FINAL

A

Not “Immodest” Proposal

We teach English literature courses not because they outline an ideal, nor because of the historical and historiographical significance these works pose. We teach these courses because they enable a means of exercising individual critical thought. They mightn’t focus on what a given argument is in a given work of literature, they mightn’t focus on plot. English courses—the most effective ones at least—are concerned with the method and the process itself. The question is not so much “what is happening?” but “how is this being done and with what purpose.” We examine the intentionality and out of it glean what constitutes the exemplary methods of storytelling. The identification of key works—so called “classics”—is fundamental to maintain this focus on the implicit elements in writing.

Current courses that focus on novels—specifically classics—tend to deal with antiquated literature. The “tried and true” volumes within the literary canon are just so. It is arguable that they have become too antiquated and old fashioned—at least some of them. We must ask ourselves whether there is a point in which certain classics “expire”.

What exactly is a classic piece of literature is widely debated. ‘Notoriety’ has become interchangeable with the term ‘classic.’ This, I fear, to be a common-held misconception. Popularity is not the sole indicator of a work’s being a classic. The defining characteristic is “shock-value.” Classics are read and taught with the intent of affecting students (and the greater readership) on level that inspires both critical thought pertaining to their own values, as well sparking their own creative processes. Works that are shocking must strike a balance between maintaining reader interest, establishing a believable reality, and providing some sort of surprise. Shocking stories become classics in their ability to arouse new thoughts after each reading. They are classics in their appeal to a wide range of audiences and their questioning of societal ideologies.

Classics are generational and generative. They are necessarily products from a single generation and therefore provide a glimpse, if not into the time out of which they were produced, of practices commonly employed in writing within a given era.  Classics are generative in that they must spark discourse with regards to a greater context. They may seek to disprove a generational societal norm for example, or they may seek to provide a snapshot of that generation. Some solely ask questions as to why things are the way they are. In order to do all of these things classics must maintain their shock value.

Back to this question of whether classics can ever “expire” I find it important to consider that these works do not exist in a vacuum. The labeling of a piece of fiction as a “classic” doesn’t hinder time’s effects on it. Tastes change. Perhaps classics will not remain popular forever, but they should remain relevant. If classics are to remain relevant we need to focus on what maintains that relevancy otherwise students will lose complete interest as works become more and more remote in the past.

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He said, She said: Questions Posed, some left unanswered . . .

Authorship and narration are *divorced* [touchy subject I know, though it is becoming all the more common] . Who writes something shouldn’t necessarily determine how that which is written sounds. It could be supposed that writers today, if they so desired, could write in the style of other writers. Writers must rely on different voices–especially in fiction writing–to capture some degree of authenticity and realism in a piece.

When we write we chose a voice and in that voice we are able to convey whatever it is that we are trying to get across. 

A given voice may prove to be archaic. It mightn't seem to be of the modern day.
It could perhaps, have the potential to seem tentative.
Some voices are direct.

Others seem to take a long while before they can communicate a sole point.

All voices are the sum of an individual experience, whether or not that experience is that of whomever wrote the words on the page. 

To write is to wield voice over authorship. It is manipulative.

We choose a voice based on context. If, for example, I was writing for a specific class, I suppose the tone would be professional, the form–rhetorical. 

What makes a voice? Was that rhetorical? 

All of these things are written by me. Questions and answers presented and un-presented, words created and employed, others passed over, all in an effort of getting some greater point across.

Sometimes, it would seem that where he’s going isn’t the always the clearest.
He oft poses contradictions with himself.
To what end?

I suppose the point isn’t always identified at the start. It is a struggle–a grappling with a given subject within the confines that a certain voice allows for. That voice is constrained to the rhetorical situations that hinder it as belonging to a singular individual.

In writing we have the opportunity for choice. We can withhold some-things, we can manipulate syntax and diction in order to sound as though we know what we’re talking about.

I only talk about things that I know about! 

What is rhetoric after all? 

I daresay that every scenario a man finds himself in belongs to some greater context and therein he 
must author up some piece of word-play that fits to it as if a glove.

It’s still all rhetoric . . .


Is this a conversation? Is this an essay?

[It’s an assignment for Theories of Writing] — See: Petals on a Wet, Black Bough

Which one? 

“YES”


What is it we are, collectively, referring to? In this context it would seem that only YOU have the capacity to distinguish what it is that is being said. 

So many questions, only some with answers, others fly away into the

CoLlEcTiVe CoNsCiOuSnEsS [Hope I spelled that <–right–{though it’s to the left}. Looks cool though!]

We must be self-aware, but cannot know all. 

There is no self to be found herewith.

Here I am. 

There You are.

We are but in a dialogue, though the reign[s] of discourse blur the boundaries. 

How much is there beyond the other side of the page? How much is censored herewith by the rhetoric, the context?

WHERE AM I?  

