I’m writing a 25-page paper, due tomorrow, that links Habermasian post-metaphysical thinking to Derridean obfuscation through a comparative study of the Dec. 8 Colbert Report and Jacques Derrida’s Limited Inc., with a focus on the politics of language.
I have no idea what those words even mean, but I typed them.
Ok, so the biggest thing I noticed in your papers is that you guys started writing summary introductions again. Stop it! Newspapers don’t use summary introductions. Very little real-world writing will use a summary introduction. Look at a newspaper and see what they do—thry don’t do summaries.
Also, all of you should learn how to do text wrapping in Microsoft Word.
Also, a lot of you went back to writing boring English papers. Some were lit crit, some were vague and generalized ramblings about love in HP. Relate your arguments to the real world. This is an opportunity for you to be creative and funny.
Here are some good paragraphs from your assignments. Keep in mind that opinions in newspapers often do a lot to entertain:
Of course, there are many people who are stunned at the idea of Harry Potter being taught in schools, much less in universities of higher learning. When confronted with the thought that college students are paying money to study Harry Potter, there was a wide-range of responses. Saul Mendoza, a third year dual history and government major at the University of Texas at Austin, responded to the news of a Rhetoric of Harry Potter course with enthusiasm. “Oh my gosh, Harry Potter!” he exclaims. “I’m so disappointed because I want to take the class but it filled up on the first day of registration!” Facebook statuses were posted by the excited Texas students who were eager to take a course in one of their all-time favorite obsessions. “HARRY POTTER!!! I want in!!” and “omg I want to take Harry Potter!!” were the types of statuses that cropped up on my newsfeed in May of 2010.
Whenever I think Harry Potter, I think Motown singing group. No, it’s not the Temptations or the Supremes, but it’s Harry Potter & the Ubiquitous Three. And I say this not because Harry Potter takes me back to the good ‘ol oldies of crooning on the mic, smooth and slick dance moves, or permed coifs. I say this because J.K. Rowling is iconic, much like Motown, Harry Potter is legendary, much like the artists on the label, and Harry Potter would not feel complete without his backup singers who provide the powerful harmonies to an already brilliant lead.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened its doors to thousands of waiting fans on June 18th, 2010 at Universal Studios Parks and Resorts’ Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando, Florida. The signature attraction at the newly minted theme park is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which takes place in Hogwarts Castle and feature scenes from several Harry Potter books that even the most avid of Harry Potter fans will be able to enjoy. Despite the hype that has been given to the ride before the park even opened, many fans were left in disbelief after they were turned away after being deemed too large to fit into the seats of the ride cars.
One of the questions was this: Do you think Rowling made the “dark magic” so easily distinguishable from the rest of the magic to emphasize the theme of good versus evil? And if so, was she successful in conveying this theme?
I feel very much compelled to answer this question (she asked me more questions than time allows to answer), but I suggested this one would be the best one for me to answer. While I’m thinking about it, I’m just going to answer it here.
In HP and the SS, Voldemort says “There is no good and evil; there is only power, and those too weak to seek it.” I think this statement is a good place to start when thinking about this “theme of good vs. evil.” Let’s disregard the speaker for a moment. Who in HP is good? Who is evil? The answer might seem obvious, but let’s back up for a minute.
There are three “sides,” or groups of people, fighting for power in HP. There’s Voldy and the Death Eaters, there’s the Ministry of Magic, and there’s the Order of the Phoenix. We might be tempted to say that the entire thing is Death Eaters vs. Order of the Phoenix, but what about the MoM? What about those witches and wizards who don’t act? What about Cornelius Fudge? Is he evil? Or does he just not want to worry about all the terrible things happening in the world?
We could take Dolores Umbridge as a good example, too, of someone who’s not quite good and not quite evil. She gives me shivers just to think about her, but she’s just following the orders of the Minister of Magic, who is misguided, but not evil. She’s trying to prevent rebellion in her school. She’s trying to prevent kids from making out in school. That doesn’t sound evil. That sounds like what happens in any public school. And yet she’s still super super creepy. Just something to think on. Are your school administrators evil because they refuse to allow you to openly rebel against administration? That’s not what evil means, and yet many people think she IS evil because of this strange notion that there are only two ways to be in this world—“good” or “evil.” And, secondarily, people have that “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” attitude, which causes them to have a simplified view of not just good and evil in HP, but good and evil in the world. Not agreeing with the O of the P does not make people “evil,” just as not agreeing with American foreign policy doesn’t make a person or foreign government “evil.” [Oh, I’ll come back to the much more evil things that Umbridge does in a little bit.]
