I believe the topic behind my two experiment cycles this far has been trying to understand myself in different spaces and what my identity exactly is as a junior at U of M. For my first two experiences I used genres that required me dissecting my personal experiences through writing. However, for my third experiment I am going in with the goal of writing about the identity discovery experience of a different college student.
I decided the third genre I want to practice is an interview based article. I think I will gain a lot of perspective through understanding the challenges with identity someone else in a very different space is having throughout college. I feel this will give me perspective on my own identity challenges and struggles.
From the article I pasted above I learned that it is very important that interview based articles have a main focus and go beyond just surface information. One of the biggest tips it gives for conducting the interview is that you don’t just write the answers down physically but also utilize a voice recording, so you can utilize every detail when you go back to analyze the interview. It then recommends that after you review your transcript you narrow in on what the focus is of you article and pick the relevant details/information from there.
I think when considering my interview I want someone not involved in similar social organizations on campus. Additionally, I want them to have different challenges in regard to their ethnicity, skin color, sexuality, etc. I am hoping through my interview to discover some identity challenges that I take for granted and never have to think about.
Right now I am not sure who to go about finding this person to interview. There are definitely different pros/cons of knowing who I interview.
I have always hated research papers. Always. Throughout high school I bullshitted my way through every research paper I wrote, rarely ever concluding anything worthwhile or unique. Once I even wrote a 15 page research paper in one day and got an A. That’s either an insane skill or my teacher was just oblivious to how little effort I actually put into the assignment. Either way, research papers were, and still are, the enemy.
But you know what they say: keep your enemies close. So, I guess that means I’ll take a stab at a research paper for this experiment (Ha, get it? Stab the enemy?).
But, in all seriousness, for every high school research paper I wrote, I was missing a crucial component: research. Research for a topic, no matter how simple it is, cannot all be collected and analyzed in a day’s time. When I did this, I undoubtedly compiled a couple of worthwhile sources, but definitely did not find multiple perspectives in order to deduce anything significant. So, after my K-12 education plus my short time at college, I have decided that research is indeed important for a research paper. Who would’ve thought?
Research papers usually have a few more consistencies, regardless of topic, such as:
An abstract, or a summary of research project
An introduction, with a clear purpose
Including a thesis statement, usually at the end of the introduction
Body paragraphs, with a strong argument, a stronger argument, and a strongest argument, accompanied by in-text citations
Including a review of the literature and how it supports the claims
A conclusion and/or discussion, with a summary of the arguments and how they connect to deduce a significant claim
A call for further research, when there is a need to delve into a topic further
A bibliography, to cite the sources used
Looking at aspects other than formatting, research papers often have a professional, formal tone in order to appeal to the norms of academic works. Often, they work off of already existing research and are a stepping stone for research in the future.
The following examples, while differing in topics, all include the components of a research paper stated above, and I plan on using these as templates for my own work:
My research paper for experiment two will focus on the effects of heartbreak on mental and physical health. Many people think of a break up as something that you just have to get over, but, coupled with depression and other health effects, it isn’t as easy as it seems. I hope to call attention to this phenomenon as a stressor for health, rather than a simple hiccup in one’s personal life. I hope to build on my diary entries from experiment one which tried to highlight this, but lacked the research to back-up my claims in any significant manner.
And, yes. I promise to put more effort into this research paper than the ones I wrote in high school.
Last year as a sophomore, my view of cinema was greatly transformed. The film theory classes I took introduced me to radical new ideas that changed the way I looked at and felt about every movie I had ever seen. For me as a common film viewer, before I had even decided to go into the major, this was pretty revolutionary as you can imagine.
The new idea that stuck with me the most was a movement known as neorealism, a style of filmmaking that strived to be as real as possible, a narrative documentary of sorts. The movement died down during the early fifties but I could’t help but wonder how the movement influenced films of today, if there are any shared characteristics or even a possible resurgence brewing. I want to explore this question further and will be using this backdrop for my repurposing project.
