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Hey you guys,

I don’t know if anyone’s gonna read this, but I had surgery last week and sort of found out what was going on. So I actually did tear a ligament, but there’s more. I have this rare but mild blood disorder and the doctors think it caused me to bleed into my joint. Unfortunately, blood destroys cartilage, so the majority of the cartilage that’s supposed to be in my hip is gone. I have an arthritic hip. I’m 22 and I have an arthritic hip. 

PS-Foley, I miss your face.

Last Blog?

So I’m curious… Are we going to keep in touch through Tumblr? I mean, are people going to keep posting stuff just because? I’m the only person I know who doesn’t have a facebook, so it doesn’t bother me at all to keep up this blog. Plus, it would give me a reason to free write/keep up my writing skills. From reading y’all’s posts, I doubt very many of you would like to keep it. I, on the other hand, never really had an opportunity to keep in touch with a class and I think this would be interesting. Unfortunately, it seems like most of you have signed off of Tumblr anyway, so I’m not sure everyone will even get this post. I’m going to keep mine, at least through next semester, so if you want to keep yours and post things to it, I will read it. 

I had a love-hate relationship with this class. Having to write a paper ever couple weeks was a fantastic way to hone my writing skills and it’s something that I wouldn’t have done on my own. But it was still a pain in the ass. I feel like a better writer and I know how to target my audience thanks to this class. I definitely benefitted from the majority of our assignments, even though I didn’t exactly enjoy every one of them. I think everyone at least learned something, even Foley, and I think that’s what we should take away. I’m not trying to brown-nose, even though I know that’s totally what I sound like right now. I just don’t want people to walk away completely dissatisfied. You got out of it what you put into it. 

Just keep loving Harry Potter. And hating Twilight.

Best and Worst

I hate worksheets that come in any size, shape, or form. Sure we got to work on our papers in class, but it felt like busy work. I hate busy work. Yes it was helpful, but I feel like there could have been a more elegant way to go about the help.

Class discussions are my favorite (could you tell?), even the ones in which I get mad and don’t say anything. I don’t really like being proven wrong, but I like that sometimes I’m able to change my mind. I think my favorite discussions were the ones when we got to read each other’s papers. I didn’t like it so much when my work was on the list, but a lot of people had strengths in their writing that were not necessarily obvious to them. I also love peer review. I know some people thought it was worthless and I hated that I had to have my paper done two days earlier. But let’s face it: if we didn’t have to do peer reviews, I definitely would not have had anything written early. If you ever have to do peer review again, always remember constructive criticism. You can tell people what’s wrong with their work, but don’t forget the positive stuff either. It’s possible to tell people their writing sucks without being rude. Weird, right? I find peer review super helpful because I get stuck in my head a lot and the things that make sense in my head often don’t make sense to other people. But thank God for editing. I know it sucks, but that’s how you learn to be a better writer: you revamp what you already have. I think I probably like most what people like least about writing. Sure I write shitty papers and I never want to look at them again. On the other hand, I really like that I have the ability to look objectively at my own work and make it better. It’s good for me to know that my papers aren’t perfect (and don’t have to be) the first time I sit down and write them.

And Foley giving me trash. Best or worst? Doesn’t matter. I had fun. I hope you did, too.

Please don’t let me do poorly in this class

The amount of blood, sweat, and tears that we have put into this class amazes me. We all struggled to make our writing better. Some of us allowed the struggles to improve our writing, while others struggled against changing it. (It’s fine, I did plenty of both.) If we are being evaluated purely on grades, then I am super nervous about my final grade. Sure we could have written better papers or written the papers more than 24 hours before the due date, but as far as I could tell, all of us did the best we could with the time we had. I have this hope that even when professors say final grades are solely based on the grades made throughout the semester, they will take into account the great effort it took to get as far as the end of the semester.

What happens if my best isn’t good enough? What if my best gets me a grade I think is poor? I despise grades because I have allowed them to dictate my self-esteem. (Yes, I know I need to take my own advice, especially when I just posted a couple days ago on how grades are arbitrary.) This issue is nothing recent. It’s been going on at least since middle school. For me, if I don’t get an A, there’s always something more I could have done. No other grade will suffice. I wasn’t expecting this class to be easy. However, I confess, being a rhetoric major, that I was hoping this class would be just a good way to practice writing, but wouldn’t involve a ton of effort on my part. It became a class that challenged me in a lot of ways because Foley pushed me to change my writing for the better. I hate change, so you can imagine my difficulties. But I think Foley did that for all of us—pushed us to become better writers. Don’t get me wrong, it certainly wasn’t a walk in the park for me. But if you don’t challenge yourself, how do you expect to get better? At anything? So, Foley, we all know you have a heart and I know you saw how much we struggled and how much effort we put into this class. Not that you owe me any favors, but if you wouldn’t base your evaluations solely on the grades we made throughout the semester, that would be great. Remember the sweat, blood, and tears from your faithful HP students. Please? 

Audience and grammar (yes, again)

The most important part of writing is the audience. The type of audience you have will dictate everything about your paper, including grammar. The way you get your audience to trust you is by making them see that you are one of them and that you understand what they’re going through or their experiences. You don’t want to sound condescending to people who might not understand your topic, nor do you want to sound unintelligent to an audience of experts. You have to be able to adapt. Considering audience always makes me think of the movie, Erin Brockovich. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. It’s basically about a single mother who begins working for a small law firm and stumbles over what will become a class action law suit against a water company who was poisoning its water on purpose. Erin has to go to this small town to get people to sign consent forms and she succeeds because she makes the townspeople feel like she is one of them, not some hoity-toity lawyer from the city. Erin isn’t exactly good at adapting, though, but she identified with her main audience and that allowed her to succeed. 

