Rachel Jeantel, Rammellzee, Basquiat, and the Art of Being an Equation

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Rachel Jeantel, Rammellzee, Basquiat, and the Art of Being an Equation
Oct 102013

A number of people in FYWP have been or will be teaching June Jordan’s essay from Reading Culture to their WR101 classes, so I thought this essay from the Los Angeles Review of Books might provide a useful complement:

FOR FIVE HOURS, Rachel Jeantel, a childhood friend of Trayvon Martin, sat on the stand and tried to recount the last conversation they had before he was murdered. They had known each other since they were in elementary school. Rachel Jeantel was still a high school student when she not only tragically lost her friend but also became the lead witness for the prosecution in the highly publicized murder case that polarized America. It was a trial that would decide if George Zimmerman, the man who murdered Trayvon, would face justice. That she was just 19 years old, a teenager, shell-shocked and in mourning, were a few of the least-discussed qualities of Ms. Jeantel. Instead her size, her color, and her speech thrust her into the headlines. Jeantel is a heavyset young woman with brown skin. In the aftermath, even smart publications could not resist drawing comparisons between Ms. Jeantel and director Lee Danielss unconfident, abused, broken bird Precious. It was a comparison that told us almost nothing about Rachel Jeantel and much more about people’s expectations of women who look like Rachel Jeantel: primarily, that if you are heavy and have dark skin in America you shouldn’t dare exist in real life. It was pretty inconvenient then, that on the stand, Ms. Jeantel — sotto voce too — refused to be anyone but herself.


 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Counter(ing)cultures
Mar 142013

John Roderick recently lamented that “Punk Rock is Bullshit” at Seattle Weekly, writing,

For those of us who grew up in the shadow of the baby boom, force-fed the misremembered vainglory of Woodstock long after most hippies had become coked-out, craven yuppies on their way to becoming paranoid neo-cons, punk rock provided a corrective dose of hard truth. Punk was ugly and ugly was true, no matter how many new choruses the boomers added to their song of self-praise. It was this perceived honesty that we, the nascent Generation X, feared and worshipped. But over time punk swelled into a Stalinistic doctrine of self-denial that stunted us. The yuppies kept sucking, but by clinging to punk we started to suck too.

At SF Weekly, Manjula Martin responded with “The Jazz Age Is Bullshit,” a nice bit of satire on Roderick’s piece and an enjoyable skewering of generational nostalgia (to my mind). Martin writes,

We took this music, which was different and new and hated by our parents, and developed it into a vibrant youth subculture based on one core principle: to rebel against the prevailing social and political standards, and to do it by partying hard on the dance floor and wearing clothing with a new aesthetic. But man, it turned out that once I got a little bit older, the Jazz Age totally disappointed me. And now jazz means something different than it did almost a century ago when I discovered it. Now, young kids get into jazz who don’t even know what jazz really stood for. Jazz has failed us. So can we finally admit to ourselves that the Jazz Age was bullshit? Because it was. Here’s why:

It seems like something our students might be engaged by, as part of discussions of countering and/or taking an approach in WR101, or in WR121 sections in which music and pop culture are the foci.

Portrait of a Generation

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Portrait of a Generation
Feb 102013

via nextnature.net

Once there were wristwatch tanlines, now there are iPhone pocket lines…

This example of generational visual rhetoric could be useful for discussions of Hochschild, etc. in WR101. To me, it raises questions about the difference between rapidly changing fashions versus once-faddish behaviors with longer impact on identity and behavior. (But maybe that’s just me?)

Outlining in Reverse

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Outlining in Reverse
Feb 032013

As with any good tool, there is a limit to the use of reverse outlining and a danger of its abuse. Reducing a process as intuitive and sometimes emotional as writing to the objectivity of solving a mathematical equation isn’t always helpful or desirable. Why did I spend four paragraphs of this piece on my stories and only one on my novel? Well, because that’s what I had to say about each one. It felt right at the time, and the decision still feels right. I’m not going to add an extra paragraph or two about writing my novel just to even up the score, so to speak.

And yet, given that writing is often such a subjective, emotionally driven process, I find it comforting when I stumble into areas of absolutes (relatively speaking), like grammar or punctuation.

~Aaron Hamburger

This might be useful for sharing with students in WR101 as we introduce Bruffee’s descriptive outline.

Explorations of Style, A blog about academic writing

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Explorations of Style, A blog about academic writing
Jan 232013

Explorations of Style offers readers an ongoing discussion of the challenges of academic writing. The ability to formulate and clarify our thoughts is central to the academic enterprise; this blog discusses strategies to improve the process of expressing our research in writing. The flexibility of the blogging format allows me to explore writing instruction in a way that is more permanent than that found in the classroom and less permanent than that in a book. My key strategies, resources, and principles are used to ground discussions of more specific writing issues. Those writing issues will be ones that come up in my teaching or that are raised by readers. As I move back and forth between new writing questions and established principles, I will have the opportunity to revise and refine my own approach. My ultimate goal is to create a working approach to academic writing, one that can be entered at multiple points and one that can shift in response to my interactions with students and readers. In addition to offering my approach to academic writing, I hope to use the blog to present the broader context in which I think about academic writing. By attaching links to recent articles, I will engage with ongoing conversations about issues such as the future of graduate education; the practices of writing instruction; the state of academic publishing; the role of English in global academic conversation; the notion of grammatical purity; and the way that technological shifts may change our relationships to academic texts.

© 2016 Emerson College
All Rights Reserved

120 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02116-4624