Tag Archives: writing

Postmodern Influences on Exposition

A short postmodern discussion I wrote for theory of exposition class. I’m thinking about writing a postmodern essay sometime, but I need to look into postmodernism a bit more.

Defining postmodernism carries with it many of the same headaches that go with defining exposition. Although there are many similar explanations that follow the same ideas and logic, coming up with a singular, defining explanation is very difficult. Modern thought and traditional values hold less value in postmodernism, and in many ways this postmodern movement is an assault on traditional belief. Once you move away from this viewpoint however, defining postmodernism becomes a hazy subject. These viewpoints stem from differing ideas on where to go from modernism. By defining the situation as multiple theorists coming up with different ways to put the ‘post’ in postmodernism it is easier to examine the big picture of postmodernism and its varied approaches.

The one thing most people can agree upon is that postmodernism is a movement away from modernism. A modernist viewpoint of a family could be seen in a traditional nuclear family, with clearly established gender roles and social hierarchy. A postmodern viewpoint would turn this nuclear family upside down and suggest “Alternative family units, alternatives to middle-class marriage model, multiple identities for couplings and childraising. Polysexuality, exposure of repressed homosexual and homosocial realities in cultures.” (Irvine)

The chart I just quoted from provides one of many examples of postmodern alternatives to modernism. While the postmodern alternatives are very different than modernist beliefs, there is a pattern that arises in this chart. For each modernist view, the postmodern alternative is almost exactly the opposite stance of the modern view. Although in many ways postmodernism seems like a direct attack on modernism, I believe the term ‘rejection’ as it is used in the first two chart examples is more suitable. Postmodernism is an attempt to move as far away as possible from modernism, holding no similarities in the process.

This lack of similarities brings forth a problem when comparing postmodernism to exposition. While exposition has evolved and changed greatly over the years, oftentimes attempting to be different than past incarnations, I would not say that exposition at any point in its evolution has attempted to reject each and every value from a past incarnation. Even the most modern forms of exposition carry traces of elements from the oldest theories of exposition.

One could try to define exposition by tracing its history and changes over time. In order to comprehend the exposition of today, and to better understand how it has evolved, it would necessitate understanding that which came before it. Likewise, to define postmodernism, as I said before, you would need to determine what constitutes modernism. Yet for both exposition and modernism there is no clear distinction of what came before. As the website questions: “Was there ever a pre-postmodern consensus about history, identity, core cultural values?”(Irvine) I don’t think it is safe to believe that postmodernism necessarily clarifies or complicates our understanding of exposition, rather, it simply encourages us to approach the idea of defining exposition from another angle. An “out with the old and in with the new” sort of angle I think, though I would need to study postmodernism a bit more before I can state this with certainty.

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Rhetoric and Philosophy

Is rhetoric (and exposition) inherently philosophical in nature?

First off, I definitely think it’s important to consider that rhetoric and exposition provide two different purposes – should everything that applies to rhetoric also apply to exposition? Certainly not, as rhetoric persuades and exposition explains. While I agree that rhetoric forms much basis in philosophy, I believe it is important to consider the political roots of rhetoric as well. Speakers in the Greek forum certainly employed a lot of rhetoric to further their political agendas, which leads me to a question of my own: is there a distinction between using rhetoric to promote the search of enlightenment (a particular philosophy) and using rhetoric to satisfy a personal goal (say a country taking over land)? Throughout history leaders and orators alike have invoked the latter with the former as justification. They seek to satisfy a personal goal because they believe it is the one true course of action. Also, it seems possible that exposition itself can be tweaked to persuade through its exposition rather than simply inform.

Something to think about.

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A random thing I wrote last Summer, possibly modified from something I saw online but I do not remember. I came across this when I was looking at my old writing notepad this morning. I think it sounds a little too off-the-wall, even for me, but I’m putting it up anyway because I like the last two sentences.
All we experience, all we perceive, do they truly happen, or is it just an illusion? I just remembered doing something, but did I do it just as I remembered it? Memories are the stories of our lives, the recollections of our past as we choose to view them. Whether it happened a decade ago or just a second they are all just memories. The world is just our memories. Don’t Forget.

