Attempted Intro and Research Synthesis– I’ve got a ways to go…

How eye-opening. Trying to write an introduction after what seems like barely any research or interviews was painful. It felt wrong and maybe a little selfish, but I don’t think it was totally horrible.

The inspiration from my project stemmed from the “Why I Write” piece in the Minor’s Gateway course. I wanted to include it, or at least some of my ideas from that paper, into the introduction.

Here are some of the questions that I’m struggling with when it comes to getting started and including myself in this series of stories about small town people transitioning to big schools:

  • Is it selfish to include myself in my series of narratives?
  • Should I let my readers know that its me?
  • Should my “Why I Write” be my introduction or my story at the end?
  • In the introduction, should I introduce what will happen throughout the series of stories (e.g. You’ve heard my story, now hear the stories of others students who have…etc.) or just let them figure it out?
  • I’m planning on including photos into my narratives. Should I place them throughout the stories or give them a separate space to tell their own stories?
  • Should I include a more academic portion in the beginning (rather than a narrative portion) to set readers up about the disparities of SES and low-income families at big universities?

Okay, sorry. Lots of questions I guess. I have some time to think about it, but I really need to get my interviews all set up for the week or two weeks after spring break. There is still so much research to do. I’m dying to get in contact with someone from the Comprehensive Studies Program (CSP) to be my consultant, mentor, person, etc. But I recently heard about a program called Wolverine Pathways that helps kids from low-achieving towns get accepted to colleges. Unfortunatley, I’m not sure that this program completely correlates

Other than mentorship and interviews, I really need to look more into the intersectionality between SES and small towns. Because, let’s take a good look around Ypsilanti and Detroit, big schools or neighborhoods are not directly correlated to big income. I’ll be so interested to see how the two of these things intersect, and how they play into (or don’t play into) the transitions of my interviewees.

Something that is always so prevelant in my mind is how much money students spend here. Whether it’s on food or drinks or clothing or the amount of Ubers they take, students here have money. Coming from a family with far less than an investment banker’s or doctor’s income, I know that my class has affected the way that I interact with other students. I’m interested to see studies surrounding this, but also if this has played a role in the lives of other small town students during their time at Michigan.

Over spring break, I’m hoping to read another book by Chuck Klosterman (one of my two patronuses (??)); his work heavily revolves around abstract narratives and adopting the voice of a certain time, place, and culture. This will be huge for me during my project, as I’m aiming to take the voice of those that I’m interviewing.

Okay, off to do a disgusting amount of laundry and pack every bottle of sunscreen I own into a backpack! Enjoy spring break everybody.

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face” (Draft Development)

I guess I’ll start in a completely “original” fashion by describing my project (but who knows? It may be helpful if anyone outside of our class fancies reading this post or I wouldn’t blame anyone for simply forgetting what my topic is). For my Capstone project I have decided to do a podcast interview with my incredible teammates about our experiences as women boxers and being in a sport traditionally dominated by men. I also decided for context reasons I would introduce the podcast with a timeline about the history of boxing for those who are unfamiliar. My thought process is that history will provide context and perhaps strike interest for those will little to no knowledge about boxing. My research was not necessarily genre based as I haven’t honed in on specific podcasts I want to use as models, but I listen to podcasts fairly regularly so I’m not concerned on finding genre specific models at the moment. However, my research hunt in the past few weeks has turned up some extremely content rich sources. For example, here’s a sample of some of the facts I’ve discovered about the history of boxing:

  • 4000 BC: Historical evidence indicates that boxing may have originated in Northern Africa around this time. The sport also spread to Roman and Grecian cultures. In Rome, the sport was utilized for entertainment of the upper class and often the matches occurred between slaves or prisoners with the winner earning their freedom. These bouts were often fought to the death.

  • 1743: Jack Boughton from Britain established the first set of rules for boxing after he killed one of his opponents in the ring. He is known as “The Father of Boxing”.
  • 1908: American Jack Johnson became the first black heavyweight champion and this created a lot of controversy. Many white boxers refused to take fights against black boxers. Racial discrimination in the boxing world was rampant well into the 20th century. Jack Johnson was harassed so frequently during his reign as champion, he was forced out of the United States.

  • 1936: American fighter Joe Louis was knocked out in the 12th round of a fight against Germany’s Max Schmeling. The next year Joe Louis won the heavyweight championship against James Braddock, but refused to declare himself a champion until a rematch with Schmeling. The rematch was seen as a confrontation between the US and Nazi Germany, with Louis representing African Americans and Schmeling representing Aryan culture. Even Hitler and President Roosevelt themselves made statements prior to the fight. Joe Louis knocked out Schmeling in the first round creating a pivotal moment for black athletes in the US.

