How “The Art of The Essay” Supports My Writing

This course is AMAZING. This course has, and continues to provide me with so much perspective and depth to my writing. From mechanics to prose, how I write narrative continues to be challenged daily, and I actually enjoy the challenge.

As writers, I think on a basic level we all understand that style is everything. It communicates so much, but mostly personality. When you read the work of an author, you’re able to get into his/her mind. On a basic level, this is the type of knowledge that I brought to the classroom. However, what this class is teaching me is depth, particularly how to have heart in my writing – but mostly  how to make the reader listen & anticipate my beat.

Often when we read over the prerequisites for courses, undergraduates often think – whether we say so or not – why can’t we just get to it? Why must we take all these (seemingly unnecessary) courses just to get what we want, which is the major/minor. But, taking this course, I get it. I get why Professor Gere, Professor Shelly Manis and so many others thought it necessary for  us (Writing Minors) to have this course be an option to the requirements that need to be fulfilled. They want us to have heart in our writing.

The Struggle of Democracy: Are Lives Being Won or Lives Being Lost?

Hey Blog Group!

Would you mind providing me with some feedback with this piece of writing?

 


When you are a child growing up in this country, you learn about American history in grade school. Often, you are taught to trust that historical events such as the African Slave-Trade, Japanese Concentration Camps, the lives lost in the Vietnam War, or the Holocaust stays in history, that they shaped who we were as a country—that they only live in our text books, and not in our own daily lives.  However, what happens when you learn that there are certain people in the world who, despite their hard work, determination, and ambition still find themselves, or the community that they’ve been advocating for at an institutional inequity, or at the margins of our American identity? Do you become spiteful and cynical, or do you continue to agitate, fight, or simply give up? These are the questions that I often consider when I think about this world and this nation when I reflect on our history, and our future.

 

When I think about the lives that have been lost this past century, but more  specifically this year with Trayvon Martin in Orlando, the slaughter of Shaima Al  Alawadi in El Cajon, California,  the killing of Masjid El-Haqq in Detroit,  the suicide of Phillip Parker in Tennessee, or the police shooting of Aiyana Stanley Jones, there seems to be a shared experience of tragedy complicated by identity, but no less themed by identity. When we consider the number of unresolved and continuous assaults of Muslim Americans post 9/11—the number of Muslim Americans who have felt persuaded to change their names that assumingly identify their ethnicity, or those who sometimes feel like Noor Ali, The Program Manager of Inter-Group Relations (IGR), whom sometimes feel unsafe to where her hijab in public, notwithstanding the remark recently by Najah Bazzy, founder of her non-profit,  Zaman International,  at the Muslim Students’ Association. According to Bazzy she often hopes that if she smiles to seemingly frightened passengers sharing a flight with her, that her “smile may become more obvious “ than her hijab. Experiences such as these mark it obvious that the level of morality that the people of this nation come to expect is shaped deeply by these narratives and experiences of disappointment and agitation for progress.  The deaths of Shaima and Trayvon for instance, highlight concurrent national discussions surrounding power over privilege, integration complicated by isolation, but in particular its double consciousness.

 

While America is often concerned about how its image of human progress, democracy, innovation, social advancement, human rights, and economic growth is seen around the world, this country struggles with realizing these goals for itself. There is a level of insecurity that is had by this country to tell the world of this challenge,  that is not seen in its eagerness to tell of its modernity.  Engaging with these understandings have been difficult and continuous. It is a question that is interesting and made curious because people, nations–traditionally developing nations—have turned to America to be an example of the social or governmental change they wish to see in their own country.  So far, the continuous activism of The Occupy Movement, and the current social protest and outcry heard surrounding Trayvon and Shaima’s death, assume that this nation is still looking to save itself, too.

 

 

So, what’s the difference between history and our reality? Is there a dirty truth to history that we don’t learn about in grade school? Has our world really changed since then, until now? How are such textbook publishers as McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Houghton Mifflin choosing to tell the stories that we as Americans remember, including to our children developing a national identity for the very first time, and to the world learning about who we are as a nation, and how we identify?

 

Well, currently, at a very early grade school children throughout the American education system, including patriots of this country, and our friends around the world, who we aid in times of economic blight and natural disaster, are being told a conflicting story that recent misfortunes contradict to be true: that the fight for equality and human progress has been won. The American Constitution is often being cited as proof of that achievement. However, the human tragedies of murder, slander, the marginalization of specific identities throughout our airports and in our neighborhoods, as well as the separation of our communities in this nation suppose that The Constitution should not be considered to tell of how glorious our nation is or how successful we are, but instead how far we have to go.

 

courtesy of Huffington Post

Re-Mediating Project Proposal

Description of repurposed project: I repurposed my project by changing the audience, and conducting research that would include historical evidence to make my claims stronger. I also drew on feminist writings by women of color so that I may enter a discussion about race highly informed and uniquely situated in my argument for gender and racial inclusivity.

 

Audience: Speaking directly to the White Community, and indirectly speaking to women of color with the message of recognition for their devotion to the American Dream.

