READINGS NOTES

Please note that most readings for the course were simply highlighted straight to text and have therefore not been included in this list. Otherwise, for articles I deemed to be especially important, I’ve created separate notes and have included them below:

Culture Industry -Theodor Adorno

External Double Speak Notes

Femininity: Masculinity

History-Writing as Critique Joan W. Scott

Memory, Erasure & National Myth- Notes

The Death of the Author Notes

REFLECTIONS

How bad does modern society wish to begin each sentence with, “Since the dawn of time,” but this academic institution won’t let us. If there is one thing I’ve learned it’s that academics are the most sarcastic group of individuals I have ever had the honour of knowing. Although we are chastised for using broad sentences to begin our papers we are praised by the outer world for our eloquence when we speak about the evolution of the human condition.

While the common person gawks at the University of Toronto student questioning the keynote speaker on the validity of their facts at the world’s largest medieval festival, they also believe it’s a personal attack. A war on the battle field of Academia. Little do they know, the speaker and the questioner are buddies just bouncing off on each other’s ideas. We are now plagued with the reputation of being “show offs” when we write big books and long papers. We bring prestige, honour and integrity by making sure our works cited entries are at least in the double digits.

But what have I actually produced in writing in ACMA01? If it were up to me, I’d print it on golden paper and put the first letter in diamond encrusted calligraphy because it was that good. Good not for content or even arguments sake, but good because I have read my articles, I put in my hours of work. But effort and production aren’t always an equal equation.

As a student, I believe it is easier to write while in a mentally and emotionally unstable state. That way I could spit out the random thoughts in my mind pertaining to the subject area in some feigned effort to declutter the emotional instability. A running joke is to write drunk and edit sober, but it stopped being a joke when student’s can appreciate the warm feeling in their stomachs to calm the nerves they have of writing their very first university paper. The same one that their parents will ask them how they did on to assess whether or not their child can really “make it.”

In music, there’s a term called “ghost writing” when a person would write a song and sell it to a famous person like Justin Bieber or Beyonce and the world will never know who they are, but they would bask in the royalties. I think academic writing may be the opposite. We find our subjects. We analyze them. See what makes them tick. And we tell their stories even if they are unaware that they were part of them and we end up with the royalties. So yes, we are “ghost writing”, but the ghosts have already moved on. We as writers play catch up so that we do not always make something for future generations to enjoy, but for them to contemplate and remember. For people to look back and say “ah ha! I’ve missed that point!”

Of course this is very hard to do. Very hard in deed. And so I think it’s true that it is very hard to handle a challenge, but it is also hard to handle opportunity. Here in university, that is all a student has. An opportunity to learn. An opportunity to get feedback on their work. An opportunity to discuss and grow as a person. The hard part is saying “yes.” The hard part is going to tutorial knowing that you spent 3 hours trying to write the one paged essay outline in your hand instead of the 6 paged finished essay draft that was expected of you. But still going anyways. Still going to tutorial knowing you totally screwed yourself over, but in reality entering a safe space for learning. Where even the smallest of ideas/thoughts can be built upon with friends, peers and mentors. All of whom I am so grateful for and entirely indebted to.

Tutorial 8

Tone and Analysis

What is Art?

Tone- how we say it

LOL at going to a lecture where they only talk in rhetorical questions –> they don’t actually do much, but confuse & take up space

Keep in mind gender-inclusive language

ART GALLERY VISIT: 

Hudson’s Bay Blanket- Europeans gave it to Aboriginal peoples with small pox to wipe out their population

Tutorial 7

IMG_0949Voice and Revision, Gender

Voice: convince academic audience

  • Topic sentence is important in leading the rest of the paragraph
  • Metacommentary- go back to what was said before, but say it again for emphasis with a new spin/ emphasis to clarify & expand on ideas
    • What you say + what they say + What you say (again)

Reverse Outline:

  • Thesis
    • Sentence 1, Paragraph 1
    • Sentence 1, Paragraph 2
    • Sentence 1, Paragraph 3
    • Sentence 1, Paragraph 4 etc.