Think of all the people who just want Harry to turn himself over to Voldemort so that there will be “peace.” Think of the people who neither join the Order or the Death Eaters. I think that’s another rhetorical purpose of HP—to highlight what happens when “good” people do nothing, when they don’t think critically about what their superiors want and what is happening in the world, so long as they go through their lives without harm. This last refers to what Voldemort says about “those too weak to seek” power. Now, I don’t think Harry seeks power, and I think a lot of Dumbledore’s history suggests that seeking power can lead people who are predisposed to evil farther along that evil path, BUT there are also those people in the world who are too “weak” to do anything at all. They’re too weak to stand up against evil.
But, to finally get to the real question: the difference between “dark” and “good” magic? I don’t think there really is a difference between good and evil in terms of magic in HP. So, Avada Kedavra is pretty much the evilest magic that can be done. Aurors, however, are permitted to use AK against Death Eaters. And, though the text doesn’t specifically say so, I’m pretty sure Molly Weasley uses AK to kill Bellatrix Lestrange in HP and the DH. Avada Kedavra is ok if it’s used for “good,” but not for “evil.” Basically, there’s no clear delineation between good and bad magic here.
Let’s talk a bit about dementors and the Patronus charm for a bit.
First: dementors. They’re good when they’re at Azkaban (except that whole Sirius-Black-false-imprisonment thing…yeah…like Guantanamo Bay), but bad when they’re out in the world. No clear delineation between good and bad.
Secondly: Patronus. Good when HP uses it against dementors, but evil when Umbridge uses it to keep herself happy when questioning suspected Muggle-borns. Right? While it’s a good charm in some cases, it is used for evil in another. No clear delineation.
Do you get the picture? Nothing in this world can be good or evil in and of itself. Only in context can we even have an idea of good and evil, but usually it’s oversimplified as I talk about at the very beginning of this piece of writing.
So, again back to the original question: Do I think Rowling was successful in conveying the good-v.-evil thing? No, because I don’t think that theme exists. I thnk Rowling intentionally complicated the idea of good vs. evil because good and evil aren’t a binary. But there is power. There’s power that is used to stand up for human rights, and there’s power that destroys human rights, but oftentimes we get confused about who is good and who is evil. Usually we think that our side is good and the other side is evil. I’m pretty sure the other side thinks the same way. Which is why both opposing football teams pray to the same God on Sunday.
Thanks for being a great class this semester! I hope this class has been of some help to you, or at least (if you’re Spencer) of entertainment value. While I got to know some of you better than others (quiet ladies on the other side of the table :-] ), I’m glad that all of you were there and always contributing through talk, writing, laughter, and funny faces.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Good luck on your finals!
Tomorrow at 10:30 there’s a walkout to protest major budget cuts to ethnic, women’s, and gender studies. I think it’s mostly Latin American and African Diaspora studies, but it doesn’t matter—The text of the plea for the walkout is below. Most liberal arts professors will be amenable to you walking out and protesting—if it were during my class, I’d walk out with you. I’ll be walking out of nothing, but I’ll still be there. The funding cuts are HUGE (in the neighborhood of 40%).
The Academic Planning and Advisory Committee (APAC) recently recommended devastatingly large budget cuts to ethnic, women’s, and gender academic programs within the college of Liberal Arts. It is time to demand an end to these budget cuts. Many voices and histories will be silenced with the reduction of centers and institutions in Liberal Arts. We cannot allow that. Students have the power to make change and be part of change,… and there’s no better time to organize and act!
These proposed budget cuts defy the priorities of diversity the university has mandated and harm those who come from marginalized ethnicities, cultures, socio-economic backgrounds and viewpoints.