Erin wasn’t the sharpest crayon in the box, but she knew how to relate to her audience. I am a stickler for the rules because I like order. Before this class, I thought grammar was the best way to convey my ethos to my audience. Now I know my audience directs how I reveal my ethos. Grammar is a side note, an extra piece that may or may not be beneficial. It’s difficult for me to change my thinking once I have evidence that a certain way works. But this information has made my writing stronger and has proved to me that my way is not necessarily the best way.

Advice

The majority of my advice to next semester’s students would be about Foley. There was some talk of her not teaching this class, though, so the advice I would be giving would be irrelevant. 

That being said, I’m going to attempt to throw out a list that could be applied to many situations, not just this class. 

1. Your first paper will be your hardest because not only do you have to actually write the damn thing, but also you have no idea what your professor is looking for in a paper or how s/he expects the paper to be written. I have two pieces of advice to remedy the anxiety that might come with the first paper: first, try to find things your professor has written and read them. Often times, you’ll notice a pattern or certain style your professor has and that can dictate how you write your papers. Second, write a draft and then go talk to your professor about it. If you are willing to make the effort, most professors will not turn you away empty handed.

2. If you are struggling or don’t understand something, always go talk to your professor ASAP. S/he will help you, even if s/he seems like a really scary person. This advice is certainly not true across the board, but most of the people who teach here (even the super scary ones) remember what it was like to be a student and overwhelmed.

3. Don’t wait until the end of the semester to talk to your professors. There won’t be much they can do at that point. They are more willing to help you the more willing you are to help yourself. You will also be able to develop a student-professor relationship that will help with things like letters of recommendation and if you need help with research or a job. They have good connections and can usually direct you to where you need to go.

4. Make friends with your peers. It will make the class more far more enjoyable and interesting. You can never tell how those people will change you or your perspective. It’s awesome.

5. Grades are important, but they are not a reflection of you personally. They are an arbitrary assignment of letters and numbers that have nothing to do with who you are. Don’t let them dictate your self-esteem because doing so is perilous. There is far more to you than simply your grades.

Okay so I’ve been meaning to talk about this for a while and since I’ve been mentioned by name in at least two posts, I guess I should get on it.

I will concede that Hitler knew exactly what he was doing. He said all the right things that would make the German people feel justified in exterminating those not of the “chosen race”. Kenneth Burke, who wrote about Hitler’s Mein Kampf (trans. My Battle), named the specific strategies Hitler employed in persuading the masses. A good summary can be found here. I know it’s from Wikipedia and I know you’re probably not going to take the time to read it, but it’s worth it and it will give you a better idea of why Hitler was so successful.

On the other hand, I refuse to agree that Hitler was a genius, rhetorical or otherwise. Anyone who was smart enough to figure out how the audience (the Germans) was feeling could have done exactly what Hitler did. The fact that no one else did makes it seem like Hitler was awesome at rhetoric. I’m not saying anything about his character because that is a completely separate thing from his rhetoric. What I want people to realize is that Hitler was shameless. His goal from the beginning was world domination and he was going to stop at nothing to achieve it. He just didn’t let everyone know all at once. He wanted to keep the crazy in until he had Germany under his thumb. That’s why Mein Kampf was such a huge deal—it revealed his hunger for power. Unfortunately no one except Churchill actually read it, so no one except Churchill knew what Hitler was actually after. 

Prof. Roberts-Miller said in my class that a lot of people see rhetoric as having an idea and getting that idea into others’ heads. It’s one speaker with lots of listeners and all the listeners eventually agree with the speaker. (This type of rhetoric is called asymmetric/instrumentalist discourse. The goal is to gain the audience’s compliance.) Hitler was fantastic at this type of rhetoric. However, he was horrible at deliberation, which is discourse where the better argument is supposed to win. Deliberation is far more effective than instrumentalist discourse because your audience is not always going to agree with what you think and someone might have a better idea. If we would engage in deliberation, which requires an open mind, we could make more beneficial decisions and constantly be discovering better ways to do things. The reason why Hitler was so terrible at deliberation is because he never believed he was wrong and he was never willing to admit he made a mistake.

Hitler believed in the triumph of the will, even against concrete materials and resources and information. He believed that because he wanted world domination so badly, it would just happen, even though his armies were running out of food, clothing, and warm weather, and even though his generals kept telling him that his tactics were failing. I think Hitler knew how to get people to agree with him, but once people tried to suggest better ideas, he shut them down because he didn’t believe in deliberation. That he wouldn’t deliberate became his downfall. Hitler knew how to use rhetoric to a point, I will grant you that. Yet I can’t help but think that if he were so great at rhetoric, why did he fail so miserably?

Rhetoric requires an open mind and the ability to change our minds. The world is constantly changing around us and if we don’t keep up, we are bound to fail like Hitler did. I know not everyone in this class would consider themselves a writer, but with the capacity to have an open mind and the power to change it, you are well on your way to becoming a better writer and a more informed member of society.

I realize the way I reacted in class was pretty intense. I’m like that, especially when I can’t say what I mean. That’s why I like writing so much. I can edit and edit and edit and get super precise with my words and meanings. The point is I felt like I couldn’t say what I meant and everyone else was convinced of Hitler’s genius (or so it seemed to me), so I just shut up. Not the greatest plan, but that’s how I usually react. Anyway, this video I posted is a comedian, Eddie Izzard, doing a bit about Hitler. Izzard’s language is a little harsh, but it’s enjoyable. You really only need to watch the first three minutes or so, but this guy is hilarious. Also, he’s a cross dresser. 

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