Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bibliography for MAP II

Teachout, Terry. “Culture in the Age of Blogging.” Commentary, Vol. 119, Issue 6, June 2005, DOI: 00102601.

Van Dijck, José. “Mediated Memories: Personal Cultural Memory as Object of Cultural Analysis.” Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, Vol. 18, No. 2, June 2004, Pp. 261-277, DOI: 13396614. 


Part I

“Mediated Memories: Personal Cultural Memory as Object of Cultural Analysis” by José van Dijck explores the significance in personal collections of artifacts—or mediated memories—that construct personal identity and thus contribute to the larger cultural memory, or the collective.

Dijck’s voice is authoritative. She approaches her audience from a sound level of understanding and demonstrates her intellectual exploration of the many voices—past and present—that have contributed to her topic of exploration: mediated memories. Though, what makes Dijck effective in her approach to her audience is the equality she establishes with the reader. Her subject permits many different and paradoxical views on human nature. Dijck acknowledges a wide range of these voiced theories on the significance of personal mediated memories in the individual’s life, in turn breaking away from the pessimistic idea of personal human insignificance in relation to the collective and arguing that our “private shoeboxes” of mediated memories have just as much significance by themselves as the collective “shoebox.”

Mediated memories, that is, what we as individuals deem important and valuable enough to keep and by which we remember certain events, is a very personal subject and one that is universally relatable. Thus, Dijck has an opportunity—from the very argument/subject itself—to appeal to her audience on an emotional level. She does so not by becoming overly expressive in her praise for human individuality, but by offering a precise metaphor to which she returns often in her discourse: the “private shoebox” in which—and here is an appeal to history, to nostalgia—past generations stored keepsakes, physical sites of memory, family heirlooms. This image has the capacity to call upon a host of associations in the reader, in turn resonating with their own method of collecting and mediating memories.

Underlying the strong emotional metaphor are the concrete voices Dijck employs to support, illustrate and frame her claim that the personal is important by itself. These rational arguments, some of which she takes as true—some of which she contests and breaks away from—are never left unexplained. Dijck embeds the theories of other sociologists, philosophers and psychologists within the context of her claim, never allowing the audience to stray far from her own perspective. Foucault, Huyssen and Hoskins are just a sampling of the many authorities whose published ideas Dijck uses to solidify her theory.

Dijck’s major claim is that individual mediated memories are worthy of study, interesting and relevant by themselves. In order to arrive at this conclusion, she makes many minor, supporting claims to help the reader arrive at the same destination. Individual memories cannot be separated from cultural context and thus from the collective identity. The very method and content through which people create these memory objects depend upon the culture’s prevailing technologies and structures of communication. The individual, then, is at once personal and part of the collective—they demand each other’s existence for being in themselves. Personal memory is “a cultural phenomenon that encompasses both the activities and products of remembering” (261).

Mediated memories, in Dijck’s theory, help people to make sense of their surroundings and shape personal identity. People thus make sense of their lives and relationships based upon these memories. Beginning with a discussion of personal cultural memory, Dijck shows how mediated memories act as the physical representation of the individual intersecting with culture. She considers these objects as both cultural acts as well as products of that culture. For example, Dijck describes a parent recording their child’s first steps. Using either one or multiple forms of documentation—written word, photo, video, etc.—the parent defines this moment in time and space, constructing a memory through various media. However, the available technologies dictate the way this recording—and remembering—takes place. A photograph of the moment will have a different impact than a written narrative of the event, and media used together will produce another effect altogether. “The decision to record such events is already, to a large extent, stipulated by cultural conventions, prescribing which event are symbolic or ritual highlights and thus worth flagging” (263).

Dijck also uses general knowledge about memory from the psychological field. Humans constantly reinterpret past events—memories are not fixed and stagnant, rather they continue to change based on the present. “... The act of memory incorporates the creation of memory products as well as their continuous (re)interpretation. Only from that creative act emerges a continuum between past and present; time and memory shape each other” (264).

