Category Archives: Class Work

General Education Website Feedback (Copy of Comment)

This particular deliberation poll intrigued me greatly.  Similar to my deliberation group for English 015, the group shown here sees the positives for both Options 1 and 3 while completely disregarding Option 2.  However, unlike my group, this group ultimately decided that an exploration-based curriculum was the best course of action for General Education reform; in fact, the group did not see any need for reform at all.  Though I agree with the importance of exploration in a student’s college life to bolster individuality and create a diverse background of knowledge, I actually view skills as the more important focus of the two.  Although exploration classes create a more enjoyable college experience for students, I believe that skills-based classes provide greater payoff in the long-run by teaching students about communication and digital literacy- both key attributes which employers look for in potential workers.  Both exploration courses and skills courses provide well-rounded students, but, to me, skills courses make students more versatile in their own desired field of study and therefore show greater promise.  I completely agree with this group’s integration of both exploration and skills classes into a single curriculum.  However, I have taken the opposite approach in placing the importance of skills higher than that of exploration.  Overall, though, it is apparent that skills and exploration remain within the interest of students, while themes have fallen by the wayside in public opinion.

General Education “Personal Stake”

As a current Penn State student as well as a Penn State dual-enrollment participant in high school, I have had a great deal of personal experience with Penn State University’s general education department.  In general, I disagree with the idea that college students should have to pay for general education credits.  Though it makes sense that students should be well-rounded upon entering the world as an independent thinker, I do not believe that universities should have the right to charge students to take classes outside of their desired career fields.  Through my time at Penn State, I have taken general education credits such as Greek and Roman Mythology, Sociology, and International Relations which, though interesting, have little to no use in my desired field: aerospace engineering.  If universities do indeed have to force unwanted classes on students, the courses should be free of charge.  Though this is incredibly unrealistic for today’s money-oriented world, I see it as the only fair option.

That being said, to me, Options 1 and 3 of the General Education Reform hold promise.  I do believe that, if general education credits are indeed necessary, they should offer the greatest amount of exploration for students as possible.  For example, the classes I chose to take have given me a greater understanding of the world, successfully achieving Penn State’s mission to develop a well-rounded student.  At the same time, however, it is my personal opinion that communication skills are the top most priority for any potential employee.  Again, the classes I took allowed me to improve my personal skills through class presentations and group projects.  In this way, I believe that an even split or combination of general education credits between exploration and skill based classes or ideas would be the best approach for reform.  However, Option 2 concerns me greatly.  In my opinion, integration of classes as a single theme defeats the purpose of general education.  By simply making students take classes within a focused set of topics, Penn State would not be broadening students’ minds to a world of knowledge.  Instead, they would be limiting students’ knowledge by focusing more broadly on one subject.  From the descriptions of the themes, though they value interdisciplinary work, they sound too similar to minors for me to comprehend changing the system.  The worst part of this option, though, is that the benefits are slim.  As I have stated, themes appear to be only slightly more general than minors are today.  How, then would taking classes focused solely on a theme benefit a student more than the student’s independently decided minor?  Overall, I do not see any value in Option 2, but Options 1 and 3 could be combined to create a better, more organized establishment of Penn State’s general education.

March 7 Satire Assignment

“Cold War Update – Obama’s Ukraine Response”

For this assignment, I found three satirical articles by comedian Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report to analyze.  The first article, titled “Cold War Update – Obama’s Ukraine Response” discusses the view that President Barack Obama is seen as “weak” when compared to Russian leader Vladimir Putin after the recent events in Ukraine.  The story begins with Colbert’s use of the logical fallacy reductio ad absurdum when he shows the audience his “shoe phone” and “shoe answering machine” after announcing his apparent beliefs that the Cold War never ended.  Then, after playing news clips of analysts and political figures ridiculing President Obama for his “weak” image, Colbert uses a red herring to talk about the President’s wardrobe in relation to his power viewed by the public.  He notes Obama’s lack of tie and his choice of jeans and uses the wordplay “casual doomsday,” thus twisting the popular phrase “casual Friday” to gain audience appeal.  Finally, Colbert uses what Jay Heinrichs calls a “speak-round” (page 203 of Thank You for Arguing), jokingly calling President Obama “Big Chief Leads-from-Behind” before discussing the President’s choice of action.  Paired with Colbert’s usual use of sarcasm and wit, the piece offers a great rhetorical lesson as well as a laugh for viewers.—obama-s-ukraine-response