 

Form: Akin to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous open letter to eight White clergymen from Alabama in a Birmingham jail, this letter is similar. This journalistic work is an original draft that would be appropriate for new media in a blogging form. This blog is having a direct conversation with Black women, but engages in an open conversation with the local community. This open letter explores the meaning and significance of race in the imagination of traditional American society.

 

New medium of re-purposed  proposal:Documentary Why that new medium is the best choice Provides a vivid interpretation of the argument I’m making for the needed acknowledgement for the historical relevance of women of color to this country in a rich, engaging way.

 

Proposed deliverables

• Get viewers conscious about the matters of women of color

• Assert an expectation that able-thinking people should be more critical about history

• Make clear of the relevance for women of color to this nation, and our world

• Be transparent about the conversations that communities of color have about their historical contributions to this country • Challenge viewers to think and rethink history, and what makes this nation “great.”

• Give context to the isolation and disengagement that this country has with women leaders from these communities

• Translate the contributions that women of color make to this nation in a way that makes it relatable to others

Getting Re- Energized

This spring break, I did a lot of reflection. I spent a lot of time thinking about this class actually. I was wondering, being curious about why I applied to this minor, why I want to be a writer, and why being such is important to me. The very activity I was doing made it clear to me why I wanted to be a writer in the first place, precisely because I am curious.

I have a lot of questions, especially when it comes to identity. I don’t have all the answers to such questions that pertains to American identity. For instance, why is there a distinction made between cultural and national citizenship? Or, even our sensitivity to the larger world–or lack thereof–though its extended to us from other parts of the globe. There seems to be an interest in American national politics in places like Mumbai or Nairobi, yet the only time we–as a nation–seem to care about global politics is when it affects our gas prices. That’s the only time it seems Americans take a personal interest in global politics. Why is that so?

Questions like these, along with others, such as the reason for “Third World Nations” poverty when many of them are rich in natural resources keep me inspired to not really be relevant as a writer, but have these questions illuminated in my writing. I want my audience, though they may not know the answers, to at least think about these issues. Perhaps when our nation becomes more curious about the larger world, we would be more conscious about our race relations with each other at home.

Being In Conversation With Brilliance

The common thread that I noticed across the three readings about Orwell, Didion, and Sullivan in their claim to write, was the inspiration that they all draw from the world around them. There seems to be a deep awareness and inspection of their surrounding environment that they source to critique, reflect, and describe their world. Orwell, Didion and Sullivan all involve themselves in this type of engagement. However, though their is an element of sameness, these writers uniquely express their affinity for the written word differently.
Sullivan is very new new-age and cosmpolitan. He uses a digital platform to create an immediacy of conversation between himself and his audience. He is always on call and responsive to his reader in this way. Arguably his blogsophere has created a more interactive medium with his audience. Orwell, is a more reflective writer, and perhaps is much more patient with himself. He doesn’t compete with the urgency of the needs of the world, which is different from  Sullivan. Stylistically, as a writer, Didion seems to be more willing to be vulnerable. She is admittedly less abstract and self describes herself as not being an intellectual. Nevertheless, she consistently gives  deep consideration for the social and cultural causes of the world around her.

If I put Orwell, Didion, and Sullivan’s readings in conversation with the reading I brought to class by W.E.B. Du Bois, I will find that  their styles are aligned. For instance, while W.E.B. Du Bois writings aren’t new age in terms of media, it certainly has a classical understanding to race and sociology that continues to be echoed today. As Manning Marable’s Autobiography of W.E.B. Du Bois will make clear, W.E.B. Du Bois is up front with his readers about why he find purpose in writing, which for him can be sourced to the historical impulse and political purpose that Orwell finds in his own writing.  The tone Du Bois writes with is as raw and onset as Didion’s. Du Bois is often very provocative in his explanation of race, culture and identity. He was so provocative that he died having more critics than he did fans.
My reason for choosing Du Bois was partially because I am overly fanatic about Du Bois’ teachings and philosophies, but I also because I wanted to see for myself how timeless his writing really is.

Writing With Authority

The reading that my group was assigned to was Writing With Authority. This article was insightful in that it spoke about different writing techniques, a few of which I could personally identify. After reading this article, I realized that my style varies depending on the intention of my writing. For instance, when I studied at LSE last year  I wrote more like Roger’s character, making a claim then putting that claim in conversation with other scholars and thinkers to find my independent opinion on the said claim or ideology that I was debating with. However, similar to Janet’s character,  I can also remember writing in less sophisticated terms in my coursework for my History course my sophomore year.
I remember not understanding what exactly my History professor expected of my writing when asked to write book reviews for his course. I had a similar challenge last semester with another History professor who wanted me to do precisely what Roger was good at doing, “…recognize that knowledge develops through conversation and debate by actively analyzing authors’ assumptions and motivations and the situations in which they work.”  Because I have so much difficulty implementing this technique in my academic courses, I would like to improve my own writing. I always find it a challenge to switch tones, from journalistic to academic.