Gender: Femininity/ Masculinity

  • “It’s a men’s issue.”
    • “John beat Mary –> Mary is a battered woman” – shows how language manipulates & there’s a power imbalance (Victim blaming is dangerous b/c we say it’s “her” fault)
    • Shouldn’t as questions about Mary, but questions about John (why did he do it? )
  • “The Dangerous Ways Ads See Women
    • Photoshop changes ppl. to fit societal “ideal”
    • Puts women in a passive & vulnerable position a lot of the times
  • “Everyday Sexism”
    • Normalizes sexual assault on streets

Tutorial 6

IMG_0948“So what” “Who cares?” “What is at stake?”

So what = why should they care?

2. The meaning of signs and symbols are often arbitrary. = we can’t use them b/c they mean different things in different social contexts

3. An academic essay should lead with a strong claim = a strong argument is needed to guide the essay

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui Final Lines Discussion

Brecht- trying to say that Arturo didn’t have to come to power, someone (society) could have intervened

Removing of the moustache- shows Brecht’s “this is a play’ mindset so that people will not be so entranced by the technical parts of the play and can then have the freedom to interpret it by themselves

Story from the past tells us that it can happen in the future and that it is most likely happening right now.

Tutorial 4

IMG_0946Punctuation = rhythm of speaking

Logos= word

Lecture: 

Discourse==> Sign systems

  • Symbols only have memory socially
  • Curry power & Oppression

Tell vs. show

Dove Real Beauty

  • “real” means natural/ unaltered person or the national average
  • Society determines what is real or authentic by comparison to what media puts out
  • Peoples standards are at stake
  • Can’t trust ads for telling people what is real as it can’t apply to everyone
  • “beauty” = attractive/ symmetrical
  • “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”

“Real Beauty Sketches”

  • “Social Experiment”- they are trying to show a common trend
  • White women 20s-50s are portrayed (only 1 non-white)
  • Asians, Persians, people of colour are not portrayed
  • “Average” becomes what media suggests & women’s appearance is mainly observed basely by themselves

How we interpret things that happen around us (Phenomenology)

Tutorial 3

IMG_0945Summarizing, Paraphrasing & Quoting 

They Say: should be paraphrased/ summarized w/ citations

Modes of Writing

  1. Description -facts
  2. Narrative -telling of sequence of events
  3. Analysis- makeup (how & why)
  4. Argument-to persuade (express viewpoint)

Dolce & Gabbana: 

  1. Description: 4 males, 1 female
  2. Narrative: Man is pinning woman down while others watch
  3. Analyze: Man is showing dominance over woman he wants
  4. Argument: If you wear this perfume you can attract women (have dominance over them)

Essay 3: Double Speak

Double Speak: Questioning the Answer

           Questions on human nature do not come with answer-keys like on multiple-choice exams where a single question corresponds with a single, finite and non-negotiable answer. The examination of humanity is diverse and requires a multitude of questions to be asked in order to justly reach a single answer. William Lutz, in his paper “The World of Double Speak” tells of the power imbalance created within each culture’s words and statements. Alan Parington contextualizes this phenomenon in his case study of press briefings by the White House during the Clinton and later Bush administration. Both are correct in outlining the dangers of double speak, however the damages of double speak can be reduced by being active and critical thinkers.

Double speak is best known as language deliberately used to distort the true meaning in the favour of a person or group. Lutz tells of one of the most damaging versions of double speak as being jargon, where members of a special group use very specific terminology knowing that outsiders do not understand (350). Lawyers are often accused most of using jargon to sway jury votes when they use complicated and uncommon language such as referring to theft as larceny in the hopes that the jury will overlook any words they are unfamiliar with . The main issue with this form of jargon is that select groups in society are then excluded from the broader conversation and are thus denied the chance to refute or add to the discussion.

