Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Validation is Essential

I just administered the final for my class.

Here is the list of important things I taught my bright-eyed, college freshman:

  • Who Bob Dylan is, and that he sings a song called "Blowin in the Wind."
  • How to mime someone playing the accordion
  • That there is a movie called The King's Speech, and it is a good movie.
  • The style of punctuation in Cormac McCarthy's The Road
  • Donald Draper is beautiful 
  • How to tell an effective ghost story using rhetorical tools
  • Tweeting a thesis statement
  • I cannot spell to save my life. It's so hard having to have a blackboard without spell check
  • Branagh's Henry V's speech should give you goosebumps
  • Much depends on a red wheelbarrow
  • I hate emoticons
  • The OED website is the greatest thing ever
  • Alanis Morissette killed irony

I think my list encapsulates the most essential things any person could learn, but my class mentioned some other things that were not on the list. Here is a smattering of the less-essential things that my students say that they learned:

"I feel that through meetings with you, and the Writing Center, I was able to find a way to include my own voice in an acceptable manner into my formal papers....I liked when we learned about Cormac McCarthy and how he knows the conventional way of writing, but even so, does his own thing. I would like to mirror something like that."

"Once I understood ethos, pathos, and logos, I began to look for each of these in any piece of literature. It was as if I had a strange obsession to ensure they were all there."

"The rhetorical triangle concept has also refined my ability to 'read' and analyze claims in the world around me"

"I learned how to formulate an effective and succinct thesis statement."

"I always thought that because this person was published, then the author is completely credible and they don't have any fallacies in their writing; however, after being in this class for a whole semester, my perspective on what authors write has changed. Writers are merely people who are trying to convince others....I now understand that no matter who is making the argument, I always have to read critically and decide whether the author is credible or not for myself."

"I found that...the words that we use in our writing do not necessarily have to be the largest of with the most syllables. The way that I use my words all depends on the audience."

"This has been one of the most enlightening classes I have ever taken. I found that people are tied in with everyone else, and that if proper tools are used, then there is not telling what good, or evil, can surpass after persuading an audience. I certainly am no Mark Antony, or Teddy Roosevelt but I know what they did to make them who they are."

"I would simply write what I felt my strongest points are, and would often completely neglect pathos, which is something that I am now able to see as a big mistake."

"I still love to write poems and other types of fun literature. I think that this class has actually increased how well that I can write these stories now."

"In this class I have learned that rhetoric is a wonderful ally."

"I learned how to do find proper sources and how to read and analyze information." 

After all of the long hours of grading, planning lessons, student emails, conferencing and teaching lessons, I feel that it was worth it.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Curate 1K

 Last weekend I went with a friend to her uncle's house. Her uncle is an artist that has traveled the world and taught art at universities in the US and Germany. The whole house was covered in paintings. You took a tour of the house like it was a gallery. The design of the house didn't really matter; the paintings are what mattered. I love that. I want my house to be like that. Unfortunately, my roommate and I only own one print and we have to frame it. The past semester I have been looking at artwork to put on my walls. While IKEA is great, technology makes it so easy to find affordable, original art. For example, here is a website that I was looking at today: Curate 1K. Here are some of my favorite pieces; it was difficult to narrow it down.

While we were at this artist's house, he gave me a canvas, paint, paint brushes, and told me to paint. The last time I painted it was with craoyla. I don't think I have even painted with legitimate tools. Can I just say how difficult painting is? I never thought I could appreciate art anymore than I already do, but give someone a paint brush and they discover a new depth of appreciation for art. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Almost Famous

So a few days ago, a friend of mine emails me a link to her blog:

(Yes, click on the link).

To my surprise, I found excerpts of our personal email conversations from this past week. It's finals week, so these emails were written quickly with minimal wit, too many or not enough capitalizations, poor word choice and grammar. But that's how most people--yes, even English graduate students and university instructors--write emails to friends. Apparently I need to be more careful about my emails; you never know who will post them on their blog. While I'm embarrassed about revealing my terrible email habits (thank goodness there were no incriminating emoticons), I am flattered about the content. In fact, I am so flattered that I decided to unmask anonymous H---. Yes, blogging world, H--- is me.

Now that I have proclaimed myself, I would like to return the favor (i.e. the flattering bit, not the sharing of personal emails).

My friends E--- and R--- always talked about becoming friends with T---. R--- secretly read T's blog for after she edited T---'s paper for publication two years ago. It makes sense, T--- is smart, down to earth, funny and adorable. We always talked about becoming friends with her, but we were sure that could not compete with all the fellow graduate students that felt the same way. I kid you not, there is always a group of people around her. This may be too much of a blog love fest for you, but I feel very comfortable. I blame this public display of blogger affection on reading too much  Samuel Johnson and James Boswell; greatest bro-mance in 18th century literature. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Giving my Right Arm for Richard II...

I would give my right arm to see the Donmar Warehouse's production--opening today--of Richard II. Okay, I would give me left arm; I'm too dependent on my right arm. Here are my reasons for exchanging a life of one armedness for a night at the theatre.

Reason 1: Donmar Warehouse productions are brilliant. 

Reason 2: Eddie Redmayne is playing Richard II. 

Reason 3: It's Shakespeare. And we all know how I feel about the bard.

Reason 4: Eddie Redmayne.

Reason 5: I saw Red in Chicago a month ago, and all I could think about was seeing the original cast that performed it at the Donmar (i.e. Eddie Redmayne & Alfred Molina). Simply a brilliant play. 

Reason 6: It's provocatively kairotic. 

Reason 7: Eddie Redmayne.

So if you were shopping for the perfect Christmas present to give me, all I want for Christmas is a flight to London and a ticket to see this. 

Did I mention Eddie Redmayne is in it?