Jan 15

Blog Topics: Finalized!

This is just a post to announce my two blog topics. For Passion, I got a ton of interest in the Ancient Mythology topic, so I’ll be writing about that this semester (I’m totes excited!)

For Civic Issues, I’ll be doing foreign policy and international relations. I feel I have more expertise and interest on that topic than on the current party politics going on in the U.S.

I can’t wait to start writing! Oh–and if you have a request for mythology already, please let me know in a comment!

Jan 15

“This I Believe:” Education Opens Worlds (Revised)

People often ask me what it’s like to have two parents with PhD’s. After all, if most teenagers have a hard time getting over the idea that their parents are smarter than them, how does it feel knowing your parents are smarter than most people you will ever meet? Mostly, I feel proud… and, occasionally, stressed. Mom and Dad have pretty high standards for me. But the pressure to apply myself in school, to make myself think and explore, has never been a concern of mine. And it’s because of a belief my parents bestowed upon me since before I could walk.

“Education opens worlds.”

By the time I was two, my parents were trying to teach me everything they could. I started reading early, then writing. They let me do my own chemistry experiments with baking soda and vinegar in the kitchen, and dig around in our vegetable garden for beetles. While other parents took their kids to amusement parks for their birthday, my family went to zoos, aquariums, and science museums–now some of my favorite places.

Learning, my parents told me, was the most incredible experience someone my age could have. School was an adventure, curiosity a superpower. Books were things that opened doors, and introduced you to ways of thinking you would have never discovered otherwise.

As I grew up, I felt almost overwhelmed by all the things I wanted to learn. My school’s library quickly became a kind of oasis for me. I voraciously read anything I could get my hands on, from novels and short stories, to books on history, plants, animals, atoms, meteorology, and plate tectonics. Once, I finished an entire book about potatoes.

Middle and high school brought honors classes and much more stress. My parents remained steadfastly supportive of me, their faculty positions at Penn State University subtle reminders of the places I could go if I worked hard, if I remained curious.

“Education opens worlds,” Dad reminded me as I wrote essay after essay, scrambling to put my college apps together. In those few months, it was hard to remember that I was lucky. There were kids like me out there, who were smart and driven–probably more than me–who simply didn’t have the kind of support I had from my parents, or their school system. They wouldn’t be going to college but here, here I was with this chance

“This is the part of your life,” my mom told me, “where you can decide exactly where you want to go.” I knew she supported me, but the unspoken truth was there: There was no place that would lead me to more places, than a university.

I needed to know where this education I had worked so hard for would take me. I had read and wrote and learned like it was going to save my life.

…And now here I am, sitting at my desk, a freshman at Penn State University, and I realized it may actually have. My name is Isabella Teti, and I believe education opens worlds.

Jan 15

Ideas for Passion Blog, Civic Issues, and “This I Believe” Podcast

My two ideas for my Passion blog are a bit of a departure from the one I did last semester, which was very civic-oriented (feminism and all that jazz). I wanted to have a little more fun with it this time around since we’re also doing a Civic Issues blog where I can get all my liberal monologues out of my system. I’m volleying back and forth between a blog about modern hard rock, and one about ancient mythologies. I really like modern hard rock, and I think the genre is often under-appreciated and misunderstood. I’d love to write about its nuances each week. However, I’m a tad more interested in writing about mythology, specifically because I don’t know as much about it, and I’d like to learn more. My plan for that one would be to pick a certain creature or story each week, research it, and write about what I find. I could also talk about how those stories influenced the cultures of the civilizations they grew out of. And I would take requests, if any readers were curious about a certain story. 🙂

I was thinking about doing women’s issues again for my Civic Issues blog, but I tend to choose the topics I want to learn about based on what I think will be best for me to know in the long run, which means choosing something different and learning about things I’m not familiar with. My two ideas stem from one of my majors: Political Science. I’d either like to talk about party politics, or foreign affairs. At this point I’m leaning toward foreign affairs. Although I’m very passionate about national politics, I honestly feel like it’s been over-talked quite a bit lately. Additionally, the two poli-sci classes I’ve taken/am taking this year are Comparative Government and International Relations–both of which are best for helping me analyze foreign affairs. I know that the Civic Issues websites suggests looking at the US’s foreign policy, but I’ll probably also be looking at the policies of other countries as well. You can’t really know what’s going on unless you study both sides.