Part II

Dijck often uses sustentative warrants to locate her claim. By presenting other psychologists’ and sociologists’ theories first {after the initial statement of her claim in the introduction}, she explains the alternative theories in her own words and either concurs or departs from their ideas. For example, after examining the theories of Huyssen and Hoskins, Dijck departs from one of their central claims. “... The emphasis on individual memory representations as building blocks for, or particular versions of, collective memory ignores the always inherent creative tension between individuality and collectivity...” (270). By means of disassociation, Dijck is successful in articulating and further explaining her claim.

Dijck also appeals, as was discussed earlier, to the audience on an emotional level. “Countering the overwhelming emphasis on collective memory by institutions, I would like to restore attention to individual mediated memories as collections worthy of academic scrutiny” (275).

Part I

“Culture in the Age of Blogging” by Terry Teachout is at once commentary on the function of blogs in today’s culture, historical analysis of their inevitable popularity as a form of communication and explanation/personal narrative into the authors experience of creating not the first art blog, but “the first to be written by a critic already active in the mainstream media...”

Teachout’s main claim is that blogs signal a new shift in standard media, which implies America’s deep cultural fragmentation as brought about in the last century. Subsequently, she explores the realities, pros, cons and possibilities of blogs, creating a list of commonalities across the blogosphere. Finally, she questions the potential of blogs and the role they will play in the future, shaping and influencing the cultural and social landscape.

Teachout relies heavily on history to show how her argument has merit. Giving a brief synopsis of U.S. history over the last 100 years, she draws the reader’s attention to specific events as major moments pushing cultural fragmentation to its current place. She appeals to authority to support her claims—Henry James and Israel Zangwill—among others and cites the fissure between left-wing academics and neo-conservatives as a major moment of cultural rupture. Perhaps her strongest argument, though, lies in the way media itself is shifting from corporately controlled newspapers to privately aggregated news stories from a variety of sources. Technology allowed for this shift, which, argues Teachout, is indicative of a culturally fragmented nation where one media source no longer satisfies people’s diverse interests. The day of the information middleman is not yet over, but it is drawing to a close.”

Teachout uses association and disassociation throughout her argument. Interestingly, she revisits positions she once held and made public only to disassociate her current ideas from her former. “But I was mistaken. When it came to culture, liberal domination of the news media and the educational establishment failed to trigger an oppositional movement of similar intensity.” Alternatively, taking association a step further, Teachout not only agrees with claims by Richard Brookhiser and Rupert Murdoch, she assumes enough authority to add onto their ideas. “What Murdoch did not say, but could have said...”

In terms of ethos, she uses a conversational voice to address the reader. As if in a casual, friendly exchange, her tone is upbeat and unselfconscious. Her personal narrative as a relatively early blogger runs alongside her discussion of the larger cultural phenomenon that blogs have become. Thus, she welcomes the reader to at once appreciate her personal experience and the potential of the blogosphere as a medium. She knows what its like because she actually experienced it. 

Part II

Teachout motivates her readers—potential bloggers themselves—to actively participate and consume information on blogs by presenting an optimistic view of the medium’s future. “When the history of blogging is written a half-century from now, its chroniclers may yet record that the highest achievement of the Internet, a seemingly impersonal piece of postmodern technology, turned out to be its unprecedented ability to bring creatures of flesh and blood closer together.” By illustrating a new world in which communication functions on many levels, even closing the fissures blogging may bring about, Teachout motivates her audience to participate in sculpting the spaces necessary for such interaction.

For her argument to work, Teach out assumes certain values supercede others. Her claim rests upon the historical example of individuals esteeming their own preferences before the traditional mass media. Smaller more precise voices have just as much if not more quality than those on a payroll, she supposes is the widely held sentiment.

In comparison, the two examined articles broach the same subject: recorded memory. Dijck doesn’t explicitly limit her discussion to blogs—in fact, she never even brings blogs per say into the discussion—yet she describes multi-media methods of recording and sculpting one’s memories. Oftentimes her depiction of mediated memories is precisely what bloggers create on their websites. Teachout, then, fits into Dijck’s discussion about the intersection of the individual with the collective. Aggregating, recording and responding to artists’ representations of emotion or event as defined by their culture, Teachout creates her own mediated memory of the art world. She simultaneously carves out her personal place among the many competing voices and adds to the larger collective experience from where she draws her material. 