 

 

Final Project Draft

Proposal

We teach English literature courses not because they outline an ideal, nor because of the historical and historiographical significance these works pose. We teach these courses because they enable a means of exercising individual critical thought. They mightn’t focus on what a given argument is in a given work of literature, they mightn’t even focus on plot. English literature courses—the most effective ones at least—are concerned with the method and the process itself. The question is not so much “what is happening?” but “how is this being done and for what purpose.” We examine intentionality in English Literature courses and out of it glean what constitutes the exemplary methods of storytelling. The identification of key works or “classics” to be taught in English courses is fundamental to maintain the focus on the implicit elements in writing.

The current manner in which classes that focus on novels—specifically classics—tend to deal with antiquated literature. The “tried and true” volumes within the literary canon are just so. It is possible that they have become too antiquated and old fashioned—at least some of them. We must ask ourselves whether there is a point in which classics age to a point in which they are no longer “classics.”

What exactly is a classic piece of literature is widely debated. The seemingly most obvious indicator of something being a classic is its having been taught in a class and having been/still remaining well known among the general public. ‘Notoriety’ has become interchangeable with the term ‘classic.’ This, I fear, to be a common-held misconception. Popularity is not always the sole indicator of a work’s being a classic. The defining characteristic, I find, is the “shock-value” that a certain work provides. Classics are read and taught with the intent of affecting students on level that inspires critical thought pertaining to their own values as well as to inspire creative process in their own writing. Works that are shocking must strike a balance between maintaining reader interest, establishing a believable reality, and providing some sort of surprise. Shocking stories are classics in their ability to arouse new thoughts after each reading. They are classics in their appeal to a wide range of audiences and their questioning of societal ideologies.

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In Class Activity

In Class Activity

Donovan:

Marilyn Manson kills Trump.

NSFW.
Molly

#IdBeMorePopularIf my dad gave me a small loan of a million dollars.

Find your poll location.

Find a pole to stick through your eye.

Nathaniel

“I have 5000 friends on this page. How many of you will vote today? 10%?, 30%?, 50%?, or 100%?  #Vote  #Election2016 Good morning and God Bless fam!”

Religious tolls on politics. Political tolls on religion.

In Dialogue: Jenkins and Ong

“. . . Yes, we cannot forget about audiences, but you also have to take into account how audiences are accessing works. A writer’s intention doesn’t cut off the world from it.”

“But doesn’t it? If that which the writer is communicating is niche, specialized to a degree that hinders it unknowable to a large amount of the population, that in effect ‘censors’ it.”

“True, but the specific audience for whom the original media was intended for isn’t always crystal clear. Given the accessibility that the internet provides and the spreadability therein, who’s to say that the information contained in an original work–that specialized/niche document as you say, and distill it to a level of broader appeal and understandability.”

“Does that end-product–the distillation–still retain the original intentionality? I daresay that it does not. While the information may be better understood by a greater number of people the precision is lost, the speciality of it is lost. Talking about the intricacies of heart surgery in laymen’s terms for example can prove useful for those who are receiving the surgery, those who will be performing the surgery however, may wish to have the full level of understanding.”

“I suppose so. It’s interesting to consider that the original intention is sometimes lost in the process of making things more accessible.”

“Too true. In your book you mention the idea of media reaching audiences by proxy and that in this process those media are in fact exposed to a greater number of people than intended.”

“Yes, I looked specifically at the television industry and the manner in which piracy has an effect on monetization.”

“Of course everything in the entertainment industry revolves around how to make the most money.”

“To a certain degree that is true, but also there are other ways of making money that don’t necessarily place it as the primary objective. In some respects, piracy is a good thing. It demonstrates that there is an audience actively seeking out a given television show. It is a demonstrator of demand and of a market. While the show itself isn’t being consumed directly by the audience in the traditional sense, they are most probably the ones who are purchasing tactile goods: DVDs, apparel, and the like.”

“Would you say that the media being generated therefore isn’t based so much on the authorship’s desire to communicate a given idea, but rather with the goal of identifying an undiscovered market/audience?”

“It can be dangerous to make generalizations in this area, but I don’t think its over exaggerating to say that the entertainment industry is less concerned with entertainment and more concerned with maintaining a specific audience.”

“How interesting. . . The same could be said about cultures of primary orality. They relied on formulas and parables in order to communicate. I suppose, looking back to our discussion of information distillation, the same thing occurred in those cultures. An idea itself couldn’t be effectively communicated in a manner that would be understood so formulas were used to keep everything understandable. With the advent of writing and the eventual development of writing we became able to specialize and to cover all realms of study in greater depth.”

“Mmm. I wonder where censorship plays into all of this. At the point we’re at today, information is so easily accessible. I’m sure you can relate to the ease that the internet has placed with regards to researching and accessing information. Inherent in this accessibility is the capacity to limit what information presents itself. Censorship can take many forms–there is the intentional blocking of media/data/access, but there is also the censorship that takes place as a result of lacking access to technological resources . Lesser developed nations remain “stuck” because the infrastructure that would allow for an access to all the information in the world has yet to be developed”

“There’s also the censorship that takes place on a personal level. As people, we share only what we think is necessary or suitable in a given situation. A mother who’s just discovered she only has so many months to live may decided to withhold this information from her children, but would assumedly share it with her husband. In the same way, as rhetoricians, we choose what information to present in the media in order to emphasize specific points.”