For my “This I Believe” podcast, I’ve been considering talking about people’s right to education. I was raised by two parents with PhD’s, and they’ve always taught me that education is the most important thing I could do for myself. As I grew up and learned more about the disadvantages of people who never receive an education, I became even more certain of this belief. I want to talk about why I find education so important, and why it’s only fair that everyone have access to it. I’ve also been thinking about doing my podcast on the value of service, and how helping people in your community can actually make you think and feel like a better person. I would talk about how it’s not only a way for you to improve people’s lives, but also a way to see both sides of the story, and become more empathetic to those less fortunate than yourself.

Dec 14

Paradigm Shift in Attitudes Towards Domestic Violence TED Talk

Nov 14

Stasis Questions Regarding the Teaching of the Theory of Evolution in Public Schools (Updated)

My group decided to do our Unit 4 Assignment on the teaching (or lack thereof) of the Theory of Evolution in public schools. The controversy, many would say, stems from the first Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which among other things, provides all citizens with the freedom of religion, and effectively separates the church and the state. This means that anything funded by the government, like public education, can’t show any sort of favoritism toward any religion. It would be unconstitutional.

For some background information, rewind back to 1925, when Darwinism was on the rise. People in Tennessee were in an uproar after teachers began to implement the Theory of Evolution in the school’s curriculum. Even though the theory had been basically proven as scientific fact, it contradicted the religious beliefs of the largely-Christian population of the state (In the Abrahamic religions–Judaism, Christianity, and Islam–sacred texts speak of the world being only about 10,000 years old, and of people and animals being placed on the earth by God, rather than evolving from one another. Darwinism renders both of these claims obsolete). The matter was eventually taken to court, in the so-called “Scopes Monkey Trial” of 1925. In it, the court ruled that evolution could not be taught in public schools, because it degraded certain religions beliefs. But however entertaining the trial was, it never resolved the question of whether the First Amendement permitted states to ban teaching of a theory which contradicted religious beliefs.

It wasn’t until 1968, during the Epperson v. Arkansas case, that the Supreme Court ruled such bans unconstitutional, as their main purpose was religious, and therefore unable to be made into legislation. Still, many parents have reservations about sending their kids in to learn about evolution, even though it has now become a foundational concept of modern biology. Many public schools have taken to avoiding the subject by simply never mentioning evolution in the classroom. But whether this is the right thing to do, remains to be seen.

With this information in mind, the stasis questions I’ve come up with for this topic are:

Conjecture: Does it, or does it not go against the 1st amendment to teach the Theory of Evolution in public schools? OR Does teaching the Theory of Evolution degrade certain religions enough for it to be considered a threat to a citizen’s freedom of religion?

Definition: Do the origins of this controversy have more to do with American citizens’ will to protect the first amendment, or the fear of religious citizens of having there religion supposedly upstaged by science.

Quality: Is it more important to inform the nation’s youth of basic scientific knowledge, or to avoid the risk of discrediting parts of someone’s religion?

Policy/Quality: What are the potential long term effects of withholding scientific knowledge from our nation’s youth? Of discrediting certain claims made by a person’s religion? Which consequences are more/less preferable?

And finally, after answering all of these questions, we can ask:

Policy: Should our public schools be teaching students the Theory of Evolution?

Nov 14

Visual Rhetorical Strategies

I think the best times to use visual rhetoric rather than or in addition to written/oral rhetoric, is when you are going for an emotional appeal. Pretty much every kind of image–with the exception of graphs or charts, which are innately grounded in logic–are meant to invoke emotions. This could be in the form of photographs, sketches, or paintings, all of which are designed to give us something to relate to (e.g. a person’s facial expression or posture). Other times the pathos might be less obvious, giving us hints of images which compel us to fill in the blanks, and engage the in the text. This less obvious pathos can be found in images, as well as colors and typefaces. You might also consider using visuals when you are more interested in grabbing the attention of your audience, instead of having them think deeply about what you’re writing (Think posters, advertisements, or headlines, rather than the body of an essay).

Ethos is especially evident in photographs, in which you are forced to view the image in the perspective of the photographer. The viewer is compelled to consider why the photographer thought the image something worth taking a picture of, and why they took it from the perspective they did. Visual pathos is the most obvious when images of people are depicted; the viewer can easily imagine themselves making the expression, standing with the posture, and feeling the same emotions as the person in the picture. Logos, as I’ve mentioned, is usually depicted by graphs and charts, as they are often the vehicle for expressing statistical data.

The most interesting thing I learned while reading this chapter were the origins of all the the different typefaces, and the effects they produced. It seems obvious now that I’ve learned about them, but this was something I’ve never considered before.

Oct 14

Outline for “The First Movement to Combat Domestic Violence (Happening Now)”


Domestic violence, as we see it today, is completely despicable. The police have a no tolerance policy when they get a call. But domestic violence is nothing new. In fact, fathers have beat their wives and children for thousands of years, and for nearly as long as history has been documented, this was normal. Condoned, even.

