Reflection

Initially when the course began I did not think there was much I wanted to expand or improve upon in terms of my writing. As my first response may have indicated I felt relatively prepared for this course. I am not saying that in the span of a few months  I have reached an epiphany and come to realize that I should completely alter my writing style or anything tremendously drastic, but I do recognize that certain aspects for my writing can be improved. In addition, I have identified some weak points in my writing and learned some useful rhetorical tools that will unquestionably improve my writing ability.

Reading for content is a skill that is vital to successfully understanding a text, in textbooks this skill is not utilized too often because it is factual but in this class key information is weaved in with similes, metaphors and examples. If this course has taught me one thing it is that the way the author presents an argument is directly correlated to how it is perceived and understood. Evidence, organization and writing styles vary between authors, the topics and the types of audience to which they appeal. My ability to better understand the types of arguments and rhetorical tools used by others has encouraged me to re-evaluate my own, I now try to incorporate a broader spectrum of rhetorical devices which I feel will help me grow as a writer.

In terms of revising I have not really changed the way I edit my papers, but more so I focus on slightly different things when editing. Prior to this class, as I said in Response 1, I put my focus more on grammatical errors and word choice however; I now realize that the overall organization of the paper is what is most important. Although what I write is coherent for the most part, proper organization helps to best get my point across. So my main focus now is to better organize my of my analysis’ and arguments. On another note, writing my paper in a way that will best suit an audience is thin line for me. I do not want to make my comments or analysis too simple so that others can readily understand them, but at the same time I do not want to alienate the audience by making this too contrived and infusing too much of my personal opinion and ideologies. I don’t consider my course of thinking as a negative thing in anyway, if anything I think it shows how much consideration a put towards the audience. I am positive that once I find a good balance between everything mentioned my writing will only improve further.

Sometimes the best decisions are the ones made on the spot. Flexibility is a key component to the writing process. Previously, whenever I wrote anything I always tried to construct everything as if it was a puzzle or as if everything had to be organized in an precise order. Even prior to this course knew that this was a weakness of mine, but this course has given me the opportunity to work on writing in a more flexible way. What I mean by this is that I recognize that the order in which I write things isn’t necessarily the most effective way to get my point across. A draft is a draft for a reason, it is designed to toyed with and be altered if necessary. As I recall for project two I had all the ideas I wanted to touch on in the paper, but with my English instructor’s constructive criticism I realized the need to bring in more effective examples to better support the claims I was making about the media trying the “sell” people certain lifestyles. As the course went on I find myself mixing around my paragraphs and allowing myself to change my initial ideas to serve my overall purpose.

Research plays a key role in bettering on argument, when executed correctly it adds a significant amount of support to claims being made. Therefore, being able to research efficiently and effectively is an important skill to have because it those facts and figures allow for the proper establishment of my personal ethos. Honestly, I feel of all aspects in regards to my writing this particular skill has changed the least because I still research in the same way or at least a very similar way as to when I started. Personally, I do feel that I am a relatively effective researcher and that the quotes I bring in directly correlate to the whatever issue I am discussing. I am also able to identify that although a quote maybe good, that was does not mean it has any importance to the paper, such as the following exert, “Every city faces problems, and more often than not the problems existing in a city can be found in all cities, such as in the case of blight. G.E. Breger notes, “…the city has ever been a paradox of splendor and squalor. Unmatched in magnificence among works of human endeavor, the city is also the site of appalling human misery, disorder, and decay. Much that is urban is indeed dismal and devoid of urbanity, and reproachfully odious to man. This which man would dispel form the city has come to be called urban blight” (Breger 369)” (Project 2). This was a quote that I  tried to work into my project four, but for some reason no matter how hard I tried I found myself writing around the quote rather than having the quote fit naturally into my paper. So I realized that as much as I loved the quote it just did not work within context of my paper. With the all the editing practice I’ve had throughout the class I have come to see that just because I like a quote, or a statement I make, if it isn’t effective in supporting my claims then it needs to be taken out.

The methods I use for research have evolved a bit from throughout this course but it can also be accredited to all the research I’ve had to do in other courses as well. Before I always tried to incorporate books into my papers, because I thought they would help better establish my ethos, but now I am aware that there are many academic sources available online. In addition, prior to this course I had never heard of Google Scholar, which is a shame because it is useful tool and helps filter out some of junk that sometimes appears in regular searches. Overall, I can honestly say that for almost every paper I’ve written during winter semester nine out ten have been based upon research found through online databases. The databases are easy to use on the more concise, whereas with books searching is more challenging because I have to skim one by one through each to see if they contain any information that pertains to my topic. Of all the databases I’ve use this year, JSTOR and Google Scholar have become the two most integral databases I use for research.

Context is vital to truly understand content. How a claim or agreement came about, who it applies to why the question is important, all of these things must be taken into consideration when reading or analyzing anything. Our class definitely hit on a lot of the tools or “tricks” used by a number of authors to get us to accept their arguments and I find it interesting to learn how they play the game. Because it gives us an idea on how we as writers should format our writings so that we can pull off the same things they do. In regards to using all the tools effectively I think I have a long way to go before things like, enthymemes, fallacies and satire flow naturally into my writing. However, that is the goal and hopefully sometimes soon these things will come more naturally.

