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Every House Must Start with a Foundation

May 7, 2019 in Uncategorized

At the beginning of this semester I was confident in my writing ability. Like any skill I knew it could be improved upon, but I had always viewed myself as being talented writer. Writing has always been the easiest way for me to express my thoughts and creativity. The only exercise the left side of my brain gets is through my writing. However, if I were to say my writing hasn’t changed over this semester I’d be the worst of liars.

In regards to rhetoric, my ability to make an argument through the written word has increased drastically. My ability to cite, make claims, generate interest, and succinctly describe my point of view have been strengthened thanks to my professor. These blog posts in particular have greatly helped with the last of those abilities. My academic writing now has a greater degree of certainty; I now know what forms are appropriate for which prompts and I’ve been given invention strategies to make the generation of ideas simpler. Mostly due to the I-Search Essay, my ability to research is now a step-by-step process that is ingrained into the folds of my brain. I started the semester as a writer confident in his abilities. I ended the semester as a writer certain in his abilities.

If Only it Was that Simple

April 10, 2019 in Uncategorized

The topic for my next paper in my writing class is the ethical considerations that govern the proceedings of modern law. The paper will focus on international law as well as points in which countries have gone against those laws, showing that often nations are willing to transcend ethical barriers to accomplish what they believe must be done.

The most surprising thing that I’ve learned about my topic is that there have been many attempts to create international law regarding the conduct of war many times before the famous Geneva Conventions of 1949. In fact, there have been many other international law agreements also called the Geneva Convention, with the first Geneva Convention occurring in April of 1864. Though four treaties were signed, several decades later humanity would experience the two most devastating wars in its history. Following the second and most devastating war, World War II, more laws were created and yet there would be frequent conflict during the period known as the Cold War.

These facts have led me to a grim but seemingly true conclusion; it is impossible to create ethical laws for war as war is one of the most fundamentally unethical things practiced by humanity. Time and time again treaties and agreements are thrown to the dust on the basis of ambition and greed, often by individuals or small groups. It seems to be the modern tragedy of humanity that these scenarios feature little choice for those caught in the crossfire.

Creating Ethics for Something Entirely Unethical

April 10, 2019 in Uncategorized

In my WRT 102 class we are currently on our third and final paper, the ‘Researched Argument’. This essay follows the conventions of a typical research paper, a thesis with various claims that are each supplemented by sources. Rather than using the same topic as my last essay, the ‘I-Search Essay’, I chose something that I have always found fascinating.

When I was young I had a lot of exposure to war media, particularly through video games and film. Warfare and human conflict is a topic that I believe is extremely interesting, prompting me to spend much of my time reading about war. The ways in which they are caused, the methods by which they are fought, and the means of their conclusion are three qualities of these awful events that proves intriguing to many people. While all of these things are indeed enticing, I focused my essay on something that allowed for more opinion and personal analysis: the law of war.

My essay specifically targets the ethical considerations behind warfare, focusing on events like the Geneva Convention of 1949 that defined the role of morals in international conflict. One of the sources I read discussed an aspect of war law that man people do not know of. This source was an essay by Boyd van Dijk posted into the American Journal of International Law, and the aforementioned aspect involves human rights consideration in the crafting of international law.

Statutes created by events such as the Geneva Conventions can be defined as humanitarian law as it focuses on the wellbeing of humans in conflicts. However, there is another philosophically driven kind of law referred to as human rights, which many believe to be a basis for humanitarian law. However, the essay states that it is clear that these two forms of law developed semi-separately from one another, with the only connection found through the kind of thinking involved in created both forms of legislation. There is no direct legal precedent of human rights that forms a basis for humanitarian law.

To create laws that safeguard the rights of humans without considering human rights laws may seem counterproductive, but can be argued as impossible due to the ideological differences between political institutions in the international community. Thankfully, most of these political institutions that create humanitarian law have a similar ‘human rights’ way of thinking, allowing for the creation of international humanitarian law adopted by all countries within the United Nations.