Turns out, I am not the only one who has been more than a little curious about the legacy of neorealism, and some major news publications such as The Washington Post and The New York Times have discussed how recent indie flicks are strikingly similar to the mid-century movement. These articles explain how young directors and their low budget films are shaping the market, utilizing on-set shooting, untrained actors, and realistic non fantastical scenarios to make their films hyper realistic and relatable. Reminiscent of what defined classic neorealism, perhaps the movement isn’t completely extinct after all…
I began with a research paper analyzing the Substantive Due Process and the Undue Burden Standard within two cases: Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey. I wanted to repurpose this paper because there has been significant debate in the news as to whether or not the country should publically defund Planned Parenthood. I personally and am staunchly pro-choice and an avid supporter of Planned Parenthood, so I knew immediately that I wanted to dig into this topic and explore it in a new way. While I did discuss my opinion in my research paper, it is very technical about certain means of the legislature and the Supreme Court. Thus, I wanted to explore the topic in a more creative way. Then a few weeks ago, I signed up for a feminist newsletter written Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner, two of my personal heroes and women I sincerely look up to. They sent out one newsletter entitled “#AskYourMother” in which after re-capping the many discussions going on in our government about defunding Planned Parenthood, they recounted two stories about their own mothers’ experiences before Roe v Wade. First I will write a brief opinion-article type discussion about the current political climate, and how defunding Planned Parenthood could affect women across the country in very serious ways. Then, I will collect personal stories from women across age groups, to recount personal stories about women who have had abortions and how these experiences have affected their lives.
The lenny letter genre is what I largely want to base my repurposing project off of as I think it is both informative and has an element of creativity and storytelling within. However, I want my piece to have an element that is similar to an opinion article that might appear in the opinion section of a publication like the New York Times. To do so, I will have to do more research on the potential government shut down as well as the short term and long term implications of defunding Planned Parenthood. This New York times article is an example of some of the types of research I will have to do to write this section. For one, I will have to continue to familiarize myself with all of the bills intend to avert a government shut down, and all of the major political players who are currently at the center of this debate.
I hope that the combination of both a journalist perspective and a few personal stories will help my audience understand the importance of the issue, and will allow readers to both increase their knowledge about the debate, and form a personal connection to the stories I plan on telling in order to come to a deeper emotional understanding of what it means to defund Planned Parenthood, or even to overturn Roe v Wade.
Last year, I had the opportunity to write a feature about the captain of the women’s basketball team. The feature is sectioned off into six different “mini stories,” and the first and last one focus on how timing can change everything. I want to explore the topic of timing more by gathering examples of athletes making split-second decisions, and I also want to research the thought processes behind these decisions.
Here’s an excerpt from my project proposal: “For this project, I want to focus on the idea of “the whims of fate.” Many life events, especially in sports, depend on split-second decisions. Following that split-second decision, things can either unravel dreadfully quick or come together unimaginably well. I want to explore the topic of timing and human character because life requires people to make decisions that will change the course of their lives. Specifically, I want to focus on sports. These life-changing moments are exemplified in sports with buzzer-beaters, Hail Marys, and overtime shootouts. In the most important second of the game, will an athlete sink or swim?”
The abstract stresses the importance of making the right decision in sports: “At the elite level, coaches and athletes appear to consistently make good decisions in situations that are highly temporally constrained.” I don’t want my paper to be this scientific throughout, but it might be interesting to focus on basic science for a portion of the project. I’m considering it more now that I’ve read some research behind it.
Another form of media I saw that could help are Sports Illustrated’s Brain on Sports Podcasts: “ ‘This is Your Brain on Sports’ is a new podcast from Sports Illustrated in which SI executive editor Jon Wertheim and Tufts University psychology professor Sam Sommers explore the intersection of sports and human nature—what the world of sports has to teach us about who we are, what we care about and the forces that shape our behavior.”
Because I can see an article on the topic I’m focusing on being published in Sports Illustrated, I enjoyed seeing that podcasts focused on sports psychology come out every week. It’s not a “text,” but someone had to write out the topics professor Sam Sommers and editor Jon Wertheim discussed each week. Each podcast is about a half hour long and goes over a different topic within sports psychology.
I wrote an essay in my final year of high school about the role of technology in the genre high fantasy. In it, I explored how different authors dealt with the issue of a stagnant tech system in a world with a vast history. Some authors combined tech with magic, others did in fact come up with ways to use advanced tech within their stories, others explained lack of tech outright or decided to stick with the traditional medieval tech system found in the genre.