 “Arizona’s Religious Freedom Bill & Self-Professed Gays”

The second article I found on The Colbert Report’s website is titled “Arizona’s Religious Freedom Bill & Self-Professed Gays.”  This news story is about a new bill in Arizona that would allow store owners to refuse service to openly homosexual customers on the basis of religious freedom.  During the story, Stephen Colbert uses multiple rhetorical strategies and figures.  For example, Colbert plays on the logical fallacy of ignorance as proof by ridiculing Representative Steve King’s own words that homosexuality is strictly a “self-professed behavior.”  To do this, Colbert uses another logical fallacy, reductio ad absurdum, to relate American figure skater Johnny Weir to a wood nymph.  Finally, at the end of Colbert’s report, he uses the rhetorical figure of repeating first words.  The genius of this specific delivery is that Colbert uses a figure often used within religious texts to show the absurdity of the bill claiming to protect religious freedoms.  For example, Colbert delivers a minute-long hypothetical scenario constantly repeating the word “pretend” to make fun of King’s belief that homosexual couples are plotting against store owners by faking their relationships.  Overall, Stephen Colbert perfectly displays his opinion that the new Arizona Bill is an unfair and unjust use of the law through the simple rhetorical tool of satire.—self-professed-gays

 “Sarah Palin Uses a Hand-O-Prompter”

The final article by Stephen Colbert I found is titled “Sarah Palin Uses a Hand-O-Prompter” and offers perhaps the most abundant source of rhetorical satire of the three.  The story discusses Sarah Palin’s recent speech at a Tea Party Convention as well as her defense of Rush Limbaugh for calling liberals “f-ing retards.”  At the beginning of the report, Colbert uses the figure of speech of twisting a cliché when he adapts the well-known phrase “No taxation without representation” to ridicule the Tea Party’s profit gain.  Also in the story, Colbert again uses the logical fallacy of reductio ad absurdum when he makes fun of Palin’s use of what he calls a “hand-o-prompter” (using the figure of inventing new words) by labeling his thumb in marker.  Finally, at the end of the newscast, Colbert brings it home by explaining satire through satire.  When Palin explains that Rush Limbaugh’s use of the words “f-ing retards” was used in satire, Colbert uses Palin’s own words against her by taking it literally, and thus reducing it to absurdity.  Colbert says that, like Limbaugh, people should come to Palin’s defense and call her a “f-ing retard” to show support for the apparent genius of the satire used.  This piece is filled to the brim with rhetorical strategy, and it is definitely worth the watch.

New Introduction Paragraph for Olympic Moms

From the very beginning of the Olympic games to now, there have been many additions to the competition.  New sports have been added, more countries are represented, and the games are broadcast worldwide for all to see.  One thing that has never changed throughout this time, however, is a mother’s love.  Indeed, mothers are true heroes, constantly pouring out all that they can for the sake of their children. Their love is too marvelous to be fully expressed in words, and everyone has an inborn gratitude towards their own. This sentiment is exactly what Proctor and Gamble tapped into in their commercial for 2012 London Olympic Games. By drawing upon emotions associated with mothers as well as providing worldwide viewership, rhetorical situation and virtue, and style, P&G’s Olympics commercial “Thank You, Mom” tugs on the heartstrings of viewers, leaving them with a subconscious desire for the company’s products.

Snow Day Questions

1. After looking at the three sample papers, which introduction paragraph do you think identified the ad’s context and commonplaces the best? Explain why in a few sentences.

To me, the introduction of Eminem and Chrysler identified the ad’s context and commonplaces the best of the three essays.  Although Olympic Moms and He’s One of Us hinted at the rhetorical strategies used in the paper to support the thesis, the Chrysler analysis directly stated the four topics of the paper in a list.  Though listing the paper’s topics may seem somewhat too abrupt, I felt that the decision made the paper a very easy read for the audience.  There was no guessing as to the author’s thesis, allowing readers to know and understand from the very beginning what ideas the following paper would discuss.

2. Which paper’s organization did you like the best? What strategy did the writer use to develop different topics for the paragraphs? Explain in a few sentences.