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Word Choice/Usage/Management?

An interesting discussion on word choice occurred during my editing class last night. Obviously a good writer should be mindful of each and every word that can go into a document. Despite this fact novice writers often misjudge the value of words that hold similar meanings.

Case in point, this was the first sentence that appeared on a draft for an actual guide for novice gardeners we were editing in class:

“There is more than one way to do a garden.”

The sentence as it appears is technically correct. Gardening is certainly not an exact science. Yet the reader might agree that there are better ways to phrase this sentence…specifically that troublesome “do” word. Our class quickly noted some possible replacements like plant or build. Yet despite our best efforts a single, perfect word eluded us.

The obstacle in coming up with the right replacement word revolves around several important factors for this little gardening guide: how formal do you want to be? What is the best way to reach out to the novice gardener?

Many words appear usable synonymously within a sentence. Yet specific word holds a major impact on the message the writer attempts to present. Should I say “build a garden” and treat the process like a construction project? Maybe it would be better to say “plant a garden” and go straight into a garden-based tone? Perhaps I want to appeal to fashionable sorts and say “design a garden” instead.

Considering that this is the introduction to a novice-level guide to gardening, these sorts of word choices are rather important. They set the tone for the rest of your guide. A sloppy writer would introduce gardening like a carefully planned construction project and then maneuver the language to indirectly suggest that appearance is everything.

The important thing to consider is that similar words often have different meanings. Don’t say ‘plethora’ in place of ‘a lot’ for example. While plethora often implies a large number, the point of the word is to express overabundance, or too much.

Just a little something to consider the next time you read a famous work. What logic did the author follow in word choice? Why is it that the Man In Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed? Why was it the best of times? Why was it the worst of times? Deep stuff, word choice.

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Super Library Bros.

Libraries are not made; they grow.
-Augustine Birrell

In writing my literature review for my MCS Capstone (examining the future of the academic library) I’ve come across all sorts of awesome material. Sadly I’m quickly developing the realization that not all of it will make the cut for my final project. Regardless, I’m finding all sorts of fascinating trends that you might not expect in the world of bookshelves. One such example: gaming in academic libraries.

Gaming in libraries is nothing new; however, trends suggest that the practice is mostly limited to public libraries. Public libraries are always making a splash about the next new innovative gaming club, and research supports the examination of effects of video games on the public library. Believe it or not, gaming in academic libraries is more popular than you might think. University libraries across the country are incorporating video games into their own world of information academia.

An obvious question emerges at the forefront of this discussion. Why should academic libraries bother with video games? You go to an academic library to do serious research, not perfect your latest Toon Link strategies or pwn noobs with grenades…right?

Part of the answer lies in marketing the library services. College students, especially freshmen, aren’t completely aware of the many services an academic library can provide outside. Often no real effort is given outside of a short demonstration given in English 101 that most students probably sleep through or spend cruising Facebook. Given that many college students play video games, it only seems natural that offering video games will entice these reluctant users to come. Draw them in with video games, and perhaps they will stick around. Students then discover that they can actually get some help on that paper that they’ve been procrastinating on because they were too busy playing video games at the library.

Okay, so video games will get people to come to the library and check out a book. What about the cost behind getting all of this equipment? As case studies have shown, obtaining the necessary equipment will not destroy the library budget. Compared to the amount of money spent on books and other media such as movies and music CD’s that you’ll often find at an academic library, video game equipment can actually prove to be a worthwhile investment. How much money is spent on books/media which end up sitting on a shelf forgotten for months, if not years at a time? By investing in a small stock of popular video games, an academic library will make a worthwhile investment that patrons will obviously use.

The process of integrating video games into an academic library is not an easy one. Indeed, the video game medium introduces a very different set of challenges that you won’t encounter with other forms of media. Cataloging can be an issue in addition to the logistics of creating and maintaining a dedicated gaming area in the library that won’t disrupt other patrons. Yet video games might prove to be a valuable tool in the ever-increasing push to market the academic library to millennials making the transition from high school to college.