  • 1993: Women are allowed to fight at an amatuer boxing level for the first time and after many discrimination lawsuits against USA boxing in the 1970s and 80s.


These are simply 5 of the amazing stories I discovered after reading up on the extensive history of the sport of boxing. I, myself, a superfan of the sport did not even know boxing dated back to 4000 BC. I also knew women were not allowed to box until the 20th century but I didn’t realize the official date was as late as 1993 for amatuer boxing. I think this raises questions and concerns about how the sport’s man-centric origin impacts women in the sport today, which is why my next part of the project will be an investigation, an extensive look into how myself and my female teammates have experienced the sport. Topics in the podcast will include how others perceive us as women boxers, our favorite moments or memories of the sport, what makes us passionate about boxing, and probably most importantly, how we view ourselves and claim our identities as fighters.

I think since conducting my historical research for the timeline, I’ve been wondering if the manner in which boxing was established (as being a show of manliness, of bravery, a demonstration of a man’s ability to be strong and tough) has something to do with why women are not as respected as men in the sport. Everything about the sport goes against the traditional idea of a woman: a homemaker, a caregiver, a lover. Being a fighter contradicts the idea of traditional femininity in every aspect. A woman who fights is someone who makes herself known and makes her punches known even more so. But why is it that a woman who fights cannot also be viewed as someone who can  love or care? Why can a man claim to love fighting but when a woman asserts the same thing she’s seen as socially unacceptable, repulsive, or violent? Is our world so divided?

Now I just need to design the timeline for the history of boxing because that will serve as my project introduction. I’ve already begun designing the layout and have 33 different moments in history I hope to include as well as a picture correlating with each major event. I think I can definitely have a solid draft by March 10th as I have already done most of the work. ((Also, March 10th is the day I get to see my all-time hero, the 77-1 record fighter, 2 time Olympic gold medalist, and first woman to headline a professional fight card, Claressa Shields fight live in Detroit – joke’s on you if you thought I’d get through one whole assignment without mentioning her or the fact I’m going to that fight (See picture of the queen below this paragraph)). However, I need to begin scheduling my interviews for the podcast. I’ve already talked to my three teammates I will interview and they’ve agreed to be a part of my project, but the next step is scheduling these interviews and eventually editing them into a hopefully relevant and entertaining podcast.

I am actually planning on reading two novels over spring break while on the beach written by my patronus, Carrie Fisher. I’ve just placed them in my suitcase. I think that even though her novels are not genre or content based models, I personally learn a lot from her style of narration and how strong her voice is in her writing. She is the image of charisma in my opinion. I want to use these novels to help me think about the narration styles I want to use via podcast. I want my voice to come through as well as the voices of my interviewees. I want to talk openly and maybe too honestly. I think, like Carrie Fisher’s novels, this feeling of earning the absolute disclosure of details will make the podcast feel relatable even if listeners have no experience in the sport of boxing. My biggest goal is for the podcast to be three things:  real, relatable, and entertaining.

Draft Development Mini Assignment

When I sat down to take a stab at drafting an introduction, I felt a little bit terrified, or underprepared, rather. It felt like nothing more informed than a narrowed or focused free-write. That’s okay, though. Shelley said that the introduction can and is supposed to be, as Lamott says, “a shitty first draft.” While I was conducting this free write—I mean—introduction, I began formulating several questions about my capstone project: How do I articulate my purpose? How can I introduce myself to my audience, if they don’t know me? How can I effectively explain how personal this work is for me—that it’s entangled into my every day life and every minute thoughts. But these doubts aren’t really doubts—that is much too harsh of a word. They’re gaps in my knowledge, or better yet, my research. I say better yet because a lapse in my research takes the onus off of my person and on to my actions or behavior leading up to this project. It’s not that I’m inherently unknowledgeable I’m just not quite well-read enough to begin. I didn’t know these holes were there, and to be quite honest I might not have never known without doing this exercise. I may as well sat down to do my introduction after spring break and been SOL; I would have panicked. But now that these gaps are visible, I can conduct the research that will serve as the caulk for these cracks.

