Project Update

Hey guys! So I’m actually surprised that my project isn’t a total mess right now. I’ve been having a lot of issues with design for the most part, whereas I’m pretty confident with the content portion of the project.

One thing I’ve found with this project is that it’s really easy to sound corny when you’re putting your writing up on your site. My homepage is text based with color blocking, and one of the things that has been stressing me out the most is that I feel like some of the blocks of text and the emphases just seem cliche. I was told to make it look as I want it to read, but I feel like bolding and italicizing certain words has a corny connotation. Do you guys agree, or is this just something I’m making up in my head?

Tracking An Author

*I meant to post this last week but had it saved in my drafts accidentally*

To be completely honest, I’ve gotten a little bored of Tom Chatfield, so I decided to see if there were any authors on BBC Future, which has published some of Chatfield’s work, that would lead me somewhere interesting. I soon came across an article titled “The Female Code Breakers Who Were Left Out of History Books,” which caught my attention immediately. The article discussed the accomplishments of specific female codebreakers from the first and second world wars, but I was unfortunately ignorant of their existence. Some of the names were familiar, such as Ada Lovelace, but there were others that I had never come across, such as Elizebeth Smith, who helped catch some of Al Capone’s gang after WWI was over. Smith also helped catch Nazis trying to infiltrate the US via South America, the credit for which was taken by a man named Edgar J Hoover and the FBI.

Because I found this article so fascinating, I decided to look up the author, Chris Baraniuk. His website introduces him as a “freelance science & technology journalist,” and he has been published by outlets such as BBCThe Economist, and New Scientist. For next week, I will probably click around some of his articles and see if anything draws my attention in.


Trustworthy vs. Authoritative

I went searching for an article that was trustworthy but not authoritative and found one on the New York Times. The author, Michael Schill, is the president of the University of Oregon, which suggests that he is someone I should believe, but this article does not do a good job of convincing me of anything at all. I was ready to listen to what Schill had to say until he said “I have nothing against protest … But the tactic of silencing, which has been deployed repeatedly at universities around the country, only hurts these activists’ cause.” I’ve been reading articles by authors with similar stances fairly often recently, and it seems like they’re all just reiterating a weak argument. Schill also cannot accurately put himself in the shoes of the students at this school. He does not understand what it feels like to be silenced constantly like many minority students are, and he doesn’t feel the stresses of tuition hikes like students do.

This article from Teen Vogue is a good example of an instance where I respect the authority of the author despite the lack of “trustworthiness.” Teen Vogue is not considered a scholarly magazine, but the publication is actually one of the best around for young people. This article allows for the voice of 21 year old Tauheedah Shakur of Los Angeles, whose father was sent to prison for over a decade when she was 7 years old. There is a vicious cycle involving children with incarcerated parents and likelihood of the child getting involved in crime themselves or generally not being successful that I won’t delve into, but this cycle is the reason that these voices aren’t necessarily considered trustworthy. Shakur has had to deal with a lot more than many other college students, and yet it is more likely that people will read and trust an article by a classmate of hers whose father has helped them get impressive jobs rather than her own writing.

Following An Author

When I went to Literati for this class, I picked up a copy of The New Philosopher, which essentially is a periodical filled with philosophy related articles, essays, and art work. While reading this edition, I decided to read the cover article which was titled “Fake News,” and I decided that I would expand my reading list by tracking the author, Tom Chatfield.

Chatfield’s website has links to different articles of his that have been published, so I decided I would start by reading one of those, an article for BBC Future entitled, “What Our Descendants Will Deplore About Us.” I have always thought about future generations and what our actions would do for or against them, so I figured that this would be a good article to read. One of the first statements in the article reads “no matter how benevolent the intention, what we assume is good, right or acceptable in society may change. From slavery to sexism, there’s plenty we find distasteful about the past. Yet while each generation congratulates itself for moving on from the darker days of its parents and ancestors, that can be a kind of myopia.” I thought that this point was really interesting because we often write off older people’s prejudices, like your 97 year old great-uncle thinking that your black boyfriend is inherently bad, for example, as just a difference in the way “society” works. This has always made me wonder what kinds of things people my age might say when we’re older will have the same type of reaction. He also goes on and discusses other issues such as climate change and nuclear weapons, which are two things that have the potential to cause a lot of damage to the world that our future generations will live in.

Tolentino and Small Staid

Jia Tolentino’s article for the New Yorker, “Mike Pence’s Marriage and the Beliefs That Keep Women From Power”, is an interesting critique on the way that Pence views women. The quote that caught my eye immediately was, “if he eats alone with a woman, that woman is Karen Pence.” She analyzes the fact that the Vice President of the United States uses his Evangelical Christian values as an excuse for seeing women only as a distraction or vice, rather than an equal. The most interesting aspect of this article is the fact that Tolentino was raised Southern Baptist, which is a point of view that is not assumed to be liberal. As far as intended audience, it is definitely not limited to left-leaning Southern Baptists, but moreso anyone who is reached by the New Yorker, which is a much larger audience. This is generally a more liberal audience, so readers may be more willing to read a piece criticizing a politician than people who support the current cabinet. I am definitely within the intended audience; I love to read about the implications of politicians’ lifestyle so if someone shared this article on Facebook, I would at least skim through it.

The article I read by Mairead Small Staid is entitled “Girl in a Country Song,” referencing the country song that the piece is based on. It starts as a review of a popular song but then turns into an analysis on the gender inequalities of country music. The most specific audience would be feminists who listen to country music, which is way too narrow for someone to actually publish. Because of this, I would guess that the intended audience is more open to anyone interested in the topics of music and social commentary. I think that I am within the intended audience, but closer to the outskirts because I am generally not likely to click on an article about country music if there is no indication of social commentary.


(I apologize for this being so late, I had it written but then realized that I never actually posted it)


Hi everyone! My name is Anna and I’m currently a sophomore in LSA, but I am planning to transfer into the College of Engineering. I was born in Baltimore, Maryland and lived there my whole life until coming to Ann Arbor. I have always loved writing and music (I have been playing drums since I was 12 and singing since I was 14), but it wasn’t until high school that I really got comfortable in the STEM fields. The issue with majoring in a hard science like engineering is that you never have to write, so a lot of engineers lose that skill over time, and I want the Minor in Writing to help me to continue developing as a writer. Last year I was a part of the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program, which is how I found out about the minor, and I took some classes through that program that challenged me to write in different genres that never came up in high school. One of my assignments during the Fall semester was to write a review on an album, movie, or book, for example, which I had never gotten the opportunity to write in an academic setting.

It has always been hard for me to answer the question, “what is your favorite book”, but I can say without a doubt that A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, while it is technically considered an essay, is the piece of writing that I most want to emulate someday. The concept of writing in the “stream of consciousness” inspired me when I read it in senior year of high school, a time when I was writing countless college essays, wishing I could make them more interesting. I obviously am nowhere near mastering that style of writing, but it is definitely a dream of mine to be able to write something that contains so much wisdom without reading like the typical novel or memoir.