Relevance: Grimes’ reasoning is directly related and stemming from his topic: the hook-up. His arguments flow well as he develops and supports his minor claims. There is little or no information/data that stands out as unrelated from the rest.

Acceptability: Grimes deeply explores and clearly defines the “hook-up,” that is, as he sees it. His entire essay basically works toward supporting his definition and outlining the implications of the act. Another key concept Grimes uses is intimacy, which he also clearly defines {again, through his eyes} throughout the essay. However, at one point he alludes to a potential argument in favor of the hook-up: feminism. Without exploring the topic too deeply, he provides multiple arguments {his opinion} as to why the hook-up actually works against womens’ liberation.

Sufficiency: It is unclear from where Grimes gets his data. Is it from personal experience with hook-ups? From fellow students’ experiences? From friends? Most of his argument relies on personal opinion and value hierarchy in terms of that Other . Otherwise, I think, his data relies on observation.

Rebuttal: Grimes poses questions at every juncture of his argument, using them to move his audience toward a specific conclusion: hook-up culture threatens chances at real intimacy and defeats the real purpose of its existence, to feel special in the eyes of another. By constantly posing these questions he invites the audience to form their own answers before reading his. There is possibility for an alternative road to be taken at the beginning of each paragraph, yet Grimes keeps readers on track by immediately stating his answer.

Personal Response: For the most part, I actually agree with Grimes. Though, I’m tempted to cite his enthusiasm for the subject, however, as a potential fallacy. He boarders on being overly emotional as he answers the questions posed. My biggest issue with the essay is his quick treatment—perhaps bordering on attack—of women’s position in the hook-up. How is he to know women don’t view their male partners in the same light? This is a big assumption and statement on his part—dangerous when treated so briefly and, in my opinion, flippantly. It’s almost like he uses pity to convince women to abandon the hook-up culture and thus salvage their dignity. This sentence in particular bothers me: “The real sexual power a woman has is to refuse to give away sex until the man has proved his commitment to her.”

Friday, January 23, 2009

On Aesthetic Importance...

Four major claims stood out to me in Virginia Postrel’s “Aesthetic Imperative.” Posteral argues that Americans’ move toward a heightened aesthetic sensitivity is not only a natural thing, but a good thing.  Because the desire for function still comes first
, paying attention to how something looks—and basing one’s purchase only partly upon it—is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it is just another form of self-expression.
 Humans innately enjoy tactile and visual responses to things, explains Posteral. “The look and feel of things tap deep human instincts.” She bases this first claim on accepting that it’s fun and gratifying to shape one’s world in a unique way.

Part of the reason for some people’s concerns about aesthetic proliferation may lie in another of Posteral’s claims: aesthetics permeate more areas of everyday life than it once did.
 Consumers and customers demand aesthetic quality; industries once only focused on innovative function have now turned an equal devotion to form. Design is moving from the abstract to the personal
, explains Posteral. Art is now accessible to the population as a whole, not just the elite few which opens up a creative possibility for anybody. Posteral notes one political writer living in Washington D.C. who now pays more attention to clothing—and likes it.
 “It’s another way of saying every day is special,” she quotes his explanation.

From Posteral’s examples and arguments, it is clear she feels aesthetics are distinctly personal and the resulting preferences culturally based. Citing one grocery shopper’s sentiment that the addition of a Starbucks—which is obviously a major cultural and even status symbol—is the “crowning glory” of a new supermarket
 exemplifies this claim. Alone, out of context and without the eye of a beholder, the image means nothing. We make sense of it as situated beings within a specific ideology.


Range of Warrants:

Substantive: Posteral uses disassociation throughout her arguments. She lays out what, say, the trend of increased aesthetics doesn’t mean and transitions to what it does mean: “The issue is not what style is used but rather that style is used […] even in areas where function used to stand alone.”