Before I started my research (at all) I thought I couldn’t pull off a project so personal to me, and I thought I wouldn’t be able to pioneer the laypeople’s sociology movement. But after having done my research (I’m still not done) I see that I’m not alone. There are plenty of people who have organized their most personal thoughts into writing that is as humorous as it is insightful; as playful as it is sociopolitical. Take Caitlin Moran’s book for example. She states, “Feminism is too important to be discussed only by academics.” Right there—that line—that is strikingly similar to my unarticulated mission statement. And it takes me close to conveying my purpose. Writers like Caitlin Moran nudge me closer and closer to being able to write a satisfying introduction. Thus, I must research more work that has the same effect on me as hers does.

That said, I still “need to know” how these people have written their introductions or author’s n
otes. In other words, how did they convey their personality (who they are) so that people could fully grasp the humor in their work? Which means I need to study more comical pieces. So for instance maybe taking a glance at David Sedaris’s openings. Or glancing at comedy writers pieces at the New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker or BuzzFeed. I need to get a better grip on my tone—and how I can express it in a way that is aligned with my purpose. Does that make sense? Basically, my tone is my brand, and my brand has an affinity with my purpose. Therefore my purpose and my tone are not mutually exclusive so finding a work that is confident in their brand/tone will inform the other aspects of my rhetorical situation. And I’ll definitely be able to read some funny articles in time for my March 10th submission!

Cue the entrance of Joan Didion, my patronus. She’s not the Tina Fey I might need, but she has such a strong style—such a strong tone—that allows her to have become a strong brand. People want to buy her brand; people want to consumer her products (aka read her books). I can’t quite mimic the conventions of her tone. But I can be inspired by where it has taken her as a writer—she is so unapologetically herself.

Blog Roundtable 2: Draft Development Mini-Assignment

Prompt #7: Narrative Perspective and Voice

In about 200 words, narrate an important moment from the past: narrate it as if you are the age you were then, in the moment, and in present tense. Try to capture the diction and the rhythms of language of your younger self. 2) Then take another 200 words and reflect on the experience from the age you are now, using all the powers of language you possess to make sense of that experience. After trying this, what do you notice about the difference in voice between these two paragraphs? Imagine them sequentially–do they work together?

1) “I hate this job. And next summer, my internship with be 100x better than this. I’m making myself that promise right now,” I think, making barely audible mumbling at my tiny, dusty desk at Camp Shane. I type away, making blogs, social media posts, and chipping away at the take home manual.

I’m kind of sweaty, even though I haven’t moved much since breakfast. I can’t begin to imagine what the campers are going through right now. From Zumba class to soccer to dance to spin, I see them huffing and puffing across the dead grass each hour. Every once in a while, I get to follow them, snapping pictures for our Instagram page, but today I think I’ll just sit. Today, I’ll hide in the back room, sneaking sips of Diet Coke from me and my fellow interns’ two liter that we keep hidden in an old desk drawer.

“Why don’t you go grab the mail?” says Mary from across our small office space. She’s my boss, and a good one at that, so I head outside to the mailbox. The hill was outrageous to reach the top, and the box only yielded bills and a couple of fitness magazines.

2) I remember sitting at my tiny wooden desk, dust covering the phone, computer, and my chair. Each day I told myself that I’d never come back as an intern, never in a million years. I would spend my lunch breaks writing lists of all the companies that I would apply to for the following summer, while I sipped tiny cups of the Diet Coke that my fellow intern, Beini, and I had hidden away in an old cupboard in the IT room.

Working at at weight loss camp was painful. The temptations of the Dunkin’Donut drive-thru screamed my name whenever I ran an errand in town. But the Diet Coke was my vice. Anyways, it didn’t really feel right to eat donuts and drink sweet coffee, when all of the kids around me had, what seemed like, nothing but black beans and arugula.

The guilt of my secret snacks wasn’t too much though; daily, I huffed up and down a huge hill to get the mail for my boss, Mary. She would always suggest that I go grab it whenever I looked like my head was about to explode if one more angry, concerned, or overly-excited parent was on the other end of the phone.

3) The second part of this exercise was a lot easier for me. First off, I’m horrible with tenses. I can write narratives well, but not so much in the past tense. My voice, while somewhat the same, is a little more genuine in the second paragraph. I felt like I was trying too hard with all of the inner dialogue and whatnot in the first part.

This will be a huge challenge for me in this project, as I’ll be not only writing narratives in the past tense, but I’ll also be adopting the voice of those that I’m interviewing. I might have to try this exercise again, but using someone else’s story to push myself in the right direction of my project.

