Repurposing Augustine

The whole concept of “repurposing” honestly confuses me just a little; let’s face it, there are just too many possibilities….not to mention too many essays to sort through. Finally I found an essay that immediately sparked my interest, and connected back to a topic that is very personal to me, one I could discuss literally all day.

I am repurposing an essay entitled “The Universal Autobiography,” which I wrote for Great Books II in April of 2012. It was based on my favorite book, Confessions by Saint Augustine. My thesis went something like this-

Augustine writes about the specific experiences that led him to convert to Catholicism. His specific memories put his book in an autobiographical context; however, he incorporates quotes from the Bible and manipulates them to turn his own experiences into universal truths that the reader can in turn apply to their own spiritual journey.

I focused on this at the time because I could relate to his hesitancy to assimilate to any one religion, and I, as the thesis suggests, truly did see the book as a guide. This book taught me more about God than 9 years of Catholic school had. Since then, I have gone through my own experiences that have both brought me closer and farther away from God and have led me to explore the philosophy of religion for myself, so that I can make educated decisions. So many believe that questioning religion is blasphemous; however, I believe that not questioning or exploring it is disrespectful to the actual complexity of any given religion and its long history and evolution.A Great Books essay was obviously not the place to discuss this more personal issue in depth.

Basically, I could not make this essay as personally relevant as I wished. I found various connections with other philosophical works, such Plato’s Republic, C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, and Dante’s Paradiso. The connections between all of these works have heavily influenced my own beliefs, and by writing about their effects on me, as well as my own spiritual progression, I will create a new purpose that is more easily accessible to a young audience who is not necessarily learned in philosophy and such.

One specific example of how I will meet this new repurposing goal is by including snippets from my own journal and reflections on Saint Augustine to hopefully provide a more modern and journal-like take on the book. Last year, I also repurposed one of Kanye’s songs (yes, for a class project-not in my free time) and created a blog about the lyric writing process for Political Theory. The topic was again, Saint Augustine, but this time I wrote about his theory on war. Since this is kind of quirky, I was hoping to find a way to include some verses in my essay. The only problem is that political theory may be difficult to connect to religion. Anyway, as you may have been able to tell, I like Augustine.

 

Curzan’s Perspective of Grammar

Anne Curzan’s piece about the rules of grammar intertwined two worlds that I previously thought were separate – spoken language and writing. In the past, I have taken courses that aim to identify different types of speech among different types of people and how these styles of talking identify different types of class, race, and culture. Until I read this piece, I had never thought about this in terms of writing.

The point that stood out to me the most? People hold a certain form of language as the most appropriate and socially acceptable. But why? Curzan makes a point of discussing the difference between “shouldn’t” and “ain’t”. “Shouldn’t” is JUST as grammatical as “ain’t”, however the latter is perceived as lower class. This also leads me to ponder why written language and grammar morph more slowly than spoken words. Traditional grammar is, in some ways, hurting cultures and labeling them as less intelligent and incapable of being taken seriously.

BUT. People who comprehend language that doesn’t match the traditional writing standards as incompetent don’t realize that this is the language that is reaching the most people and having a huge impact on society. For example, Macklemore definitely doesn’t utilize grammar that society has deemed as correct, but his words and ideas are expressed in a way that many more people can relate to than a governmental article about why gay marriage is acceptable. Curzan’s strategies of tying together writing and spoken language, and the gap between the two, was captivating and definitely made me think about why grammar isn’t changing with spoken language.

 

“Making a Case for Rhetorical Grammar”

Through her words and style, Laura Micciche brought to light the power of rhetorical writing. While it bothered me when I first began to read the excerpt, her use of rhetoric language and examples led me to a greater understanding of the power (or lack of) grammatical structures. This leads me to speak for the main points that I took away from Micciche’s words.

