situation. My first thoughts on the essay were, “Am I missing something? Why is this so hard to understand?”. Throughout the entirety of the essay, while Bitzer argues an extremely thorough and well developed idea about rhetorical situation, he does so using very complex sentences that make it difficult to understand sometimes. So since I spent more time translating this essay than reading it, let me break it down for you in simple terms.

In the first chunk of the essay, Bitzer introduces the topic of his essay which will be about explaining rhetorical situation in an easy way to make it possible for readers to understand while also communicating why and how it is an important part of studying rhetorical analysis. Following this, Bitzer goes on to talk about a sample passage and then explains to the audience how the example is proof of how the situation influences the observations to be made. He finishes this section by establishing that rhetorical communication, or as his calls it discourse , comes in to play in response to a specific situation.

After several passages, Bitzer finally begins defining what he has been talking about since the beginning. Not very helpful for the reader. Here Bitzer answers the question: what does rhetorical situation even mean? A rhetorical situation is people, events, objects and relations that present a demand which can be removed if rhetorical language is applied to change people’s opinions. Every rhetorical situation contains three elements: the exigence, the audience, and the constraints. The exigence, latin for demand, is the obstacle or problem trying to be solved. The audience is the people listening to the argument that can be influenced by the speaker. And finally, the constraints are the preconceived beliefs that the audience comes to the table with: attitudes, facts, traditions, interests, motives, etc.

The next thing Bitzer does is talk about and explain some general characteristics of rhetorical situations. Big ideas that he touches on are that rhetorical language is brought about by the situation, any rhetorical situation is trying to invoke a specific response but the situation must motivate the specific response to be made, and finally all in all rhetorical situations all have a very dignified structure that organizes it. In the end, Bitzer concludes by saying that in a perfect world there would be no need for rhetoric, however since the world presents problems that can be changed through communication there is a practical need for practicing the rhetorical situation.

To Be or Not To Be

In this most famous soliloquy of Hamlet in Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet ponders what the better option is for his future: facing his grievances, blights and adversity or ending it all, committing suicide and enter the unknown. His train of thought starts in the beginning as weighing the options and then turns into how death may be the most favorable option. This is until towards the end when he realizes that his conscience will prevent him from doing this.From the perspective of rhetorical analysis, these thoughts of Hamlet do a very good job at using logos, ethos and pathos to engage the reader. I worked with my classmate Alvin to identify where each technique is utilized.

Perhaps the most prevalent technique used throughout is pathos, which is seen nearly every line with Hamlet’s use of romantic language that creates strong images seeping with emotion. A line that most captures this emotion can be seen when Hamlet says, “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” using hyperbole to exaggerate the emotion. Additionally, Hamlet uses logos as he debates the pros and the cons of each options. A very clear example can be seen when he talks about the dread of the unknown and how “conscience does make cowards of us all,” ultimately saying that the logical argument, to stay living, is the one that makes the most sense. Finally, Hamlet appeals to ethics using ethos when he talks about the benefits of dying and making is seem appeal and even pleasant to the audience when he says, “to sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub, for in that sleep of death what dreams may come.” This technique makes dying seem like the better option and even appear to be not that bad.

Besides this three main techniques, Hamlet’s soliloquy progresses through the five canons of rhetorical analysis. One that I noticed was the use of disposito, or arrangement. This soliloquy is arranged in four chunks: talking about the “side effects” of living, the positives of dying, hesitation in his choice, and redeciding what to do. This arrangement favors to the appeal of death and makes it seem “nice” or favorable to the audience with visions of dreams and sleep.Ultimately, though, he comes to the realizations that death might not be the best way out during the third chunk where he hesitates his decision and then finally decides to take the “coward’s way out”.

Post #7: Rhetorical Analysis

Since middle school, students have learned to further analyze text using different methods. One of the most popular means of doing this at my middle school and even into high school was a method called “Talking to the Text” where students would would write notes in the margins about what they thought the underlying meaning of the writing was or what the author was trying to convey. Today, in college, a new method of analyzing text has been introduced to me through an article by Jack Selzer, “Rhetorical Analysis: Understanding How Text Persuades Readers.”

Right at the start of the article, Selzer says that there is no generally accepted definition of what rhetorical analysis is. So how are we supposed to understand it then? Selzer further goes on to explain how the term “rhetoric” has several different meanings whether it is defined by the general public or defined in terms of reading and writing. A good quote I found from the University of Arizona that provides a good explanation of rhetorical analysis in a common sense says that it is “identifying the particular strategies an author uses to appeal to or persuade a given audience.”

After this, Selzer goes on to explain that there are different methods of rhetorical analysis: textual analysis and contextual analysis. Textual analysis emphasizes the text of the piece rather than the context of the writing, whereas contextual analysis emphasizes context of the writing over the text it is written in. Then, to get the reader to further understand the difference between these two methods, Selzer goes in to two examples where he uses the textual analysis approach to analyze “Education” a short essay  by E.B. White using the textual method, and “An Open Letter to Bill Bennett” by Milton Friedman using the contextual method. Overall, Selzer is able to show that rhetorical analysis is a blend of both of these methods and both of these techniques can be used together or apart to gain further insight into the thoughts of the author and what their thinking was behind their writing.