Writer Matthew Wuertz suggests that each sub-genre of fantasy, though important for defining the overall genre as a whole, can sometimes take away from the amount of stories for any one sub-genre. I bring this up, because Wuertz may be one of the people who find my short story experiment a bit controversial. Within his blog post on the topic, he defines high fantasy as traditional “storybook” literature. Though he recognizes the intriguing quality of other fantasy sub-genres, he encourages writers to stick with the traditional high fantasy sub-genre and to build a “steady flow of excellent writing”. Though, as a fan of the genre, I will agree with Wuertz that there is never too much high fantasy, I think I disagree with his greater point.
I think that everything needs a certain amount of experimentation to stay relevant in our modern attention-drifting world. Brandon Sanderson, the author of a few books I used in my original essay, is for the most part in agreement. Sanderson thinks the genre should become a bit more experimental, at least for the case of helping individual writers stand out, if not for the betterment of high fantasy as a whole.
The Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson is part of the way he’s accomplishing this. In my original essay, his work spanned over several of my exploratory categories. Mistborn was used as an example of an author explaining lack of technology within the story. Sanderson has a sequel series in the works, with his bridge book being Alloy of Law. This book is an interesting add to the genre. You would think that all books in a series we be the same genre for the sake of continuity, but Alloy of Law (though containing the same magic system as the Mistborn trilogy) is more akin to an American Western.
Sanderson is essentially stretching an exploration of how far he can stretch his genre over an entire series of novels–I hope to do a semblance of this over a series of pages. I think the length of a sing short story, as well as the limited amount of time I have to write it in, will pose serious constraints to what I am actually able to achieve while still trying to have a certain level of nuance in my writing. To be honest, I’m worried it may devolve into a bit of a caricature piece, which though potentially amusing is not where I want to go with this.
Both of the blogs I’ve sited have similar audiences (fans of the writers), but they arise from completely different exigencies. Wuertz wants people to stick to original conceptions of what high fantasy is so as to preserve it as a solid sub-genre. Sanderson is more discussing his own experience as an author and what he hopes to achieve from it by creating his own sort of sub-genre branching off from high fantasy. Both bring up valid points, and I really hope there is a way I can experiment via my short story and still have it considered as part of high fantasy. I don’t want to do anything so extreme as create my own genre just yet, but I do want to help high fantasy stay relevant as a sub-genre in an increasingly tech obsessed culture.
When it comes to establishing a sense of rhetoric with regard to my project topic, I am repurposing a previous argument I made regarding the lingering societal impacts that film can have on a given audience, particularly on the topic of race. I envision myself repurposing my arguments and opinions towards the impacts of the recent film The Butler, a flick I had understood to largely endorse negative racial thinking, while disregarding the political impacts of such ideology. To provide some context to my topic, the large majority of the plot of The Butler focuses on the real life story of the celebrated White House butler Eugene Allen, named Cecil Gaines in the film, who had served eight United States presidents over the course of three decades. In my continuing education at the University of Michigan, I came to this argument while researching the Civil Rights Movement during the course of my Communications 101 class sophomore year.
Generally, when developing the rhetorical situation around my topic, I found that the danger that The Butler delivers to a given audience can be found in how the main character Cecil, as a whole, is a man portrayed as being largely accepting of his social standing as a butler, against that of the White majority. The context of this topic, who I believe needs to hear this type of argument the most, would be the millennial audiences in our nation (born in the early 1980’s to the early 2000’s). Knowing how film can provide audiences with certain historical misconceptions on our nation’s history, I believe it is not only Hollywood that has had the capability to significantly alter viewpoints on race and civil rights, but also modern text.
When trying to find other rhetorical candidates I could link to my repurposing efforts, this past weekend I came across what I feel strongly to be a great resource in helping me understand my own rhetoric, in a historical context. As I found in my research so far, the text The Souls of Black Folk (1903) has stood the test of time as a fundamental window into African-American struggle for civil rights in the United States. The book takes the standpoint from the start that “the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line”, and the main focus of the novel was to characterize why African Americans should not need to be positioned to have to “beg for their civil rights” in the United States. The author W.E.B. Du Bois has the book split into various chapters that focus on his perspective and knowledge regarding what made 20th century America such a prime leader in reducing the human identities and dignities of African Americans, and what could potentially be done to solve these issues.
