Mine Class's Magnificent Residual Message

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From taking this class, I have learned the importance of starting a speech or essay with a good attention grabber and to keep that attention by using inventive, exciting wording and by relating the topic to the audience.  I can do this in creative ways such as through visualization, pathos, or asking a question.  I think gaining and keeping the attention of the audience is extremely important because it helps to get my point across and makes the audience actually want to listen to a memorable speech.

The World's Repatriation of Antiquities

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I think that the strengths of my essay were my strong language choice, the flow between ideas, and the amount of support and research in it.  This helped to make my argument easy to follow, interesting, and credible.

When composing this essay, the challenges I met were the flow of my paper and following the exact assignment--picking a policy, not the group that enacted the policy.  To fix the flow of the paper and make it easier to read and follow, I tried to tie each idea and sentence and paragraph to the next.  As for the policy, once I realized that I hadn't followed the prompt because I was talking about UNESCO's Intergovernmental Committee and not the policy specifically, I changed my wording slightly to make it more specifically about the policy that I had written about all along.

Our Technological Text Pandemic

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While I think that the world has greatly benefited from the technology boom of the last few decades, I do agree with Kakutani that our many uses of the internet and recent technology have hindered our society, made us impatient, and detracted from original or true meaning.  This problem has created a Western society characterized by ADD and deconstruction of original texts. 

The various informed experts mentioned in the review had the overall opinion that this new technology "impairs our ability to think deeply and creatively even as it improves our ability to multitask."  Today, there is so much information available to us on the "World Wide Web" that data, novels, discoveries, histories, and works of art are taken out of their contexts and are dredged up, out of the whirling, mixed stew of human creation, up to the searcher in portions severed from their frameworks, rather like parts of a human body without its head.  So much stripped and instant information at our fingertips has resulted in a fast-paced society typified by hard-core multi-tasking and pandemic ADD.  For example, every day I see students "doing homework" while listening to ipods and texting and with the tv flashing in the background.  And things that quickly attract our attention are usually brief and entertaining--funny, idiotic or ridiculous, scandalous, sexy, violent, loud, colorful, constantly moving and changing (unsurprisingly, Alvin and the Chipmunks the Squeakquel comes to mind).  As for ADD, many people in our society don't like to spend much time immersed in one thing, and we hate feeling like we are wasting time--hate waiting more than 15 seconds for an elevator?  And yes, I too am guilty of complaining--"oh my god, this is taking so looooonnnggg"--when my web page takes more than the few acceptable seconds to load.

Another negative result covered in the book review is that new technology has led to the deconstruction of texts and of individual interpretations instead of their valuable contexts--resulting in the discussed "end of authorship"--meaning that it "enshrined individual readers' subjective responses to a text over the text itself, thereby suggesting that the original idea of the author (and any sense of the original intent) was dead."  I also agree that nowadays, sadly, many readers read to adhere to "groupiness," rather than reading for personal enlightenment, and don't uncover or comprehend all that the book has to offer.  I read the books that I am assigned to read in class.  I also read books for my own enjoyment, ones that involve adventure, fantasy, action, mystery, travel, or personal transformation.  I enjoy some and detest others, and occasionally, I come across a book that truly becomes important to me and stays with me, whether because it made me think about something in a new way, reveals a hint about the true nature of ourselves as humans, enlightens me about the world outside my own, or makes me focus on myself to make myself a better, more intelligent, virtuous, and caring individual.  I believe that this part of reading is so important, and unfortunately, many individuals don't get to experience this as much because they are reading solely for "groupiness," or because they have to, or just try to get the reading over with because part of that cultural ADD, implemented because of our new technology,  is too much ingrained in them.