-Purposes of domestic abuse:

-keeps father in charge

-makes wives and children more obedient

-considered masculine

-Explain where “rule of thumb” comes from

(at some point mention I’m using the pronoun “he” for the aggressor and “she” for the victim because that is generally how things play out. It doesn’t always happen this way, but for our purposes and lack of confusion, these are the pronouns I’ll by applying)

Transition: When did it all change?

Policy change: 1980s

-Ronald Reagan, policy crackdown, zero tolerance with drugs, reform for policy policy

-Equal Protection Policy: Police must protect everyone equally under the law

But police could be called to break up a bar fight–they’d immediately arrest those who participated. But if they were called to investigate a domestic, they’d just check to see if beating was in progress (if they came at all), the leave. Usually, the husband would then get mad and continue to beat the wife when they left.

-Story (name pending): A woman calls the police multiple times over the course of six months. They never do anything. When they’re finally called for the last time, husband has shot the woman, dragged her outside and is kicking her. Police watch the woman get kicked twice more before arresting the man after the third kick.

-Woman sues under the equal protection policy and wins. Several more women then sue for similar problems with policy and continually win.

-Reagan calls for police policy change. Police also get paranoid–they don’t want to get sued. They start a zero tolerance policy: If there’s evidence of abuse, perpetrator gets arrested on the spot, whether the victim wants them to or not.


-Since women were talking about it now, people were beginning to think of domestic abuse as something bad, and no longer the norm. It became a huge issue within the feminist movement, especially in Western society.

-More domestic abuse reported than ever–became apparent that it was the most common form of violence perpetrated.

-Definition of “violence” changes: emotional and psychological abuse also considered violent (see Duluth Model of Power and Control)

-Talk about new punishments and their severity: Are they severe enough? Feminists would argue no=> goes along with lack in severity in rape penalization.

Considering Rape Culture:

-Explain what rape culture is (find suitable definition, then elaborate with a ton of examples + some personal experiences–i.e. cat-calling, slut-shaming, people expecting me to “prevent” myself from being raped)

-What this implies for the issue of domestic violence:

-It’s expected that domestic violence will happen, because sex is often portrayed violently in our culture and men just can’t help themselves. (“Boys will be boys”)

-Marital rape is only just becoming an “real thing”

-People are quick to victim-blame: “She threw a cup at him first–he was just defending himself by punching her in the face!”

-Personal example: Guy I know defends Ray Rice, saying it might have been self defense because his girlfriend hit him first.

Explain why women might start fights:

-women may be violent in a relationship, but when asked why, it’s typically for different reasons than men. Remember, men tend to domestically abuse people in order to control their partner within a relationship. But normally, that’s the last thing on a woman’s mind…

  1. She’s just so angry or upset–she acts on her emotions, but it’s not calculated
  2. She wants to start the fight because she can feel it coming, and she just wants some control over when it happens

Conclusion: What can be done now?

  1. Feminist movements need to keep going–women know what’s best for women, and we need to trust victims when they say something is going on.
  2. Men need to confront other men who are abusers–these people tend to listen more to men anyway.
  3. More education for everyone: what is abuse, how to deal with it. It’s not always like in movies.

Oct 14

TED Talk Thoughts

There were little things Chimamanda Adiche did throughout her TED talks which I felt subtly but effectively engaged her audience and made them like her, which in turn made them more receptive to what she was saying to them. First, she used humor, but only sparingly. In essence, she added enough clever and tasteful wit to perk the interest of her audience–but she didn’t use humor so often that her entire presentation became a joke. I think a happy medium is important, especially when you talk about the things she did, such as feminism and stereotypes. Taking a light-hearted approach to a heavy issue is a lot less intimidating to those listening. It encourages conversation and thought, rather than fear, anger, or guilt. Of course you can’t use so much humor that the audience stops taking the issue seriously. But if you want your audience to listen to you, you have to make them comfortable.

Another important part of making your audience comfortable is not singling out people or seeming accusatory. In her humor, Adiche often made jokes out of experiences she had involving other people acting bigoted or ignorant. But she made an equal amount of cracks at herself, proving that no one is perfect, and she is not unaware of herself also making mistakes. As an activist, I know a large part of progress is calling out others and yourself when you do something insensitive or prejudice. Adiche proves that she’s self aware, as well as a good person, by acknowledging her faults throughout her speeches.