The citation for the source in MLA8 is as follows:

van Dijk, Boyd. “HUMAN RIGHTS IN WAR: ON THE ENTANGLED FOUNDATIONS OF THE 1949 GENEVA CONVENTIONS.” American Journal of International Law, Oct. 2018, p. 553+. Academic OneFile, http://link.galegroup.com.proxy.library.stonybrook.edu/apps/doc/A566264312/AONE?u=sunysb&sid=AONE&xid=d81c0ddd. Accessed 10 Apr. 2019.

Know Thy Audience as Thyself

April 10, 2019 in Uncategorized

In order to gain better insight into the use of sources I recently read Kyle D. Stedman’s essay titled Annoying Ways People Use Sources. This essay possesses several ideas that I believe would aid anyone in their attempts to use sources for their research papers.

The first idea is basic but very significant. Writers should spend a considerable amount of time verifying their use of sources. Stedman believes that a writer who fails to reach the established conventions of source use will hurt the reception of their paper. There is a certain expectation of standards when it comes to source use. If a reader sees these standards are not reached they will be less able to verify the key qualities of the essay such as language use and new ideas.

The second idea is one that works for basically every form of writing: anticipate your audience. By knowing who you are writing for you are better able to judge how you should use your sources. Stedmann compares source use with blog posts and academic papers, stating simply posting a hyperlink for blog posts is acceptable whereas an academic paper requires sourcing methodology that coincides with a consistent citation form. Also, if you anticipate your audience to be a picky one, often you will take more time to be picky about your own work. Visualizing your audience as someone that requires utmost quality will naturally increase the quality of your own work.

The third idea of Stedmann is a much more direct tip on source use. In a research paper, do not drop quotations without first introducing them. Within his essay Stedmann refers to this act as “Armadillo Roadkill’, which he believes is one of the most fundamentally annoying ways that people use sources. Before quoting, an author must introduce the source as well as its credibility. A quote means little to a logical reader before these qualities are defined.

The Dreaded Research Paper

March 28, 2019 in Uncategorized

After reading Steven D. Krause’s instructions on how to write an research essay, I am much more confident with the next assignment in my writing class. Here are some of the tips that I found helpful:

Ask yourself certain questions as to what the essay is meant to achieve. Questions such as “What’s the main purpose of the essay?” and “Who is the main audience?” are examples of such questions.

You should note whether your essay intends to answer questions for an audience with a basic understanding of the topic or instead introduce and discuss something that your audience may not have previous knowledge of.

Rather than simply acknowledging that your teacher and classmates will be your audience, a stronger research paper attempts to reach a wider potential reader base. According to Krause, “trying to reach an audience of potential readers beyond the classroom and the assignment will make for a stronger essay.

Understand the way you wish to sound to the reader. Should the essay be extremely formal or do you believe some informality is acceptable? This is all up to the writer of the essay and Krause even states that many papers he has read use more personal, informal tones, a style which most students are taught to avoid.  

 

Topic Trifecta

March 4, 2019 in Uncategorized

The I-Search paper seems like a good way to make a research paper bearable, something I’m rather excited about. I’ve never quite had a research based document with an informal nature like this.

I have three topics that I am debating on writing about. The first is in regards to the expansion of artificial intelligence within the modern technological world. Many people believe ai to be one of the biggest threats to human existence. In my essay I would like to evaluate the possibility of this(quite possible) and how long it will take to occur. I’d also like to discuss the concept of the technological singularity and the benefits of rapidly expanding ai.

The second topic I have is in regards to social media and its effect on society, particularly on that of young people. I would like to figure out if there is a negative psychological effect on children when they are exposed to extreme amounts of information. If studying children turns out to be too boring, adolescents would work equally as well. However, I possess a personal bias against social media, possibly obstructing any argument I were to make.

The third topic I would like to research follows the information regarding the American public education system. It is quite clear that the American education system is severely lacking. This paper would go into comparing our system versus others, defining what it means to have educational success, and offering certain solutions to our ongoing problem. This paper would require me to go out of my comfort zone, critiquing a system that still makes up the greater portion of my life.