Ethos/Authoritative: Posteral’s voice is not condescending. Rather, she is very optimistic about the presence of an increased aesthetic in everyday life. Her examples are not those of frustrated individuals overwhelmed by a world overflowing with too many choices, but of people whose lives are enriched and made fun by increased option. She also adds some critique: our society is trained to be skeptical of aesthetic importance, or of something too flashy overshadowing a deeper importance or underlying message. However, she gives the eye more credibility than that: “But the eye’s mind is identifying something genuinely valuable.” We know how to tell when something lacks importance. Also, she backs up her arguments with a deeper discussion of “aesthetic,” drawing on people from the field of design, questioning the science of perception, and beauty.

Motivational: Again, Posteral gives Americans more credit than some critics of a world dominated by aesthetic. More options doesn’t mean people will inevitably become lost, indecisive, apathetic. Rather, they are embracing the shift toward a designed functionality.


My Response:

I love the visual and I love the tactile, I readily admit. I am fascinated by human expression in all of its forms. Design is a constant and endless well of inspiration and relief from frustration. I think there is a lot to be said about the importance of aesthetic in people’s lives. However, in the same breath I wonder at whose expense those in the privileged position of “consumer” {and here I mean monetarily privileged} consume. There is an often-overlooked line between excess and restraint. America has taken on the lovely image of a country in excess; consumerism undeniably persists, functioning as the motive du jour behind most decisions—both professional and personal. So yes, I do think aesthetic is a good thing—but only to the fullest extent of fine and meditative selection. Moving quickly from one design to the next only creates more waste and encourages dissatisfaction—a personality trait that can migrate into other realms of society, relationships being the most dangerous. Instead, be a curator in your own life’s museum of personality. 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Letter to the Editor... draft in progress

There are so many nuances to fashion choice today. Where were the clothes assembled? Does the company pay fair wages? Are their advertising campaigns favoring one race over another? Are they sweatshop free? Who owns the company? What organizations do they endorse? The larger the design house the more questions arise. And when the label reaches a corporate level, the questions take on added moral undertones. The styles themselves can become obliterated by speculation.

The Obamas’ choice of J Crew stands to be viewed in any number of ways but will no doubt be analyzed. Sartorial preference has long been a common interest in America, culminating in high profile celebrity events. The presidential inauguration is not immune to such design observation, as evidenced by the crashing of J Crew’s Website. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

On the Possibility of Conversation with The Westboro Baptist Church

It is difficult for me to respond or enter into a conversation with the Westboro Baptist Church because—in perusing their website—they provide no philosophical argument of fundamental truth. They are stating their ideology by raising statements and images devaluing and condemning certain ways of life: homosexuality,  priesthood, etc. In my eyes, they are stating the same idea over and over, forcing their passionate hatred upon others without explaining or arguing for their position in nuanced or dynamic ways. To think of having a conversation with someone from their community seems like it would be stepping into futility—a one-sided conversation ensuing, where they repeat their unsubstantiated claims and you point out ideas and possibilities for exploration. 

So, how to define their worldview? I read an article written by Louis Theroux for The Gaurdian in an attempt to further understand the community. Theroux lived with the family for a short while and seemed to make little headway in terms of a full explanation of their beliefs. However, the article incited a short-lived relativism in me: If one looks at the personalities of the family, it seems from Theroux’s perspective that these are sane humans, perhaps even with a family unit to be envied. However, when it comes to the lens with which they view the world—America, people, society, and the actual application and direction of these strong emotions and personalities—herein lies the difference: A group of people so at odds with other humans, so at odds with the current functioning of humanity, it seems to me so fearful of opening their minds to anything outside of their narrow understanding of things through the bible, that they impose and denounce everything around them without first examining the opposing qualities within that certain subject or thing. They don’t pause for a moment to question their assumptions. Once they make an idea they stick to it, not surprisingly, religiously. 
In some sense, they must gain a sense of comfort from their increased denunciation of certain groups. It sounds like from their beginnings in 1955, their picketing and targets have become more and more radical, finally protesting the funerals of deceased soldiers. Perhaps the family realized the easy attention gained when protesting things or beliefs commonly held to be true. To maintain this shock factor, this level of response from other humans [even if it is a negative response] they inevitably had to become more drastic in their efforts. Just as some people return to potentially harmful relationships for the sense of recognition in another’s eyes, this family fails to realize the negativity of their message and the possibility of gaining recognition in a way that requires less hate.