Last but not least, she uses plenty of personal examples in order to illustrate her point along side her physical evidence. This paints a more vivid picture of a situation, and also makes the audience relate more to Adiche–which ultimately leads to them caring more about her argument. If you can’t relate to someone, why would you care about what they have to say, really? I think this is an important idea to keep in mind when we write papers and give speeches. Before we can convince our audience of anything, we need to win them over. Whether that’s through humor, passion, or simple pragmatic thinking, we all need something like this in our presentations.

Oct 14

Super Rough Draft of Rhetorical Analysis

How does a president advocate an idea to the general public, when a faction of his Congress is rallying against him? Barack Obama had to do just that on October 1st, 2013, the day the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” came into being. On that same day, a faction of Congress known as the Tea Party initiated a movement within the Republican party in protest of the new law–by voting to defund the government and in essence “shut down” the entire system.  In this speech, President Obama attempts to both reiterate the value of his health care plan and to denounce the actions of the Republican Party.

The Affordable Care Act has been a trademark of the Obama administration since the time the president first campaigned. He has always been a strong advocate for universal healthcare, and it was one of his main goals and projects upon becoming president. During the first four years of his presidency, Obama had been working to finalize this plan, and after he was reelected, it was finally time to instate it. Republicans have shown outward hostility toward what they termed “Obamacare,” ever since Obama suggested it as a democratic candidate. They’ve accused him of being a “socialist,” and have remained convinced that the health care plan was bound to fail. For many, Republican and Democrat, the Affordable Care Act has become intrinsically linked to Obama’s presidency, for better or worse. And this why, strategically, the Republicans targeted the Affordable Care Act. In doing so, they not only attack one of the least popular policies among Republicans, but they degrade the entirety of the Obama administration in the process.

The speech Obama had planned to make on October 1st was one originally meant to acknowledge and celebrate the commencement of the Affordable Care Act. Instead, he learned that the Republicans were planning to shut down the government on the same day, and as the president, he would naturally need to address this issue. However, the Affordable Care Act was still going to be launched, which meant that during his speech, Obama now had to focus on acclaiming it and addressing the government shutdown. The speech begins on the topic of the problem of the government shutdown, then switches into a passage about the value of the Affordable Care Act, before circling back to reiterate the unnecessariness of the shutdown once again. In this rhetorical analysis I will focus first on the president’s use of language first as he addresses the government shutdown, and then later as he reaffirms the advantages of the Affordable Care Act.

Obama opens his speech up by immediately diving straight into the problem of the government shutdown. After a very brief descriptions of what the Republicans in Congress had done that morning, he states that “This Republican shut down did not have to happen, but I want every American to understand why it did happen.” The use of the word “Republican” as the description of “shutdown” is significant, as it emphasizes the fact that the shutdown was caused by the Republican party. This is a very strategic use of language, especially since this speech is one of the first to address the issue of the shutdown. Immediately, the people listening to the speech are learning to associate it with the Republican party, and later we’ll see, with economic disfunction.

The main rhetorical device Obama uses to incriminate the Republican party is logos. In other words, he uses logic to point out the lack of logic in the Tea Party’s actions. As he states, “the irony that the House Republicans have to contend with is they’ve shut down a whole bunch of parts of the government, but the Affordable Care Act is still open for business. And this may be why you’ve got many Republican governors and senators and even a growing number of reasonable Republican congressmen who are telling the extreme right of their party to knock it off, pass a budget, move on.” Pointing out that there are Republicans who are against what their own party is doing really makes the faction causing the shutdown seem ridiculous. It also makes Republican citizens question their own party, because if the people who they support aren’t supporting each other, who’s to say if the Tea Party is doing the right thing? President Obama goes on to list the ways in which shutting the government down endangers the US economy, puts millions of people out of work, and puts government institutions meant to improve the lives of its citizens on hold. He mentions how the Republicans’ stated “goal” of the shutdown was to do away with the Affordable Care Act, but that shutting down the government doesn’t actually do anything to accomplish this. And this leaves Americans to wonder: Why didn’t Congress simply reject the Affordable Care Act when it was still a bill which needed their approval? Isn’t that their job? In essence, what Obama is trying to prove through facts is what the Tea Party has done does not make sense, and citizens should not support it.