America's Rising "Son"

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obama cookies.jpg

While visiting the site www.barackobama.com, I came across the circular symbol that he has been using for his campaign.  The entire website is in red, white, and blue, and a faint image of the American flag is superimposed over the top; there are inspirational quotes and glowing, patriotic phrases such as "The Final March for Reform," "Organizing for America," and "Powered by Hope."  While the entire page is centered on patriotism, hope, and change for a new, brighter future, the small, round symbol caught my eye because it seemed to represent all three of these themes at once.  Shaped like an "O," which makes one think of "Obama," it patriotically consists of the colors of our flag.  With red and white stripes representing the fields (or amber waves of grain) that our country was founded on and a bright, white sun rising up out of it, the picture not only condenses the American flag, but it is symbolic of the rising sun, a symbol representing hope and change (a new day, a new, hopeful era for our country).


Image compliments of Flickr.

Underage Issue

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Dear Interfraternity Council of Penn State,

            As a freshman at Penn State, it has quickly come to my attention that underage drinking in PSU frat houses is a serious issue.  This frequent occurrence is not only illegal, but most importantly, it leads to high-risk drinking and serious incidents.  As a student here, I constantly hear my peers talking about night partying at frats, getting trashed, and the stupid things that they did and dangerous events that happened to them while they were extremely intoxicated.  One of my friends (who is 18 years old) told me about how she goes out partying every weekend at frat houses, and that she recently had a "rough" weekend in which she blacked out after drinking jungle juice and woke up locked in a strange room with a concussion and a deep cut on her head.  Another friend drank so much at a frat party (after pre-gaming) that she blacked out, got sick on the bus ride back to her dorm, and woke up with a slip from a police officer on her desk because of underage drinking and disorderly conduct in public.  And we all know the recent, sad story of Joe Dado, the 18 year old who was found dead this past September at the bottom of a fifteen foot stairwell; last seen at 3 a.m. leaving Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, Dado's blood alcohol level was .169 (according to his toxicology report presented in the Centre Daily Times)--more than twice the legal limit that a 21-year-old can drive.

            Granted, in an effort to reduce similar events, the Interfraternity Council has recently updated its regulations.  According to your new policy, "bouncers" will be placed at the doors of frat parties to check photo id of attendants and also to make sure that they are on a guest list.  But even so, with this new policy, not enough is being done.  It is still easy for underage students to attend these parties and consume large amounts of alcohol.  Many of my (underage) friends still go out partying--and heavily drinking--every weekend.  This underage drinking, and the damage related with it, is a serious problem, and still not enough is being done to set things right.  A better, more effective way must be implemented to reduce underage drinking in PSU frats and to limit the injury and tragedy related with it.


Joanna Colgan

Vegetarianism Cataclysm

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For my rhetorical ad essay, I picked a PETA pro-vegetarianism ad, and for my thesis, I chose to write that through powerful use of visual and written logos, ethos, and pathos, PETA's Traci Bingham ad promotes vegetarianism.  I think my essay is compact, supportive of my thesis, and has good transitions between ideas.  When writing it, I realized that it would not be long enough (supposed to be 4-5 pages) because it was less than four pages.  I tried to solve it by adding more examples and details, which would also help to support my thesis.  It didn't turn out to be 4-5 pages because I didn't want to introduce new ideas, but I thought that overall, it was pretty well-written.

Death and Dying: America's Attempt to Evade the Reaper

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I chose to write my last speech (meant to analyze a rhetorical situation) on death and dying because I thought it would be an interesting issue to write about--my thesis was that while many cultures retain dying as a part of family experience, Americans tend to remove personal experience of death from our own homes and our lives.  I went on to show how we are different and then explained that this difference is because of the enormous influence and interests of institutions (hospitals, hospices, nursing and funeral homes).  I then concluded with a way to weaken this taboo of our own deaths by planning ahead to rely less on these institutions and face the prospect our death.

I think that my speech was supported and organized well and presented a socially/culturally controversial issue in an interesting way.  I think that it was a bit too long for the time period, but I cut out what I could; what I presented for my speech were points that I didn't think I should get rid of.  For my next speech, I'll try to be more condense and tie my points back to my thesis as much as I can.