The family seems not to believe in respect for other human beings. They are unwilling to believe that humans are capable of doing good. If people naturally have feelings of inadequacy, perhaps their idea of “Unconditional Election” gives them an easy way out: by ascribing all-importance to a being not of this world—and thus subject to one’s own definition, beliefs and interpretation—they have taken that pressure to be acceptable in the eye of a human beholder off of themselves and said ‘we are the chosen ones, we are accepted no matter what anyone else says or thinks or does.’ They escape the fear and uncertainty of death in their idea of “Irresistible Grace,” where they will be saved no matter what. Nothing that they can do is wrong because they are God’s few chosen ones and thus their actions are basically God’s actions. 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Conjecture and the Inauguration

; Brightness in Nostalgia

For many U.S. citizens, as revealed through the presidential election campaigns and outcome, President elect Barack Obama’s inauguration speech this Tuesday will set the tone for four years of hoped for change. Throughout Obama’s campaign, his message has sought to define an America through the needs, hopes and dreams of its citizens. He seeks to define the way things are by who we are. The exigencies of “real” American people are supposed to dictate Obama’s rhetoric. The worldview Obama calls to mind differs greatly from the past administration’s figure, George W. Bush. Tinged with a patriotic and proud nostalgia, Obama readily invokes images of Abraham Lincoln and other classic moments of political and American history far gone from the recent political image.

Obama’s rhetoric is situated in a time where a new frontier means not a geographical but a digitized landscape. His effective use of digital media infused his persona {and thus his proposed ideology} with all the brightness of pixel and pop, though with seriously hopeful undertones of strength and determination. “Yes we can,” personified, translated to song, to image, to color. 

Bibliography, Blogs Examined

Guadagno, R. E. et al., Who Blogs? Personality Predictors of Blogging, Computers in Human Behavior (2007), doi:10.1016/j.chb.2007.09.001

Heffernan, Virginia. “Pop Couture.” The New York Times Magazine. 21 Dec. 2008.

Hodkinson, Paul. “Interactive Online Journals and Individualization.” New Media & Society, Vol. 9, No. 4, 625-650 (2007) DOI: 10.1177/1461444807076972





Minor Analysis Paper, Part II

Part II

[Guadagno, R. E. et al., Who Blogs? Personality Predictors of Blogging, Computers in Human Behavior (2007), doi:10.1016/j.chb.2007.09.001]

“Who Blogs? Personality Predictors of Blogging” is a psychological study using college students as subjects to define personality traits predicting blog authorship. Guadagno, Okdie and Eno say in their introduction that the anonymous nature of the Internet has decreased and the personalization increased, blogs being at the “forefront” of this shift. Defining blogs as a means of “self-presentation” and “self-expression,[1]” they ask: Are there defining personality characteristics that differentiate bloggers from non-bloggers? The psychologists used the Big Five personality inventory, which measures personality based on five traits. Openness to New Experience and Neuroticism predict blogging, according to this study.

The author’s findings seem to perfectly describe the underlying motives of personal-style bloggers, sometimes revealed in the tone of their words or photos. For example, Openness to New Experience is embodied in an individual who is imaginative, curious, artistically talented, intelligent and who has diverse interests[2]. “Blogging is a form of self-expression as well as a form of online behavior so it stands to reason that creative individuals who are willing to try new things are likely to blog[3].” To create a new world in a geographically vacant digitized landscape requires some creativity and some aspiration towards what the individual wishes people could hear or see. This suggests a darker side to the bloggers personality, one that is self-indulgent and insecure: Neuroticism. The authors suggest that “individuals who are high in neuroticism, characterized by anxiety, worry, emotional reactivity, and nervousness may blog to assuage loneliness or in an attempt to reach out and form social connections with others[4].”