Writing styles vary from one to another, the methods and tools used in different content vary as well. The course has allowed exposed me to a number of key moves that can be used to make arguments more effective, some of which I was unfamiliar with, while others I used in my writing unknowingly. One of my personal favorite rhetoric tools I’ve learned to better utilize is exigence, which is when a topic, action, idea, problem and so on bring about the need for communication. One example in which I brought in exgience, “Again, we see here that the problem of combat blight isn’t so much about a lack of action, but a result of many bureaucratic agencies acting against each other. They all view blight differently and believe in different courses of action. It is clear that in order for any true progress to be made, the people and all levels of government must cooperate in order to change the city for the common good” (Project 4). I don’t directly come our and say that we needs to communicate with the government to get things done, but it is implied and often times ideas have more of effect when people come to the conclusion themselves. Writing arguments is about having impact on an audience and persuading them to act, and I consider leading toward the answer, rather than giving them the answer is the most effective build-up toward a proposal.

Lastly, the most important factor to having a successful argument is having had an accurate analysis of the idea, topic or term. Analyses should give the audience a clear understanding of what the item being analyzed is about, and how it relates to them. My first attempt at analyzing was a Smirnoff featuring socialite Amber Rose, first of all a gave the overall meaning and purpose of the video, “Smirnoff’s commercial for their new flavored vodka, features Amber Rose: a high-profile American model, actress and socialite. She is shown enjoying two different types of Smirnoff vodka, Fluffed Marshmallow and Whipped Cream; however, both scenes have the same main point: drinking Smirnoff’s flavored vodka is tasty and fun. In both cases Amber Rose is shown in extravagant clothing at wild over the top parties. She is enjoying herself and living a superfluous life. Using an idol like Amber Rose establishes ethos, or creditability, because a socialite like herself is surely credited with knowing first-hand what an extravagant lifestyle is like. Vodka in this case is a shown as a source of her happiness, and therefore, viewers are encouraged to go out and buy this vodka because it is worth it. Happiness is just a bottle away it would appear. Lifestyles and happiness can be bought by anyone nowadays, as long as they are willing to pay the price”. I then bring in my analysis of the effects this has on an audience, “Unfortunately, a number of people’s mindsets and morals have become corrupt to the point where some honestly, look up to the types of individuals I mentioned above. Though this is not to generalize and say that everyone is equally swayed or if at all swayed by the standard of living set by highly paid business men and entertainment stars. A large number of people, however, are affected by the propaganda put out by advertising companies. The audience’s vulnerability towards marketing ploys is based largely off of society and its views on the standards of living. Society has long been on the path of superficiality and materialism, and it has had very adverse effects on society. Our undeniable craving for material goods and luxurious lifestyles makes us susceptible to the ploys of marketing companies everywhere…As people who thirst after status, wealth and entertainment we are susceptible to influences of people and products that promise us the world. After a close analysis of the Smirnoff it is clear that the ad capitalizes on and promotes the audiences sensual and material desires, exploiting them in order to sell their product and the lifestyle associated with it.”(Project 1). In this analysis it can be seen that I began to understand the need to bring in large complex ideas to explain the underlying persuasive techniques used by advertisement companies.

The second analysis our class did dealt with analyzing someone else’s fully developed argument. In my case it was analyzing Chuck Klotserman’s Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, in which he examines some of the pitfalls of pop culture. Throughout the paper I analysis each argument, further breaking them down to their core purpose. I concluded the paper with main points of both my paper and Klosternman’s book, “Society has a multitude of downfalls, some of which are discussed in Klosterman’s Manifesto, Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs for example the misconception of how power plays into relationships, the alterations of the truth, the loss of individuality and identity for the sake of conformity. A relative flaw with Klosterman’s book us that though it discusses a number of important issues it does not offer any proposal or solutions to these problems, which is one reason why it seems to fall sort in terms of being a manifesto. The author’s intention seems to focus more on enlightening the masses and encouraging them to become socially aware. In addition, though Klosterman pokes fun at a number of irregularities in society but he does not take a firm side on every, if any, of the issues instead he keeps himself somewhat detached as if to not directly influence the audience with his bias. The only concrete stance he takes is that he is just as guilty as everyone else in terms of contributing to the social and perhaps moral downturns of society. After all he concludes his book with this quote: “I’m hoping all those nuns were right: I’m angling for purgatory, and I’m angling hard” (243). In end Klosterman’s goal is to have us all recognize that society has many issues and we all contribute to them, it is important that we accept the fact that we’re not all that different and that we all share the blame for society’s social decline. It is this level of honestly and directness that allow the book to be effectively raw and insightful. Klosterman’s book tells it like it is. It is essentially all his claims and “truths” about society completely uncensored.” (Project 2). Personally, this is definitely one of favorite concluding paragraphs. It is clear and understandable, but it also shows a understanding of complex ideas and makes valid claims as to the flaws of Klosterman’s argument. Going from project one to project two it clear that my ability to breakdown ideas and arguments have unquestionably improved.

Overall, this semester I feel I’ve strengthened my writing ability because I now write more consciously. Meaning before I often unintentional did certain moves without knowing why I did them, let alone what they were called. Now, however, I better understand what I’m doing when I write an argument, why I do certain moves, how to better play up my strengths and minimize my mistakes and fallacies. So I honestly say, for me, it has been a pretty successful semester.

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