Burn the Witch!!!

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Monty Pythons "Burn the Witch" scene is perhaps one of the most loved and well-known comedic scenes.  What makes it so funny is its blatant misuse of logos in such a dire situation--a woman's life is at the "stake" of medieval reasoning, and though it is so obviously faulty to us, the townspeople believe the reasoning of the "professional" judge/philosopher/ "wise man."  Bedevir's misuse of logos supposedly results in the burning of the suspected and condemned witch. 

Bedevir argued that witches burn just like wood burns, so witches must burn because they are made of wood.  But how to tell if she's made of wood?  Wood floats in water, and ducks also float in water, so ducks must be made of wood as well.  So if the "witch" weighs the same as a duck, then she is made of wood and therefore a witch.

Now, there are a number of things wrong with this argument (many things burn that are not made of wood, and many things can weigh the same as a duck without being made of wood), but the townspeople were in a frenzy and just wanted to burn the girl, so they didn't really think or care about the validity of the logic.  To them, she is a witch because "she looks like one."

They also took the issue to Bedevir because he played the part of the philosopher "professional."  Bedevir's character and appearance appealed to the trust of the townspeople--while they were dirty and poor and dressed in rags, Bedevir was cleaner and wore armor and blue and white clothes.  Another example of pathos in the scene is Bedevir's treatment of Arthur.  Arthur wore fancy clothes and a crown (and helpfully knew that ducks float in water), and when Bedevir found out that Arthur was king, he instantly kneeled and began using honorific language.

This hilarious scene makes fun of how pathos, and especially logos, are manipulated and misused in our lives (especially in politics); not only are they are misused, but these arguments are faulty and still work on ignorant or unsuspecting audiences.

Bush's One Ring

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Thumbnail image for frodo failed.jpg

This bumper sticker is an imaginative example of rhetoric because it sends a political message in a symbolic, humorous, and thought-provoking way.  The reader would not understand the enthymeme unless he or she knew of J. R. R. Tolkien's tale of the ring.  If the reader did know of the story, he would have to use deduction to piece together to humorous political message.  The Ring is a symbol of evil, corrupted domination.  So, if Frodo failed in his quest to destroy The Ring, and Bush possessed The Ring, then Bush must be evil and corrupted leader.


Image compliments of Flickr.

Ethos of Shocking Shoes

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Dear Director of Nike Shoes Corporation,

            I was appalled when I heard that your products are made in Asian sweatshops using child labor.  This is an issue that is coming to the attention of more and more individuals and rights activist groups in the U.S.  This is a terrible way to make your products, and it takes advantage of the poor workers.  I think that you should find a new way to produce your shoes or else pay your workers more so that they are treated less like slaves and more like employees.  If you pay your workers more, then your corporation would still make a lot of money, your workers would be happier, and knowledgeable consumers such as me would be more willing to buy your products.  Please stop your use of sweatshops and child labor.




Though this letter presents a valid point, it contains many examples of bad ethos.  It does not seem like a valid, persuasive argument for many reasons; two of the main reasons are: first, I did not establish who I am, and second, I did not "do my homework."

I start my letter off with an attack on the morals of the Nike Corporation, but I do not even establish who I am.  I may have had a more valid point if I had had a position of power of influence on this subject, or if I had been a member of a large protest group.  But even if I had only been an appalled consumer, I would have been more convincing if I had explained who I am and why this issue is of such concern to me.

Second, I did not do any research and site those sources to support my points.  I should have stated how and where I found out about the sweatshops and child labor, the laborers' views and living conditions, influential rights activist groups and their specific opinions and actions in relation to the subject, and different possible solutions and their effects.  Doing this would havce shown that I know what I am talking about and that I have good reason to think these things and come to the conclusion that I did.  If I had had good examples of ethos, my letter would have been much more credible, persuasive, and authoritative.

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