Short Term Demands: The students, staff and community demand the university release all records regarding the formation of the Academic Planning and Advisory Committee (APAC) of the University of Texas at Austin College of Liberal Arts (COLA) , APAC’s review of COLA centers, institutes and departments since 2009, and APAC’s budget recommendations.
Longterm Demands: The students, staff and community demand democratic control of budget cuts in our colleges, with direct input from students, staff and the community, to ensure that future sacrifices don’t violate the universities priorities of making a high standard for diversity in higher education.
JOIN US for a DAY OF ACTION, WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 1st:
—> Walk out of class at 10:30 am and meet at the West Mall. How does that work?: Get up and leave, but don’t be silent about it. Prepare ahead of time: spread the word via email or in person; organize beforehand to get other students or TAs in your classes to join you; let your professors know soon that you’ll be leaving and see if they’ll endorse the walk-out and rally; announce the action as you leave class to let other students know what’s going on and ask them to join you
—> Rally and picket at the West Mall 11:00 am to demonstrate our rejection of the proposed budget cuts and to demand recognition of the vital importance of cultural studies to the university. Bring a friend, bring a sign, bring thoughts to share, bring your energy.
Ok, I hate tumblr reply functions. Writing this just to be sure that you see it.
Sara is right—if you’re talking about how standardized testing or any other government interference in education is bad, then aiming it at politicians is a good idea. But you could also aim it at any group who thinks that government control of education is good—and there are plenty of people who think so.
If you’re talking about how Harry Potter should be used to educate, then your hostile audience is simply people who think it’s not educational—and again, there are plenty of people out there like that.
You’re limited to a hostile audience because this is a class on *rhetoric*, meaning persuasion. Rhetoric is all about argument. In argument, there’s a hostile audience. Otherwise, it’s just navel-gazing.
Now, if you choose to continue taking rhetoric courses, you’ll learn that “rhetoric” is way more complicated than that. But, for the purposes of this course, I make you choose a hostile audience so that you will actually think about who your audience is, rather than assuming that they have the same values and goals that you do. When beginning rhetoric students don’t address a hostile audience, they usually don’t do much convincing. Oftentimes, they just alienate their audience by suggesting that the audience has the wrong values—e.g. when we talked about how you don’t convince a bigot to stop being a bigot simply by telling him that tolerance is a good thing, because he doesn’t believe that tolerance is a good thing.
In order to change someone’s mind about something, you have to learn what their values are and convince them based on their beliefs, not your own. You convince bigots to stop being bigots because they’ll lose their jobs, get taken to court, or go to jail. You don’t tell them that everyone is equal, because you won’t be able to convince them of that. Doing so would be like arguing to yourself that a bigot is a bad person—it’s not going to do much for the bigot.
Another example is trying to convince Conservative Christians that HP is a good thing because the Bible’s stance on witchcraft is absurd, or because HP is fictional. They don’t care that it’s fictional, and they don’t think the Bible is absurd. What you do is go to their beliefs (perhaps other Christian values) and use things that they trust (the Bible) to convince them that HP is more Christian than not.
Without considering a hostile audience, you risk solipsism. You risk thinking that everyone who doesn’t believe the same things as you is stupid or ridiculous. AND the point of a liberal education is to counter those very risks.
So write to a hostile audience. Yes, it’s harder than writing to an audience that’s not hostile. That’s the point.
My only question is: Why to a hostile audience? Yes, I know its important to address a hostile audience because they don’t already agree with you… But do we usually read magazine and newspaper articles that are written to a hostile audience? Ok yea maybe sometimes… I feel like i’m being limited to…
It’s Saturday night. I live in one of the coolest cities in the United States. And, instead of going out, I’m reflecting on your most recent short paper.
The purpose of this entire unit is to have you write in different styles, which is sorta like trying on different clothes, seeing what you find comfortable, seeing what looks good. It’s also a little bit like trying on clothes and being like “whoa, dude, I seriously gained 10 lbs in the last two months. I need to work on this a little bit for this style to look good on me.” That’s ok.
So that was the original intention. But there are secondary things that I’m finding out as I grade these (with a lighter hand than usual, I admit, and that’s for a reason—I don’t think you should be graded harshly for not being able to write in a style that you have zero experience with).