From what I have found within The Souls of Black Folk thus far, Du Bois goes on to provide a host of rhetoric relating to the shortcomings in the works of famous African American advisor and educator Booker T. Washington, and how Washington’s role as a national civil rights leader played out. Du Bois was significantly weary of Mr. Washington mainly in relation to how Washington stressed that African Americans should currently give up the following: 1. Political power, 2. Insistence on civil rights, 3. Higher education of Negro youth. Du Bois did not understand where these three proposals had merit, due to how increasing civil inferiorities would inevitably take place, only furthering the disenfranchisement of blacks in America. African American education and suffrage were what Du Bois dreamed most of, and Du Bois believed Washington was leading a movement that focused away from such things, in the present. The Souls of Black Folk will prove to be an excellent resource in not only developing my own sense of rhetorical situation within the context of my arguments, but also in understanding the lasting impacts of our nation’s civil rights leaders. The problem of 20th century America was indeed the problem of the color line, a distinct deviation in political and social rights based on race. As a closing thought, when developing my own sense of rhetoric in this repurposing project, I would also like to stress, and never forget, that the world should never be a place where one would need to struggle greatly for the same rights that belong inherently to all of mankind.
In the entirety of my writing career, the one genre that I have excelled in first and foremost would be the stereotypical academic essay. Whether it was compare and contrast, a research paper, or the standard 5 paragraph essay, I had no trouble writing one in under a few hours. This changed, however, when I had my first English class in college. Despite the few assignments we had, the format was vastly different from what I was originally used to. Ranging from memoirs to short stories, I struggled in the class initially, but was excited by the challenge. As I am writing this now as part of the Writing 220 class, the idea of changing one piece that I have written into a completely new one is very intimidating. While I have a wealth of academic essays at my disposal to repurpose, I feel as though doing so would limit me as a writer. I want to branch out with my writing and understand what it is like throughout all genres; that is why I signed up for the minor. As a result of this, I want to repurpose a memoir that I have written in college. The one that I have chosen is one detailing my brother and our relationship through his sickness, and I want to transform this into a satirical informational video that informs others about said sickness. In order to better understand how to tackle this repurposing challenge, I needed to do research on other genres that handle similar topics.
One unconventional website that I visited to analyze this topic was buzzfeed, which may seem odd considering the nature of my memoir. However, when I saw an article labeled 21 things only people living with a health problem know, I realized the value that this website had for me and my project. While this topic and similar content is generally avoided on such a website, I can better understand how to do my project by heavily analyzing this website. Buzzfeed generally panders to young adults, so I can better understand how to appeal to such an audience in my project. The style of writing is also something I plan to take note of while doing my project, as the linguistics utilized in a blog really do help create a connection with the audience. While some may argue that the buzzfeed’s writing style would detract from the nature of the topic, I would argue that it enhances it, as it allows a far greater usage of pathos than other genres would.
This poster regarding diabetes is another form of writing that I analyzed while doing research. One particular component that I focused on was the factual information presented in this poster; while it does discuss a serious topic, it presents it in a way that is entertaining to the viewer. I would say that this text is supposed to appeal to a wide audience, particularly to those who don’t mind a simplified version of the disease. This is crucial due to the fact that I need to simplify my understanding of ailments in order to appeal to a wide audience like this poster does. However, I need to make sure that I don’t reduce the content too greatly as to not be informative; I still want to leave my audience feeling as if they learned something after the video.
Overall, researching various mediums helped me analyze the best components of each, thus allowing me the possibility of integrating them all into my project. I hope that by doing this, I can achieve the goal that I have set out to fulfill in this class; expanding my writing horizon and obtaining a far greater understanding of each type of genre.
My repurposing project falls under the category of investigative journalism. What I love about this genre is that there are a lot of ways to approach it, and a multitude of ways to build ethos, pathos, and logos.