Brandt’s Literacy Sponsors

February 7, 2019 in Uncategorized

Literacy is a common skill among most people that live on the earth of 2019. Due to the sheer amount of people and ideas floating about, one person’s form of literacy will differ greatly from that of their family and friends. This unique form of literacy depends mostly on a concept called literacy sponsorship. According to Deborah Brandt in her essay Sponsors of Literacy, anyone or anything who teaches and encourages writing has a heavy influence on a person’s individual literacy. Though this would obviously benefit the receiver of the knowledge, it also “recruits” the receiver into a form of literacy at the sponsor’s discretion. Brandt describes that this is a useful and exploitable tool that allows a measure of economic and ideological success for the sponsor.

The idea of literacy sponsorship is something I was unfamiliar with before I read the essay. Though rather abstract, Brandt creates a valid descriptive argument for the significance of the concept. When I look into my own past, I can see who my literary sponsors were and how they influenced my personal literacy. When I was in first grade, I was not a very academically minded child. My mother told me that I barely had the attention span to read let a lone write, causing her some degree of concern for my future. However, my first grade teacher Mrs. Euler was determined to see an increase in my literary ability. Through her individual dedication to me I was able to find the motivation to read. When I look back now I realize that Mrs. Euler was my first literary sponsor. Unlike many of the examples mentioned in Brandt’s essay, Mrs. Euler did not do this for her own self gain. Of course as a teacher it was her job to teach me efficiently, but she went above and beyond to make me literate.

Since literary sponsors are not only individuals but also organizations and styles, much of my upper level prose is derived from political, fictional, and historical works that I read throughout high school. Writers like H.P. Lovecraft along with the entire genre of cosmic horror have expanded my descriptive ability, political works such as the Declaration of Independence taught me the significance of purpose in writing, and the volumes of historical knowledge I’ve accumulated allows for a better understand of a narrative. Though Brandt describes the possible negativity of literary sponsors, my experience has only been beneficial.

Literacy

February 5, 2019 in Uncategorized

As humanity expands ever outward so does the amount of data surrounding us. We currently live in an era known to many as the “Information Age”, characterized by not only the large amount of information but also the speed at which it travels. Language is the tool used by us meat pop-sickles to process and filter the information in ways that we understand. The written form of language is suited best when archiving our seemingly infinite supply of data, resulting in a widespread level of literacy unprecedented across history. Literacy can be defined as the ability to read and write, but we are human, and that definition undersells the importance of such a term. Literacy is a form of expression and understanding, allowing individuals to both convey emotion as well as appreciate it.

For my WRT 102 class I recently read three separate readings in which writers define literacy in their own terms. “Why I Write in English” tells the story of Yang Huang and her experience writing. Huang grew up in China during the time of the Cultural Revolution, describing how her inclination for writing was suppressed by those around her. It was only once she started writing in English that she discovered her definition of literacy. To Huang, literacy involves a free flow of written language that is honest to her and her emotions. Rather than being obstructed by artificial restraints, true literacy allows a writer to express themselves in any way they see fit.

The second reading I looked at was Alex Reid’s “Why Blog? Searching for Writing on the Web”. Though at first this reading seemed to not discuss literacy directly, Reid focuses on what it takes to become an “expert” writer. According to Reid it takes 10,000 hours of dedication to master a skill. This would imply that most writers will never become experts until they are around 40 years old. I find this rather disquieting, but, nevertheless, Reid attempts to offer a solution through blogging. In this Reid also describes conventions that enable a greater literacy of a writer, which includes: Acknowledging the audience and what they expect, being clear of purpose, and staying loyal to a genre. With proficiency in these things one becomes more literate.

The final reading was “Blue Collar Brillance” by Mike Rose. Rose describes the daily lives of many people, particularly those who work labor intensive jobs. These people typically have not had a full college education, but Rose sees them as being equally as intelligent and literate. To Rose, literacy involves being able to recognize and interpret symbols audibly and visibly. Many of what could be deemed as simple notes are referred to as “cognitively rich” by Rose, as each note is made under pressure and requires the simplest understanding. These people are by nature practicing one of things that Reid (author of previous article) refers to as being fundamental to literacy, without 10,000 of writing education.

I learned several things from these articles, one being the emotional connection to literacy. Speaking truthfully without hindrance is a sign of true literacy, as well as preparing yourself to be received by an audience. However, what I believe to be most interesting is the extent of literacy, how it is not only understanding but the ability to provide understanding for those many would otherwise ignore.

 

 

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