Core Value 1. My work demonstrates that I used a variety of social and interactive practices that involve recursive stages of exploration, discovery, conceptualization, and development.
I wouldn’t say that I was a beginner in writing when I began this course; I took a number of similar classes throughout high school, in addition to Composition I in the Fall 2017. However, Composition II has vastly improved my writing, challenging me in a way that many of my previous courses have failed to do. I was given and took advantage of many opportunities for feedback; the perfect example being my White Paper. I set out to prove an entirely different concept at the beginning of the semester; that rape wasn’t real because consent is impossible to define. By the time I attempted to write my definition and causal arguments, I was at a complete loss. Despite all of my research, I could not come close to proving that consent was impossible to define, or that this caused anything. Yet after a thorough conference with my professor, I had a much better understanding of what the data I spent so long researching actually proved. Because of feedback and an ongoing discussion of the data, I was able to clarify my argument and find a concept worthy of proving.
Core Value 2. My work demonstrates that I read critically, and that I placed texts into conversation with one another to create meaning by synthesizing ideas from various discourse communities.
Many of the class discussions were designed in a counterintuitive manner, a way in which I rarely seek to look at the world. I approached these discussions in the same critical way as everything I encounter, but I noted that they always required a lot of thought before I could determine whether to refute the idea or agree with it. At one point, when the professor posed that we “don’t have a thought in our heads,” I found it impossible to agree. I couldn’t leave the class without hearing some sort of support for his claim, because I had always considered myself to have much more in my head than “I’m hungry,” or any similarly basic, passing thought. The professor then explained to me that he considered more complicated arguments in our minds to be mental writing, an idea which I could not deny the logic of. After all, there is certainly a separation between passing thoughts and analyses of bigger concepts. I’ve spent the classes since thoroughly engaging in mental “writing” about the topics we have discussed, seeking to prove the validity or falsehood of the professor’s wholly counterintuitive concepts. A prime example of a concept that I approached in such a manner was that of “Stone Money.” Admittedly, I spent the majority of the time that I was listening to the audio shaking my head and scoffing. The summary of my bank account balance is a very real number to me. However, the explanation of the Yap’s monetary system, and then Brazil’s solution to its inflation crisis, and even the strange practices within United States itself struck me as odd, and I began to question whether money was real or imagined. I reviewed all of the evidence presented to me, and was even able to find new evidence to reinforce the idea and demonstrate that the Yap’s system is mirrored in our own system today. I haven’t looked at the pieces of green cloth in my wallet the same way since.
Core Value 3. My work demonstrates that I rhetorically analyzed the purpose, audience, and contexts of my own writing and other texts and visual arguments.
Nothing demonstrates the many facets of a single case better than the Safer Saws assignment. The audience wholly determined the argument. Steve Gass was outraged and argued that because he advanced the safety of saws, it should be implemented in all saws to prevent amputations, and he should be compensated for the idea. Product reviewers think that it would be ridiculous to demand the proposed changes from saw companies; it would tack on a hefty cost that severely cuts profit. The companies themselves don’t want to pay large sums of money for changes that could cause their bankruptcy. This assignment increased my awareness of just how multifaceted all arguments are. I was required to evaluate a myriad of different points, all with differing methods of portraying their argument; Steve Gass made a video displaying the effectiveness of his saw, even placing his own safety on the line to show his unwavering trust in his creation. Product reviewers attempted the same with the competition’s version of SawStop, but ultimately (and unwittingly) proved that Steve Gass’s technology was the more effective of the two. Other reviewers presented their arguments in articles, and/or utilized pictures of amputees whose injuries could have been prevented with SawStop technology. In conjunction with one of my professor’s lectures, the Safer Saws assignment facilitated my understanding that “a black sneaker is not the opposite of a white sneaker, because there is no opposite of a sneaker,” (Professor Hodges’s lecture.) I have since applied this to writing and reviewing my own works. I now always consider who my audience will be and what potential counterarguments readers might pose, so that I can adequately refute their questions before they are even asked.
Core Value 4: My work demonstrates that I have met the expectations of academic writing by locating, evaluating, and incorporating illustrations and evidence to support my own ideas and interpretations.
The visual rhetoric assignment embodies this core value. The professor asked the class not to listen to the audio as we analyzed our chosen videos, allowing whatever bias the music created to be removed from our individual analyses. Because he requested that we stop the video and note it second-by-second, I was able to learn much more about the visual argument that the video presented. In my original analysis, I simply described the details and didn’t pose any questions as to the meaning of the video; any sort of argument it displayed was lost on me because the content didn’t seem to imply much of anything. Looking deeper into the first second, I was more engaged with the visual work and asked a number of questions in relation to the video. Although the video I chose for my visual rhetoric assignment seemed to borrow its theme from an outside source, the video that we analyzed in class made clear to me what I should ordinarily be able to take out of a visual argument. I have to admit that it was impressive how many subtle messages were hidden in every second of the video; if we hadn’t stopped the video every second, I might have missed them. This assignment undoubtedly allowed me to hone my ability to recognize these seemingly insignificant details and add them into my own works. In my revision of my visual rhetoric, I noted many more details that were not clear to me in my first draft.
Core Value 5. My work demonstrates that I respect my ethical responsibility to represent complex ideas fairly and to the sources of my information with appropriate citation.
Those who grossly misinterpret or skew data to support their own weak argument, who try to convince me of blatantly false information, or glaring contradictions, instantly lose my respect. Personally, I seek to avoid such grave mistakes by prioritizing citations and accurate representations of content. As an author, I would loathe inaccurate interpretations of my own writing, so I make sure to conscientiously review my use of quotations or paraphrasing to avoid subjecting the author to that same frustration. Throughout the semester, I have cited sources in each written assignment, even including the sources that I used very minimally. My White Paper is a compilation of all the sources I have reviewed to educate myself on my topic. I intend to use only a select few of them in my complete research paper, but have noted them nonetheless. I would expect anyone else to do the same.