One of my favorite investigative journalists/authors, Malcolm Gladwell, wrote an article titled Big and Bad that I thought utilized some particularly effective rhetorical strategies. In his text, he explored the topic of the history of SUVs and automotive safety in America. He wove in historical facts and quotes from interviews with experts on the subject. Not only that, but he also visited an automobile-testing center and test-drove cars himself. By involving himself in the process of automotive-testing, he essentially wove himself into the narrative and was able to establish ethos very effectively.
Another piece of investigative journalism that I particularly admired was How I Rebuilt Tinder And Discovered The Shameful Secret Of Attraction, by Anne Helen Petersen. What she essentially did was recreated tinder by posting images of various people, asked people to swipe based on attraction, and then give their reasoning for why they swiped the way they did. I thought this was an incredibly creative way of approaching her topic on general attraction. She described her experimental setup clearly, stated the stats from the experiment, and then analyzed her results in a fascinating narrative.
These examples pose really fascinating options for me to approach my own investigative piece. As people say, the sky’s the limit.
Honestly, I feel inspired. Calling writers everywhere: Find a creative method to construct your argument.
When deciding what paper to use for my repurposing project, I struggled a bit. Naturally, my first thought was to repurpose one of my papers from the 5 Communications courses I’ve taken since coming to Michigan. However, most of those papers were solely made up of my analyzation of different pieces of media, and none of them were interesting enough for me to pursue for an entire semester. I finally decided to repurpose a paper from one of my favorite courses I’ve taken at Michigan, it was my freshman year seminar entitled, “Language and Humor.” The paper I chose to repurpose focused around the comedy in being overweight, but for the purpose of my project I’ve decided to examine humor more broadly. While my original piece focused on factors (weight) and how that influenced the effect of humor, my repurposing project will focus on how humor influences different parts of my generation’s life.
In examining different genres discussing my topic, I focus on two very different publications. The first being a respected magazine, TIME and the second being what I plan on modeling my repurposing project after, the millennial-focused, blogging-style, digital publication: Elite Daily. Both of these drastically different genres have pieces that discuss my topic of interest in very different ways. Looking first to the TIME magazine article entitled, “Why the Funniest People Are Sometimes the Saddest” the article profiles the struggles of Robin Williams, and it discusses the darkness he dealt with, and how that darkness made him a great comedian. This article was published right after his death, and it’s exigence is pretty clear in that it was the perfect way to explain to the public why it would seem that someone so “happy” could do something so dark and depressing. The article itself isn’t confusing or condescending. It doesn’t use fancy psychological terms, or address things most people wouldn’t understand. It’s very digestible, and seems like it genuinely wants to try to address how comedy comes from darkness, thus providing some explanation for Williams’s actions. That being said, the audience is far-reaching and pretty general, it could be anyone from the age of 12-70+ who wants to understand more about the psychology of comedians or who was perhaps a fan of Williams.
Looking at a drastically different genre, Elite Daily published an article entitled, “9 Reasons Why You Should Date a Girl Who Makes You Laugh.” The article provides a listicle of 9 reasons, based off of the experience and opinion of the author, of which he describes why men should date girls who make them laugh. This type of genre is much different from the TIME profile in that it includes the author’s experience, so the author’s voice is entirely present. The exigence for this article is based off of the idea that this publication was created as they refer to themselves, “the voice for generation Y.” It provides a spot for millenials to better understand themselves. In order to understand aspects of dating life, this article gives the targeted audience a perfect way to relate and further understand their wants and needs in relationships.
After looking at these two drastically different publications, I’ve realized that I can go a couple of routes with my repurposing project. That being said, I’ve chosen to go with Elite Daily, but the way I’ve chosen to do it encompasses more than just listicles based off of my personal experience. I’ve decided to compose articles based off of the site, but for two different sections, “Life” and “Dating.” In the “Life” section, many of the articles address issues that require research and background, while in the “Dating” section, it’s mostly personal experience and experience of others in the author’s life. Because I’ve decided to write pieces dealing with humor for both sections, I feel I’ll be able to paint a more comprehensive view of the Elite Daily publication, as well as examine humor from both the psychological perspective and the more personal perspective.