There is a blatant gender separation in the authors’ analysis. They say women are more likely than men to fall into Neuroticism when connected with the Internet, the use of which is fueled by loneliness[5]. Men, they say, seek social networks outside of the Internet while women tend to participate in the more socially isolated form of communication, blogging. I find it, then, surprising that two of the authors are female when their choice of words is so demeaning to [what they find is] a woman’s natural disposition. Furthermore, the authors’ choice of participants lacked the breadth to adequately define the character and motives for beginning a personal blog. I wonder, too, do all bloggers concerned with personal style use the medium as a means for self-promotion, born of an exigency of social behavior? Or do some people find it merely another fun, creative outlet through which to test and record their daily inventions?

The authors are psychologists from the University of Alabama who conducted their study on two different groups of college students. They were prompted to investigate blogging and Internet usage because of the medium’s increasing and lasting presence in peoples’ everyday lives. They find great opportunity in examining the social significance and consequences of such a new and as yet little explored phenomenon, perhaps beginning a new conversation entirely. The study focuses only on American Internet users—a notable constraint since the very nature of the Internet allows for building international connections. Furthermore, this study only compared the Big Five personality characteristics with blogging, which greatly simplifies the individual whose true character and motives are much more nuanced. The authors suggest, in parting, directions to further this ongoing and ever-evolving conversation such as—specifically—why people blog and what they are blogging about.

[1] p. 2

[2] p. 9

[3] p. 9

[4] p. 9-10

[5] p. 9-10

Minor Analysis Paper, Part I

When it comes to the topic of personal [style blogs or street-style] blogs, many will readily agree they provide a means of self-expression and communication, sometimes even stimulating conversation and interaction within a particular community[1]. Where this agreement usually ends, however, is on the question of the degree that such a heightened individualistic pattern of oftentimes one-way communication becomes socially isolating, encouraging the development of an individualistic identity[2]. Some are convinced that online networks can positively affect the individual’s community involvement, where participants in any particular community can extend their conversations. Whereas others maintain that the personality characteristics distinguishing most bloggers from non-bloggers, such as Openness to New Experience and Neuroticism, might lead to consequences such as “increased private self-awareness”[3].

             In order to explore the validity of either claim concerning an individual’s intention behind personal blogging, it is necessary to examine examples of blogs that fall into this category. Not all blogs are meant to function in such a blatantly self-serving manner; the New York Times and other major publications use blogs to further specified conversations ranging from music to food to foreign affairs, focusing on news items instead of intensely self-revealing photo and journal-style entries. Ironically, in a blog entry for the NY Times “Medium” blog which turns a critical and curious eye towards the media, Virginia Heffernan writes about two specific street-style blogs that have gained considerable praise and a large audience: The Sartorialist [authored by Scott Schuman] and Garance Doré[4]. Heffernan argues that blogs of this caliber function the way any haute fashion magazine would—they provide a temporary fantasy world to which to escape for a momentary lapse in reality-based spatial orientation. Indeed, the images transport the viewer to a place of beauty, of chicness, of shine and silent charisma. They are the behind-the-scenes of magazine photos—by contrast staged and modeled by some of the very same girls and boys who appear on the street-style blogs. However, in the cozy context of off-camera or real life, the characters are somehow approachable, even if they incite a longing almost overwhelming enough to deter some viewers from returning.

Garance Doré, in the “about” section of her blog, amounts its beginnings to a desire “to do something more free, more spontaneous[5].” As a professional illustrator, she was looking for intimate contact with her readers, something that she readily found when writing “little snapshots[6]” of her life.

Scott Schuman’s “The Sartorialist,” which subtly greets the viewer with the statement: “Selected as one of Time Magazine’s top 100 design influencers[7],” is similarly focused on capturing his subject’s character through their dress, grooming and stance. However, as a veteran of the fashion industry [he worked in sales and marketing for high-end women’s fashion designers for 15 years], Schuman brings a more focused and critical eye to his photographs. His reasons for beginning the blog are less self-centered. Schuman’s goal was to shoot “people on the street” so as to give inspiration to other designers. “Rarely do [designers] look at the whole outfit as a yes or no but they try and look for the abstract concepts of color, proportion, pattern mixing or mixed genres[8].” So—as evidenced by his photography and sparse commentary—does Schuman.