The first thing to note is that I basically asked you to write in a style that I told you not to write in at the beginning of the semester—and I told you guys not to write this way because of problems with unclear prose, misused words, etc. What ended up happening is you guys ended up writing much better (MUCH BETTER) assignments, either because you learned something from clarity lessons or you began to write in a style that you found to be more comfortable. Not sure which, but it doesn’t matter.
The point is that you are all wonderful, wonderful writers. All of you have done well on at least one assignment. Some of you write best in low styles, some in middle, and some in high. Your blogs prove this, at least. Never, in any of your blogs, would I have ever written that you have clarity issues, or you’re not making any sense, or that you don’t back up your ideas.
But also, and not to get on your cases too much, you don’t do nearly as well on assignments that you’re not comfortable with, like this past one. Words get messed up, your sentences stop making sense, and you have some flow issues. Basically, what to learn from this is that whenever you write, your confidence level has a direct effect on how your paper will turn out. Being familiar with the style of writing will make everything much easier on you.
So, two things:
Read stuff that you find difficult and you will be able to write stuff that’s more “intellectual.” Familiarity will make you more confident. Familiarity also breeds contempt, because sometimes you realize that people are using much higher language than is necessary to get a point across. Sometimes word choice is for rhetorical effect, sometimes it’s not. But being familiar with what’s going on will help you write better papers.
You’re much better, even at assignments that you don’t do well on. Even the most unclear approximations of academic articles that I’ve read, where the word choice isn’t quite right, and the sentence structure is all wrong—even those are much, much better!
So, go out into the world, little duckies, and never say that you’re bad writers. Say “I’m unfamiliar with this type of writing” or something like that, but never ever say you’re bad writers. You’re awesome.
Thanks for a great semester so far, and good luck on your papers!
It really should be noted that someone else started it—the Palin girls were responding to someone being mean to them. Someone started being judgy about a TV show, the Palin ladies got judgy back, and then everyone judged them again.
That being said, from what I’ve seen of the screenshots, the real issue with what the Palin girls/ladies did is that they failed to engage the actual argument being made. Instead of talking about why the show is or isn’t any good (I haven’t seen it, so I can’t judge), they go immediately to “you’re fat” or “shut the fuck up” or “you’re a faggot.” It’s rather ineffective, rhetorically speaking. Doesn’t make the show any better, and certainly doesn’t convince people that there’s any reason to watch it except to see some people act like they’re on a talk show.
They have a right to say whatever they want. The people they are arguing with aren’t that smart either, I’ll admit. And everybody has a right to make a fool of themselves on the internet. But the price of fame is high—the Palins go on and on about their success, but their success is based a lot in celebrity rather than business/politics/finding a cure for AIDS. Celebrities quickly find out that being on the front page of a magazine is not all it’s cracked up to be.
The internet is a public place. I hate to break it to you. Stuff you say on facebook can cause a lot of problems, especially for people who have lives in gov’t, education, and the like, as this guy recently found out.
I’ve never shit-talked anyone on facebook (besides the TSA’s new groping procedures, multiple presidents, Starbucks, and the like), and I’ve certainly never used words like that. You know why? Because sometime in the future I’m going to be applying for jobs. And one of the first things that happens is employers look at social networking websites to see if you’re a complete asshat. So, if you do stuff like that, you might want to stop now. No matter how high your privacy settings are, people will find a way to see it.
(My favorite part, though, is when the one guy tells Bristol that she’s only famous for “your pre-marital sex” and she says “I’m premarital sex?” because she doesn’t know the difference between you’re and your. I loled pretty hard. Grammar nerd.)
Worksheet For Today :) What?! A Worksheet? No, Foley, Noooooooo....
1. What are the different “sides” of your controversy? Why do they disagree? what’s the big deal? (wikipedia or similar.)
2. Find three articles on your topic using CrossSearch, JSTOR, and/or Academic Search Complete. List them here. How will they help you provide evidence for your argument? What specific words, phrases, numbers, etc., would you like to use in your paper?
3. Find at least one article on your topic in Google Scholar. Record the link to it here. How/why will this article help you make your argument to your audience?
