Considering some commercials

I would argue this commercial uses a plain language style because it says I did x, y, and z in my Snuggie and then visually represents x, y, and z. It uses a lot of repetition, but I would argue it is not “artful”. Instead, I believe it uses epiphora, since the last word of almost every phrase is Snuggie. It could also be a representation of hyberbaton, since some of the phrases are awkwardly arranged to ensure the final word remains the same. I am not sure what to say about the centerfold scene near the end. Is it a visual pun? We associate centerfolds with magazines such as Playboy and expect the picture to be something risque. However, the man is actually enthralled with a picture of a woman in a Snuggie. One could argue the commercial uses a little personification when the dog is dancing around with everyone in a Snuggie, too. Finally, it is clearly hyperbolic to think people would do all of the activities shown in a blanket with sleeves. Hula hooping, for example, is not an activity I think about doing when I am cold.

This commercial strikes me as middle style. It is conversational and not overly simple or grand. The commercial is absolutely hyperbolic when it show babies discussing adult matters such as finances and relationships. I’ve been debating if I would consider this personification, as well. It’s a tough call because babies are humans, but they are not capable of having the complex relationships and discussions they are having. There are a few possible uses of onomatopoeia, too. For example, the wolf howling sound is definitely an example of onomatopoeia and it could be argued that creating the word milkoholic displays this as well. Finally, there is also a simile used when the baby says, “Taking control like a wolf”.

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Ancient Style

It is quite unusual to learn that style has been a hot topic of debate for such a long time. I suppose I never considered the idea that, at one point in time, someone had to analyze rhetoric and break it down into small, identifiable parts. I’ve formally studied tropes such as onomatopoeia, hyperbole, metaphor, and allegory and yet never considered how long these ideas have existed! Crowley and Hawhee’s chapter on style is more enlightening in that arena than I would have guessed.

The most surprising thing I learned from reading their chapter about ancient style is that it is possible to make an extended vocabulary study guide engaging and interesting to read! The chapter is jam-packed with definitions and explanations and yet it was not the chore to read it one would imagine it to be. Will I remember all of these devices and how to define them? Absolutely not. But will I remember that there is a word to describe all of the style choices I make while speaking and writing? You bet!

Additionally, I found it surprising how many terms they discussed that I hadn’t heard before in any English class. Hyperbaton, synecdoche, catachresis, and several other tropes are completely foreign words but familiar concepts to me. (Truthfully, it wouldn’t surprise me if I haven’t heard them because they seem difficult to pronounce). Why teach the concepts but not the vocabulary to go with them? Teachers should revel in the opportunity to expand a student’s vocabulary! I feel a little cheated, to be honest. I’m probably the exception and not the rule on that thought, however. Oh well. I learned a lot of interesting facts and can see myself referencing this chapter again in the future when I just want to know the vocabulary word for the device I am using.

Peer Review Part 1

I’m not entirely sure why, but I love helping people work on papers for class. I was a little nervous about doing it in this format, however, because I have not met my classmates in real life. (At least, not that I am aware of). If I know a person in real life, I can gauge their reactions and customize my critique so that it can be effective but not offensive. I would hate to upset someone, particularly a stranger, with a harsh critique of their work. I know how many hours can go into crafting a paper for a class and it can be heartbreaking to see someone tear it to pieces in a matter of minutes. I try to integrate some positive feedback while critiquing someone’s work as well because it helps to reinforce what they’re doing right and then I don’t have to feel like a mean editor! Hopefully my peer review group understands that I wish only to help them improve their work. Overall, even though it can stress me out a bit, I love offering advice and reading the works of my classmates.

As for being on the receiving end of a peer review, I struggle to enjoy the process. I want to know the reason why they want me to make a change and argue it, if need be. But, again, the online and stranger aspect makes it more challenging. I’m sure some would argue it’s easier to critique someone with anonymity on your side, but I strongly disagree. I prefer the personal interaction, especially if I’m receiving the critique. So far, only one of my group members offered any comments and they were solid. I’m not sure how I’m going to integrate what she said just yet, but it allowed me to look at my work with fresher eyes. I appreciate that. My other group member, however, has not posted any comments yet so this review of the process feels a little premature. But since there is the possibility that he won’t post any comments, and the deadline was yesterday, I am reviewing it anyway.

So, overall, it’s a mixed bag. I love feeling like I can help a classmate get a better grade or improve their work in some way. I don’t particularly love receiving critiques of my work, but I always appreciate the effort and use what they say to look at my work in a new way. Peer reviews can also be frustrating when someone misses a deadline, but again, I know that life isn’t perfect and things happen.