I liked the organization of He’s One of Us the most of the three essays. I felt that this particular author made the best use of chronology.  For example, the paper started with a discussion of past techniques for political commercials.  This was not only an excellent way to give readers insight into the realm of political advertising, but it also lead beautifully into the new era of feel-good commercialism.  The author then proceeded to explain John Hickenlooper’s backstory and techniques used in the ad.  Finally, the paper ended with what was essentially the conclusion to the story as Hickenlooper was elected and went on to hold a successful political career.  Giving the paper its own timeline made the writing very easy to follow along.

3. Which paper captured your interest the most? Why do you think that is? Explain in few sentences.

The paper which captured my interest the most was Eminem and Chrysler.  Although I found Olympic Moms to be perhaps the most enjoyable read, I was very captivated by the analysis of the car advertisement.  The reason for this fascinated me as well, for the paper hinted at my own desire to read it.  For example, I have been an Eminem fan for quite some time, and when I saw the title Eminem and Chrysler I immediately connected with the material, seeing a personal interest in the subject matter.  The paper made many good points, but when it mentioned America’s fascination with celebrities, I began to reflect on my own motives for reading the paper.  I was drawn to the title simply because of a name, which I felt gave this paper the most credit for inspiring reflection.

4. Now, turn to your own paper draft. Write a sentence or two about the context(s) and commonplace ideas you are going to identify in the opening paragraph.

In my opening paragraph for my analysis of the United States’ Army Reserve “Where Can…” commercial, I would like to hint at the advertisement’s strategies for winning over the audience, its ability to connect with viewers, and the negative connotation of military actions to the public.  The commonplaces I would like to develop are the American sense of patriotism and the honor associated with serving one’s country.

5. Now, let’s craft a few thesis statements. Try this formula for your own paper topic:

“By/Through [using these specific tactics], [this ad] [analytical verb that answers does what?] [in order to do what?].”

By winning over the hearts and minds of the audience and wiping away the negative connotation often associated with military actions, the United States’ Army Reserve “Where Can…” commercial shows civilians that they can heroically serve their country without the sacrifice of their careers.

By playing to the American sense of pride in one’s country and honor for self-sacrifice, the United States’ Army Reserve “Where Can…” commercial captures both the hearts and minds of its audience.

Ideas for Paper 1: Rhetorical Analysis of an Advertisement

One idea for “Paper 1: Rhetorical Analysis of an Advertisement” would be to discuss the U.S. Army Reserve Commercial “Where Can…”  This commercial depicts everyday men and women leaving their careers to serve in similar positions in the U.S. Army Reserve.  This commercial uses ethos by showing people of stature in the community (a businesswoman and a doctor) taking the transformation into soldiers in uniform.  The characters go from being people you relate to and admire to people you respect.  It uses pathos by appealing to the American commonplace of patriotism.  Logos is also displayed, for the commercial implies that citizens, even students, do not have to put their lives on hold to serve their country.  You can still do what you love while making a difference at the same time.  The commercial also uses the rhetorical devices of posing questions to the audience and using the inspirational theme of the U.S. Army as background music.  I like this commercial in particular because it appeals to all citizens.  From doctors to students, men to women, we are all American and can better the United States.  The commercial also highlights the American ideology that the greatest honor of all is to serve your country.  Overall, I feel that this commercial provides the perfect example for a rhetorical analysis.

Another idea of a commercial for which I could perform a rhetorical analysis would be the Geico “Hump Day Camel Commercial.”  This commercial shows ethos by again depicting everyday workers in business attire that the audience can relate to.  Pathos is perhaps the most obvious rhetorical device used, for, at the end of the commercial, the word “happy,” a word not usually connected to insurance, is literally stated.  Logos is shown through Geico’s use of their famous slogan that “15 minutes could save you 15% or more.”  Another rhetorical device displayed in the Camel commercial is that it appeals to the sense of humor of the audience, making the advertisement more memorable.  The commonplace in this commercial is that everyone, no matter what job you hold or your social class, needs insurance.  Lastly, the commercial plays on the ideology that buying insurance is boring by trying to convey a playful and even enjoyable mood.  The Geico “Hump Day Camel Commercial” provides yet another excellent example for a thorough rhetorical analysis.