In this segment in particular, Obama’s audience consists of more than the American people, even if that is who he is addressing directly. It’s also targeted at those watching in different countries, and to Congress as well. Obama stresses in the beginning of his speech that it is a faction that is causing this huge commotion. A faction. In other words, if someone is watching from another country, he wants them to know that most Americans support a reaction such as this. He makes it clear towards the closing that it’s not responsible or mature for the Republican Congressmen to act this way: “That’s not how adults operate. Certainly, that’s not how our government should operate.” To the Republican Congressmen, he states that he will not negotiate with them because of how absurd they’re being, saying “I’m not going to allow anybody to drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud just to refight a settled election or extract ideological demands. Nobody gets to hurt our economy and millions of hardworking families over a law you don’t like.” He wants the Republicans to understand that this is their mess that they’ve created, and now they have to clean it up. He knows that many of them don’t agree with him, which is why he used logos more than pathos or ethos. Facts and logic are hard to argue, and using them in the way Obama has makes it easy to expose the lack of logic behind the Tea Party’s actions. Throughout this section of the speech, Obama talks in a professional, even tone, which contrasts once again with the implied ridiculousness of Congress Republicans. It makes him easier to believe when he is reacting so calmly and confidently–almost like a teacher making an example of a misbehaving student.

In the second part of his speech, the president uses pathos and logos in order to stress the value of the Affordable Care Act. He tells three stories about women who haven’t been able to get health insurance, and how it’s been negatively affecting their life. He then broadens this statement to include all Americans who have struggled without health insurance, and will now be able to get health insurance. This is an emotional appeal to anyone who has ever been without health insurance or cared about who doesn’t have health insurance. The stories he tells of those who struggled are meant to tug on the audience’s heart strings, making us feel sympathy for those who live in poverty and can’t keep themselves healthy because of it. In contrast, it invokes relief, knowing that anyone who needs health insurance is able to have it. He then uses logic in the form of statistics to rebut negative assertions about the Affordable Care Act made by Republicans. And throughout this section of his speech, President Obama puts more emotion into his voice, implying that he is excited about the new law, and that his audience should be as well.

No conclusion yet.

Oct 14

Analyzing Lily King

Step 2: Context

Lily King is an author of the opinion column for the New York Times and author of the novel, Euphoria. She grew up in a family full of divorces and thus learned to fear marriage itself. In Euphoria, these fears about failing at her marriage are depicted in her female protagonists, who ends up making impulsive, stupid decisions and ends up ruining her marriage. However, King’s own marriage is happy and healthy, contrasting her former beliefs. She wants to tell the reader that, despite the fears they may have about marriage, it doesn’t always fail, and it can actually be really happy.

The New York Times is a newspaper read by a very large audience, both in the U.S. and abroad. It’s hard to accurately categorize the type of people who read it, considering how huge and diverse this audience is. However because of its modern, intellectual articles and authors, some might say it takes a slightly liberal stance, and therefore attracts more liberal readers than conservative. We can assume that its readers are up-to-date with current events, or at least have an interest in current events. Otherwise, they probably wouldn’t care to take the time to read a news article. The forum for this piece–an opinion column–gives King an opportunity to speak her mind about something, rather than speak objectively as traditional journalists expected to do. It also allows her to talk about her personal life, which is the basis for her argument and evidence.

This argument is one of many which reevaluates the value of marriage in our society. Marriage as it’s been traditionally seen is going out of fashion, largely because the rate of divorce is going up. Right now, about 1 out of 2 marriages fail on average. It’s not surprising that King would be afraid of marrying, especially in light of her family history. But this fear is something almost anyone in her audience can relate to, because almost everyone has known a couple who has gotten a divorce. And divorce itself is a highly discussed topic: sometimes it’s freeing, but most of the time it’s described as a drawn out, legal battle with both parties hating each other and feeling exhausted by their own decisions. Another common notion is that love starts to diminish and become less exciting once you get married, and King even voices this belief in her article. So there aren’t many people who wouldn’t be concerned with the prospect of a failed marriage nowadays.

Step 3: Text

The main argument King makes is that, despite a person’s fears about marriage, it won’t always turn out badly. So if you are ready and truly love the person, it’s not a bad thing to give it a try. She supports this by referencing personal experience. King had plenty of reason to fear divorce and marital unrest, but she loved her fiancé, and now they’re happily married. King’s argument is not laid out explicitly. Instead she tells you the story of her engagement and marriage, and then summarizes how it turned out. It’s structured as if her life is the argument, and how she’s living now is the evidence that marriage is not always a bad thing.

The fact that this article is published on the web increases the audience even more, particularly when it comes to young people. Most young people would rather get their news from the internet, rather than a newspaper. King probably had this in mind, especially since she is writing about decisions she made while she was still relatively young. She may want to pass her experience down to younger generations.

King’s ethos is in her having lived through a life surrounded by people who got divorced, and not being certain about her own marriage. She also speaks in a tone which is objective, recognizing her and her family’s own mistakes. The pathos she uses appeals to those who are afraid of marriage and commitment. She makes references to anxieties which many people have about marriage, which makes the argument relatable and therefore more believable.

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