Invented Writing Technology

Socrates said, “Then he will not seriously incline to ‘write’ his thoughts ‘in water’ with pen and ink, sowing words which can neither speak for themselves nor teach the truth adequately to others?” in a work by Plato. As soon as I read that sentence, I had the (slightly tongue in cheek) idea to write the word TRUTH in water. However, I could not decide how to best interpret writing in water for the project. Should I simply use water to write the word truth? Or should I somehow write the word submerged in water? Decisions, decisions.

So, I started by using water to write the word truth.

I thought writing with water would be rather easy, but it was actually quite difficult. I used a watering can and it still wasn’t the easiest technology to manipulate. I thought about using something with a finer flow of water, but could not settle on anything more suitable. Other problems I had with this technology included waiting for the weather to cooperate and the temporary nature of the technology. It seemed to prove the point Socrates was trying to make and that was a challenge I wanted to overcome. So, since it didn’t work the way I wanted it to, I decided to go ahead and write truth submerged in water.

Now this is a writing technology I enjoyed creating! It took just a little bit longer to make, but it was fun. I assembled the word using aquarium rocks and then submerged it in water. I liked that this writing technology could be made more permanent by placing it in a freezer. If I’d had the freezer space, I would have done it! This writing technology felt flexible to me and I liked that. It can be temporary, it can be made more permanent, it can be used by any age and it was fun. I would love to see a preschool class use a technology like this for a lesson. I’m really quite pleased with the result of my aquarium rock writing technology!

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My Writing Technologies

My favorite writing technology is the white board. Oh I LOVE using white boards. I organize my life on white boards. First of all, they come in many different sizes and I find that extremely convenient. Secondly, dry erase markers come in a variety of colors, so I’m not limited. Finally, they are changeable. When I’m done, I can just erase my list from the board like it never existed. The flexibility of a whiteboard really appeals to me.

Generally speaking, I am not terribly fussy about the writing technologies I use. I am more likely to grab a pen than a pencil, but that is because I find pens come in a greater variety of shapes and colors. Variety is apparently the spice of my life. As for paper, I have a very deep love for Post-It Notes. They are small, flexible, and come in a variety of colors. I have discovered that I like index cards more than notebooks. However, when an index card isn’t appropriate, I prefer wide ruled notebooks to college ruled notebooks. (I’m fairly certain that has to do with my vision. I’ve had to wear glasses since I was 18 months old. My prescription is apparently very rare and I am not a candidate for contacts or Lasik). I love to type on the computer as well. It amazes me how much easier it is for me to think when I’m typing. The ability to edit instantly rocks my world. Text messaging, instant messaging, and email are all high on my list of technologies I embrace.

The only writing technology I tend to avoid using is the composition notebook. I have no idea what it is about them. For some reason, they seem rigid and inflexible to me and I don’t like that. Weird, eh?

What is style?

For such a small word, style can conjure up a lot of meaning.

I don’t often think about style in relation to writing. Most of the time, when I think of the word style, I think about hair or a TV show like Project Runway. Style makes me think of fashion and how one chooses to express their style through what they wear. I’ve talked about style when it comes to music at times as well. But, rarely have I considered style in relation to writing.

I have a friend, a former roommate actually, that is a writer. His work always intrigued me because of his unique voice. His characters are quirky and just unreal enough to be believable. I chose the 5 letter word “voice” to describe what I liked about his writing, but could I not use the word style in this case as well?

Occasionally, I will read a work by a writer and I feel drawn in by their writing style. Sometimes, their style is conversational and easy to relate to and I feel like I am in the work, experiencing it as it happens on the page. Other times, the style is quirky and unique and it makes me feel like I’m a voyeur getting a glimpse into the secret life of a character or situation. Obviously, style can have a large impact on my enjoyment of a work. I am not a huge history nerd, but I love to read books written by Sarah Vowell. Her voice is unique- both her speaking voice and her writing voice. Her style is accessible and can make reading about presidential assassinations riveting. I’m fairly certain that not every author could make me say that! Her style draws me in and allows me to thoroughly enjoy a topic I would not otherwise necessarily investigate.

It seems that for me, style is an extension of the word voice when it comes to writing. It is a combination of many choices made by an author. From word choices, to sentence structure, to point of view- they all come together to become a writer’s style.

Getting Started

I’ve never had to maintain a blog for a class until now.  

I have a livejournal out there somewhere full of random stories and thoughts, but I haven’t updated it since February of 2009. Many of my friends have deleted their livejournals, but I love knowing mine is out there. I would never remember that gas was $1.95 on November 7, 2008 or that I had a close encounter with a piano on December 20, 2003 that resulted in a little blood and a lot of cursing. 🙂 

But maintaining a blog for class credit is new for me. Truthfully, I think it will be interesting.  It may not have the kinds of stories and memories that my livejournal has, but perhaps it will reignite my desire to maintain a blog again. It seems shameful that so much is going on in my life and I am not keeping track of it the way I would like. Facebook status updates are a poor substitute for a proper blog!