Both bloggers create a common place upon which readers may interact with other style-minded individuals. These blogs are a repository for a specific cultural ideal: appearance. Heffernan alludes to consumerism’s current rhetorical situation, where one-time Style.com-devotees [Style.com is the online home of Vogue] find permanent residence. “Vogue’s Style File blog at Style.com, which features celebrities and breaking fashion news, rarely draws a single comment. By contrast, a Garance Doré post of an unnamed woman in houndstooth and stripes drew 78 comments, in French and English”[9]. Furthermore, Heffernan points to Paris’ one-time allure of luxury and extravagance as faded in “this moment of cultural history[10],” cautioning viewers against falling too easily into such tempting photographic magnetism.

            Even though these blogs are not focused on their authors, attention has nevertheless been directed toward the faceless creators. By aggregating the images of others, they have created—whether intentionally or unintentionally—a persona of their own. Some style blogs focus solely on creating this personal persona, such as the blog “The Cherry Blossom Girl[11].” In these instances, the persona actually becomes the common place for people to meet, exchanging small and praiseworthy remarks or inviting the blogger to visit the viewer’s own place of self-expression.  

[1] “Interactive Online Journals and Individualization”

[2] “Interactive Online Journals and Individualization”

[3] “Who Blogs? Personality Predictors of Blogging”

[4] “Pop Couture”

[5] http://www.garancedore.fr/en/a-propos/

[6] http://www.garancedore.fr/en/a-propos/

[7] http://thesartorialist.blogspot.com/

[8] http://www.thesartorialist.com/bio.html

[9] “Pop Couture”

[10] “Pop Couture”

[11] http://www.thecherryblossomgirl.com/about/

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Daily Assignment #1.

Graff and Birkenstein see academic writing as one voice entering into an ongoing volatile conversation. Instead of existing purely for itself and in itself, the writing—the arguments and claims and points and ideas—exist because of and for the other. Only by engaging oneself and the other in this conversation does the larger dialogue expand and explore new avenues.

The rhetoric in the course description is very much in line with what Graff and Birkenstein purport. As students and citizens {and as humans existing for and with the other in mind, even if that other is yourself} we are challenged to enter into the middle of a conversation. Whether or not we know many facts about the topic is irrelevant. This will come in time and as it does we will attempt to inspire others to respond based on our employment of the exercises and assignments in the course. Using the already posited, we will construct our own arguments, predict likely objections and respond accordingly. 

Both descriptions of academic performance rely completely on the existence of an ongoing conversation and emphasize the importance of challenging one’s own claims, opinions and beliefs. Both point out that this way of interacting is at the root of how and why we actively experience the world. However, I think Dr. Bammert’s perspective is more comprehensive—acknowledging the innate quality within humans to express and interact with the other in these ways. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Four Principles of Rhetoric as applied to Michelle Obama's Speech.

Michelle Obama's speech presents a specific worldview, which Barack Obama would fulfill by becoming the next president of the U.S. The first principal of rhetoric—advisory—is precisely this: advice to the audience to adopt a particular worldview. In this case, Obama represents and promises the fruition.


The second rhetorical principle—addressed—has to do with who the audience is and who the speaker perceives the audience to be. Michelle Obama uses words and phrases like "as a mom," "as a daughter" etc. The anecdotes and examples she employs are embodied in the heroes of her narratives: "blue collar workers," families hard pressed for money but instilled with the kind of desire that drives them to accomplish seemingly impossible jobs so as to provide for their children and make ends meet. She references her own family and her relationship with Obama, appealing to the personal and relatable situations of those in her audience. She spoke to Americans, voters, those concerned with their livelihood and their children's futures. Her choice of words and analogies make this obvious.


Her rhetoric arises out of a lack the audience experiences--be it socially, financially, etc. Her speech relies upon the assumption that there is a palpable need for change and hope felt among her audience and all of America. People are working hard and not always finding help from the government or even acknowledgement of their dire situation. There is a need to recognize this national "other" that Obama promises to see.


Finally, her performance was especially influential. She delivered her speech in a manner similar to that employed by Obama: gestures, voice, tone, expression. She referenced the anniversaries of two momentus events: women gaining the right to vote and MLK's speech. The images tied up with the events will call to mind already accomplished milestones of a similar sort—things to which to aspire.