Blog Roundtable 2 (Sorry about the Trump references)

Addressing Opposites (That Might Not Actually Be Opposites)

Both Nick and Maddy chose the mini assignment that dealt with defining terms that were important to their projects. Interestingly, in order to successfully complete their assignments, they chose to define terms that were considered “opposite” to the focus of their projects. From our discussion of their assignments, we realized that is equally as important to understand what your project is as what it is not. This also helped us to realize that definitions can be confining, especially when you are talking about a group of people (in these cases: conservatives and women on campus). Sometimes, avoiding labels helps to formulate a better understanding of an issue.

Research: Very very Important

Although Kennedy and Allison chose different mini assignment, they both ultimately reached the same conclusion that research is vital to the success of their projects. This might seem obvious seeing as that the capstone project requires research, however research is a component that cannot be understated. Kennedy showed us the importance of thinking about outside examples in relation to our own projects when she discussed the film, “Moonlight.” Allison’s work helped us to understand that seeking specific statistics that further your own points is limiting, and instead it is more beneficial to let outside sources influence your work naturally.

Final Thoughts: It’s Actually Not Funny

During our discussion, our group came to the realization that all four of us are tackling deeply frustrating topics with our projects: feminism, racism, and politics. We felt that most people believed that they had a general understanding of the subjects we are addressing, but that this is far from the truth. Those who are politically involved equate progressivism and liberalism, and believe that conservatism is the opposite. Not quite. We as students have accepted the “Michigan Man” as representing us as students, but have negated to understand the intricacies of gender politics on campus. Wrong. In an attempt to characterize womanhood as a collective identity, we ignore the intricacies of its embodiment as both raced and classed. And lastly, we assume that female athletes who make it in the media or hold executive positions in the sport industry are treated equally. Nope. Unfortunately, Title IX does not apply to everything either. Sorry.

Blog Roundtable 2

We all chose different mini-assignments to complete but we all noticed common themes amongst all of the pieces we chose to complete. They all were important to laying foundational work in our projects and helping to organize our thoughts and feelings and how we can focus on specific word choices and concepts to guide us towards our final product. And in making these relatively small decisions helped to make much larger steps towards completing the projects as a whole.

Tyler’s Mini-Assignment

Tyler chose to complete the “Barn Exercise” and his piece looks at how a different perspectives can drastically change the way that we view even a physical part of the world like a barn. We may think description of something as neutral and non-controversial as this being static or fixed no matter who is looking at it. Just looking at this piece however we can see that this is not true. Our own feelings and emotions not just about that object but about the world in general can color the way that we describe and view the scene or object and our descriptions can differ greatly because of this.

Takeaways for Our Projects

  • This is an idea that applies to each of our writing. We are all trying to make a point, however which way we’re going about it. Emily is thinking through the effect of words on politics that have global consequences, Maddie is considering the future of science, and Tyler is exploring his identity. Any great argument has considered the other side, has premeditated any possible confounding points. The side by side comparison of the barn scene is a great reminder to know your audience. Our project is not a one-(wo)man show – the audience will be there to finish it off.

Emily’s Mini Assignment

Emily chose to expand on the definition of “danger.” Specifically, danger in Chimamanda Adichie’s use in The Danger of a Single Story. This assignment wanted us to challenge the assumed confines of a word definition and see how writing through a concept might lead to great ideas. Each project has a few keywords that define its purpose and direction. Specifically, Emily found more of a purpose for her project by thinking about how important this concept actually is to it. It also relates to our notecard activity. Which select few words did we choose to write down? How might we expand those? By writing through the word danger, Emily realized just how integral discussing its implications is in defining her project.

Takeaways for Our Projects

  • Before we try and write an entire paper around a single topic we should take the time to clearly define for ourselves what we think of that topic so we don’t confuse ourselves and our audience partway through by shifting our definition
  • Trying to define a word also forces us to make distinctions about what the word is not as well and helps to decide what words we will use for specific related but subtly different concepts in our paper

Maddie’s Mini-Assignment

Maddie chose the Branching assignment. She compiled notes and quotations from handouts we have read through out the semester and created a flow chart, while drawing connections between themes. She began with the concept of generous listening and the idea that we should habitualize our openness to new ideas and ambiguities in language, or in other words “to make the practice of recognizing the unconventional conventional.” This idea then spread to other ideas on the importance of establishing routines and practices, the downfalls of expertise and power of ignorance, the value of wonder and curiosity, and the idea that everything we create is an assimilation of our experiences.