Post #6: Public vs. Private Social Media

In this age of technology, social media has become a beast that can be viewed in both a positive and a negative light. Recently, I read an article published on USA Today and written by Sharon Jayson; I will link the article at the bottom of the post. In the article Jayson talks about how information concerning our personal lives is being collected without us even knowing, by companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, the author goes on to quote several researchers and psychologists about studies they have done concerning privacy on different media platforms.

After reading this article, I thought I would do a little more research myself about the privacy policies of Facebook. As everyone who uses Facebook knows, on your account you are able to adjust who sees what of your profile, however not everyone knows what Facebook can actually see about you. Upon reading through Facebook’s policies, I learned that there is a lot more information collected about you than I thought, including how you interact with the people you are connected with, information about the different devices you use Facebook on, information you provide, along with many other things. Despite all this information that is collected, the good news is that most of this data is used to improve Facebook’s site to accommodate it better to the user. However, it is still unnerving to know that all of your information provided is being monitored and studied by the company.

Facebook itself has stated, along with an attorney quoted in Jayson’s article, that sites will never display identifiable information about an individual without their consent first, but  Jayson is still correct in her conclusion that the strictness in privacy policies is something that is becoming very crucial. In fact, no social media platform is without its flaws in its privacy policies. Jayson even mentions at the end of her article that in the past Facebook has had to “backtrack” on its privacy policies, leading to many people leaving the site due to privacy concerns. So while you may seem comfortable putting your Facebook account on private, it doesn’t mean that it is completely protected from everyone else.

I do believe that for the most part social media platforms are doing a pretty good job at accommodating users with sufficient privacy policies, but there is still a long ways to go. In the article and in Facebook’s privacy policies, both talk about the data Facebook receives from you and how it is studied to better the site. I think in the future, an improvement to this could be allowing the user to determine what Facebook can or cannot use from his of her site for study in order to give the user complete control. However, Jayson does argue a very important point that we all need to consider. But for now I think that as long as you are smart about what you post online you won’t fall into any bad situations.

USA Today Article: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/03/08/data-online-behavior-research/5781447/

Reflection so far

It’s hard to believe, but here I am already a month in to school.

So far, I have really enjoyed keeping this blog up. Aside from completing the weekly required posts, I have been able to make several posts about my first month here at Syracuse. I think that these other posts have done a pretty good job capturing what its like to be a freshman in college: making new friends, missing old ones, exploring new activities, and making new memories. Additionally, I think that my blog has really started capturing my own voice, and I like being able to express sarcasm, seriousness or happiness with different posts and having the freedom to make my posts my own. Overall, I have enjoyed having another outlet to express my thoughts besides required posts.

Now for the nitty-gritty: analyzing my work so far. For the most part I would say that my blog is what I would like it to be at this point.

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I think the welcome screen that I have customized makes my blog inviting and interesting to those who stumble upon it. Organizationally, I think I have done a pretty good job at assigning categories and tags that make it easier to group themes together. One thing that I think I would like to improve upon with my blog is just posting a little more often. While I do post other things besides the required analysis’, I want my blog to be able to capture what it is like for a freshman in college: the highs and the lows, the good and the bad, and everything in between.

For everyone out there who has been following along this far, there’s sure to be more goodness coming your way. Thanks for hanging on for the ride, you’ll definitely hear more from me soon:)

 

Post #5: Texting and Writing

Recently, I was assigned to read the article “Texting and Writing” written by Michaela Cullington, who was in her first year of college at the time that the article was written. The overall purpose of the piece serves to break down the mystery of whether or not texting influences the formal writing of a university student or any student for that matter. She does this through careful research and many sources of evidence, all while being professional as well as confident in her opinion.

Instead of commenting on the content of Cullington’s piece, I’d like to focus on how she writes her essay rather than what she writes it on. It’s worth the mention that Cullington is very good at portraying her own individual voice throughout her essay especially in the introduction, with her dramatic opening lines that hook the audience, and in the final paragraphs, where she uses “I” and “me” pronouns to give her opinion.

Starting from the beginning, Cullington’s introduction definitely reads like a student’s essay would, with a hook, some summary and a thesis. Her thesis is very well worded and makes a bold statement while not coming off as an opinion. Throughout the middle of the essay, Cullington does an excellent job at staying very unbiased as she explores both sides of the argument and backs up each one with several pieces of evidence from multiple sources: teachers, students, professionals, articles, etc. However, it is evident at the start of each section that Cullington jumps directly into her evidence without starting wth a topic sentence. By doing this, it is therefore confusing to the reader and unclear as to what her argument for each side.

It isn’t until the final two sections of her essay that Cullington switches into first person to offer up her own opinions of what  has just been said. In these last paragraphs, her personal voice can be read through her words, however it remains professional and formal. Cullington is able to convey her message with emotion and candid examples from her own life. In the end, she is able to sum up the main point of her piece concisely and cohesively in both the first sentence of the last section as well as the last sentence. From reading Cullington’s article, it is cleat that it is possible to have a professional tone while adding in your own voice as a writer. Adding your voice to your writing not only helps the audience get an idea of who you are as a person, but it makes their reading experience more enjoyable.