1.    Learning grammar and learning writing are not the same

Some of the most influential pieces of creative writing, from To Kill a Mockingbird to 1984 to Shakespeare’s poetry, do not follow what is known as correct grammar. Writing is about relaying a message in a way that connects to an audience, not about using perfect communication. To learn grammar is to learn fear of making mistakes. To learn to write is to explore creative means of expression.

2.    Rhetorical grammar provides writers with more adequate and relatable ways to express thoughts and teaches critical thinking skills

To write rhetorically is to think rhetorically. How can you get readers to understand what you are saying? How can you communicate your thoughts?

3.   Grammar competency is 100% socially constructed

Having perfect grammar does not make you a good writer. To a certain extent, it does not even make your words effective. Proper grammar gives you a status academically and socially. It’s reflective of being an upper class, intelligent person. However, the smartest writers are those who can communicate with everyone.

I’ll Repurpose This: You Don’t Go, Girl!

The paper I am going to repurpose was called, Throwing Like a Girl in 2012 and I originally wrote it for my political science class. In the paper, I told the story of a young girl in a small town that joined the football team. I wrote about the challenges she faced going against a social norm and the ridicule faced from society and her teammates. Especially for the assignment, I wrote about how the dis-encouragement to work hard from her teammates hinders her success particularly for being a girl in a man’s sport.

I want to repurpose this paper because I see a lot of potential to do something else with it than when it was assigned. I have learned so much about females breaking down barriers and how what I have come to know about women in business, the home and sports is now impacting me growing up. My idea to repurpose this paper is to actually turn the story personal.

My current paper has no voice of my own in it. It simply summarizes the New York Times article on the girl and includes to political science theory about the effects of discrimination on female development.  My repurposing idea is to turn this into more of my own story about being a female in the 21st century. In a reflective, longer, Internet savvy kind of perspective, I want to write about how I grew up playing with the boys. My friends and I had no fear of playing rugby at recess or playing girls versus boys varsity soccer in high school. Instead, my own dis-encouragement has come along in college when I’ve taken classes about females in sports and economics and seen the numbers that are standing in my way. My specific example is from my gender and econ class where we learned that the payoff for extra education for women actually does not have the expected payoff—a huge dis-encouragement for a student in college!!

Basically, I want to turn this objective paper into a personal one and maybe find my own encouragement to get through the disincentives to succeed and break through, just like the little girl football player.

Toward a Composing Model of Reading Notes

This article was focused on how the reader and the writer go through a lot of the same practices and stages as they conduct their activities. The author talks about how from a reader creates meaning by using background and experiences to understand what the writer is conveying. The writer also does this, but the writers objective is to generate ideas and filter through drafts. This way, the writer and reader are both steering each other towards a common goal.

I also enjoyed the part about how objectives assist readers. If a reader has an objective before he or she writes, they will recall more info than if he or she were just reading without any clear goal. The reader can do this through visualizing, which is a form of alignment which is equivalent to eye-witnessing. Through this practice the reader makes himself of herself more like the writer and they work together to reach their conclusions. Even if the reader and writer are from different continents and have never met, visualizing allows them both to see and feel the same thing.

Lastly, the author talks about negotiating meaning. The “inner reader” is reactive, and reacts to past, present, and future text. This point was really interesting to me because I’ve never thought of an inner reader voice. I’ll have to explore this more when I am reading for class and for pleasure.

Rhetorical Reading

Understanding rhetorical reading is more difficult to break down and understand than it seems. In this article, the research and explanation is extensive. It focuses on more than just the material, but knowledge and context behind it.

The understanding that we receive from reading a text is a combination of the meaning in the words and our outside experiences and context.

Additionally, included in a reader’s reading of a text should be the author’s intention, the purpose and who the author intended on reading the piece.

This type of reading allows for a more in-depth understanding of what is in the text, gaining more knowledge or analysis from the piece. Rhetorical reading is something that seems easy enough, but many times it can be easy to skim over the material, get the main point and forget about the author entirely.

Thinking about the author as the reader is important in itself. But by understanding this process of rhetorical reading, it inspires the concept of considering this when writing. Maybe in order to be a better rhetorical reader, writing is a good place to start.