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Random Star Wars Poetry

“But from now on you can just think of me as any other non-Jedi in our little group…with a lightsaber…and force powers.”
-Jolee Bindo

I’m part of an organization at UMBC known as the Writer’s Guild. Meeting every Monday night in a small inconspicuous corner of UMBC, write and share short stories, poetry, really any form of writing.  Sometimes…okay usually the writing can get strange, often in a hilarious way.

The process is simple: We come up with a short prompt idea, and then write for ten minutes or so. This is a piece I wrote for a Star Wars poetry prompt we did a few weeks back. It’s not particularly poetic, but I like it nonetheless. I’ll add some more pieces later.

Red Five

This is Red Five, I’m going in.
I’ve got the force on my side, so I’m full of win.
I may have shut off my targeting device,
But I don’t need that vice.
The force will help me see,
That’s what Obi-Wan taught me.
Sure the situations growing hairy,
Cause Darth Vaders kinda scary.
Yet there’s no need to worry,
I have a happy ending to this story.
Now Vader has me in his sight,
Ready to rain down his might.
He was like “The force is strong with this one.”
It made sense; after all, I was his son.
All hope seemed lost,
I had my fingers crossed.
Then Harrison Ford came down,
And took Vader to town.
So I let my missiles fly,
And blew the death star sky-high.

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A Classic Print vs. Television Debate

The debate between Neil Postman and Camille Paglia displays a classic argument between the ideals of print and television. Yet the debate goes beyond a mere clash between these two mediums. While the discussion of the mediums took the forefront, the arguments presented were done by two different people living in two different times. Although there is only a small gaps in years between Postman and Paglia, the rapidly changing times that separate them contain a battle between traditional and modern cultures. Both debaters present a valid case, yet in the end Paglia clearly wins over Postman; her wide variety of techniques winning over the narrow viewpoint of Postman.

Although both debaters begin on fairly equal ground, it is when the baked sea urchin is served that Paglia forces Postman to go on the defensive. The introduction to the article “Two Cultures – Television versus Print” points out that Paglia’s approach employs “a rush of images, juxtapositions, and verbal jump cuts.” Paglia clearly displays her versatile skill by jumping from dancers and education, to an attack on what she believes to be a narrow-minded view that Postman’s generation holds:

“I’ve found that most people born before World War II are turned off by themodern media. They can’t understand how we who were born after the war canread a book and watch TV at the same time. But we can.”

After Paglia’s sudden offense, Postman attempts to adopt a similar strategy by debunking television and claiming it to be pointless in aspects such as advertising. Unfortunately for Postman this only plays directly into Paglia’s versatility. Paglia enters into long sweeping monologues in which she dances between ideas and throws multiple examples that counter Postman’s narrow-minded ideas on Television. She continues this into the seared scallops section, with her brilliant wordplay and constant of ideas and images with Postman quickly reduced to a mere spectator.

Postman does manage to regain some ground shortly thereafter with a comment about the absurd nature of Charlie’s Angels:

“At the end, they shoehorn in a vestigial narrative. Once I saw an episode in which, in order to explain everything, the voice at the end had to mention characters and action that hadn’t even been in the program…Those sixty secondsbefore the credits – when the show was actually already over – were meant to givea show about hair a sense of sense of logic or coherence.”

Yet even after this great point, Paglia manages to twist it into something positive. She points out that this idea of hair has had a lasting impact on society.

Paglia’s barrage of examples and images continues through the rest of the debate, and Postman is simple unable to keep up with this new line of reasoning. Postman’s archaic views on society simply cannot hold a candle to the changing face of media that Paglia represents. Although the printed word will likely remain an influential media for some time to come, Paglia’s ideas of a flood of images through the television medium often holds a greater impact on the more recent generations.

Works Cited:

Paglia, Camille and Neil Postman. “Two Cultures – Television versus Print.” Communication in History. Comp. David Crowley and Paul Heyer. New York: Pearson Education Inc., 2007.


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