Tackling exclusively the issues brought up by Lutz in the exclusionary nature of double speak, an appropriate response would be to empower the public to actively seek more information than what jargon users provide. Being deliberate in questioning unfamiliar language is the responsibility of the listener as Lutz argues that jargon is not double speak in situations where it provides effective communication within a group (349). Therefore, the problem with courts is that lawyer’s jargon is permissible when speaking to those of the same professional background, but when speaking to the jury, they are not allowed to speak in court for clarification. Were jury members allowed to ask questions on the meaning of words that lawyers use, there would be little room for being taken advantage of with this opportunity for transparency in place.

Equally dangerous in double speak, is the distortion of language to shift perspective. Lutz outlines another version of double speak know as euphemism as “an offensive or positive word or phrase used to avoid a harsh, unpleasant or distasteful reality” (Lutz 348). In human resources, an employer who says to a worker that they are “letting them go” implies that they are allowing an employee to leave the company on their free will rather than taking responsibility for firing and removing them from the organization. However, this version is an acceptable use of euphemism as Lutz does acknowledge that some forms of euphemism is meant in respect to others feelings or because certain words or phrases are taboo (348). However, in other cases like when inmates are said to enter a “correctional facility” instead of a “jail” it implies that all that goes on in those buildings are done for the prisoner’s good. This is potentially dangerous as it now limits the definition of words in society’s mind so that they no longer question the actual inner workings of the institution that could be denying all sorts of basic human rights. It is because the language frames the institution as a positive space, that people associate all things in that space as equally good.

This very same flexible characteristic of language to frame it’s own argument can further produce negative double speak, but can also be used to counter it. Parington referenced the informal relationship between politicians in the White House responding charismatically and candidly to reporters as such “humor invokes setting up a frame of some sort that tells people that whatever is in the frame is ‘humorous’’ (380). Bearing this in mind, viewers of these televised broadcasts must on a personal level, ask themselves what frame is being sold to them by the media and is the media framing the story justly. To be aware of potential bias has power in itself. Even calling an audience a ‘viewer’ is to say that they are meant to visually receive information. But to be a ‘critical viewer’ is to protect themselves from being desensitize from an otherwise serious topic that the media plays off as jokes and fun.

To overcome the negative powers of double speak, people must be empowered to ask for clarification from others on concepts they do not understand and internally question the integrity of the information they receive, but the way they format these external and internal questions matters as well. Partington elaborates on the fact that “Irony…can blind speaker and hearer when a third party is the object of criticism” (378). By this, he means that saying one thing, but meaning the opposite only creates further confusion. This, trend is also backed by Lutz when he argues that double speak is infectious and can destroy the very function of language and communication between people and social groups (353). That being said, the critical thinker must then be aware of their own double speak tangled in their line of questioning. Double speak is best known for its limiting qualities to a specific interpretation of the word and similarly, questions can also be framed in a way that is limiting. To ask only a lawyer a definition of what larceny means in a legal context only achieves the base level of understanding. To follow-up and ask more qualitative questions like, “What are the varying severities of larceny?” would involve more sympathetic reactions to lesser examples of larceny and reactions out of grievance for higher versions of larceny. By asking more in depth questions, a more appropriate response can be made in respect for the deeper meanings that words hold to describe human events.

Lutz and Parington both outline the harmful implications of double speak in the face of jargon, euphemism and the unjust framing of information. However, such problems may be overcome by increasing the opportunity to look critically at language and framing the right questions to find the whole truth. In light of the destructive nature of jargon and euphemism, it only takes a people’s empowered response to want to be enlightened through their own critical examination. The onus weighs heavy on humanity to continue to question information to avoid falling victim to the terrible world of double speak.

 

Works Cited

Lutz, William. “The World of Double Speak.” 347-357. Web. 04 Mar. 2016.

Parington, Alan. ““Double-Speak” at the White House: A corpus-assisted study of bisociation in conversational laughter-talk.” Humor 24.4 (2011): 371-398.Web. 04 Mar. 2016.