Understanding Rhetorical Grammar

Although this article was pretty dry, I found that it brought up several interesting points. I’m a huge grammar dork, so I’m entirely in support of increased importance placed on teaching grammar in schools. However, Micciche looks at the importance of learning and understanding grammar in a way that vastly outdoes my “because you don’t want to sound stupid” logic. Here are a few key points:

1) Grammar says much more about us as writers than we think it does. Micciche writes, “The grammatical choices we make…represent relations between writers and the world they live in. Word choice and sentence structure are an expression of the way we attend to the words of others, the way we position ourselves in relation to others. In this sense, writing involves cognitive skills at the level of idea development and at the sentence level” (719). I thought this point was really thought-provoking, particularly because of how grammar feels like more of a burden than a mode of expression. I especially liked that Micciche references Didion’s “Why I Write” piece and how she compares grammar and its effects to changing the angle of a camera.

2) Analyzing other texts for grammatical manipulation can be sort of fun. Micciche describes in her second main section of the essay that she requires students to keep what she calls a “commonplace book” in one of her courses. In the commonplace book, students are required to record passages and critically analyze them for at least one grammatical device, so as to get to know the effects of grammar and recognize them more quickly. I know (from personal experience) that one of the last things I look at when analyzing someone else’s work is how their grammar functions to further their argument. Through repetition in a commonplace book, I’m sure it would be much easier to pick up on how grammar is at work within a piece and ultimately make rhetorical grammar a more commonly recognized feature in a text.

3) GRAMMAR IS EVERYTHING. As she’s wrapping up her argument and broadening things out to a “bigger picture” lens, Micciche says, “By looking at practices of representation in various discursive forms, cultural studies methodologies tell us something about the way desires are fabricated and reproduced in order to construct certain kinds of subjects. Rhetorical grammar analysis can work in concert with these goals by making available to students a vocabulary for thinking through the specificity of words and grammatical choices, the work they do in the production of an idea of culture and an idea of a people” (731). I really enjoyed how she connected the analysis of rhetorical grammar to cultural studies. It really drove home the importance that she places on everyone learning how to properly analyze and critique grammar.

I think that this article has been helpful in terms of me looking at my own writing because it will encourage me to contemplate my own grammatical choices rather than just overall argumentative construction. I know for a fact that I rarely consider the way things like sentence structure and word choice can help to manipulate my argument even further. In addition, I’ll be able to provide more constructive feedback for classmates by analyzing their work for deeper, rhetorically grammatical meanings.

 

Keith Grant-Davie’s Piece on Rhetoric

If you’ve glanced at all at the other posts about Keith Grant-Davie, you’ll know that not unlike his name, the article is heavy. It felt almost like a tongue twister and a mind melter trying to sift through everything he was trying to say. I think it was mostly confusing because he kept quoting and name dropping while also adding in his own arguments.

Nonetheless, here are the top 3 key points I think are important about his analysis of the rhetor and rhetoric:

1. “Writers who know how to analyze these situations have a better method of examining causality. They have a stronger basis for making composing decisions and are better able, as readers, to understand the decisions other writers have made.”

– Here I think it’s great that he summarizes exactly why you should even care about rhetoric analysis. If you know more about rhetoric, and in turn causality, you will basically be a better writer. He says it in a lot more words, but you should keep reading his article if you want to be a better writer and reader. He also wraps up the conclusion by saying that teaching student readers and writers to analyze rhetorical situations helps them to find their style and their role in the writing world.

2. “the four constituents I see in rhetorical situations: exigence, rhetors, audiences, and constraints”

– Keith Grant-Davie believes there are four rhetorical situations and while he goes deeper into all of them for the rest of the paper, what is key is that these are the ones that exist to him. You should know that these four are what he believes create the situation or add to the situation of a piece of writing. (I’m not sure if it was just me, but I had to Google what exigence meant…) Either way, he makes a pretty compelling argument for why he believes each constituent is important and convinces me at least.