4. Find a book in Google Books that argues for or against your topic. Record the link here. How can you make use of this book as evidence?
5. Polling the Nations is the best tool ever. Find as many questions as you can that relate to your topic. What do these numbers tell you? How will you use them as evidence?
6. What images could you use to back up your argument? How will they help you? Record the links here.
7. Do you plan to interview anyone or use expert testimony from any of these sources? If so, record your thoughts on who you are going to interview or whose testimony you are going to use. If not, brainstorm ideas for who you could interview.
8. Who is your audience? Where will this be published? Use an advertising pack, Census Fact Finder, or similar tool to describe your audience. Which of the above sources of information will they be most likely to believe? Why? QUANTCAST
In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth installment of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter septology, Professor Mad-Eye Moody would continually bark “Constant vigilance!” at his captivated pupils.
And indeed, many parents are finding it necessary to follow his advice, as more concerns are raised about children’s books indoctrinating the young.
Two weeks ago, Rowling, a British author, announced that Albus Dumbledore, one of the most beloved Harry Potter characters, is a homosexual. The announcement predictably drew tremendous media coverage and objection or praise from dozens of groups, but the voices that resonated most carried claims that Rowling was trying to indoctrinate children with acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle.
If Rowling really wanted to indoctrinate her young readers, she would have expounded upon Dumbledore’s sexuality in the novel, instead of including it as an aside months later. The trend of indoctrination in children’s books-not the Hogwarts headmaster’s sexuality-is the more pressing issue.
More conspicuous books like Why Mommy Is A Democrat and Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under The Bed! have hit bookstore shelves in the past few years. These overtly political titles sound like a joke from The Colbert Report, but thousands of parents are sharing them with their children across the country.
The expressed purpose of these pint-sized propoganda manifestos is education of the young and impressionable. “Education” is the word favored by those who use these books.
But inculcating political stances and viewpoints at such a young age is not only immoral, it may actually be dangerous. The age range these texts target is eminently susceptible to suggestion. Parents should never have the power to play these kinds of games.
The dangers of such books are subjective: one parent’s perception of indoctrination is another’s education. Whatever the terminology, inflicting blatant political bias on a tractable child’s mind is an ethical crime. Continued… The effects of childhood suggestion can last a lifetime and potentially prevent a child from developing his or her own views. Compared with these assaults on childhood purity, the Harry Potter revelation is tame.
Those who cry out about the effect Harry Potter will have on children’s opinions of homosexuality are some of the same social conservatives who complained about the books exposing children to witchcraft.
Laura Mallory, an activist who made numerous attempts to ban Harry Potter from British schools, said recently to ABC that, “Kids are being introduced into a cult and witchcraft practices.”
However, even a cursory investigation of the author’s intent will show that Rowling’s goal was swift and effective storytelling, not political grandstanding. If there is a moral judgment in her novels, it is against racial and social prejudice (think Mudbloods), not heteronormative identity models.
Only a select few readers even guessed Dumbledore might be gay, which means that if Rowling was trying to indoctrinate her readers, she failed miserably.
In the propaganda-heavy Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under My Bed!, brothers Tommy and Lou attempt to raise money for a new swing set with their lemonade stand, but are legislated out of business by liberals resembling senators Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton.
The author, Katharine DeBrecht, has a clear political agenda she aims to impose on formless young minds.
Children should not be subjected to such blatant biases when they have not yet begun to develop their own opinions. Such actions hinder intellectual and personal growth.
Speaking on CNN on July 31, 2007, Jeremy Zilber, author of Why Mommy Is A Democrat, said, “No child is forced to read this book.”
Any parent will admit this is groundless. Not many picture-book-age children choose what their parents buy for them, either.
However, just because some books don’t support the values “our family supports,” as one angry parent complained of King & King, a children’s book about a pair of gay princes, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are indoctrinating and they should not be termed as such.
When commentary of the gentlest sort, as with Harry Potter, is slapped with the harsh, dictatorial connotations of indoctrination, it stym
ies the fundamental purpose of stories: to entertain while educating, allowing children to form-if they choose -the opinion for themselves.