“Definitely. What we present to others tends to portray our individually-held ideologies. Look at social media. People ‘like’ certain posts, they share certain articles that highlight those held beliefs. We’ve become a culture that spreads information through our own networks. We talk about producers trying to reach audiences effectively when, it actuality, it is us the consumers, the general public, who are spreading media through our networks and therefore redefining what it means to be an “audience.”

“Ah . . .”

“We’re coming full circle here: people may not always be the ones who are generating the content, they might not even be participating in the networks that they use online. Take a Harry Potter fan. They may like the books, watched to movies, maybe even have liked it on their Facebook page. Their having been exposed to the Harry Potter universe makes them fair game for all the more media that play off of this franchise. It really is about not only identifying and audience and maintaining an audience, its about creating a community that engages with itself and sustains itself. For every one individual who actively writes fan-fiction on a Harry Potter fan site, there are several more who come across it because it has either been shared with them (I’m thinking about those click-bait Harry Potter quizzes you see) or they’ve come across it out of interest.”

“It’s not just about getting an audience then, it’s about creating a community that engages with the media on varying levels, not just the direct/root source. JK Rowling remain successful because the community that the Harry Potter Books created generated a cultural paradigm within our culture, without that grasp I’m sure she wouldn’t be where she is today.

“That’s exactly it. Nothing can be looked at in isolation because everything is linked.”

Digital Reflection 8

This presentation/performance/talk/’thing’ captures how forms themselves can be used to manipulate the audience (as rhetorical devices). The title itself “Beats Defying Boxes” implies that the performance is intended to be something that goes against expectation. In writing that’s what everything is about: balancing expectation and surprise. I suppose by giving something the label that it is “outside of the box” or that it is “unlabelable”is inherently paradoxical. The concept that everything is being “labeled” lies at the core of what writing is.

Reggie Watts is comical and entertaining. He makes us (the audience) aware that he is manipulating us/messing with us. The entire show hinges on his expectation/assumption that we are watching him expecting to learn something. This is the same sort of “ploy” (perhaps not the best word given the negative connotations, but bear with me) that John Cage employs in his piece 4’33”. We–the audience–are expecting something to be performed and instead are faced with a challenging of those expectations.

I think this is one of the main concepts that links the three “units” in this course. We studied the “definition” of writing and its history. We’ve studied the role that audience can play, but also that personal experience can play, and now we’re studying the role that technology plays. All three of these recognize that writing is a tool, that it is a medium, a filter. It has become intertwined with how we view the world of course, but we must be aware of the fact that it is affecting that world-view. By becoming aware of the expectations we hold regarding writing I think that the surprises generated can be all the more successful.

There are many things to consider when we write, but the first thing we must do is distinguish when we are writing. I took a class last year that focused heavily on Paradise Lost and John Milton and the idea of being “authors unto ourselves.” Every time we speak, every action we take, everything we write is interpreted. Being an author unto ourself implies that we are determining what will be communicated. Of course we decided what we do. We are in control of our own minds and bodies. We self-censor ourselves to fit a given situation–be that physically or digitally. We attempt to draw people in because we care about people “liking” what we say or do. Ultimately, anything and everything that we do today is writing. 

Back to the Reggie Watts and John Cage compositions, I’d say that these are forms of writing as well. We do say that we “write” music if we consider ourselves composers, but aside from that there are many things that correlate between the writing in a verbal sense and writing in a musical sense. There are the same levels of expectation, there’s an audience’ there’s a performer. And I suppose the performer in the grand scheme of life (a life that is completely bound to writing) stands in the same position as a ‘reader’. The performer of a composition isn’t always the composer and so certain interpretational decisions must be made, in reading this is the same.

A story I write for my creative writing class may make perfect sense to me, but surely my classmates will have different takes of what happened and different opinions. This is because everyone is influenced by what they have experienced and witnessed in the past. Just as interpretation is limited by personal experience so is the generative aspect. We can only write what we know, but that doesn’t mean that people coming from different backgrounds won’t be able to relate to what is written, just that they may take away something different from it. In sum, we write our experiences and we read our perceptions.

I’m not intending on calling everyone a perpetrator of confirmation bias, but rather, I’m pointing out that writing has its limits and that we as human beings have our limits. This is what makes writing so amazing, it can provide a lens into another’s experience, it can manipulate us within an experience, but what we take away in the end is what we take away and no one else will share that exactly.

For the literate and illiterate alike, writing–the physical, literal, metaphorical, performative, digital, technical, crafted, article, real, authentic ‘thing’ captures what it means to be human.

*An inability to read doesn’t constitute an inability to write.