3. “The rhetor’s sense of exigence, when communicated successfully to the audience, can become a positive constraint, a factor that helps move the audience toward the rhetor’s position.”

– This one’s the kicker. He just threw all four constituents into one sentence. It doesn’t get more clear than this. Through all of his jumbled jargon and quotes and analysis, this is the one sentence that combines it all. He wants us to care because the point of (most) writing is to get someone else to care about something you care about or to convey some sort of feeling, message, policy, etc. When it comes to being a convincing writer, he displays, quite literally with this sentence, that all four constituents matter.

—Sorry this was so long.

Re-purposing project thoughts

So as I get into this semester a little more, I feel like I am at the brink of actually knowing what I want to do with my  life.  Combined with this class, my history class, and my plans to study abroad next semester, I feel I am headed in some kind of direction at this point. I have found that I am really interested in travel and despite my recent urges to push that aside as a hobby, I have realized that I want it to be much more than that for me. What I really love to do is inspire and I hope with my re-purposing piece that I am able to offer some kind of inspiration to my desired audience.

I think some of my best ideas happen when I am restlessly awake at 3 am after work or just another night when I have a lot on my mind. It is these times that I can see things a little more clearly and even as I am writing this, I find myself chalk full of inspiration. It was last night that my re-purposing project really struck me. I have always been a helpless romantic. I tell my friends often that I am disgusted by the thought of Romance, dates, flowers, and flattery in general. This is probably why I leave all my romantic thoughts to reading, so others don’t know how much I truly love it. The story of Tristan and Iseult, Cleopatra and Atony, Romeo and Juliet- they have all been love affairs that have deeply resonated with me. To me the great romances of time are these fantastic stories of true bliss.

For my re-purposing article, I wanted to push myself a little and try to write a human interest piece for a magazine. I have never written for a student publication before, so this is quite out of my element. I am hoping to have a few friends read the final piece to see if they would actually be interested in it if found in Cosmo or some other young  women’s magazine.

Authority: Penrose and Geisler

Some key points I could pick out from the article all related back to the idea of authority in writing-hence the title.

What I really found interesting was the authors point on insiders and outsiders writing a paper. I thought this was the main point in exploring how to effectively research and communicate an argument for a writer. In terms of  Janet’s writing versus Roger’s, the most important difference they mentioned was that Janet was writing from an outside point of view- observing the idea of paternalism- and Roger was exploring his own ideas by fighting and questioning his own ideas on the topic.

Another point I found interesting and important was the idea of thought process of the writer. I really thought this study showed so interesting and important step in the writing process. When they spoke about Janet’s thought process on the tape recorder, it really struck me how much she seemed to cover up her thought process in her paper by emitting this back and forth that she went with herself in order to agree or disagree with the two contrasting ideas. Roger, in his more in depth and insider thinking, was able to use his disagreement and confusion about the true definition and morality of paternalism. He did not blindly agree with anyone but used specific evidence to back up his own argument.

With this idea, the article addressed the importance of evidence and the facts in research. Both of the writers used research to verify their points, but Janet used hers more as a means to verify the facts. Her essay derived mostly from the idea that facts were absolute and that each case study she mentioned served solely to verify that the statement and arguments of other authors was valid. She doesn’t even go into detail on these case studies and provides over 20 of them. Roger, in contrast, used far less case studies and took great deal to describe how each one applied to his own ideas on paternalism.

For me, this piece really resonated with me, because I often have trouble with research papers and allowing myself to give myself a voice behind other author’s research. This is also particularly helpful for me when I begin my research papers for my history classes. I found the idea of quality and not quantity in sources makes a huge difference to the reader and can strengthen your argument. What I also really liked was the advice for people that might not be a doctor in a field to believe that there was an  opportunity for a new authority and new interpretation; you must believe that you can make an impact and people will believe you if you want to write a paper like this.