Unlike Emily and Tyler’s assignments, her’s does not directly relate to the topic of word choice, however, it does touch on the idea that we as readers, writers, and human beings communicating with others in our every day lives,  should be open to subjectivities in language. We should practice the the skill of picking up on subtleties in language. Behind Tyler’s barn story is a man who lost his son or someone in love. Emily explored the meaning of a single word, danger. Words hold great meaning that might go undetected if we are not practicing this attentiveness to language.

Takeaways for Our Projects

  • The process of mapping can be a great tool for organizing your project mentally to see the relationships that already exist within your mind between different aspects and components of your project
  • It can reveal where ideas need more development or where further research is needed by where you want to create a connection but are unable to do so
  • It can also help show how you want your audience to navigate your train of thought and could thus inform some of the structure and composition of your argument

For Blog Roundtable 2: The Story of the Circle of Life

I’m going to see the musical The Lion King with my sister this weekend at the Detroit Opera House. The Lion King almost certainly won’t make it into my project, but I was thinking about it and thought I’d take a few minutes to analyze how the bare story elements of the musical might help me in my project. Perhaps as I’m watching it, I’ll be paying attention to what about the story is so intriguing. Is it powerful because of one of the themes, such as “The Circle of Life,” that illustrates that things (families, regimes, organizations) go on throughout time, no matter how much they may evolve? Might I simulate that with the story of some group that has proceeded even after the demise or retirement of a central figure, such as a teacher, coach or even a U.S. president? Or is the story powerful because of the conflict between good and evil forces Simba and Scar, and the ultimate triumph of the former? Maybe I could tell a similar story about a similar battle that I’ve seen play out? Perhaps the story appeals to people because of the strength of family. In that case, I could tell a story about family, around which so many stories are structured.

Maybe in the end, the story is meaningful for any one of these reasons to all different people: those who have dealt with trying to be the successor to an important throne; those who have rooted for good over evil; those who are close to their families. Maybe each story captivates a different person in a different way. I had already associated this as part of my project, and I think it’s something worth exploring in-depth. When I listen to and read the advice of the writers I’m going to consult, the main question I want to think about is how to make these decisions. How would Eli Saslow’s (my Patronus) piece on the parents of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting been different if he had centered it around the reform effort, or revisited the day of the shooting more, or profiled several families as opposed to focusing the narrative on one? And why didn’t he? I think any story lends itself to several different perspectives, and the fact that each person could take something different for that adds importance to the value of thinking about how we tell these stories.

Blog Round Thing That You Sit At Two

The Power of Short Words

Here we like to learn. Here we like to prove. Here we like to win, dream, and walk to class with buds in our ears and heads turned down. It is cold. We do not look up to see the boys and girls who walk past rushed–Those like us and those not like us. We do not like the boys and girls that we can’t make sense of. We hold hands with the boys and girls who wear the same coats as us. We live in isolating bubbles.

There are good things here too. Warm drinks warm hearts in shops that like to play New York. The sun breaks through the clouds. It makes the boys and girls come out to play. Buds spring up to bring joy. The grass says, “Lay in me.” We hold hands the same way we used to, but there are more of us now. The sun makes all the boys and girls look at more boys and girls and think of what it would be like to be those boys and girls who love and learn and dream in ways not like the ways we are used to.

I thank the sun for this. I thank God for this. I pray that we can pop the bubbles.

Blog Roundtable 1 – West Wing Weekly

I love Aaron Sorkin, so I really enjoyed hearing in this podcast about his writing process, and I’m hoping to hear your reactions to his thoughts. Three of Sorkin’s notes stick out most to me. He talks about the importance of writing something, anything, every day. This is a technique I’ve heard from other people, too, similar to reading. I’m wondering whether you are able to do this. If so, what kinds of topics/styles do you write every day, and do you ever have trouble finding the time to do it? Sorkin talks about how he tries to write every day even when he has time off—I also like how he breaks down his schedule. What is your style like? Do you outline thoroughly before you start, or do you jump in and write a full piece all the way through, or do you start writing and then organize your thoughts for a bit? Along those lines, Sorkin made the comment that it’s much better to be on page 2 then on page 0 (I can’t remember the exact quote). This is something that I identify with, because the toughest part about writing for me is definitely starting. I really struggle to write anything unless I think I have something that will stick, which I know is not usually the right approach. How do you both attack writing when you’re just starting out with something? I’ve been thinking about lots of these subjects over the past few days, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of them.